Ice fishing is going strong in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula. Those in southeast and southwest Michigan still need to use caution as the ice refreezes.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Walleye anglers are going out from Callahan Road and fishing between Essexville and Quanicassee. Perch fishing at Quanicassee was slow due to the muddy water. Walleye anglers have done well eight to ten miles off Thomas Road however there are some soft spots between the shoreline and the fishing holes so anglers need to use caution. A couple machines have gone through the ice near the soft spots. The creeks and the marinas have extremely muddy water.
- Lake Erie: Those fishing the Metro Park marina caught bluegills on wax worms or red spikes.
- Huron River: Is producing the occasional steelhead. Try spawn or Little Cleo’s. Blue and silver was a good color.
- Detroit River: Has some flow ice coming down. Those fishing Airport Bay caught a few perch averaging nine to 12 inches. Try minnows or wigglers.
- Harbor Beach: The Edison Channel had open water. Ice fishing was limited to the inside of the City Harbor where anglers caught a few small perch.
- Saginaw Bay: Ice fishing is on once again. Perch fishing was slow at Palmer Road because the water was muddy. Walleye anglers heading out to the Catfish Hole managed to catch a few. Anglers need to use caution along the west side of the bay because of all the pressure cracks including a large one that may be as much as 50 feet wide. Some are going way out and driving across the pressure cracks with little regard for the consequences of what could happen. Heading out after dark is not recommended. Walleye anglers going four to five miles off White’s Beach caught fish. Walleye were caught off Erickson Road in 18 to 20 feet of water but the trip was not easy because anglers will have to head north almost to Pinconning to get around the big pressure crack. Walleye were caught out near the Spark Plug which is at Buoys 11 and 12 however this location is a long ways out! Ice near the mouth of the Saginaw River was marginal at best as the current remains strong. Both the river and the south end of the bay are very muddy.
- Saginaw River: Was iced over from Zilwaukee to the mouth however the ICE IS NOT SAFE at this time as it is composed of re-frozen ice flows and slush. Some great ice sculptures can be found as large sheets of ice have been thrust upward at all angles and frozen into place.
- Tittabawassee River: Fishing was still impossible.
SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Even with the cold, ice conditions are variable because of the snow and wind. The small isolated lakes have some ice and were producing bluegill, crappie and pike.
- St. Joseph River: Steelhead are still being caught but the bite is slow. Anglers were getting just a fish or two per trip.
- Kalamazoo River: Steelhead anglers are still taking a couple fish even though the bite has slowed.
- Gull Lake: Is producing some bluegills. Some are night fishing for smelt in the South Bay and the Second Bay. Catch rates were slow to average.
- Grand River at Grand Rapids: Has some ice flow coming down. Steelhead are being caught by those using jigs with spawn and wax worms or wobble glows in bright colors like orange and chartreuse. Some are back bouncing. Walleye were hitting on bucktail jigs with shiner minnows and rapalas. Hot colors were chartreuse and silver, orange and gold or black and chrome. The ice near Millennium Park was not safe.
- Grand River at Lansing: Those fishing near the dams have caught a few walleye and pike on minnows.
- Lake Lansing: Anglers are taking pike on tip-ups however the fish were small.
- Reeds Lake: Those ice fishing caught perch on shiners in 15 to 40 feet of water. Bluegills were in 25 to 40 feet and crappie were 10 to 15 feet down in 35 to 40 feet. Pike are hitting on sucker minnows two to four feet off the bottom in eight to 30 feet.
- Muskegon River: Water levels were receding however the water is still muddy.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
The inland lakes are in good shape except Hubbard Lake. Currents are generated most commonly in the big deep lakes so anglers need to use caution accordingly.
- Alpena: Ice conditions on Thunder Bay are treacherous.
- Thunder Bay River: There is no boat access in the lower river. Ice anglers fishing the Turning Basin and the marina caught small perch.
- Cedar Lake: In Alcona County was producing perch. The fish were on the small side but lots of fish were caught.
- Van Etten Lake: Was producing a good number of smaller perch.
- Au Sable River: Those who brave the cold weather have caught steelhead which can be found in all areas of the river between the mouth and Foote Dam. A couple brown trout were caught up near the Rea Road launch and below the dam. Most are using spawn, wax worms, small spoons or body baits. Perch were caught in the impoundments.
- Higgins Lake: Ice fishing is in full swing. Smelt are there however the bite has not turned on yet. Lake trout have been caught when jigging or using tip-ups in 100 to 120 feet of water. Whitefish are being caught on the bottom in 85 to 100 feet of water. As for perch, they are scattered throughout the lake. Anglers will want to fish the drop-offs and the weed beds.
