Weekly Fishing Tip: Master Angler – Recognizing big catches since 1973!
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the DNR’s successful Master Angler program. Launched in 1973 to better recognize anglers who catch unusually large fish, the Master Angler program began with just 19 species of fish eligible to win distinctive Master Angler shoulder patches. In 1992, the catch and release category was established.
Master Angler has expanded over time to include 52 various species for which anglers may compete for honors. At the end of each calendar year, recognition certificates are also awarded to anglers entering the top five fish in each category.
The 2013 Master Angler application is already available, and can be obtained at www.michigan.gov/masterangler.
The deadline for submitting an entry is January 10, 2014. Be sure to include a photo of your fish if it has not already been identified by a DNR fisheries biologist.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
- Lake Erie: Those fishing in open water off the docks in the Metro Park Marina have caught a couple perch or bluegill. Ice in the area is not safe. There is still one dock in at the Metro Park launch.
- Huron River: Is producing steelhead for those using wax worms or small spoons. Colder weather may have the fish holding in the deeper holes.
- Detroit River: Is producing some jumbo perch in front of Gibraltar and along Grosse Ile. Anglers are using perch rigs with shiners off the docks, breakwalls and seawalls. A few perch were caught in the canals around Gibraltar.
- Saginaw Bay: After heavy rain and near-record high temperatures last weekend, ice conditions were unsafe in most places. Anglers are cautioned to stay off the ice until the colder weather has a chance to make new ice. Perch fishing in shallow water should be possible again after a few days of frigid weather. A few pike and walleye came out of the Hot Pond by those using jigs or crank baits.
- Kawkawlin River: Was high and muddy. Those using long-rods caught perch but they were small.
- Saginaw River: Walleye fishing was pretty good before the rain and snow melt. Rising muddy water and floating ice chunks made fishing nearly impossible.
- Tittabawassee River: Walleye fishing was good before the muddy water.
- Quanicassee River: Fishing was slow however small perch were caught on minnows or wigglers.
SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Rain and warm temperatures took out most of the ice. Any remaining ice at this time would not be safe.
- St. Joseph River: Anglers are catching steelhead. The bite is slow which is typical for this time of year. Try drifting Hot-n-Tots or floating a jig and wax worm.
- Kalamazoo River: Those hitting the river have caught steelhead below the Allegan Dam. Try Hot-n-Tots, small plugs or a jig with wax worms.
- Grand River at Grand Rapids: Water levels are up however boat anglers need to use caution. A couple boats have been ripped open by re-rod along the west side of the river. Be careful below Pearl Street, in front of the Ford Museum above the walk bridge, and near the carousal below Pearl Street. Steelhead are still being caught on jigs with wax worm, wobble glows, spinners, black stone flies and yarn rigs with a six foot leader. Below the dam, anglers are trolling Hot-n-Tots. Try black and chrome or black and gold with a red lip. Some are back bouncing spawn in the deeper holes. Walleye catches were good for those using bucktail jigs tipped with a minnow. Some are floating minnows. Crappie and bluegill were caught near Riverside Park and Millennium Park.
- Grand River at Lansing: Pike and walleye are still being caught at the North Lansing Dam and the Moore’s Park Dam. Try golden shiners and sucker minnows. A nice walleye was caught below the Brenke Ladder. Decent size pike have been caught in Grand Ledge at Fitzgerald Park.
- Reeds Lake: Crappie and bluegill were caught in the channel in open water.
- Muskegon River: Water levels were up but those fly fishing have caught steelhead when using bright colored flies.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Cautious anglers should be able to find some safe ice this weekend on Fletcher, Grand Lake and Long Lake. Hubbard Lake requires extra caution because of its size and depth. Anglers should not venture out on Hubbard Lake until they are sure of better ice conditions.
- Thunder Bay River: Is partially frozen and the ramp is freezing in. Boats were out last weekend, but that will no longer be possible. The river is full of very small perch most of which are too small to keep. A couple steelhead can still be found up near the dam.
