Ice fishing season has ended

BIG RAPIDS -- Locally, ice fishing season reportedly has all but ended.

The DNR reminds anglers pike and walleye season on the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, the St. Marys River and U.P. inland waters, as well as all Lower Peninsula inland waters, ends at midnight this Sunday.

The DNR adds the season is open all year on the Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River.

The DNR added musky season on all the Great Lakes and inland waters as well as the St. Marys River, also will close at midnight March 15.

In Osceola County, Brad Cox at Buck County Bait and Tackle in LeRoy, indicated "things have slowed down. There's a few ice fishermen making it out. There's still 10 inches. Lots of guys are heading to the river steelhead fishing. Other than that, things are pretty slow."

In Mecosta County, "Probably the main thing is perch by Eight Mile, north of Davis Bridge" Tanner Havens, of Frank's Sporting Goods in Morley, said. "They've been catching a bunch of perch at the bend, a few last minute walleye up the bend from there. They've been vertically jigging for them using wigglers, minnows and regular worms.

"At Croton, the steelhead are starting to warm up down there."

Havens said there's no ice in the area.

In northwest Michigan, the DNR reports Thumb Lake still had ice, and anglers were catching splake when jigging minnows in 20 to 30 feet.

Perch are still being caught off the beach access, the DNR said, and at the boat launch when jigging either minnows or wax worms. Anglers using wax worms were getting more fish. But the DNR said they are sorting through a lot of small ones to get a few keepers.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell still had ice fishing opportunities for pike, walleye and panfish, the DNR said.

"Thursday, people were at the pier and 55 Bridge and Bear Creek where they're getting a lot steelhead and browns," Dewey Buchner of Don's Sporting Goods in Manistee, said. "They're getting perch out of Manistee."

"There's steelhead fishing in the Big Manistee," Rob Eckerson of Pappy's Bait Shop in Wellston said. "The water is on the high side. It's approaching 38 degrees so we have a few fish spawning. The little Manistee is closed until April 1. The ice, if it's still there, is unsafe."

At Manistee River water levels were good so far, and steelhead numbers are improving, the DNR said. Steelhead and the odd salmon were found in Bear Creek.

"The ice is out and guys are getting perch on Manistee Lake boat fishing," Larry Scharich of Shipwatch Marina in Manistee said.

"The river fishing, the ice is pretty much done but we are getting some steelhead in the river," Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co. in Manistee said. "The lower stretch, due to rain, is really dark and murkey, while from Tippy Dam down to Rainbow Bend is clear. A lot of fish are being caught up river."

Boat anglers at Manistee Lake, launching from Arthur Street, caught crappie and perch the DNR said.

At the Pere Marquette River. steelhead fishing is improving, the DNR added.

Fishing Tip: Targeting walleye at the end of ice season

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Walleye are a popular target for many ice anglers, particularly as the season wears on, the DNR said.

Pursuing these aggressive fish can be a great adventure, especially if you follow some of these tactics.

Focus on using jigs with spoons or minnows or tip-ups with live bait to see the most success. You might want to use a few tip-ups and then jig around that same area.

Think about the depth of water as well as the time of day. Walleye fishing through the ice usually begins and ends in shallow water areas with deep water more productive during the heart of the winter.