SFM Ice Fishing Report 01.17.17

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Wexford County, Antrim, Leelanau, and Manistee Counties

As we enter mid-January in northern Michigan we are faced with an aggressive warming trend that is threatening ice conditions. To a lot of people in the region this is great news, but for ice fisherman it is depressing! Looking at the 10-12 day forecast, it looks like most lakes will face very slushy and wet conditions, which will indeed lead to potentially unsafe ice conditions. As we all know, the weather forecast can change from day to day, so lets keep our fingers crossed for colder temperatures. We ask that all anglers read the current ice report and understand that it is regarding “current” conditions, as we expect things to deteriorate over the next week. Things will be changing every day, and so what may have been safe a day or two ago may not be on following days. Please be safe and use your best judgment when venturing out on the ice.

Crystal Lake in Benzie County has formed 4-5 inches of ice coverage on the very east end of the lake. Anglers have had nice catches of perch in 25 feet of water fishing off the Beulah access. The remainder of the lake is virtually open water. The only fishable water is right off of the town of Beulah. We feel that this will change with the forecast and create unsafe conditions in the very near future.

Long Lake in Benzie County has formed 10-11 inches of ice. The pike have been found in 7-10 feet of water on top of, and adjacent to, weed beds and flats. Perch and pike have been found in 10-13 feet of water. Tip-ups with golden minnows set 1-3 feet of bottom have been most productive for pike. Perch minnows and small tungsten jigs have taken fair catches of perch.

Bass and Otter Lakes in Benzie County both have formed 9-10 inches of ice. Pike fishing in Bass Lake is still producing a lot of action on undersized fish in the 18-22 inch range. Blue gill and crappie have been found in 15-18 feet of water at first and last light in both lakes. Perch fishing in Otter Lake has been slow, some fish have been found in 20-23 feet of water.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 8-9 inches of ice. Smelt fishing has been slow on both ends of the lake. Marking fish has been fairly easy however finding active schools has been difficult for most. 60 feet of water has produced the most smelt action after dark. Anglers targeting pike have had success in 10-15 feet in weed-covered flats and along steep breaks. Perch have been found in 35-45 feet of water.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 7-9 inches of ice depending on what region of the lake you are on. Long Lake can be very inconsistent in ice thickness. Anglers should use extreme caution fishing Long Lake. Anglers have had success finding active walleye both jigging and fishing tip-ups along steep breaks and adjacent to weed beds in 30-35ft. The hottest depth for both big perch and walleye seems to be 25-35 feet, depending on the time of day. Large perch have been found in 30-40 feet of water as well. Anglers have not found large numbers of perch. However the perch being caught have been very nice in size.

South Lake Leelanau has 8-9 inches of ice on the south portion of the lake only. The north end of the lake is not producing safe ice at this time due to inconsistent weather and winds. Anglers have found perch, pike, and walleye off all major boat ramp sites. Walleye fishing has been best in 18-25 feet mostly on tip-ups and larger blue minnow presentations. Perch have been found in 15-25 feet depending on the bottom makeup. The shallower weed clumps have produced nice quality, however the deeper, softer weed-covered depths are producing numbers of fish.

Skegemog Lake in Antrim County has 9-11 inches of ice coverage off the south shore Baggs Road access site. Anglers using blues, tungsten jigs, and wax worms accompanied by an underwater camera have had great success. 11-16 feet of water seems to produce active fish on a consistent basis. The larger perch have been coming on orange and green tungsten jigs tipped with spikes and wax worms. Anglers targeting pike and musky have been reporting slower action. A word of caution to anglers venturing close to the Skegemog and Elk Lake channel—a snowmobile went through just 2 days ago, and while the person was safely rescued, it goes to show that ice near any current can be weaker—such as was the case here. The further to the west anglers venture, be prepared for thinner and thinner ice.

Portage Lake in Manistee County is has formed 8-10 inches of ice coverage. Anglers have been fishing mostly off of the north access sights for perch, pike and walleye. Most perch have been found feeding on top of weed-covered areas in 16-25 feet. Anglers pursuing large perch in smaller schools have been targeting the 35-40 feet of water. This is also a great depth to jig and set tip-ups for walleye.

