Grand Traverse Bays are still solidly covered in ice, much of it as thick as 17 or 18 inches in many places. For mid March, this is highly unusual, as we were still making ice just a couple of nights ago! The many ice anglers that have ventured out onto the Bays have been mostly pleased with the results, with many lake trout, whitefish and burbot being caught. Burbot are on the very tail end of their spawn, and many anglers have taken advantage of this excellent table fare’s willingness to bite. Anglers have also sought yellow perch with nice size perch being reported on East Bay. The bite in recent days has fluctuated greatly, with the full moon likely playing a large role in many angler’s success or frustrations. As the moon phase wanes, expect fishing for lake trout and whitefish to pick up a bit.
Inland lakes continue to be fishable, and weekend traffic has been steady. Although numbers of ice anglers on inland lakes might be down overall, but perhaps this is due to such good ice conditions on the Bays in Traverse City. The snow is gone off of the ice, leaving solid smooth sheets that resemble a skating rink. While the ice is still thick, care should be taken when driving snowmobiles on the ice, as the lack of snow can wreak havoc on a snowmobile’s hyfax and track without lubrication, as one unlucky group of anglers found out recently. Fishing has been spotty of late, with the smelt bite getting harder and harder. Many smelt that were caught were during non-traditional times, it seems. Panfish are still readily taken, when an angler can land on a nice school. Late season pike fishing is starting to heat up, and the walleyes are still plentiful, though not always willing to bite until just before sunset.
Anglers seeking to fish northern Michigan waters from a boat may have to wait a while. Soft water anglers can’t wait to get back in their boats, but with so much ice covering Lake Michigan, the Grand Traverse Bays and area inland lakes, it could be a while before that happens! Spring fishing will be pushed back a bit, but expect the fish to be hungry and willing.