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!