Bear Lake in Manistee County has formed 9-11 inches of ice. Anglers have been targeting walleye and pike off of southwest and north access sites. The more aggressive fish have been feeding along weed-covered drop-offs and contour changes in depths ranging from 12-18 feet. Pike and walleye seem to be on the move together feeding in the same general areas.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac in Wexford County have both formed 10-12 inches of ice. Blue gill and crappie have been slow in action and small in size during the middle of the day. However, crappie and bluegill have been on the move in both lakes during early morning and late evening. Transitioning from 8-10 foot weed flats to 16-20 foot holes and drop-offs throughout the day. Walleye have been found in 19-21 feet on Lake Mitchell. Pike have been active throughout the day; larger pike have been coming on tip-ups using 4-5 inch sucker minnows as bait. Weed covered flats ranging from 9-12 feet have been best for pike action.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2017 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines and look forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 01.08.17

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Wexford County, Antrim, and Manistee Counties

After a week of inconsistent temperatures, we wished for colder weather, and our wish came true! This past week in northern Michigan was by far the coldest we have experienced this year. Cold temperatures and heavy winds have added multiple inches of ice to all bodies of water. After accumulating a large amount of snowfall in the past week, walking conditions on most lakes have gradually become more difficult. Some lakes listed below have 3-6 inches of snow with 1-2 inches of slush, we would like to prepare all anglers for these conditions. Despite lots of good ice on most of our lakes, caution should still be taken when venturing out with a 4-wheeler, snowmobile or larger vehicle. There are still the occasional reports of people finding weaker ice, especially towards the southern part of the state. In fact, an airplane went through the ice just a couple of days ago in Lowell out on Murray Lake. But our guess is that very few ice anglers are taking their airplanes out to go fish, so this is likely just an isolated incident!

Crystal Lake in Benzie County has formed 1-2 inches of ice coverage on the very east end of the lake. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this lake will continue to build ice in hopes to take advantage of some excellent perch, lake trout, and white fish opportunities. There is currently NO safe fishable ice on Crystal Lake. Heavy winds have what little ice there is shifting with the waves.

Long Lake in Benzie County has formed 8-10 inches of ice. The pike have been found in 7-10ft of water on top of, and adjacent to, weed beds and flats. Perch and pike have been found in 10-13 feet of water. Tip-ups with golden minnows set 1-3 feet off bottom have been most productive for pike. Perch minnows and small tungsten jigs have taken fair catches of perch.

Bass and Otter Lakes in Benzie County both have formed 6-8 inches of ice. Pike fishing in Bass Lake has been producing a lot of action on undersized fish in the 18-22inch range. Blue gill and crappie have been found in 15-18ft of water at first and last light in both lakes. Perch fishing in Otter Lake has been slow, some fish have been found in 20-23 feet of water.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 5-6 inches of ice. Smelt have been found fishing off of the south state park access in 30-40 feet of water. Anglers targeting pike have had success in 10-15 feet in weed-covered flats and along steep breaks. Perch have been found in 35-45 feet of water.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 5-6 inches of ice depending on what region of the lake you are on. Long Lake can be very inconsistent in ice thickness. Anglers should use extreme caution fishing Long Lake. Anglers have had success finding active walleye both jigging and fishing tip-ups along steep breaks and adjacent to weed beds. The hottest depth for walleye seems to be 20-30 feet depending on the time of day. Large perch have been found in 30-40 feet of water. Anglers have not found large numbers of perch. However, the perch being caught have been very nice in size.

Skegemog Lake in Antrim County has 8-9 inches of ice coverage off of the south shore access site. Anglers using blues, tungsten jigs and wax worms accompanied by an underwater camera have had great success. 11-16 feet of water seems to produce active fish on a consistent basis. The larger perch have been coming on orange and green tungsten jigs tipped with spikes and wax worms.

