Anglers getting set for transition to ice fishing

Ice fishing season may be right around the corner for area anglers. (Star file photo)

Ice fishing season may be right around the corner for area anglers. (Star file photo)

BIG RAPIDS - It appears ice fishing season may be right around the corner.

Ice fishing has started on the inland lakes in the Upper Peninsula, the DNR said, though extreme caution needs to be used.

Some of the inland lakes in the northern section of the Lower Peninsula had skim ice, but no safe ice.

It may not be long before ice fishing ends.

In Mecosta County, "they're catching some perch in the Muskegon River," fishing guide Tom Vernon said. "There's lots of steelhead at Croton. But everything is way down stream. I've heard a report on Thursday a guy was there getting some nice walleye and smallmouth at the floodgates."

At Platte River, although steelhead fishing was slow, a few anglers got lucky.

The steelhead action at the Betsie River has been slow, but those putting in the time have caught a few the DNR said.

"It's pretty slow," Steve Forrester, of Backcast Fly Shop in Manistee said. "They're getting some steelhead here and there but it's spotty."

The walleye bite at Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell had all but shut down, as very few were caught. Both lakes are partially iced; however, there was no safe ice to report, the DNR pointed out.

"We've had too much darn wind and cold weather," Larry Scharich, of Shipwatch Marina, in Manistee said. "We're inbetween seasons now."

Manistee had reports of steelhead being caught, mostly off the piers and the beach, the DNR said, adding the Manistee River was still producing the occasional steelhead.

"There's some steelhead in the river," Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangle Tackle Co., of Manistee said. "A lot of guys are fishing with waxworms. We did have a couple of boats fishing perch, but nothing real exciting. It was pretty boring."

Ludington was also producing a couple steelhead when pier anglers could get out, the DNR added. Those surfcasting from the beach have also taken the occasional fish.

"I heard reports they were catching some perch off various docks," Caleb Keegstra of Captain Chuck's in Ludington said. "Steelhead in the river is the same it has been. Guys are catching very old coho at the state park."

Fishing Tip: Targeting walleye throughout the day

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

When anglers target walleye through the ice, they often experience different levels of activity as the day progresses. In early morning, around sunrise, the fish will be active, and you may want to use larger lures and more aggressive jigging. As time wears on, those fish will scale their intensity back - during that time you'll want to select smaller lures.

When all activity seems to have dropped off, you'll want to consider sitting tight and waiting for the fish to come to you. Then, as sunset nears, often their activity will pick up and you'll want to revert to your early morning strategies.

Want even more tips on fishing for walleye? Check out the walleye page on the website.

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.