Anglers having mixed results with fishing

Ice anglers continue to have fun.

BIG RAPIDS – The DNR reports rain and warmer temperatures deteriorated some of the ice along the Great Lakes.

Locally, anglers are providing mixed details.

A spokesperson for Anchor Wizard in Evart, said his brother, has been at Higgins Lake spearing pike

“But it’s been slow right now,” he added. “There’s plenty of ice around.”

A spokeswoman at Trigger time Outfitters in Big Rapids, confirmed that ice fishing activity in the area has been slow.

The DNR indicated those out fishing on any large body of water such as Saginaw Bay will need to pay close attention to wind direction.

The DNR’s website states the following:

“Ice conditions around the Saginaw Bay are not good as they are changing all the time. Reports are coming in of snowmobiles and ATV’s going through the ice at the pressure cracks. Perch and walleye fishing were pretty good along the west side from White’s Beach south to the Bay City State Park. Perch fishing was pretty good from White’s Beach in 6 feet all the way to Linwood. Most of the perch were coming from 4 to 6 feet off Pinconning, Newman Road, Erickson Road, Coggins Road, and Linwood Road when using minnows or jack-hooks baited with a red plastic bead. Some limits were also reported. Walleye anglers were going to the Black Hole and out around the Spark Plug and getting fish on jigging spoons or a blue and silver jigging rapala tipped with a minnow.

“Off Bay City State Park, walleye anglers were fishing in the old shipping channel and over the dumping grounds in 20 feet. There was up to 6 inches of water on top of the ice in places near the second pressure crack off Linwood. No one is fishing out near Spoils Island due to poor ice conditions. Most of the activity was at Sunset Bay Marina with walleye anglers going out to mid-bay and also the Slot but watch out for the pressure crack. It would be good to avoid the area off Finn Road and Callahan Road as the Hot Pond discharge seriously weakened the ice in that area. Fishing up the east side from Sebewaing to Caseville was terrible as perch fishing was just plain poor. Mud Creek was also slow but a few were doing a little bit better there. Slow fishing at Caseville because of muddy water in the river and marinas.”

The website adds the following about the Saginaw River;

Ice conditions were bad on the entire river and no one was out fishing. A few were in the marinas near the mouth but nobody was really doing any good. Colder weather (last) weekend may improve ice conditions.”

Woody Raymond of the Sanford Sports Shop said it’s been “spotty” lately in area water spots. One of his customers did have success going for walleyes at the bay on Tuesday but has had previous success. He was planning to fish at Wixom Lake for crappies on Tuesday and was hoping for success.

“The water got dirty from the recent thaw,” he aid. “Fish don’t like to bite when the water is dirty.”

The DNR reports ice fishing is still going strong in the northwest part of the state. There are high numbers of fishermen going after pike, walleye and panfish.

Perch fishing at Portage Lake continues but, the DNR said, anglers were still sorting through a lot of small ones. Those fishing in deeper water were still getting some lake herring when using a Hali jig.

“The rivers are starting to dam up,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangle Tackle, Co. of Manistee said. “Ice is starting to fill in. It will be a little tough for river fishing a week or so. Manistee Lake has frozen over. Portage Lake is still spotty, as far as perch fishing.”

Steelhead in the Manistee River were found during the warm spell but the DNR suggested that as a deep freeze takes place, fishing might not be all that great by the weekend. Most were using spawn, jig and wax worm, beads and flies.

“I don’t think we’ve really had anybody out this week,” Matt Barthels, of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston, said. “Over the weekend, it was good with the warmer weather, with some fresher fish moving up and being caught. Since the cold spell, we haven’t had that many people out.”

“People are pretty much scattered,” Kristen Loeffler, of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee said. “A lot of people are going to Manistee for pike and catching good-sized ones. They’re also going for perch in Manistee Lake. I’ve heard of a few people gong to Crystal Lake.”

The DNR reported ice was slippery with not much snow on top at lakes Cadillac and Mitchell. Anglers are advised to bring some cleats. Those using tip-ups have caught some decent pike. The crappie fishing was very good with limit catches reported. A good number of bluegills and sunfish have been caught on both lakes.

Anglers at Lake Missaukee have caught bluegills and crappie, plus a couple walleye near the drop-offs.

Anglers at the Pere Marquette were steelhead fishing after the rain and warmer temperatures. The shelf ice upriver cleared out so anglers were able to throw small eggs and nymphs.

Manistee Lake in Kalkaska County was producing some crappie, and the best bet was using a jig tipped with a minnow. Those in the southeast corner of the lake were spearing pike.

Fife Lake in Grand Traverse County was producing a good number of pike just east of the boat launch while a few smaller perch were caught in 15 to 30 feet.

“The only thing I’ve been hearing lately is most of the ice is safe,” Dane Bovee of the Benzie Backcast Fly Shop in Benzonia, said. “I know Crystal has been fishing good for lake trout.”




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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