DNR, local anglers adjust to spring fishing season

MANISTEE — As anglers transition from ice fishing to open water fishing, some are getting out in boats while others are targeting the rivers for trout and suckers, the DNR said.  Many of the bays and marinas were still ice covered but the ice was not safe.

The DNR reminds fishermen on Saturday all anglers 17 years of age and older will be required to have a 2017 fishing license.  Anglers are also reminded to hang on to the current fishing guide which covers the regulations for both 2016 and 2017 – or check out the latest version by visiting Michigan.gov/fishingguide.

The DNR said all ice in northwest Michigan should be considered to be unsafe. Fishermen are starting to fish for steelhead near the mouth of the Boyne River and the Jordan River.

Craig Walter, of The Eyes Have It Bait shop in Leroy, anticipates activity at his store to increase as anglers anticipate open water fishing.

“Davis Bridge is doing well on perch,” Tanner Havens, of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “I heard a guy caught 110 and kept 40. I heard crappies are starting to bite now. They’re getting some around Davis. Steelhead by Croton has been pretty good. Seems like everyone is catching fish out there.”

“The water is warming up and fishing has been sporadic off and on. The water levels are good and the water is clear,” Chelsea Pete, of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston, said.

The DNR reports fishermen continue to catch steelhead at the Manistee River and fishing should be good by the weekend.

“They are catching perch in Manistee Lake and Portage Lake now that the ice (is gone),” Rob Eckerson of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston said. “This warmer weather is helping the river as well. We were down around 35 and now are at 38. It’s in the right direction. Fish don’t bite as well in the cold water. It should be a better weekend.”

The Betsie River was producing the occasional steelhead.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell still had ice but no fishable ice, the DNR said, while anglers are advised to wait for open water fishing.

“They’re catching some steelheads and browns off the pier,” Dewey Buchner, of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee, said. “In Manistee Lake they’re getting some nice perch. In the river, they’re getting steelheads and browns, but nothing real heavy yet until this weather straightens up.”

A few boats were starting to head out and target brown trout in shallow waters near shore at Ludington, the DNR said. Pier anglers should also find some steelhead and brown trout.

“So far brown trout fishing has been real good this spring,” active fisherman Dave Rommel of Frankfort said. “Perch fishing at Crystal Lake has been spectacular.”

At the Pere Marquette, steelhead fishing picked up with the warmer weather and should only get better as the spring rains arrive the DNR said.

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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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