Ice fishing success remains high

Anglers hitting the hot spots so far

It's free fishing weekend and anglers hope the fish are really biting.

It's free fishing weekend and anglers hope the fish are really biting.

Pioneer photo/John Raffel

BIG RAPIDS – It continues to be a successful ice fishing season locally.

Brad Cox, of Buck’s Country Bait shop in LeRoy, reports all lakes continue to do well for panfish, including Rose Lake.

In Mecosta County, “I’ve been doing well at Haymarsh but I live close to Hillview Lake,” Rodney area resident and active ice angler Jeff Greene said. “So I went there twice and both times I caught all the specs (crappies) I wanted to. I didn’t have any minnows, I just had wax worms. But I did really well. The first time I was in 19 feet of water. The second time was 35 feet of water. I think if you want to catch crappies, Hillview is the lake to go to.”

In Manistee, “they’re getting some perch and pike at Portage Lake,” Larry Scharich at Shipwatch Marina in Manistee said. “They’re getting pike on Manistee Lake. In the upper stretches of the river, they’re getting some steelhead.”

“The perch are spotty,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangled Tackle Co., said. “They’re here one day and gone the next. Portage Lake has small perch.”

“At Pere Marquette Lake, the ice is solid,” a spokesman at Captain Chuck’s said. “Pike fishing has been good at PM Lake. Crappie fishing is slow. At Pentwater, it’s slow to steady for perch.”

A spokesperson at Backcast in Benzonia said Crystal Lake is finally frozen over but there have been no reports from anglers there.

Fishermen are reminded to report marked and tagged fishing they may encounter while fishing. Fisheries managers are continuously monitoring fish populations using clipped and marked fish. Reports can be made by filling the DNR’s Eyes in the Field form.

In northwest Michigan, anglers were catching cisco in 50 to 100 feet of water. Fishing earlier in the day provided the best action.

Pike fishing at Portage Lake was decent with several small fish caught and an occasional keeper.

At Manistee Lake decent perch fishing occurred off the 9th street boat launch. Pike fishing was also good, the DNR said.

Fishing Tip: Understanding fish posture to help with ice fishing success

Courtesy of Michigan DNR

Fish often maintain one of two postures – one where they are ready to strike (fins up and backs arched) or one where they are focused on traveling (fins tucked in). Understanding these postures can aid in your fishing success, particularly through the ice.

The first step when using fish posture to impact your ice fishing techniques is to have appropriate equipment, such as sonar. This tool allows you to visualize the posture and react effectively.

Secondly, pay attention to time periods of aggressive posture. Most likely you will see it exhibited around sunrise and sunset – plan your trips accordingly.


All anglers 17 years  and older are required to have a fishing licenses.