It appears ice fishing season has started especially in the northern areas of the state. With that said, anglers are reminded that first ice and last ice are the most dangerous ice and caution needs to be used. Be sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return, check the ice thickness with a spud and wear a life jacket. It could save your life.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Lake Erie: Those trolling crank baits were still getting a few walleye in Brest Bay and just south of the River Raisin.
Detroit River: A few boat anglers were out fishing the canals. Some nice bluegills were caught on a jig and wax worm in the marinas. Some perch and crappie were also caught but anglers were sorting through the small perch.
Lake St. Clair: Has thin ice in most of the canals and marinas. Ice thickness is highly variable ranging from skim to maybe 1 ½ inches so the ice is not safe. All the docks are out, and the protected launches are iced in. The Harley Ensign launch is iced in as well after overnight winds shifted and blew the ice in. Warm temperatures predicted for the weekend will not help ice formation.
Saginaw Bay: Ice is forming but there is no safe ice to report. Warmer temperatures and some rain by the end of the week will not help. If they can get out, boat anglers were still getting a few walleye when trolling.
Saginaw River: Ice is starting to form along the shore and boat ramps but no safe ice to report. The river was still a bit muddy from the rain last week which made walleye fishing a bit difficult for boat anglers.
SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Most of this area has no safe ice. Many lakes still have open water or very thin ice. Anglers will have to wait until the next big freeze.
St. Joseph River: Steelhead have been caught however the bite was extremely slow because of the cold water. Try fishing the deeper holes.
Kalamazoo River: Steelhead are still being caught up near the Allegan Dam. Most are floating spawn or a jig and wax worm, back bouncing spawn bags or trolling plugs.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Steelhead fishing remains fair. Although the numbers are down from last year, the size of the steelhead has been impressive with many fish weighing 10 pounds or more.
Muskegon River: Boat anglers were still getting some nice steelhead. Those fishing the deeper holes did a little better than those fishing in shallow waters.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Anglers were out ice fishing on shallow lakes only for the most part.
Otsego Lake: Had a good number of anglers fishing along the edge in shallow waters.
Higgins Lake: Has open water fishing only. A few shore anglers caught some rainbow trout off the North State Park and off King Road which is on the east end of the State Park. Most are using a treble hook with wax worms or spawn.
Houghton Lake: Has ice however there is open water in the middle of the East Bay. Anglers should stay away from the middle of the lake as well. Most are getting out from the northern end of the East Bay, off the south DNR launch and in front of the northeast DNR launch. The majority were within a quarter mile from shore. They have caught pike, walleye, crappie and some bluegills. They are using tip-ups with golden shiners for pike and jigging spoons with minnows, wax worms or spikes for all others.
Lake St. Helen: Has ice and anglers are out targeting panfish.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Ice anglers are heading out on some of the small inland lakes including some in Charlevoix and Antrim County. Anglers would be wise to stay off the deeper lakes due to unsafe ice conditions. Steelhead fishing is still viable in the area rivers, although not many reports were coming in.
Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Ice anglers are starting to head out however extreme caution needs to be used as ice thickness is spotty.
Lake Missaukee: Also has ice anglers heading out for panfish. Use caution and be sure to check the ice with a spud as the freezing process has not been uniform.
Manistee River: The bite was slow as water temperatures dropped to the mid 30’s. Steelhead anglers floating spawn and beads have managed to take a few nice fish. The odd coho was also caught.
Inland lakes in the western half of the Upper Peninsula are frozen. Extreme caution needs to be used on any and all ice. Lake Gogebic will offer perch and panfish on the north end. Lac Vieux Desert flowage offers good panfish opportunities in the winter. In the southern sections of the Upper Peninsula, ice thickness varies, and some lakes still had areas with open water. Pretty much all the lakes on the east end are ice covered however some lakes have better ice than others. Extreme caution needs to be used. Snowfall from M-28 south was about 6-8 inches.
Teal Lake: In Marquette County is offering some early perch fishing. The occasional walleye has also been caught.
Little Bay De Noc: Anglers are just starting to head out although they are staying in close as most were only about a quarter mile from shore. Use extreme caution.
Muskallonge Lake: In Luce County had perch anglers as well as those looking for walleye and pike. Some of the inland lakes south of Munising also had angler activity.
Manistique Lakes: Have seen quite a bit of activity mainly for yellow perch and other panfish.
Two Hearted River: Has steelhead and normal water levels for this time of year. Expect heavier snowpack in this part of Luce County.