Anglers cautioned to make sure ice is safe

USE CAUTION: Area anglers are advised to take caution on the ice. (File photo)

USE CAUTION: Area anglers are advised to take caution on the ice. (File photo)

BALDWIN — Recent cold weather started the process of getting good ice on lakes and water surfaces. But anglers are still advised to make sure ice is safe especially with Monday’s warming trend.

The DNR points out while some fishermen have started ice fishing, anglers need to use extreme caution especially on the inland lakes.

The DNR points out first ice is dangerous ice, while snow cover makes it even more dangerous. The deep snow insulates the ice, the DNR explained, and prevents it from forming to a uniform thickness that is safe.

Craig Walter of The Eyes Have it bait store in LeRoy said on Tuesday fishing activity was impressive.

“There’s lot of of fishing going on,” Walter 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, don’t fish alone, wear a life jacket and be sure to use a spud to test the ice thickness. Strong winds and warmer temperatures by the weekend is expected to further affect ice conditions.

“The water temperatures continue to cool,” Chelsea Pete, of Schmidt Outfitters in Wellston said. Steelhead activity continues in the rivers, but otherwise, fishing is slow, Pete added.

Ice is forming on the inland lakes, in northwest Michigan, but areas in the snow-belt have received quite a bit of snow, which will insulate the ice and slow the freezing process, the DNR says.

“They seem to be doing quite well with steelhead in the river,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangled Tackle Co. said. “Spawn and jigs appear to be (preferable). As far as ice fishing goes, I saw a couple of guys across Manistee Lake. On the south end of the lake, there were a couple of guys fishing for pike but I don’t know how well they did.”

Anglers going out were fishing in shallow waters only.

“There are people fishing at the east end of Portage Lake,” Fitzgerald said. “There were people fishing on Bear Lake and Barr Lake.”

The DNR also advises anglers to be careful near inlets and outlets, while some limits of panfish were reported by those fishing in shallow water.

“They’re picking up a few things actually,” Dan Osborn of Osborn’s Sport Shop in Bear Lake said. “There’s Arcadia Lake, Bear Lake, Portage Lake. They say they’re going on it. They’re still catching steelhead at the river. There’s still good fishing down there, all winter. I haven’t heard of a bad day except when it’s too cold go fishing.”

Dewey Buchner, at Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee agrees that ice isn’t safe yet, especially at various spots.

“They’re getting some steelhead in the river,” he 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.

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Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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