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!

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