Brief return to winter slows down fishing

BIG RAPIDS  — Last week’s brief return to winter weather has slowed down fishing activity immensely.

“I haven’t heard a whole lot,” Craig Walters, of the Eyes Have it in LeRoy, said. “People are fishing the Muskegon, trying to catch crappies or perch. If the warm weather would warm up, crappies should be moving into the coves and channels. But we need it to warm up a little more.”

“I have no idea what the water level is,” Doug Loomis, of Ed Sport Shop in Baldwin, said. “I’m pretty certain it’s above normal. Most of my information are from fishermen. This weekend is supposed to be winter again with snow projected. It will probably be slow again.”

Fishing at the Pere Marquette River appears to be productive.

“Fishing is good,” Josh Mead, of the Pere Marquette River Lodge, said. “There’s plenty of steelhead in the river. Water temperature is around 40 degrees. Steelhead is coming in. It’s a good time to be up here. We have a lot of spring break going on right now, that’s why there’s so many people (fishing).”

At Manistee, anglers are finding steelhead and brown trout if the weather allows them. The DNR suggests fishermen try floating spawn under a bobber or casting spoons.

Fishermen in boats are getting a few perch near Penny Park at Manistee Lake and fish were hitting minnows and wax worms. Those trolling are getting steelhead and a couple coho on body baits or Hot-n-Tots, the DNR said.

Fishermen were obviously battling plenty of snow conditions, Bud Fitzgerald of Tangled Tackle Co., in Manistee said.

“They’re getting some walleye off the pier and a few steelhead,” Fitzgerald said. The middle of the (Manistee) river has been good. Fishermen are using trout beads.”

Anglers up near Tippy Dam and the Big Manistee River were reporting fresh steelhead, but catch success has been inconsistent, the DNR said, adding anglers are having success between High Bridge and Tippy Dam. Anglers are having success using crawlers for white and redhorse suckers in the Bear Creek area.

“We’re starting to get quite a few steelhead and it’s getting better every single day,” Dave Barkman, of DLoop Outfitters, in Wellston said. “I think the water temps dropped a little bit with the recent snow. I think it will get better and better.”

Fishermen at the Pere Marquette River are seeing more steelhead showing up, but the bite has been affected with colder temperatures, and sportsmen are advised to fish the deeper holes until it warms back up.

“Some buddies of mine were out on Manistee Lake,” fishing expert George Peplinski, of Onekama, said. “They’re getting good catches of perch. They were catching them on wigglers. In Portage Lake, they were getting bluegills straight off the boat launch in about 15 feet of water. They are catching some browns. Another buddy of mine was in a boat by himself and got three browns at Frankfort north of Platte Bay. They’re catching some browns in Ludington. It’s nothing hot and heavy.”

The DNR reports at Frankfort, cooler temperatures and windy conditions have kept anglers from fishing.

“It’s been kind of slow,” Desyree Shelton, of the Benzie Flycasting Shop, said. “We’ve gotten a bunch of snow. Lately, they’ve been hooking into a few fresh ones at the Homestead Dam.”

Steelhead fishing remains decent at Betsie River, but the DNR notes the bite will slow with the colder temperatures again.

The lakes are open water at lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, the DNR reports, but fishing has been slow since water temperatures are still cold, with most anglers shore fishing.

Anglers are reminded to buy their 2016 fishing licenses, if they haven’t already.  This year’s license is valid until March 31, 2017. Licenses can be bought at a local license retailer and by using the E-License system on your computer, tablet or mobile phone at