Ice fishing starts, but surfaces are thin and dangerous

It’s still not safe for ice fishing at many places. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Ice is forming on the inland lakes, the DNR reports, but most do not have safe ice yet.

There was no safeproof ice in northwest Michigan.

A spokesperson at the LeRoy bait shop said there’s been ice activity in the area.

“There’s about four inches on most lakes,” he said. “You have to spud your way out before you go out there.”

Rose Lake appears to be good for ice but not Center Lake , he added.

“They’re fishing Lake Mecosta, the Morley Pond, the Haymarsh, Indian Lake, a private one,” Dustin Hammer of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “There’s some pike and bluegills out back of the store. Steelhead fishing is a little slow in the river

The DNR reports a few shallow lakes had ice but, the area also received a couple inches of wet snow. The DNR added about the only ones out fishing were those targeting steelhead, which still can be found in the rivers.

“They’re fishing the (Manistee) river for steelhead,” Rob Eckerson, of Pappy’s in Wellston, said. “There’s coho at Tippy Dam. The Little Manistee has had activity for steelhead as well. I don’t believe we have any usable ice yet.”

“Brown trout fishing has been doing really good,” Chelsea Pete, of DLoop Outfitters, said. “We got a good push of water the other day. That really helped a lot.”

Kristen Loeffler, of Don’s Sporting Goods, in Manistee said anglers are trying to go ice fishing.

“Some people have headed to Manistee,” she said. “I heard some people went over to Cadillac, but am not sure how thick the ice is. Probably not very thick. People are mostly fishing off the piers right now.”

Fishermen caught steelhead on the Pere Marquette River from the piers in Lake County.  Some nice fish were caught, the DNR said, but getting them to bite has been a challenge at times.

Pier anglers at Pentwater were catching the odd steelhead or coho.

FISHING TIP

The following ice fishing tips are from the Michigan DNR:

Ice is slowly starting to form throughout the state, thus providing anglers with an opportunity to go fishing. Will you be joining them? Then it’s time to get prepared to head out safely on the ice!.

Equipment: You’ll need some special equipment if you head out ice fishing. Take stock of your spud/auger, skimmer, shelter and apparel to have an enjoyable experience out on the water.

Techniques: Pick your preferred ice fishing technique and the species you wish to target and brush up on your skills – whether that is hook-and-line fishing for bluegill, sunfish, perch or crappie; using tip-ups for northern pike, walleye or trout; or spearing for northern pike, muskellunge or sturgeon.

Safety: You should always stay safe when heading on the ice. These five tips can help: 1) Never fish alone; 2) Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return; 3) Always test the ice with a spud; 4) Take the appropriate emergency items, such as a lifejacket and ice picks; and 5) Take a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help. Keep it in a plastic, sealable bag to make sure it doesn’t get wet.

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