- Au Sable River: This has been another unusual winter for the river. Like most of last year, the boat ramps are not iced in or snow covered so people are launching dories and other boats. Steelhead were moving in and out of the river. Quite a few of the fish caught were chrome colored and healthy. Try spoons, spinners, body baits, spawn or wax worms. Early morning and late evening were best. Fish can be found from the mouth to Foote Dam.
- Higgins Lake: There is no safe ice. Remember, deep lakes take longer to freeze.
- Houghton Lake: Has good ice for Tip-Up Town this weekend. Some big perch were caught by those using tip-ups with blues. Try minnows, wax worms or wigglers for bluegill. Those looking for walleye will want to fish along the weed beds and the drop-offs.
- Au Gres River: Water levels were high and muddy. Those using long rods did manage to catch a few perch. Surf anglers fishing spawn off the mouth of Whitney Drain at the Singing Bridge caught some nice steelhead but they were putting in a lot of time for each fish caught.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
- Manistee River: While catch rates improved during the warm spell, the bite will be different now as artic temperatures move into the region. Water levels were up some after the rain and snow melt.
- Lake Missaukee: Still has ice. For bluegills, try minnows, wigglers or wax worms.
- Lake Cadillac: Still has ice however anglers will need to use caution until cold temperatures have a chance to tighten the ice back up. Most areas are questionable especially the east side of the lake. Foot traffic is best. Some are targeting perch in shallow waters.
- Lake Mitchell: Has ice however anglers are traveling on foot only, no machines. A few panfish have been caught including crappie and bluegill. Many were small however a couple bigger fish were starting to hit. With no snow on the lake, anglers would be wise to wear cleats for easier travel.
- Pere Marquette River: Is producing the occasional steelhead or brown trout.
- Groveland Mine Ponds: High winds and rain made fishing difficult on Island Lake as it turned into an ice rink. Anglers may want to bring cleats for easier access. Bluegills were hitting on minnows, wigglers and wax worms in eight to 12 feet of water. Many were small but a good number of seven inch fish were also taken.
- A few perch and black crappie were also caught. Both the East Lake and the West Lake had few anglers. The bite was slow with only small panfish caught by those jigging or using tip-ups.
- Lake Antoine: Was producing bluegill and perch for those jigging minnows and wax worms however many were small. Most are fishing on the northeast side. Those targeting northern pike were spear fishing and using tip-ups with large minnows on the north end of the lake.
- Little Bay De Noc: Rain and warmer temperatures deteriorated the ice. The weak spots, pressure cracks, shoreline and river mouths were all in rough shape. Most are traveling on foot if they go out. Almost all the fishing has been north of the Narrows.
A Safety Reminder: the pressure crack that runs across the north end of Butler Island is ALWAYS DANGEROUS. Anglers should avoid this area at all times even in good conditions. Several four wheelers and snowmobiles have already gone through the ice.
Overall, fishing was slow due to fewer anglers and no snow cover. The better catches were reported up at the head of the Bay near Garth Point when jigging wigglers and minnows in 10 to 13 feet of water. For walleye, those fishing well past dark did the best near Kipling, the Second and the Third Reef when jigging rapalas with minnows in 18 to 26 feet of water.
- Newberry: Inland lakes in the area including the Manistique Lakes had slow fishing most likely due to ice conditions. Much colder temperatures in the forecast will once again shore-up the ice.
- Munuscong Bay: Anglers pulled their ice shanties to shore after the warm weather. Be careful especially with all the holes in the ice. The area east of Roach Point is off limits, anglers should avoid the area.
- Cedarville and Hessel: Those off Cedarville have pulled their ice shanties to shore. Musky Bay had a few shacks remaining, but no catch reports came in. Perch in Musky Bay were picking up before the warm up so colder temperatures should help with catch rates.
Logo courtesy Michigan Department of Natural Resources