Many anglers waiting for ice fishing season

 BIG RAPIDS — It’s hard telling when ice fishing season might start, but diehards like Jeff Greene, of Rodney, won’t get their poles back out until there’s safe ice on the water surfaces.

“Once I put the boat away, I don’t go out until I can walk on the ice,” Greene said. “It’s been nice weather.”

But “nice weather” isn’t exactly what ice fishermen want to hear.

“One year, I went out (ice fishing) Dec. 7 and I won’t be doing that this year,” Greene said. “Last year, it was one or two days before Christmas (for first ice). I’m going to guess for this year it’s going to be about the same. You have to have some cold nights to get that ice going.”

Meanwhile, the DNR reminds anglers catch-and-release sturgeon season on the Great Lakes and connecting waters will close on Wednesday. 

Fishing action is picking up in northwest Michigan.

At Manistee, pier anglers and those surfcasting should still find some steelhead in the early morning or evening, the DNR said.     

But at Manistee Lake, there are reports of fishermen getting some coho near the mouth of the Little Manistee River, with a little bit of work. The occasional steelhead has been found, but there hasn’t been that many. 

“They’re still getting steelhead in the Big and Little Manistee,” Dewey Buchner, of Don’s Sporting Goods, said. “The pier is pretty slow. We’re just waiting for ice.”

The Big Manistee River has good numbers of undersize brown trout along with the occasional keeper which were caught below Tippy Dam while anglers from the boat and shore are getting a good number of steelhead.

“Lower temperatures bring in better fishing,” Chelsea Pete, of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston, said. “There’s some undersized brown trout being caught. The steelhead here in the water, it’s still clear. We need colder temperatures to get a push of more active fish.”

Downriver, anglers have had mixed success with steelhead. Most fish were caught in the early morning, but many were small, the DNR said.  

“Perch fishing has been great at Portage Lake,” Dan Osborn, of Osborn’s Sports Shop, said. “They’ve been catching their limit of perch. They’re still catching steelhead by the dam.”

Pere Marquette River is providing decent steelhead fishing, the DNR added.

At Frankfort, pier and shore anglers are finding some fish, the DNR said, adding at the Betsie River anglers should find some steelhead. The DNR advises anglers to try beads, flies and wax worms. 

“It’s been pretty slow in the Betsie because the water’s so low,” Dane Bovee, of the Backcast Fly Shop in Benzonia, said. “There’s quite a few guys fishing the pier so that should be pretty good.”