SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.16.17

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

Most of the species we are targeting in Northern Michigan have been cooperating very well. The recent full moon had a slight impact on the walleye and perch bite, but we were still able to capitalize on some small feeding windows. We are seeing a warm up in the forecast for next week, which has us concerned about what the end of the month will bring for ice conditions. The majority of the lakes listed below remain at the same thickness stated in the previous ice report. Snow coverage has been very limited, and at this current time, the ice is in great shape. With the warming trend forecasted we feel the ice could deteriorate quickly. We ask that all anglers remain cautious for the rest of the season: warm weather and sun, accompanied by rain, make for very unsafe ice conditions.

Crystal Lake in Benzie County has formed 8 inches of ice coverage on the very east end of the lake. White fish can be found in 43-50 feet of water but in very small schools. Anglers have had nice catches of perch in 25 feet of water fishing off the Beulah access. The remainder of the lake is all open water. The only fishable water is right off of the town of Beulah. Because Crystal Lake is 70% unsafe ice, anglers should be very cautious fishing the east end because conditions can change with high winds.

Long Lake in Benzie County has formed 11-12 inches of ice. Pike fishing has recently improved on Long Lake. Golden Minnows on tip-ups have taken most fish. Perch and pike have been found in 6-9 feet of water. Perch minnows and small tungsten jigs have taken fair catches of perch.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 8-9 inches of ice. Smelt fishing has definitely picked up in the past week. The best times to target active fish have been from 6-9pm. 45-55 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.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 9-10 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 30-35 feet of water. 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 10-11 inches of ice on the south portion of the lake only. 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 minnows presentations. Perch have been found in 15-25 feet depending on the bottom make-up. The shallower weed clumps have produced nice quality, however the deeper, softer, weed covered depths are producing numbers of fish. The northern portion of the lake has 5-6 inches of ice. Anglers have had some luck finding walleye on the drop-offs and perch have been found in 25-35 feet of water.

Skegemog Lake in Antrim County has 12 inches of ice coverage off of the south shore access site to the mid-central portion of the lake. 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 10-11 inches of ice coverage. Anglers have been fishing mostly off of 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. Some walleye of a larger size have been found in the central portion of the lake in 28-32 feet of water at first and last light.

Bear Lake in Manistee County has formed 12 inches of ice. The walleye action has been in a bit of lull this past week. 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 12-13 inches of ice. Lake Cadillac has recently produced some very nice catches of crappie during daylight hours. Anglers finessing active fish with very small, dark-colored tungsten have had the most luck. 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 2.7.17

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

As we approach mid-February, we at Sport Fish Michigan could not be more pleased with ice conditions and fish activity. Due to Northern Michigan experiencing such a variation in temperatures this winter, the fish seem to be avoiding the mid-February lull. February on any lake can be a very difficult time to find active fish. Snow coverage, limited daylight, and fishing pressure usually contribute to a slower bite. However, most species have been active and remain in a very positive mood! We are really looking forward to excellent fishing this month. Ice conditions seem to be maintaining, and snow coverage on most lakes is very limited. As we all know, a day of warm weather and rain can alter a lake’s condition: we ask that all anglers use caution and good judgment when hitting the ice this month.

Crystal Lake in Benzie County has formed 7-8 inches of ice coverage on the very east end of the lake. White fish can be found in 43-50 feet of water, but in very small schools. Anglers have had nice catches of perch in 25 feet of water fishing off the Beulah access. The remainder of the lake is all open water. The only fishable water is right off of the town of Beulah. Because Crystal Lake is 70% open water, anglers should be very cautious fishing the east end because conditions will can change with high winds.

Long Lake in Benzie County has formed 11-12 inches of ice. Pike fishing has recently improved on Long Lake. Golden Minnows on tip-ups have taken most fish. Perch and pike have been found in 6-9 feet of water. Perch minnows and small tungsten jigs have taken fair catches of perch.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 8-9 inches of ice. Smelt fishing has definitely picked up in the past week. The best times to target active fish have been from 6-9pm. 45-55 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.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County has formed 9-10 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 30-35 feet. 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 7-8 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 greater numbers of fish.

Skegemog Lake in Antrim County has 10-11 inches of ice coverage off the south shore access site to the mid-central portion of the lake. 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 10-11 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. Some walleye of a larger size have been found in the central portion of the lake in 28-32 feet of water at first and last light.

Bear Lake in Manistee County has formed 10-11 inches of ice. The walleye action has been in a bit of lull this past week. Anglers have been targeting walleye and pike off the 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. Lake Cadillac has recently produced some very nice catches of crappie during daylight hours. Anglers finessing active fish with very small, dark-colored tungsten have had the most luck. 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 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!