Ice conditions more favorable for anglers

BIG RAPIDS -- The DNR reports ice is becoming more stable, especially in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula.

Steelhead rivers are still quite high, the DNR said, and very few were out fishing.

In northwest Michigan, the Traverse City area had little to report, the DNR said, as both the East and the West Bay were still wide open. Several small lakes in Grand Traverse County had fishable ice where anglers were getting panfish and small pike.

In Osceola County, Sunrise Lake is beginning to see some activity, with small panfish being caught, the DNR said.

"People are out and about ice fishing now," Brad Cox, of Buck's Country Bait store said "It's going on at about every local lake around. There's about five to six inches on each one."

In Mecosta County, the bite was slow on Lake Mecosta, with only a handful of sunfish and crappie caught. Those fishing Haymarsh Lake in the state game area reported sunfish and a few bigger crappie, the DNR said. Anglers were out on Chippewa Lake and taking a few perch, sunfish and pike.

"They're start to fish a few more places now from what I've heard," Tanner Havens, of Frank's Sporting Goods, in Morley said. "At the river, they can be fishing now and walleye and perch are good from what've heard. At Chippewa Lake, some guys on Facebook were posting pictures. By this weekend, Canadian Lakes should be safe, so they can start fishing that."

The DNR said Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell had strong ice fishing for crappie, pike and walleye on both lakes. There was lots of fishing activity near Mitchell State Park.

"Bear Lake is doing good for pike and walleye," Dan Osborn of Osborn's Sport Shop in Bear Lake said. "Ice isn't very thick in a lot of spots."

Hamlin Lake had no ice, the DNR said.

"We have some ice on Bear Lake but no safe ice by Manistee," Dewey Buchner of Don's Sporting Goods in Manistee said. "Portage, they're starting to get out on, but you have to be careful. In the river, they're getting steelheads and browns by Tippy Dam using minnows. That's something new."

"The little lakes are getting some perch, crappies, pike and walleye," Steve Forrester of Backcast Flyshop said. "We're still waiting on the bigger lakes."

Fishing Tip: A lead alternative you might try

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Do you typically fish with lead jigs in the winter? Have you considered trying something different?

Tungsten jigs can be an excellent alternative, and they are heavier and denser than lead options. Although they often are smaller than their lead counterparts, they often produce similar sensations while fishing with them.

The next time you head to your favorite tackle shop, consider picking up some tungsten jigs to add to your inventory.