Fishermen making transition to spring

BIG RAPIDS -- Ice fishing in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula is done and boat anglers are slowly starting to head out, the DNR said.

Anglers are reminded that walleye and pike season closed at midnight on March 15 for the Lower Peninsula inland waters, the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters and the St. Marys River.

The season is open all year on the Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River and the Detroit River. Musky season on all the Great Lakes, inland waters and the St. Marys River also closed at midnight on March 15.

In Mecosta County, "steelhead and perch fishing in the river is picking up," Tom Vernon, of Frank's Sporting Goods in Morley, said. "It looks like next week will be a good warm week.

It looks like the spring bite will be on. Walleye season is closed but the reopening is around the corner, the same with pike and bass."

Greg Clark at Schafer's Bait and Sporting Goods in Weidman, said ice fishing has completely finished in his area.

"It was a pretty good season," Clark said.

In northwest Michigan, the DNR reports there is still ice in this region, however conditions are no longer safe. Anglers are advised to stay off any remaining ice.

At Traverse City, both bays have open water though no boats have been out due to windy conditions.

The Boardman River is wide open and has steelhead though most of the fish are older and have been in the system for a while. Ice fishing in the area is done as the ice is pulling away from the shoreline, the DNR said.

The ice is deteriorating quickly on Long Lake, Duck Lake and Green Lake. Smaller lakes will be accessible to boats within the next week or so though the docks may not be in yet, the DNR said.

In Manistee, a couple steelhead and brown trout were caught by surf anglers and those trolling near shore, the DNR said.

"They're getting a few steelhead and a few browns off the pier," Dewey Buchner said. "But it's been nothing great. They're getting perch too."

At the Manistee River, anglers reported decent catches of steelhead when using spawn and body baits or fly fishing.

Anglers are reminded that the Little Manistee River is closed to fishing until April 1.

"They are getting some steelhead in the river," Bud Fitzgerald and Schafer's Bait and Sporting Goods in Weidman said. "They're getting coho and steelhead off the beach. Walleye is closed."

At Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, ice fishing is pretty much done with no safe ice to report, the DNR said.

Pere Marquette River is also producing some decent catches of steelhead.

Captain Chucks in Ludington reported ice is deteriorating on a daily basis. Anglers are catching steelhead in the rivers on wax worms.

"Ever since the ice melted, we've had limited reports on ice fishing," Caleb Keegstra of Captain Chuck's said. "A couple of people are coming back with lake trout. They're fishing off the pier for stelehead."

Fishing Tip

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Use a non-slip loop knot to tie on streamers while fly fishing. It lets the fly move in a greater range of motion and can sometimes trigger more strikes from fish.

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.

The DNR is accepting written comments on the draft walleye management plan through April 1, 2021. All written comments should be submitted to

All anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license.