The state had pretty much open water fishing in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. Ice fishing could be found on some waters in the northern lower as well as the Upper Peninsula. The large deep lakes in the northern lower did not have safe ice.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Lake Erie: Boat anglers trolling in Brest Bay and off Bolles Harbor caught walleye on crank baits in 18 to 22 feet.
Detroit River: Anglers fishing in the marina were getting perch and bluegills. The perch bite was slowly picking up.
Saginaw Bay: On the west side, there was a little ice fishing on shore ice in 2 feet of water or less at White’s Beach and in the small bay at Pinconning, but success was minimal. There were no anglers south of Pinconning. A few boats were fishing out from the Saginaw River, mainly around Spoils Island where they caught a couple walleye when trolling or vertical jigging with jigs tipped with minnows. Most were bringing in about three fish per trip. Not much going on up the east side from Fish Point to Bay Port. Ice conditions were pretty sketchy. A few were venturing out between Sebewaing and Bay Port, but they only caught a few bluegills, the odd crappie or pike.
Saginaw River: The action was slow. There were not a lot of boats out, and catches were dominated by undersize fish. The walleye action in Bay City and down to the mouth was also slow.
Tittabawassee River: Had more activity than the Saginaw River. The water was a bit high and fast, but fishable. At the Gordonville Road ramp near Midland, most boat anglers fishing up near the Dow Dam caught a couple walleye on jig heads with minnows. Average catch was 1-3 fish per boat per trip. From the Center Road launch in Saginaw Township, boat anglers going both upstream and downstream caught walleye on jig heads and minnows. White and chartreuse jig heads were the hot colors. The fish were found in 10 to 15 feet.
SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
There is no ice in this region. A few boat anglers were out targeting perch with the nice weather. Try the drowned river mouth lakes such as White Lake, Pentwater Lake, Pere Marquette Lake, and Manistee Lake.
St. Joseph River: Continues to produce steelhead. The bite is better following rain or on warmer days.
Kalamazoo River: Steelhead fishing improved during the warm up. A fair number of fish were caught all the way up to the Allegan Dam.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Steelhead fishing improved and a few nice fish were caught up near the 6th Street Dam.
Muskegon Lake: Boat anglers were doing well for yellow perch.
Muskegon River: Those targeting steelhead found a few more fish during the warm up. Boat anglers drifting or throwing flies caught some nice fish.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Burt Lake: Had a few anglers out ice fishing however caution needs to be used.
Otsego Lake: Had ice with snow on top. Fishing was a little more difficult as the water was stirred up and cloudy. A good number of walleye were caught on blue minnows in 7 to 12 feet. Many were 10-14 inches with some keepers between 16-24 inches. Perch and crappie were caught when jigging a teardrop with a wax worm or minnow in 7 to 10 feet near the weed beds. The perch ranged 7-12 inches and the crappie were 10-12 inches. There were reports of a 53-inch sturgeon and a 39-inch pike caught. The sturgeon were hitting minnows and rattle traps.
Higgins Lake: Has finally iced over however there is no safe ice yet. Anglers should stay off the ice at this time.
Houghton Lake: Anglers are ice fishing however stay away from the deeper water leading from the main lake into the East Bay because of thin ice and/or open water. Other areas to avoid are near the Cut River, Muskegon River and Long Point. Be sure to watch for pressure cracks as well. Catch rates were hit-or-miss for the most part. The trick is to not only find the schools of fish but also be willing to chase them by drilling more holes. The better walleye and bluegill bite was about an hour before dark. Walleye anglers used jigging raps or spoons tipped with a blue minnow head. Bluegills were hitting on glow jigs with a wax worm or spike. Pike are hitting tip-ups with golden shiners or sucker minnows.
Tawas: There was no fishable ice in Tawas Bay. On the state dock, a few anglers casting or walking the wall and dragging a crank bait caught a few walleye and lake trout in the late afternoon or early evening. One boat that went out from the Tawas River and fished down near Alabaster took 9 walleye and 1 lake trout when trolling. A few perch were taken through the ice inside Eagle Bay Marina but not many. There was some ice fishing activity off Palmer Road, but ice conditions there were marginal at best and not much was caught.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Anglers will find ice fishing on some of the inland lakes however the large deep lakes still did not have safe ice. Those shore fishing or using drift boats in the rivers continue to catch steelhead and the odd coho.
Lake Missaukee: Had a fair to good bite for panfish. Those using minnows or spikes caught bluegill, sunfish, and rock bass. The odd pike was taken on tip-ups.
Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Both lakes are producing walleye for those jigging rapalas or spoons tipped with minnows. Some were also taken on tip-ups with shiners. Panfish are also being caught. Crappie were found on the west side of Lake Mitchell.
Manistee: Pier anglers managed to catch a couple steelhead.
Manistee River: Was producing a few more steelhead during the mild weather.
Hamlin Lake: Was not completely froze; as there was open water on the northern sections of both the upper and lower lake. The bayous were mostly frozen however there was still some open water because of the moving water. Extreme caution needs to be used. Expect more ice to be blown open with the windy conditions.
Anglers report better ice conditions in this portion of the state. On the west end, anglers were fishing the inland lakes including those in Iron and Dickinson Counties where most were targeting panfish and pike. Around Newberry, area lakes had a lot of traffic but the panfish bite was slow.
Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions are a problem and are creating limited access and very unsafe conditions in many areas. A few anglers have been fishing out from the harbor in the Gladstone area, but this is a DANGEROUS area where the ice thins out quickly as you head south. The northern bay from the Whitefish River south to First Reef had a little better ice but still had areas that were not safe.
The pressure cracks are moving daily. Open water was reported at Saunders Point, Hunters Point, Day’s River and the mouth of the Whitefish River. Most anglers are walking out. NO VEHICLES SHOULD BE OUT ON THE ICE AT THIS TIME. Walleye and perch reports were fair at best. Perch were hitting minnows or wigglers in 18 to 31 feet. Walleye anglers reported many undersize fish. The better catches were on tip-ups or when jigging rapalas with minnows in 23 to 35 feet. Good pike action out past Butler Island with tip-ups and sucker minnows in 10 to 30 feet.
Munuscong Bay: Had a lot of activity however the yellow perch bite was slow.
Cedarville and Hessel: Has ice but also some areas with open water. There is a pressure crack in Hessel Bay that had only a couple inches of ice on the west side of it. Beware of pressure cracks and currents around the islands. There was not much fishing pressure, but anglers have caught perch with wax worms and spikes in 10 to 17 feet. The fish were 7-10 inches. A few pike were seen but no word on any fish harvested.
Brevoort Lake: Anglers caught pike, walleye and perch on minnows. Try the east end of the lake.