Portage Lake in Manistee County has formed 4-6 inches of ice coverage. Anglers have been fishing mostly off the north access sites for perch, pike, and walleye. Most perch have been found feeding on top of weed-covered areas in 16-25 feet. Anglers pursuing large perch in smaller schools have been targeting the 35-40 feet of water. This is also a great depth to jig and set tip-ups for walleye.

Bear Lake in Manistee County has formed 8-9 inches of ice. Anglers have been targeting walleye and pike off of southwest and north access sites. The more aggressive fish have been feeding along weed covered drop-offs and contour changes in depths ranging from 12-18 feet. Pike and walleye seem to be on the move together feeding in the same general areas.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac in Wexford County have both formed 9-10 inches of ice. Crappie and bluegill have been on the move in both lakes, transitioning from 8-10 foot weed flats to 16-20 foot holes and drop-offs throughout the day. Walleye have been found in 19-21 feet on Lake Mitchell. Pike have been active throughout the day; larger pike have been coming on tip-ups using 4-5 inch sucker minnows as bait. Weed covered flats ranging from 9-12 feet have been best for pike action.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2017 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines and look forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 01.03.17

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Wexford County, Antrim, and Manistee Counties

Happy New Year! We at Sport Fish Michigan are very excited for the 2017 ice season. We were concerned about this past week’s warming trend and the impact it would have on most of the area’s inland lakes. But the lakes actually formed better conditions due to the thaw. Snow cover gradually disappeared and refroze making for really nice walking conditions and thicker ice. With high winds and limited amounts of snowfall, most of the lakes listed in this report have virtually no snow coverage at this time.

Long Lake in Benzie County has formed 5-7 inches of ice. With high winds this past week the ice in some areas is thicker than others. The pike have been found in 7-10ft of water on top of, and adjacent to, weed beds and flats. Spearing has been slow, however, tip-up action has been fair with presenting golden minnows and smaller suckers 1-2ft off bottom.

Bass and Otter Lake in Benzie County both have formed 3-4 inches of ice. The safest most consistent ice conditions can be found closer to the access sites on each lake. Pike fishing in Bass Lake has been producing a lot of action on undersized fish in the 18-22inch range. Blue gill and crappie have been found in 15-18ft of water at first and last light in both lakes.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 3-4 inches of ice. Anglers have been fishing off the south launch where ice conditions seem to be the best. Anglers should use extreme caution when venturing out on Green at this point in time. We are hoping for cooler weather in the next week or so to continue to build ice on this body of water. First ice for smelt, perch, and large pike can be productive on this particular body of water.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 3-4 inches of ice depending on what region of the lake you are on. Long Lake can be very inconsistent in ice thickness. Anglers should use extreme caution fishing Long until after this upcoming cold front adds a few inches of good ice. Anglers have had success finding active walleye both jigging and fishing tip-ups along steep breaks and adjacent to weed beds. The hottest depth seems to be 16-22ft depending on the time of day.

Skegemog Lake in Antrim County has 4-5 inches of ice coverage off of the south shore access site. This is another lake we are very happy to see freeze so early in the season. Skegemog is an excellent lake to target first ice perch feeding in the shallow weed flats. Anglers using blues, tungsten jigs and wax worms will have great success. 11-16ft of water seems to produce active fish on a consistent basis.

Portage Lake in Manistee County is has formed 3-3.5 inches of ice coverage. Anglers have been fishing mostly off of the north access sights for perch, pike and walleye. Most perch have been found feeding on top of weed covered areas in 16-25ft. Anglers pursuing large perch in smaller schools have been targeting the 35-40ft of water. This is also a great depth to jig and set tip-ups for walleye.

Bear Lake in Manistee County has formed 3.5-4.5 inches of ice. Anglers have been targeting walleye and pike off of south west and north access sites. The more aggressive fish have been feeding along weed covered drop offs and contour changes in depths ranging from 12-18ft. Pike and walleye seem to be on the move together feeding in the same general areas.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac in Wexford County have both formed 7-8 inches of ice. Crappie and bluegill have been on the move in both lakes, transitioning from 8-10ft weed flats to 12-18ft holes and drop offs throughout the day.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2017 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines and look forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 12.27.16

With the warmer than usual weather pattern that has descended upon us staying longer than we had hoped, SFM would like to caution all ice anglers to please stay off the ice.

