Anglers continue to wait for ice

Anglers are waiting for conditions to be good enough for ice fishing. (Courtesy photo)

Anglers are waiting for conditions to be good enough for ice fishing. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS -- Very cold temperatures have kept most anglers from open-water fishing, the DNR said, adding that most are now waiting for ice fishing season to get started.

The DNR reports in the northwest Lower Peninsula, while the smaller lakes were starting to get skim ice, there was no safe ice anywhere in this region of the state.

There was not much steelhead activity with the colder temperatures.

“We’re pretty much in the middle of kind of waiting right now,” Tanner Havens, of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “There’s a couple of places up north where they have ice, it sounds like. A few guys are fishing on it. Right now there’s not enough ice to fish on yet.

“I hear Bills Lake over by Newaygo has been frozen and there’s guys who were on the edge of that (Wednesday). There’s three or four inches there. It sounded like Canadian Lakes had about two to three inches regularly as well. Most guys are waiting about another week or two and maybe get some more cold weather.”

Though Lakes Mitchell and Cadillac are partially iced over, there was still no safe ice to report, the DNR said.

“We’re just starting to get ice,” Dewey Buchner, of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee said. “There’s not much to say. They’re getting some steelhead off the pier and in the river. We’re just waiting for ice.

“Once we get safe ice, the first ice will probably be on Hamlin Lake, and that’s good for all species of fish. There’s Portage, which is good for pike, walleye and perch. Cadillac looks like it may have good ice for this weekend.”

Cold weather this week may help, the DNR anticipated, but there was 8-to-10 inches of snow in the northwest Michigan area and warmer temperatures are expected next week.

“Fishing is slow,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangle Tackle Co. said. “They’re getting a few fish but they’re really working at them. The little river is very slow. There’s really no ice yet. Bear Lake has ice on it but no one is venturing out. There’s only about an inch on it.”

A few anglers were either trolling for steelhead or perch fishing at Pentwater Lake.

“There’s not a lot to talk about,” Caleb Keengstra, of Captain Chucks in Ludington, said. “Steelhead fishing is about the same.”

“It’s still spotty with steelhead here and here in the river,” Steve Forrester, of Backcast Flyshop in Benzonia said. “Everyone is waiting for ice.”

The DNR reports that in the Upper Peninsula, first ice is great for pike and panfish; but, ice thickness is variable on most of the inland lakes and many still had unfishable ice.

It is not recommended for anglers to go out on any ice that they are not familiar with or without a plan in case you break through.

Fishing Tip: Ice fishing in the middle of the day

Courtesy of the DNR

We often emphasize the best times to go ice fishing are early morning and around dusk – but what about folks who can’t go during those times and would prefer to fish in the middle of the day? Don’t worry, there are options for you, too!

A few species are ideal midday targets, including northern pike, yellow perch, bluegill, and rainbow and brown trout.

For northern pike, you can set up tip-ups and enjoy a leisurely day on the ice. For yellow perch, you can drill a high number of holes and move around frequently. For bluegill, you can use a fish locator to follow around a school. And for rainbow and brown trout, you can sight-fish for them in shallower water.

If you’re headed out fishing, please do your part to keep yourself and others safe by following COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines. Go fishing only if you're feeling well. Practice proper social distancing (at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your household) and keep a face covering handy for when social distancing cannot be maintained. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer.