Ice fishermen hoping warmer weather this weekend will be to their advantage

BALDWIN — The DNR reports that across the state, many areas had little to no ice, so anglers need to be careful if they’re thinking of fishing.

Those visiting spots with open water were targeting and catching steelhead while those on ice in northern Michigan were seeing success looking for walleye, lake trout and perch.

Recent cold weather motivated many anglers not to fish, although warmer temperatures this weekend could change that.

“If it’s below 10, I don’t go,” active area fisherman Jeff Greene, of Rodney said. “We had four or five real cold days in a row and I didn’t even think of going. I went out (Tuesday), and to be honest, the only lake I can catch something on lately has been Hillview Lake. If you fish in the shallower water there, 12 to 15 feet, you can catch a dozen to 15 bluegills in an afternoon. If you want to go to where there’s 30 feet of water, they’ve been catching crappies.”

Locally, the ice seems to be OK in most fishing areas.

“They’ve been hitting the ice fairly decent,” George Tharp, of Ed’s Sports Shop in Baldwin said. “The fishing has been kind of mediocre. There have been a few people fishing south of here in Bitely. They’ve been hitting some fish on some of the lakes down there at a fairer rate than they have been close to town here.

“Ice has been holding pretty good with eight to 12 inches. They’ve been hitting everything with bluegills, crappies and pike. I don’t have a lot of reports on the steelhead fishing. We have very few guys that are going out. they said they are hitting a few, but mostly brown trout. So the steelhead fishing has not been all that exceptional, at least according to the reports.”

Craig Walters of the Eyes Have It in Leroy said anglers are catching crappies at Diamond Lake.

“At Rose, they are catching pike although not very big ones,” Walters said. “At Center Lake, they’re doing good with crappies, and a few nice bluegills. It’s going really good. It’s supposed to be a real nice week.”

Vic Havens at Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, indicated that fishing has been slow.

“I don’t know if it’s a weather factor or what,” Havens said. “At a tournament on the Muskegon River this past weekend, it was slow for that. A few guys have caught some fish. I’m hoping that this weekend, with warmer weather, people will get on the ice and actually do some fishing.”

“We’ve got decent ice forming on pretty much all the lakes,” Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co., in Manistee said. “The wind has kept a lot of the ice clean. It will be good fishable ice this weekend. They’re still fishing a stretch of the (Manistee) river from High Bridge down for steelhead.”

The Manistee River has had steelhead fishing. With colder temperatures in the forecast, it’s suggested that anglers check out the deeper holes, the DNR said.

“It’s kind of the same as last week,” Rob Eckerson, of Wellston, said. “We’ve still got some river angling for steelhead going on with fair to good success for this time of year. The river pretty much is totally accessible as people would hope for this time of year.

“Ice fishing has been OK. The barometer is spiking up and down and has kind of affected the bite. The ice has kind of stabilized. There’s still some edge issues getting on the ice where the snow drifted in and it may not have properly frozen. That continues to be a concern. But other than that, the ice is relatively safe. So that’s all good.”

The DNR reports that Benzie County’s Crystal Lake has open water while Betsie River is providing steelhead fishing.

“The only ice on Crystal Lake is near the Beulah side,” Desyre Shelton, from the Backcast Fly Shop in Benzonia, said. “A lot of people are going on Green Lake, Portage, Upper and Lower Herring. Green Lake is doing pretty good for smelt. There’s perch on Portage and Upper Herring. The river has been slow but they’re getting some. They’ve been going on Big Platte Lake.”

Dan Osborn, of Osborn’s Sport Shop in Bear Lake, wrapped up another fishing contest earlier this month. The contest was Feb. 5-7 and included all of Manistee or Benzie county lakes. Winning entries included a 15.39-pound pike and a 10.89-pound walleye.

“There’s plenty of safe ice on the lakes,” Osborn said. “They’re doing excellent on the perch.”

In nearby counties, Lake Cadillac anglers are still going after pike, walleye and panfish, but getting them to bite has not been easy, the DNR indicated, adding that pike numbers were still good for those using tip-ups.

Also, Lake Missaukee still had ice fishing and anglers were taking panfish and pike.

The Pere Marquette River is producing steelhead, the DNR added.