While there had been some nice ice formation earlier in the month of December with the cold temperatures, the warming trend that is still upon us has made for very unsafe and unpredictable ice conditions. Already this year, we have had 3 unfortunate deaths resulting from anglers falling through across northern Michigan.

We understand the draw to get out onto the ice to get after those early ice biters, but no fish is worth falling though for. Tempting as it may be, the ice is softening and weakening to the point that we feel that anglers should just stay off the ice completely. As ice conditions will continue to worsen this week with warmer than usual temperatures, it is far better to play things safely and stay home than to risk falling through. It will take several days of below-freezing temperatures to re-firm the ice, and the long-term forecast has next Wednesday and Thursday back below freezing. With any luck, things will freeze solidly enough to hopefully entertain the thought of getting back out onto the ice by the following weekend. But as Mother Nature and Old Man Winter can be unpredictable, we will just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, please use common sense and extreme caution and stay off the ice. There are a whole new season of fishing shows getting ready to air and lots of tackle to sort through, so for us here at Sport Fish Michigan, that’s what we will be doing! Watching fishing shows and sorting tackle, waiting for safe ice.

SFM Ice Fishing Report 12.22.16

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Wexford County, Antrim, and Manistee Counties

Ice fishing season is approaching very fast in northern Michigan! It is so exciting to see most of the inland lakes in the area making ice in late December. Mid December provided very cold temps, which had us pointed in the right direction, but now with the warming trend, things are at a standstill in ice formation. All of the lakes listed in this report are lakes that we have had a chance to check in the past few days, we will be adding more lakes to report as time progresses. We ask that all anglers take nothing for granted and use extreme caution when getting out on the water this upcoming week.

Taking all of the recent variables into consideration, and with the forecasted warming trend coming in this next week, anglers should use extreme caution. Most lakes listed in this report have 3-5 inches of snow on the surface; with the warm weather ahead this will make for worsening ice strength and very slushy, wet conditions. The condition of each lake listed below will definitely get more unsafe after the forecasted warm front.

Long Lake in Benzie County has formed 3-5 inches of ice. With high winds this past week the ice in some areas is thicker than others. The pike have been found in 7-10ft of water on top of, and adjacent to, weed beds and flats. Spearing has been slow, however, tip-up action has been fair with presenting golden minnows and smaller suckers 1-2ft off bottom.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County has recently produced 100% ice cover. It is definitely not safe to fish, but it is great to see 1-2 inches of good blue ice form on such a fantastic lake this early in the season. We are hoping for cooler weather in the next week or so to continue to build ice on this body of water. First ice for smelt, perch and large pike can be productive on this particular body of water.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has 100% ice coverage. As many of you know, it is very protected by the wind so the recent snowfall has had quite an impact on the ice surface. With only 2-3 inches of ice and large amounts of snow, we caution all anglers to stay off the ice until better conditions with thicker ice arrive.

Skegemog Lake in Antrim County has 2-3 inches of ice coverage off of the south shore access site. This is another lake we are very happy to see freeze so early in the season. Skegemog is an excellent lake to target first ice perch feeding in the shallow weed flats. Anglers using blues, tungsten jigs and wax worms will have great success. We are looking forward to getting out on Skegemog as soon as safe ice conditions persist. Skegemog is NOT safe to fish at this current time.

Portage Lake in Manistee County has made 2-3 inches of ice coverage. Being so close to Lake Michigan, heavy west winds have kept most of the snow off of the ice’s surface. We encourage anglers to wait for colder temperatures and thicker ice before venturing out on Portage. Portage Lake provides excellent perch, walleye and pike fishing for anglers to take advantage of.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac have both formed 3-5 inches of ice; anglers have been on both lakes for the past week. From what we are seeing and hearing, ice off Kenwood Park on Cadillac seems to have the safest ice. Crappie and pike are being found in 15-25 ft. Anglers fishing Mitchell have been sticking strictly to Big Cove, crappie and blue gill action has been hit or miss this past week. We stress that all anglers use extreme caution when hitting these two lakes.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2017 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines and we’re looking forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.28.16

March is upon us, and so is some excellent pre-spawn ice fishing. We at Sport Fish Michigan have had a very good winter of safe, productive fishing with a lot of really great people. We are hoping that the warm weather will hold off, giving us the opportunity to continue to enjoy what is left of the 2016 ice season. This weekend’s two-day thaw has added 1-3 inches of water to the ice of most lakes listed in the report. This definitely makes conditions and safety very unpredictable. We at Sport Fish Michigan ask that all anglers use caution and good judgment when venturing out to fish!

Crystal Lake in Benzie County has lost a lot of ice on its west end. The ice that was being fished two weeks ago is now unsafe. The only safe fishing to be had is on the east end of the lake near Beulah. Anglers on the east end have been having good perch action in 25-35 feet of water. Steelhead are being caught on wigglers in shallow water near and around some of the small creeks’ mouths.

Long Lake in Benzie County has been producing great catches of Pike. Most of the fish are being caught on Golden Minnows in 8-11 feet of water on tip-ups. The Perch that are being caught are very nice, but few and far between.

Upper Herring Lake has continued to be slow for all species. Perch and Walleye are being caught on occasion, but not in any large amounts. Most anglers are having action on Blue Minnows using tip-ups. Active depths have been 18-20 feet. Small trebles and fluorocarbon leaders have been key. The Perch that are being caught are running big.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County is still fishing very well. The Smelt bite has been very consistent, and most anglers are getting good numbers off of both access points. Perch and Pike have been active on the southeast end of the lake.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has had a bit of slow streak this past week. There has been heavy pressure from anglers in most regions of the lake. The Walleye that are being caught have been small and mostly undersized. Anglers have had some luck finding big, mature, jumbo Perch in 18-30 feet of water at mid-morning times. These fish have been coming on Blue Minnows with tip-ups.

Skegemog Lake is fishing very well. There have been a lot of anglers with great catches in the past few days. The bigger perch have been found in the 14-17 foot mud flats adjacent to weeds. Wigglers and Spikes tipped on tungsten jigs has been the best tactic. Most people spearing Pike and Musky have been reporting slow action on the north end of the lake.

Portage Lake in Manistee County has offered some excellent Perch action this past week. Most of the bigger fish are being caught on the western side of the lake. Finding humps and slight depth changes ranging from 18-25 feet have held most fish. All traditional tactics for perch have been catching fish. Minnows, spikes, jigs, and tip-ups have been most common.

Lake Mitchell has endured heavy amounts of water settling on the ice’s surface in the past two days. The wind and warming weather has melted the recent snowfall which has made fishing conditions very wet and uncomfortable. The ice thickness is still very good. The Crappie bite has been good in 10-11 feet of water around isolated depressions. Black Tungsten tipped with Spikes has been best.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2016 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines – we’re looking forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.20.16

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee, and Wexford County

50 degrees and sunny! That is not exactly what we call good ice-making weather!

We at Sport Fish Michigan would like to take the time to caution all anglers viewing this report. The current warming trend has had quite an impact on most of the lakes listed below. Shorelines are deteriorating quickly and a majority of the lakes have large amounts of standing water. Most all of the lakes still have a good amount of safe ice – just very slushy conditions. Looking into next week’s forecast, it looks like some colder temperatures will arrive. We are hoping this will lock the shorelines back up and create a good hard surface to fish on. We ask that all angers take nothing for granted and use extreme caution when getting back out on the water this upcoming week. If you were using all-terrain vehicles last week, it doesn’t necessarily mean it can be done this week. Taking all of the recent variables into consideration, here is the latest ice report…

Crystal Lake in Benzie County has finally locked up 100%. Prior to the warm spell the past two days, Crystal had formed 3-4 inches on the entire west end. But with the warmer temperatures we encourage all anglers to stick to the east end and fish the shallow flats in Beulah until further notice. Ice on the east end is 7-10” thick and the perch action has been very good. The best fishing has been found in 35 feet of water. Fluorocarbon perch rigs have been working the best.

Long Lake in Benzie County is fishing well. The Pike have been active. The best bite has been from daylight to around 10:00 a.m. Picking back up from 12:00-2:00 p.m. Golden Minnows on tip-ups with the occasional artificial decoy under the spear has been the best bet.

Upper Herring Lake has stayed fairly consistent to last weeks report. The Perch are starting to become a little more aggressive with the pre-spawn bite gradually starting. Most of the Perch being caught in schools are small, but anglers are getting some big fish cruising solo on the 15-17 foot breaks. Walleye fishing is slow, with most fish coming on tip-ups and jigging Rapalas in 18-22 feet.

Ellis Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Spider, and Arbutus Lake have safe ice. The recent warming trend has added a lot of slush to some areas of these lakes. Use caution when venturing out. The pan fish bite has leveled off in to a slight mid-winter low. Some anglers are finding active pockets of Bluegills in the deeper portions of each lake. Small tungsten presentations with spikes are working well. Pike have been active in the shallow flats and weedy contour lines mostly keying in on Sucker Minnows.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County has been offering some great smelt fishing. The smelt have been active after dark, feeding mostly on wax worms and Hali Jigs. Perch fishing has been good for some anglers in 60 feet of water. Pike fishing on the shallow weed flats and drop-offs has been fairly good as well. Most anglers have had success using bigger presentations.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County is still producing good catches. Walleye that are being caught are averaging 13-18 inches. Catching keepers has been difficult for most anglers. The Perch, on the other hand, have been running big. Jumbos are being caught in the same depth as most of the Walleye. This depth has been 20-35 feet. Small Jigging Rapalas have been working best for Walleye. Wigglers and Blue Minnows have been the go-to for Perch. With the recent weather, we ask that all anglers use caution on Long Lake.

Skegemog Lake is still producing nice catches of Perch. More mature fish are starting to show pre-spawn feeding patterns. Most anglers have reported bigger fish and consistent numbers of females. The best fishing is yet to come! The guides at SFM are very excited to capitalize on these hungry jumbos during the month of March!

Portage Lake in Manistee County has been consistent all winter. Anglers have had better action on the Walleye in the past week. Walleye have been most active in 25-35 feet, feeding at first and last light. Perch have been ranging in size depending on the school and lake location. Bigger, mature Perch have been actively feeding in 17-25 feet of water. These fish are finicky and have been caught on small and large presentations. Big Blues on tip-ups with size 12 treble hooks with light fluorocarbon leader has been effective. Other anglers have had equal success enticing bites with small tungsten jigs. Electronics have been key while jigging the mature fish; most attacks are taking place 2-4 feet suspended off of bottom.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac have slowed. Prior to the recent warm spell, the slush had finally frozen solid on both lakes. Most anglers have preferred Lake Mitchell in the past two weeks for the better Crappie bite. 10-11 feet of water has held the active, higher concentrations of fish.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2016 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines – we’re looking forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.12.16

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee, and Wexford County

February is here, and it has brought some very cold weather! Sport Fish Michigan has been diligently hitting the hard water and has had some great success. The recent cold front has put a stop to most of the slushy conditions that the end of January presented. Most of the lakes we have been fishing in the past month have formed some excellent ice and great fishing conditions. Clients have had the opportunity to capitalize on hungry fish and nice weather!

Long Lake in Benzie County is still in excellent shape. The snow cover is virtually non-existent due the heavy west winds coming from Lake Michigan. The Pike have been extremely active. The best bite has been from daylight until around 10:00 a.m, and picks back up from 12:00-2:00 p.m. Golden Minnows on tip-ups with the occasional artificial decoy under the spear have been the best bet.

Upper Herring Lake has hit a bit of a mid-winter lull. The Walleye have taken a more non-aggressive stance, biting strictly in the morning at first light, and in the evening within the last hour of daylight. Most fish have been on the jigging rod, tip-ups have not producing very much action. Smaller blues on tip-ups have been icing some nice jumbo Perch, but not very many. We look forward to seeing what will happen with the Perch as the month of March approaches.

