Ice fishing remains productive

More fish activity is showing up at local lakes. (Pioneer file)

BIG RAPIDS — Ice surfaces are generally thick in most areas although anglers are always advised to be careful.

In northwest Michigan, near Traverse City, ice fishing has been slow in the West Bay with only a few perch caught in Suttons Bay and south of Northport producing lake trout the DNR said.

“They’ve been catching some perch in the river,” Tanner Havens, of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “It looks like they’ve been catching some (crappie) behind our place on the pond. Guys were using green jigs and red spikes. It’s kind of like the wax worm. They were doing good midway for that. There was a guy out at Chippewa Lake who did good on (crappies) too. They weren’t quite as big as what they normally are. They’ve been catching walleyes on the river as well.”

“It’s been a little quiet but they are picking up some panfish” Warren Elka, of Triggertime Outfitters in Big Rapids, said. “There’s plenty of ice. As far as bite, the bite’s been quiet.”

In Benzonia, Long Lake is producing pike and perch. Crystal lake is producing pike and burbot. Lake trout were also caught on smelt, however smelt were not being caught in large numbers.

“There are some steelhead in the river but it it’s pretty slow with all the snow,” Nick Homan of Dloop Outfitters in Wellston said.

Anglers continue to catch pike, walleye, crappie, perch and bluegill at Lakes Mitchell and Cadillac.

The following is courtesy of the DNR.

Fishing Tip: Fish for FREE this weekend

Just a reminder this Saturday and Sunday brings the 2019 Winter #MiFreeFishingWeekend to Michigan.

On those two days all fishing license fees will be waived. Residents and out-of-state visitors can enjoy fishing on both inland and waters of the Great Lakes for all species during their respective open seasons. Please note all other regulations still apply during that time.

There are plenty of ways to take advantage of the upcoming Free Fishing Weekend – whether that means heading out to your favorite fishing hole or taking your family to an organized event. Please note all events are subject to local weather conditions.

More information on this weekend’s unique opportunity to fish for free and this year’s official events can be found at


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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