While extremely cold weather slowed the bite, anglers are hoping next week’s warm-up will improve fishing. Walleye and pike season on the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, the St. Marys River and inland lakes as well as all the Lower Peninsula inland waters will close at midnight on March 15th.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Montmorency County: Anglers were getting lake trout in Avalon Lake, brown trout in McCormick Lake and some nice pike in Lake Fifteen.
Otsego Lake: Ice conditions were holding in most areas however deep slush in some is making travel much more difficult. Fishing slowed. Anglers were seeing fish move but the bite was very light. Some walleye and pike were caught with blue minnows, perch minnows and jigging raps in 8 to 15 feet. Many of the walleye were too small at 10 and 12 inches. The sturgeon action was good mid-day and at dusk with minnows in 8 to 12 feet. Many were 48 to 52 inches and the minimum size limit is 50 inches. Sturgeon season closes on March 15th.
Higgins Lake: Anglers were getting some smelt though the bite was still slow. Lake trout were hitting in 80 to 100 feet. A few jumbo perch were caught off the north Sunken Island.
Houghton Lake: Still had about 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ice. Anglers still need to use caution and watch for the large pressure crack that runs from the West DNR launch to Johnsons Point as well as the one that formed off that and runs north to south northeast of Heights Marina. Walleye anglers were getting more fish including some taken in waters as shallow as 7 feet deep. Most are jigging spoons. Hot colors were glow, pearl, nickel blue, orange and gold. The bluegills were still scattered so move around to find them.
Lake St. Helen: Crappie were caught off the Third Lake.
Tawas: There was still some ice up in the northern part of Tawas Bay and anglers fishing out of Jerry’s Marina near the artificial reef got a few walleye and lake trout in 20 to 25 feet. A couple pike were speared closer to shore. Pike spearing season closes on March 15th.
Au Gres: Fishing was generally slow with a few perch taken. Fish shanties south of the break-wall had been removed. Fishing off Booth Road also slowed with just a few perch and whitefish taken. Down at the Pine River/Palmer Road area, a few perch were taken but the average catch was maybe 10 per angler.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Ice fishing continues however extremely cold temperatures coupled with blowing snow kept most at home. There have been a few reports of steelhead being caught in the rivers however ice, snow and very cold-water temperatures have hampered fishing efforts.
Lake Charlevoix: Travel on the ice was difficult with the snow and slush however those that managed to get out caught the odd walleye and perch.
Torch Lake: Was producing some lake trout.
Traverse City: Anglers were seen fishing in the East Bay near Acme and Yuba.
Crystal Lake: In Benzie County was producing lake trout, whitefish, perch and a couple large pike. Smelt fishing on both Crystal and Green Lake was slow.
Portage Lake: Near Onekama was producing some perch.
Hamlin Lake: Anglers were getting panfish a half mile east of Wilson Hill Park however the action was hit-or-miss depending on the day. The better bite was in the evening.
A number of crappie were caught in the crappie hole off Lincoln Road. The fish were suspended 10 feet off the bottom in 35 to 40 feet and hitting teardrop jigs with plastics, spikes or minnows. A couple walleye were caught in the evening off Duneview Drive. For the most part, fishing was slow. The only consistent bite was small perch.
Pentwater Lake: Was producing some perch.
Pentwater River: A couple steelhead were caught in the South Branch.
Keweenaw Bay: Travel on the ice was difficult for 4-wheelers and foot travel due to slush and snow. The slush is too deep for short track snowmobiles. Those walking were using the snowmobile tracks and setting up a short distance from them. Water coming up on the ice after holes are drilled has been a common problem. Lake trout fishing was slow with limited success in 100 to 250 feet. Splake were caught in 15 to 40 feet. The coho bite was slow. A few Chinook salmon were caught about 50 feet off the bottom in 150 to 200 feet though anglers were not targeting them. No whitefish report. The smelt bite was fair after dark when using a jig and wax worm with a light.
Little Bay De Noc: Snow has made access difficult pretty much all winter. Catch rates for walleye were spotty. The better reports came from the mouth of the Escanaba River when jigging rapalas in 25 to 35 feet, off Gladstone and the Kipling Flats with tip-ups and sucker minnows or when jigging rapalas. Those fishing near the Ford River reported few catches. The better perch fishing was between the First and Second Reefs off Kipling with minnows and wigglers in 27 to 35 feet. Whitefish and burbot were caught off Sand Point with minnows or spawn in 70 to 80 feet.
Munising: Travel on bay is difficult because of deep snow and more slush closer to shore. A few coho and splake were caught. Anglers reported possible markings of either herring or smelt suspended within the bay. Those targeting burbot continue to do well at night primarily off Sand Point, Trout bay and in the area off Christmas.
Grand Marais: Has deep snow on the ice. Anglers fishing for menominee within the harbor are using a single egg or wax worm. There have been some recent reports of anglers doing well on smelt along with a few coho. Most were jigging with shiver minnows, jigging spoons and Swedish pimples with or without cut bait or minnows. One nice steelhead was caught on a Hali jig when fishing for smelt.
Cedarville and Hessel: Ice conditions were holding however anglers and snowmobilers need to be aware of the areas with a strong current around the islands. Perch fishing picked up with anglers taking fish up to 12 inches on jigging raps, wax worms and spikes. More anglers were seen in Government Bay, but no reports came in.