Frosty weather builds safer ice, in most spots

Haymarsh Lake will be among the area’s most popular lakes.

BIG RAPIDS —Ice fishing was expected to get a boost with frigid post-Christmas weather earlier this week.

In Mecosta County, Dustin Hammer of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, reported anglers got on the Morley Pond late last week. “They’re fishing at the inlets of Browers Park and pretty much any of the coves,” Hammer said. “They’re fishing Lake Mecosta. They’re fishing the Haymarsh too.”

“There’s decent enough places that are getting enough ice,” Brian Maltowski of Triggertime Outfitters in Big Rapids said. “People have been out on the river. They’re doing decent on walleyes.”

It was reported late last week conditions were marginal and those out on the ice appear to be fishing in no more than 2 to 3 feet. That was likely to change to thicker ice earlier this week with the current cold front.

Perch fishing on first ice can be very good if anglers are in the right place at the right time, the DNR said. No one in the Tri-Cities are taking machines out yet. Those heading out to shallow waters are walking. It is a good idea to wear a pair of neoprene waders when fishing in shallow waters, the DNR added.

At the Saginaw River, boat and shore anglers could get out and target walleye. The river was wide open. The current cold front will likely make it trickier.

“On Christmas Eve, I did a little bit of walking with the spud and found anywhere from four to seven inches,” Travis Bohy, of Jay’s Sporting Good’s in Clare, said. “It depends on where you went. The ice wasn’t bad, but the fishing wasn’t worth a damn. We caught some perch, but that wasn’t good. But the ice isn’t solid. The temperature doesn’t seem to bother them too much. It’s not windy, that’s the clincher.”

Brandon Stanton, of Team Gunsmoke Sportfishing near Elkton, said anglers are doing well in Caseville.

“We needed a little bit more ice and this cold front will help us out,” Stanton said. “We’ve been doing good the last two weeks, last week, they were sluggish with the cold front coming in.”

Despite the cold front, Stanton said anglers need to be extremely cautious of ice thickness in certain spots.

In northwest Michigan, the Boyne River had steelhead while the Betsie was producing steelhead and the bite improved by afternoon when the sun was out.

“I haven’t heard too much about the steelhead,” Dane Bovee, of the Benzie Fly Shop in Benzonia, said. “I assume it will be pretty similar to how it was last weekend. A few of the smaller inland lakes are getting safer in terms of ice.”

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell are frozen but the ice is not safe there the DNR said, but there is too much snow and slush covering the ice.

There’s some trout in the Big Manistee River.

“There’s certainly fish in the river,” Matt Bartels of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston said. “When it’s good it’s good, but when they don’t feel like eating, you’re going to work your butt off to get a couple of fish.”

“We’re getting some ice now but most of the guys are heading to Canfield Lake,” Kristen Loeffler of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee said. “They said they’re getting crappies. They’re getting five inches of ice.”

Those fishing the Little Manistee River have also taken some steelhead.

“They’re starting to get on a few of the lakes ice fishing around Manistee County,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangle Tackle Co. said. “There’s Bear Creek and some of the smaller rivers are doing good with steelhead, trout and brown trout. There’s still a lot of traffic on the Big Manistee.”

There’s still some steelhead in the Pere Marquette River and Pentwater River.



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

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