Weekly Fishing Tip: Bigger baits may attract bigger fish
What might seem like a common sense idea is not always used by anglers during winter fishing. What idea is that? Using bigger baits to attract bigger fish through the ice!
While many argue fish are lethargic and unmotivated during the colder months and require a smaller bait to encourage them to bite, as a consequence you’ll often end up with very small fish on the end of your line.
By increasing the size of your bait – not significantly, just by a couple of sizes – you’ll encourage bigger fish to come in for a closer look while scaring off smaller fish.
Want more information on ice fishing? Visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.
Ice fishing season has started in the northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. There may be ice in the southern Lower Peninsula however conditions for the most part are not safe and will deteriorate rapidly with rain and much warmer temperatures by the end of the week.
The public is reminded that helmets are still required to be worn when operating an ATV or snowmobile while recreating. This includes but not limited to operating on the ice, trails and state land.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
- Lake Erie: Winds out of the west/southwest dropped not only the water levels along the shoreline but catch rates as well. Any ice in this area is unstable.
- Huron River: The steelhead action was slow but a few fish were caught between Flat Rock and the mouth by those floating wax worms or casting Little Cleo’s.
- Detroit River: Fishing is spotty. Some are fishing in the canals near Gibraltar.
- Lake St Clair: Has ice in a few places but it is marginal and with warm weather in the forecast, it could become unsafe by the end of the week. Anglers are encouraged to be patient and wait for safe ice before heading out.
- Saginaw Bay: Ice conditions were marginal at best. Ice along the shoreline is expected to deteriorate with the warm weather this week. While it’s true that most perch fishing takes place in two to three feet of water, anglers still risk getting wet. Perch anglers were out fishing off Palmer Road. The action was not red-hot but most were getting a few keepers. Off Linwood, perch were caught in the marina basin and out in front of the marina. Those casting tube jigs into the open water around the bubblers seem to catch more fish than the ice anglers. Near Quanicassee, a lot of anglers were fishing at Vanderbilt Park. While the bite was good, that many people out fishing may have spooked the fish as not many were caught.
- Ice conditions up the east side of the bay were questionable. The area off Sebewaing is so shallow that fish are not attracted to it at this time. Most fishing activity was inside the marina basins at Sebewaing, Bay Port and Caseville where a few perch were taken.
- Saginaw River: An ice breaker came up into the lower Saginaw River last Friday and broke up all the ice as far upstream as the Wirt Stone Dock, so anglers fishing the river mouth are out of business until it freezes up again.
- Tittabawassee River: The river and boat ramp are ice free at Gordonville Road, and as far south as Tittabawassee Road, but no boat anglers were fishing.
SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
- St. Joseph: Pier anglers are catching a few whitefish.
- St. Joseph River: Those fishing the holes up near the Berrien Springs Dam caught steelhead on spawn.
- Kalamazoo River: Those fishing below the Allegan Dam caught steelhead on spawn, plugs or Hot-n-Tots.
- Grand River at Grand Rapids: Is producing steelhead near the 6th Street Dam. Anglers are using a jig with a wax worm under a bobber. Walleye were also caught near the dam. Try bouncing a jig with a minnow off the bottom. Some brown trout were caught between the dam and the Cottonwood Boat Launch. Try spoons, spinners or thundersticks.
- Grand River at Lansing: Pike and walleye have been caught at the North Lansing Dam and the Moore’s Park Dam. Try golden shiners and sucker minnows. Pike are still being caught in Grand Ledge. Pike minnows worked best.
- Lake Lansing: Ice anglers were catching small pike on tip-ups when using small sucker minnows.
- Muskrat Lake: Is producing the occasional bluegill.
- Muskegon River: Continues to produce steelhead and limit catches of walleye.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
- Lake Avalon: In Montmorency County is producing a few bigger splake.
- Alpena: The boat ramps are frozen in. A few perch were caught in the harbor.
- Au Sable River: The ramps are usable. Steelhead were caught from Foote Dam all the way down to Oscoda and the mouth. Boat anglers are back drifting plugs or casting spawn.
