Michigan Fishing Report Week of February 20th, 2020
Southeast Lower Peninsula
Detroit River: Boat anglers have caught yellow perch in Airport Bay. They are sorting through the small ones but still getting a few keepers. Those fishing the canals around Gibraltar are also getting some fish.
Huron River: Boat and shore anglers are getting steelhead on Hot-n-Tots, small jigs with wax worms and black flies.
Oakland County: Had ice; however, some of the inland lakes still had open water and thin spots, so caution needs to be used. Melted snow has created a layer of secondary ice and slush on the existing ice. Anglers could be found on a few of the small inland lakes in the northern end of the county. They caught panfish and northern pike. The bite was not really aggressive. Best time slots were before 11 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m. The early morning bite for pike improved when using a tip-up with a golden shiner.
Lake St. Clair: Not much has changed as there is still some ice in the areas that have been holding on. Conditions are highly variable with the constant freeze/thaw cycles, and extreme caution needs to be used. Catch rates were slow as these same areas have been fished extensively because of the limited ice coverage.
Saginaw Bay: Ice conditions still vary throughout. Those fishing off the county park in Pinconning caught a few perch with jigs and minnows in 5 feet. A couple pike were also caught. At Linwood, anglers were only getting out a short distance, and catch rates were minimal. Those walking off the state park were on questionable ice, and open water could be seen from the parking lot. Some are walking straight out; some are fishing near the Kawkawlin River or heading out to the first main pile of ice before the open water starts. The ice is not safe beyond this point. Fishing was very slow, with just a couple walleye or whitefish taken by those jigging a Swedish pimple tipped with a minnow. Anglers were out from Sebewaing to Bay Port; however, ice conditions vary. Overall fishing was slow, with only a few pike caught in the marinas or near shore. Some perch were caught out of Mud Creek, but most were small. A couple walleye and lake trout were caught, but the overall fishing was slow. Ice formed once again at the pier in Caseville, and a few anglers fishing off the parking lot caught a couple lake trout. Use caution as the winds have moved the ice in and out at Caseville all winter.
Saginaw River: Had ice. Boats could only get out in a few small areas at Zilwaukee and the Saginaw Marina at Rust Avenue, but they were breaking ice to do so. With all the ice, piloting a boat was somewhat difficult. A couple walleye were caught when they could find open water, but the overall action was slow.
Tittabawassee River: Had ice, and the boat launches were not usable as there was a lot of shore ice.
Southwest Lower Peninsula
More anglers were out on the ice; however, fluctuating temperatures by the weekend will deteriorate the ice once again. Extreme caution still needs to be used, as one group of anglers went through the ice in Allegan County.
St. Joseph River: Continues to produce a few walleye and steelhead. Most were fishing near the Berrien Springs Dam. Look for the steelhead bite with the warm-up.
Kalamazoo County: Some lakes had ice fishing, while others had variable ice thickness. Extreme caution needs to be used.
Grand River near Grand Rapids: Continues to produce a few good runs of steelhead. Fish have been caught on jigs with wax worms, spawn and beads. Most are fishing near the 6th Street Dam and below. Walleye were caught off the wall and at Fulton Street. No big numbers, but steelhead still can be found in the Rogue River.
Grand River near Lansing: Few anglers have been out. Water levels near the North Lansing Dam were slightly high but fishable.
Kent County: Anglers were getting some bluegills on Murray Lake; however, caution needs to be used, especially on the north end.
Muskegon Lake: Small perch were caught in 8 to 12 feet off Cottage Grove. The pike action was good off Heritage Landing and Fisherman’s Landing. Bluegills were caught in the northwest corner off the state park.
Muskegon River: Had decent steelhead fishing.
White Lake: Perch were caught on the west end. Look for walleye on the east end.
Northeast Lower Peninsula
Burt Lake: Ice anglers could be found from Maple Bay to Indian River and north. Anglers caught walleye, perch and some nice pike. A good number of burbot were also caught. Most were fishing in 30 to 40 feet.
Mullett Lake: Ice anglers targeting 30 to 40 feet found walleye, perch and pike. More fish were caught deep than in the shallows. Good numbers of burbot also have been caught.
Higgins Lake: Ice fishing is in full swing, and catch rates were fair to good. Lake trout still can be found near the bottom in 80 to 100 feet. Most are using smelt or golden shiners. Whitefish were hitting on spawn near the bottom in 80 feet or so. Pike are still being taken on tip-ups and by those spearing. Smelt activity continues in 40 to 65 feet, with a fair to good number of fish caught.
Houghton Lake: Had a good number of anglers out on the ice. The pressure crack between Long Point and the west shore froze up; however, anglers still should use extreme caution in this area. Those fishing off Flint Road caught bluegills, crappie, perch and walleye. Fish were caught in Muddy Bay near the west side launch. Walleye were found in 12 to 14 feet, while the panfish were in 8 feet or so. Crappie are hitting perch minnows, while the bluegills were hitting wax worms and spike. For walleye, try glow spoons or a Swedish pimple with a minnow head. The bite improved just before dark.
