Ice fishermen finding mixed results locally

BIG RAPIDS — January fishing could be an adventure for anglers, depending on the time and location.

Areawide, ice surfaces generally seem to be thick enough for fishing.

“There’s lots of good ice, at least seven inches and quite a few perch on Rose Lake,” Craig Walters, of The Eyes Have It bait shop in LeRoy, said. “We saw a 13-incher (on Monday). There’s pike on Sunrise Lake just all around good fishing right now.”

Jeff Greene, of Rodney, recently returned from a hunting trip in Oklahoma and got back to his ice fishing routine.

“I missed that first ice, but since then I’ve been to Haymarsh Lake four times, and I guess the key word would be inconsistent,” Greene said. “The first time I got 11 nice ones (bluegills) The next time I got zero. The third time I got three and the next time I got 25.”

He’s found at least seven inches of ice wherever he’s been.

There’s safe ice for fishermen in many locations. But there are some who indicate safety on the ice isn’t guaranteed at various spots.

Dewey Buchner, of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee, said anglers are doing well ice fishing on Hamlin Lake.

“There’s bluegill and pan fishing and they’re getting a couple of nice pike,” Buchner said. “They’re fishing on Chief Lake for bluegills, panfish and pike, plus crappies. They just started getting out on Manistee. But on all of them, they still have to be careful.

“I’ve heard rumors they’re getting out on Portage, which will be good this weekend.”

“Right now, they’re just catching steelhead in the river,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangled Tackle Co., in Manistee said. “They’re getting a few small browns by the dam. I haven’t heard a lot of ice fishing going on yet. Most of the lakes are uncovered. We’re waiting for some more cold weather to get the lakes frozen up.”

“The steelhead are biting good,” Chelsea Pete, of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston, said. “We’ve had a good amount of browns and there should be more activity as at the temperatures drop. The little (Manistee) river closes on the 1st.”

On Tuesday, Walters said Tuesday fishing activity was impressive.

“There’s a lot of of fishing going on,” Walters said. “They’re biting like crazy. There’s a few walleyes. Rose Lake has been really hot. There’s anywhere from two to 10 inches, but you have to be careful and check (the ice) as you go.”

Greg Park, of Schafer’s Bait & Sporting Goods in Weidman, said activity as of Tuesday was still slow. He’s anticipating ice fishing would be better by this weekend.

It’s advised for anyone heading out, to not fish alone, wear a life jacket and be sure to use a spud to test the ice thickness.

“They’re getting some steelhead in the river,” Park said. ‘‘We’re waiting for ice.”

At Lake Cadillac, there were a few anglers out on the west end of the lake. The DNR tells anglers it would be a good idea to avoid the deeper waters at this time.

Meanwhile, Lake Mitchell has a few ice spots and anglers were targeting bluegill and crappie in Big Cove while Lake Missaukee had a few ice anglers fishing in shallow waters.

“Crystal Lake will be probably be a month (to freeeze over),”  fishing expert of Dave Rommel, of Frankfort, said. “There’s some ice on the others but not too much yet. I haven’t gotten a river report in a couple of weeks.”

The DNR adds the Muskegon River continues to produce some steelhead with water temperatures in the mid 30’s and skim ice was found along the shoreline.

Higgins Lake was all open water except for a little ice around the shoreline. Houghton Lake has ice but the better ice was close to shore in the shallows. A few pike have been taken on tip-ups with blues or golden shiners.