Number of area anglers down

Anglers continue to wait for the ice. (Pioneer file photo)

MANISTEE — The number of anglers heading out continues to decline, the DNR reports.

Windy conditions have hampered fishing along the Great Lakes. Good walleye fishing was reported on both Saginaw Bay and the Saginaw River, the DNR said, adding ice was starting to form on the inland lakes but there is no safe ice to report.

“It’s down until we get safe ice,” Tanner Havens of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “There’s a group of guys up north. I hear they’re fishing at Houghton Lake on the river and he and his son had their limit of walleyes each. I’ve heard of some guys perch fishing around Davis Bridge but don’t know how that is yet.”

In northwest Michigan, “we’re still fishing steelhead in the Big Manistee,” Rob Eckerson, of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston, said. “Water levels are in fair shape. We’re entering winter conditions. The Little Manistee is also fishable and has had a number of fish in it as well. There’s no ice for the ice fishermen.”

Those braving the cold at the Little Manistee, caught steelhead, but the bite was slow.

“Fishing is starting to pick up,” Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangle Tackle Co., Manistee, said. “We’ve weighed several large steelhead including a male of over 19,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangled Tackle Co., in Manistee. “The river has picked up. Beads are working. I haven’t heard anything of perch yet.”

Though inland lakes in the area are making ice, the DNR points out there is no safe ice to report. Ice information has been very spotty, and the freezing process has been inconsistent.

The DNR pointed out a large area of Lake Mitchell opened with the windy conditions a couple nights ago and there was still open water. The ice could be 5-inches thick in one spot and only 1-inch thick one step over.

“I’ve had some people going off the pier,” Kirstin Loeffler, of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee, said. “Some guys are going for steelhead. A lot of guys are going to the river. Manistee Lake, I’ve heard of guys going for pike and perch.”

Pere Marquette River had a slow steelhead bite, the DNR said, while Pentwater River had some big steelhead which were caught.

Desyre Shelton, of Benzonia Backcast Flyshop, said fishing activity was extremely light in the area.

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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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