Tawas: Ice anglers were out about half a mile off the access road near Jerry’s Marina. Those fishing in 15 to 20 feet caught a couple walleye and lake trout on spoons and when jigging rapalas tipped with minnows.
Au Gres: A few small bluegills, rock bass and crappie were caught at Eagle Bay when using minnows or wax worms. At Northport, those using tip-ups with minnows caught pike.
Au Gres River: Ice anglers caught the odd pike.
Northwest Lower Peninsula
Thumb Lake: Has ice and lots of anglers; however, in the east basin, ice conditions in the deepest hole were unknown. Most were using four-wheelers and snowmobiles. A lot of small perch, a few up to 10 inches, were caught in 8 to 20 feet along the beach access when jigging wax worms or minnows on the bottom. Wax worms seem to work better. Those fishing in deeper water up to 40 feet did not catch as many. Fish were also caught in 6 to 15 feet off the boat launch. A few more splake were harvested off the beach access when jigging perch minnows 2 feet off the bottom in 12 to 18 feet and around the island in 30 feet.
Lake Charlevoix: Was frozen. Anglers were reported near Hemmingway Point and on Horton Bay. Ice conditions west of Hemmingway Point were unknown.
Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Had good ice fishing for pike and crappie. On Cadillac, fish were caught off Kenwood Park. On Mitchell, fish were caught just outside Small Cove with minnows or wax worms. Walleye fishing slowed, but a few were caught in the evening.
Manistee River: Look for steelhead in the deeper holes during the cold snap. Brown trout fishing was slow below Tippy Dam. With the next thaw, steelhead fishing should really pick up.
Pere Marquette River: Was also producing steelhead for those using spawn, beads and wax worms.
Keweenaw Bay: Some managed to catch splake, brown trout, coho, lake trout and the occasional lake herring. Night anglers fishing for burbot and smelt reported slow catch rates, with only a few taken. Shore anglers had to battle pack ice to fish but did manage to get some coho and lake herring.
Little Bay De Noc: After the cold temperatures, anglers were as far south as the Ford River. Walleye anglers had mixed results; however, bigger fish were starting to show up. The better areas to fish were the Center Reef in 24 to 32 feet, near the Escanaba River in 30 to 35 feet, the “Black Bottom” in 25 to 30 feet or south of Aronson Island in 30 to 35 feet. Anglers were using jig raps or tip-ups with minnows. Perch anglers also had mixed results. The best areas were Kipling near the green buoy in 21 to 35 feet or Escanaba near the ship docks in 30 to 35 feet with wigglers or minnows. The occasional pike also was caught. The whitefish anglers have not had a lot of success this year. A few were caught near Gladstone when using minnows in 35 feet.
Indian Lake: Near Manistique was good for walleye in 10 to 15 feet.
Munising: Cold weather helped ice conditions; however, ice fishing is not recommended in the following areas – Christmas, Grand Island Ferry Access (Trout Bay is still open except for floating pack ice) and Sand Point. Ice anglers could be found off the Anna River access, Sunset Motel, city docks and Powell Point. A few whitefish were caught, but in general the action was very slow. Try 55 to 65 feet. A few coho were caught by those jigging spoons, but only as incidental catches when a school of fish passed through. No reports on splake or smelt, as catch rates were very slow.
Whitefish Bay: Finally has ice. A few anglers have ventured out in Emerson Bay; however, no catch reports have come in.
St. Marys River: Those fishing Mosquito Bay have caught lake herring and whitefish.
Cedarville and Hessel: There was no word on Musky Bay. Those fishing around the Les Cheneaux Islands could be found in Government Bay and in the Cedarville Channel; however, success rates and ice conditions were unknown. In Hessel Bay, those jigging wax worms, wigglers and minnows in 15 to 20 feet caught yellow perch ranging from 7-9 inches. Wigglers seem to work best. Anglers have seen schools of jumbo perch, but they could not get them to bite.
Brevoort Lake: Was still good for yellow perch and walleye. Northern pike numbers have slowed a bit.
Fishing Tip: Techniques to target trout through the ice
Many anglers look forward to the opportunity to target trout – and not just on April 25 for the statewide opener! Trout fishing through the ice can be quite fun, if you use the proper techniques. Consider the following:
Certain species of trout, particularly brown trout, really gravitate to tip-ups as they linger in shallower water. Consider your depth if you do this type of fishing.
Lake trout and brown trout can be attracted easily by jigging with a spoon. For lake trout use a piece of smelt or sucker as your bait. For brown trout use the head of a minnow.
Don’t want to sit on the ice looking for trout? Then gear up for the open-water season! Check out lots of information about Michigan’s trout species online.