- Higgins Lake: The boat launches are iced in but not enough ice for ice fishing yet.
- Houghton Lake: Ice fishing is on and anglers are setting up their shanties. Be sure to use caution around the chunk ice on the south shore as well as near any inlets or outlets. Walleye fishing was good in in four to eight feet of water.
- Tawas: Anglers are getting some perch out of Jerry’s Marina basin as well as off Jerry’s in 10 to 15 feet of water. Walleye anglers are inching out to 15 to 17 feet and getting a few. No pike spearing yet.
- Au Gres River: Has ice fishing in the lower river. Anglers are getting a few perch and sublegal walleye.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
- Newaygo, Oceana, Mecosta and Osceola County have good fishing. Ice fishing activity has really picked up.
- Long Lake: In Grand Traverse County is producing some walleye.
- Manistee River: Steelhead fishing remains fair with boat anglers in the lower river catching most of the fish.
- Lake Missaukee: Has been good for bluegill for those out ice fishing.
- Lake Cadillac: Ice fishing is in full swing. Anglers are catching pike, crappie and a few walleye.
- Lake Mitchell: Is also producing pike and crappie.
- Pere Marquette River: Steelhead are being caught but not consistently.
Many lakes in Keweenaw, Houghton, and Baraga County had too much slush for ice fishing. The slush makes for difficult travel as well as slow fishing.
- Lake Gogebic: Ice anglers caught perch in Bergland Bay. A few walleye were also caught along the north end.
- Lac Vieux Desert: Ice anglers are catching good numbers of pike ranging 16 to 24 inches. Most are using tip-ups with golden shiners over the weed beds in six feet of water. Only a few anglers have caught walleye.
- A good number of bluegills were caught on wax worms in six to 10 feet of water. The fish range 6.5 to 7.5 inches. Some caught crappie. As for perch, anglers are catching them however most of the fish caught were eight inches or smaller.
- Portage Lake: In Houghton County has ice. Anglers caught crappie near Chassell.
- Keweenaw Bay: Has no ice. Huron Bay has shore ice only.
- Groveland Mine Ponds: In Dickinson County have ice. Plenty of small bluegills along with a couple nice perch and crappie were caught in Island Pond. Try jigging wax worms, wigglers or minnows a foot off the bottom in 13 to 15 feet of water. The West Pond has small bluegills, crappie and sunfish in 15 feet of water for those jigging or using tip-ups. The East Pond has small perch and muskie in 12 to 20 feet of water. The South Pond had no reports of fish caught. Anglers were targeting walleye and panfish west of the boat launch in 30 feet of water.
- Lake Antoine: Fishing was slow with only small perch caught by those jigging with natural baits. Most were on the north end of the lake in eight to 10 feet of water.
- Little Bay De Noc: Has some ice however most of the bay still has open water. A pressure crack has formed along the north end of Butler Island. Anglers should avoid this area. Anglers are just starting to fish in the Escanaba Yacht Harbor but most were fishing the Kipling area or the Gladstone side of the “Narrows.” Fair catches of walleye were reported in Kipling by those jigging rapalas with minnows in 18 to 30 feet of water or Gladstone in 25 to 35 feet of water. Perch fishing had mixed results near Kipling in eight to 35 feet of water with natural baits. The bigger fish were caught in the deeper water. Jumbo perch were caught near Gladstone when jigging. While most anglers are using a portable shanty some are bringing out the permanent ones and setting them up.
- Manistique Lake: Anglers are ice fishing however caution needs to be used especially around the outlets. Small walleye and pike were caught but no perch.
- Munuscong Bay: Has ice but anglers should avoid the area around the points, islands and deeper water. Perch fishing is fair on minnows. Walleye are hitting good and a few northern pike were also caught.
- Cedarville and Hessel: Musky Bay and Hessel Bay have a couple ice shanties. Anglers are perch fishing in 10 to 12 feet of water. Wigglers worked best in Musky Bay however minnows were favored in Hessel Bay.
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