Ice fishermen expecting success to improve

BIG RAPIDS — The next two weeks could be outstanding for ice fishermen.

That’s because anglers are expecting temperatures in the 30s and 40s, with ice surfaces expected to remain strong for awhile.

“Some of the guys are starting to get out,” active fisherman Rich Morey of Big Rapids said. “This cold weather put a damper on everybody. I haven’t gotten any reports of anybody setting the world on fire. I’m waiting for that 30 degree range.”

Local diehards have been recently but are especially looking forward to upcoming days.

“I went out (Feb. 28) and I went out (March 2) to Hungerford Lake,” Jeff Greene of Rodney said. “I kept 10 fish each time. I got about half perch and half bluegills. I probably threw back as many as I caught. I did get 10 nice ones each day, at least enough for supper. I was able to get out and got enough fish to make me happy.”

Temperatures were comfortable in the 30s, and Greene measured 18 inches of ice on Hungerford last wee.

“That’s more than what we’ve had all winter,” he said. “We haven’t had enough warm days to even think of melting the ice. That’s the least of your worries, not having enough ice for at least the next two or three weeks. Things are looking up.”

“Even down at the (Muskegon) river, I haven’t seen that much activity,” Morey said. “I check it out every once in awhile. There’s three or four guys down there, but nothing like the mob is when the perch start biting and it gets warmer.”

Jerry Mondrella of rural Big Rapids also has been testing his ice fishing skills for bluegills at Burgess Lake.

“It’s kind of slow,” he said. “A week ago, when it was so cold, I only went out for one day on a Monday and didn’t do very good. Then I went out three times this week and the bite’s pretty slow. Monday I brought home 10. I brought home 10 (Tuesday) and brought home eight (Wednesday). But they’re biting awfully slow.”

The DNR reports that in northwest Michigan, there’s not a whole lot of action to report this week but added that pike fishing remains good but there’s not much going on with panfish or walleye. There has been interest in steelhead fishing, the DNR said, but there is a lot of ice covering the streams right now.

“Last year, they didn’t start biting until the last week of March,” Mondrella recalled. “They’re not biting so far this year. When it starts to warm up toward the end of March, I think they’ll start biting a little better.”

Crystal Lake in Benzie County is producing some smelt and burbot, the DNR said. 

Tip-ups and pike fishing at lakes Cadillac and Mitchell is going well and a good number of fish have been caught, the DNR said. The crappie bite was fair to good and a few perch were taken.  

 “We’re waiting for spring, waiting for the break-up,” Morey said. “But it sounds like this weekend it’s going to be pretty good fishing weather.”

The DNR reports that at Saginaw Bay, walleye fishing has picked up a bit. It seems that after a few weeks inactivity, the fish were finally biting, but success was spotty.

LICENSES ON SALE

The DNR reminds anglers that the 2015 licenses went on sale March 1. Fishermen are required to have one by April 1. The 2015 Fishing Guides are also available at all license vendors.