Ellis Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Spider, and Arbutus Lake have locked up tightly with the recent cold snap. Most of the snowfall on these lakes has frozen into one solid block of ice depending on the area of each lake you are fishing. Crappie and Bluegills seem to feeding at the brighter, higher-pressure times of the day due to the large amount of snow cover. Pike have been active in the shallow flats and weedy contour lines, mostly keying in on Sucker Minnows.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County is being fished in most regions. Due to the inconsistent ice for most of the winter, we encourage all anglers use their best judgment when venturing out on this body of water. The anglers that have had recent success have been targeting Perch and Walleye. The Walleye have been found in 16-25 feet at low-light times of the day. Most of the Perch and Walleye being caught during the day have been found in 25-35 feet of water. Blue Minnows on Perch Riggs and Jigging Rapalas have been the most effective tactic. Anglers have been tipping the jigs with minnow heads to entice the bite.

Skegemog Lake has been consistent all winter. The Perch bite has picked up dramatically in the past week. More mature fish are starting to show pre-spawn feeding patterns. Most anglers have reported bigger fish and consistent numbers of females. The best fishing is yet to come! The guides at SFM are very excited to capitalize on these hungry jumbos during the month of March!

Portage Lake in Manistee County is still producing great catches of fish. Perch have been ranging in size depending on the school and lake location. Bigger, mature Perch have been actively feeding in 17-25 feet of water. These fish are finicky and have been caught on small and large presentations. Big Blues on tip-ups with size 12 treble hooks and light fluorocarbon leader has been effective. While other anglers have had equal success enticing bites with small tungsten jigs. Electronics have been key while jigging the mature fish; most attacks are taking place 2-4 feet suspended off of bottom.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac have been hit or miss. Lake Mitchell seems to be consistently out-fishing Cadillac. Anglers finding subtle depth changes and small depressions have been doing well on pan fish. Small tungsten jigs with 1-2 lb. test tipped with spikes and wax worms have worked best. The best depth range for hungry active fish on Mitchell has been 10-11 feet of water. Pike have been few and far between. Most active Pike being found have been on the move between 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in the shallow flats with weed cover. Larger sucker minnows on tip-ups have been effective on opportunistic fish.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2016 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines – we look forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.04.16

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee, and Wexford County

Despite the late start to our 2016 ice season, Sport Fish Michigan has had a very busy and successful January. Clients have had the opportunity to capitalize on some excellent Perch, Pike, and Walleye action. Unfortunately, the recent warming trend has made ice conditions on most lakes a bit dangerous! Looking at the forecast we are fairly confident things will lock back up and create even better ice conditions than what we had prior to this warm spell.

Long Lake in Benzie County is still in excellent shape. The warm weather has melted all the snow on the ice surface and has refrozen making things very slippery! The Pike have been active. Tip-ups baited with Golden Minnows have been most productive. The Perch bite has been slow with a lot of small perch hanging around the shallow weed flats.

Upper Herring Lake has been hit or miss. Anglers have mostly been targeting the Walleye bite in the late evening. Fire Tiger Jigging Raps tipped with a minnow head has been a good technique. 15 to 19 feet of water has been the main feeding zone for most fish. Pike have been fairly active, cruising the steep breaks and shallow flats. Tip-ups have baited with big Blues have been most attractive.

Ellis Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Spider, and Arbutus Lake have been hit with many inches of lake effect snow. Combining the recent warm up with a large amount of snow, this has created inconsistent and dangerous ice conditions on all of these lakes. Anglers have still managed to find fishable conditions and are having success with Bluegill, Pike, and Crappie. We ask that all anglers use your best judgment.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County is still 100% frozen. The ice is very unsafe and inconsistent. Recent snowfall has added even more weight and created very slushy conditions.

Skegemog Lake has recently had some excellent Perch fishing. Most anglers have had a lot of success fishing minnows in 15 to 20 feet of water on light fluorocarbon perch rigs. The Perch have been running in size-oriented schools. 8 to 10 inch Perch have been the norm with some anglers finding some much larger fish.