- Houghton Lake: Is producing a few pike. Most are small but every once in a while a keeper is taken. Perch have been caught on minnows. Walleye were biting around dusk. No bluegills to report.
- Tawas: Had lots of anglers fishing in Tawas Bay. They caught some nice perch in 15 to 20 feet of water. The better fishing was between dawn and 11:00 a.m. Some walleye were caught at dawn and dusk and a few brown trout were caught incidental to perch and walleye. Those spearing have taken some pike.
- Tawas River: Had no reports.
- Au Gres River: Just re-froze. On the East Branch, not much was going on near the Singing Bridge. Water levels were high, fast and muddy.
- Pine River: At the access site, the river has a good current and an ice jam at the mouth. No one is going out.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
- Lake Skegemog: Is producing some yellow perch.
- Portage Lake: In Manistee County was producing yellow perch and other panfish.
- Manistee River: No word on steelhead fishing however the water levels are back down so the river is fishable again.
- Lake Missaukee: Ice anglers were doing well for panfish.
- Lake Cadillac: Has good ice for those looking to catch panfish. Pike are hitting on tip-ups with sucker minnows. Crappie fishing was good.
- Lake Mitchell: Is producing pike, crappie and bluegill.
- Pere Marquette Lake: Had decent northern pike action for those using tip-ups.
- Pere Marquette River: No word on steelhead activity however water levels were still quite high.
- Lake Gogebic: Had good walleye fishing with a number of legal size fish taken by those using tip-ups or jigging rapalas in seven to 11 feet of water near the weed beds. The perch bite was fair in 12 to 17 feet of water.
- Imp Lake: Had good splake fishing.
- Keweenaw Bay: Catch rates were slow off the L’Anse Marina with only a couple lake trout, rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon and coho caught. A few smelt were taken out from the Baraga Marina but ice conditions were not consistent. There is open water from Morin Fireworks on the Baraga side to the L’Anse side, just north of Jentoff’s Dock.
- Chicagon Lake: Fishing was fair with a few walleye caught just before and just after dark by those using tip-ups with sucker minnows in 10 to 15 feet of water. Perch ranging from six to nine inches were caught just off the edge of the weed beds. Those jigging spoons caught a couple lake trout off the west side in 30 feet of water. No reports yet of any whitefish being caught.
- Iron Lake: Fishing has picked up with a few nice catches of bluegill up to seven inches however most are sorting through a lot of small ones to get a few keepers. Try small jigs tipped with a wax worm. Crappies are still being caught during a small window of opportunity just before dark. For pike, the action was steady with tip-ups but the fish were running small.
- Groveland Mine Ponds: Have good ice conditions. Island Lake was producing mainly bluegills and a few yellow perch. Lots of smaller bluegills and a few crappie were caught in East Lake. West Lake was hit-or-miss. Some anglers found and caught good numbers of bluegill while others caught few. South Lake finally had some anglers. They caught a few nice yellow perch and some crappie straight out from the boat launch in 25 to 30 feet.
- Lake Antoine: Has reports of good ice conditions. Those jigging have caught a good number of small bluegills and yellow perch on wax worms. Those fishing in 15 feet of water or deeper did catch bigger fish. No reports on walleye or pike.
- Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions were improving as anglers were moving to the southern end of the Bay. Ice thickness varies from the northern end down to the Escanaba River. Walleye catches were slow this season but with anglers moving south fishing has improved. Fair to good catches were reported between the Escanaba River and south to the beach area when using jigs or tip-ups in 25 to 30 feet of water. Fish were marked out from the Terrace Bay Inn but they were most likely whitefish. The bigger walleye were caught in the waters of the Southern Bay. In the Northern Bay, the better catches came from the Center Reef when using tip-ups in six to 23 feet of water. Smaller perch were caught southeast of Butler Island and off the southern tip of the Third Reef in 14 to 28 feet of water by those using minnows and wigglers. Northern pike were active throughout the bay however the better spots were the Center Reef and out from the Escanaba Power Plant. Those fishing near Sand Point were starting to catch whitefish when jigging spawn or minnows in 75 to 85 feet of water.
- Munising: Angling effort has been widespread throughout the bay from the West Channel near Christmas to Sand Point. Despite the extreme cold the ice has been slow to build due to all the snow which is creating slush. Travel is difficult. Catch rates have been slow. Most anglers targeting whitefish had poor results. There have been scattered reports of splake catches at various locations. Some have caught perch. No reports have come in for Trout Bay.
- Munuscong Bay: Has lots of snow on the ice and scattered areas of slush. Anglers still need to use caution east of Roach Point. The walleye bite was slow. Anglers were jigging or still-fishing with minnows.
- Cedarville and Hessel: Perch fishing in Musky Bay was slow. Anglers are fishing in 10 feet of water with minnows or wigglers.
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