Portage Lake in Manistee County has been great. Before the recent warm up, Portage Lake had some of the best ice conditions in Northern Michigan. The ice thickness has ranged from 7 to 10 inches of good blue ice. Active Perch have been feeding from 15 to 35 feet of water. Jigging small tungsten tipped with wax worms and fishing perch rigs with big blues has been most successful. Anglers have had no problem finding 7 to 10 inch perch. There have been some very big Perch caught on Portage this past month and we are hoping for many more! Walleye action can be found in 25 to 40 feet of water during low light conditions. Angler’s techniques have varied, but most have been using Jigging Raps tipped with a minnow head. Walleye have not been coming in large numbers, but the ones being caught are very mature.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac both present good safe ice conditions. Anglers are finding good numbers of Bluegill and Crappie on both lakes. The Crappie bite has been better in the evening with good action after dark. Bluegills on Lake Mitchell have been consistent. Anglers finding weeds, structure change, and isolated depressions have had the most success. For Pike, bigger sucker minnows on tip-ups and spearing have taken most of the larger fish.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2016 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines and look forward to fishing with you!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 01.23.16

Benzie and Grand Traverse County

The ice fishing report in Northern Michigan is looking very positive. Most of the inland lakes in the area have consistently safe ice for anglers to venture out on. Our guides have been busy scouting and guiding anglers on a daily basis. Being that we have not seen the “arctic blast”, that we experienced the past two years, our guides have been focusing on smaller bodies of water. Walleye, Pike, Perch and Bluegill have been our main target species. It has been very nice to get out on good safe ice the past couple of weeks and we are very optimistic for February and March. Below is a list of lakes and their current ice conditions.

Long Lake in Benzie County has formed 5-6 inches of solid ice. The Pike have been active on a fairly regular basis. You definitely have to pick the right day and barometric pressure. High-pressure days with sunlight have been good. The perch have been small and not very active.

Bass and Otter Lake have also formed 4-5 inches of good blue ice. The snowfall from the past few weeks has made it difficult to walk or tow a jet sled on both lakes. The pan-fish bite has been decent at first and last light. Pike in Bass Lake have been fairly slow but most anglers have had decent tip-up action on the shallow side of the breaks.

Big Platte is 100% frozen. SFM had guides scouting the ice today. It is not recommended to fish as of right now. The shoreline has not formed good ice. 50-60 yards from the shoreline the ice is 3-4 inches. There is currently 2-3 inches of snow on the surface of the ice. Once the shoreline thickens the lake should be ready to fish.

Upper Herring Lake has formed a good base of ice. Most areas have 4-5 inches of good ice. The Walleye fishing has been productive based on the time of day and weather patterns. Successful tactics have consisted of jigging and setting tip-ups. The best depth has been between 16-19 feet of water. The Perch have been small but active.

Ellis Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Spyder, and Arbutus Lake have 4-5 inches of ice. Each of these lakes has a fair amount of snow accumulation, which is creating slushy walking conditions. There have also been several reports of spotty ice conditions because of the snowy conditions. Caution should be taken when venturing out on Spyder and Arbutus. Blue Gill action has been fair on Spyder Lake and the Pike fishing is steady on Lake Dubonnet with most of the Pike being small, 12-20 inches.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has frozen 100%. Unfortunately the ice thickness is very inconsistent and unsafe. Crescent shores boat Launch has 3-5 inches of ice with 6-7 inches of snow. This has created a very slushy ice surface and has added a lot of weight to the ice. The ice off of Long Lake Peninsula is very unsafe and inconsistent. SFM highly recommends that all anglers avoid fishing on Long Lake.

Skegemog Lake is offering some great Perch fishing and safe ice conditions. The perch have been very active in 15-17 feet of water. Wigglers and minnows have been working very well. Average size has been 6-8 inches with the occasional fish reaching the 10-11inch mark.

We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to many safe and successful days during this 2016 season. With that in mind, we encourage all anglers to take this report as reference and not as a guarantee. Ice conditions change with the weather patterns. It is always good to use your best judgment and always check the ice with a good spud and a friend! Tight lines and look forward to fishing with you!