SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.21.18

With this week’s three-day warming trend, our area has seen heavy amounts of rainfall and temperatures in the upper 50’s. This has had a direct impact on the shoreline ice and overall thickness of most of the lakes in this report. All anglers should use extreme caution when getting on and off the ice with ATV’s or snowmobiles. The ice thickness on the lakes in this report can vary based on this past week’s warm spell, all anglers should use their best judgment when heading out on the ice.

Crystal Lake in Benzie County is completely frozen, and the entire lake is being fished at this time. The east end from Beulah to Railroad Point has 9-12 inches of ice that has melted and refrozen several times. The west end of the lake has an average of 10 inches of ice. The north shore on the west end of the lake is the thinnest of all the ice, however it is in the 7 to 8-inch range. Smelt fishing in 50-70 ft has been good on the west end of the lake. Angles are catching perch, and whitefish in 40-50 ft of water. The lake trout bite has been hit or miss depending on the day and where the schools of smelt are located. Anglers are catching trout from 90-160 ft of water. The burbot bite has really picked up with the pre-spawning time rapidly approaching. Targeting burbot after dark in 50- 70 ft of water with smelt, orange jig heads and sand kickers has been working well.

Long Lake in Benzie County has lost all of its snow coverage and is running in the 8 to 10-inch range of ice thickness. The perch fishing has picked up, and the pike fishing remains good in 8-10 ft of water in weed covered areas.

Upper and Lower Herring Lake both have fishable ice. Upper Herring Lake has roughly 11 inches of ice. Lower Herring is running about the same in ice thickness. Walleye, pike, and perch are being caught on Upper Herring. Most walleyes are coming in 17-20 ft on tip-ups. Lower Herring has been producing some walleye in 18-25 ft at last light. Evening bite for walleye has been better than the morning activity.

Big Platte Lake has an average of 11 inches of ice. Perch fishing on the SE side of lake has yielded a lot of action and smaller fish. Anglers looking for walleyes have had hit or miss results depending on the day. The evenings have been fishing better than the mornings; this has been a common theme for this lake most of the winter. Walleye action in 30-40 ft has been best during daytime hours.

Green Lake continues to fish well for northern pike. Anglers setting tip-ups with large sucker minnows have had good luck on the drop-offs and weed beds in 10-15 ft of water. Marking smelt has not been an issue, but some have had nights with little to no action. The current ice thickness is averaging 11 inches. Some anglers have found decent schools of larger perch in 40-50 ft of water. Wigglers and minnows have produced nicer catches of perch and have helped anglers target picky fish with success.

Long Lake Grand Traverse County has 10 inches of solid ice. This lake has been fishing well for walleye and perch. The better perch are being caught in areas with soft bottom content in 44-54 ft of water. Anglers have found the best walleye action near drop offs and flats ranging from 28-38 ft. Blues on tip-ups and fire tire tungsten have yielded good perch and walleye catches.

Portage Lake has a consistent 12 inches of ice. The jumbo perch are being found on the western portion of the lake in 25-38 ft of water. Walleye and pike are also being caught on some days. Pike fishing in the shallower east end of the lake has been steady for most. Perch fishing on the east end of the lake has yielded good action for 7 to 9-inch fish.

Mitchell Lake currently has 10-13 inches of ice with little to no snow coverage. Most of the slush has thawed and froze back to one solid layer. Crappie and blue gill fishing has been good for most anglers in big and small cove. Early morning and last light action has been best. Pike fishing in 5-10 ft on weed-covered flats has been good as well.

Lake Cadillac currently has 11-12 inches of good, solid ice. The crappie fishing off Kenwood Park in 13-14 ft has been producing good numbers of fish. Anglers actively hole hopping and using electronics seem to be doing the bulk of the damage. Pike fishing in 10-15 ft of water has been the best depth for most.

Lake Skegemog currently has 13 inches of ice. All anglers should always avoid the areas of the lake that have current and rivers entering or leaving the lake. Anglers fishing 18-20 ft of water are having no problems catching good numbers of perch. Size of fish has fluctuated on a day to day basis. Some anglers are finding good fish when they find areas with a softer bottom content.

South Lake Leelanau has 12 inches of ice in most areas. Some areas have slightly less, and some have more. Anglers have been reporting good perch and walleye fishing in 18-30 ft. Some anglers have reported good quality perch on the northern portion of the lake in the narrows. Finding isolated weed beds and softer bottom content has yielded better action for some anglers.

North Lake Leelanau Anglers are reporting 12 inches of ice, depending on location. There are reports of good smelt action on the north end of the lake, with other anglers catching lake trout in 80-90 ft of water. Anglers fishing drops-offs and flats in 20-30 ft of water have been catching walleye; quality has surpassed quantity on this specific lake. Anglers in the past week have reported decent numbers of whitefish being caught after dark in 50 ft of water and some are even having good action in the middle of the day in 60-70 ft.

We strive to research as many lakes in the north west region as possible in order to give our area customers and anglers an accurate and honest ice report. With the constant change in weather it can be difficult to be exactly spot on with the area lakes ice conditions. With this in mind, anglers should use this report as a reference guide and chose to use their own judgment when venturing out on the ice. We will try to update the report twice a week to give anglers an idea of current conditions. Good luck and safe ice fishing!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.09.18

Crystal Lake in Benzie County is completely frozen, and the entire lake is being fished at this time. The east end from Beulah to Railroad Point has 9-12 inches of ice that has melted and refrozen several times. The west end of the lake has an average of 10 inches of ice. The north shore on the west end of the lake is the thinnest of all the ice, however it is in the 7-8 inch range. Smelt fishing in 50-70 ft has been good on the west end of the lake. Angles are catching perch and whitefish in 40-50 ft of water. The lake trout bite has been hit or miss depending on the day and where the schools of smelt are located. Anglers are catching trout from 90-160 ft of water. The lake has roughly 4-6 inches of snow coverage.

Long Lake in Benzie County has recovered nicely from the thaw our area experienced two weeks ago. It currently has 8 inches of snow coverage making walking difficult. The ice is maintaining 13-14 inches of thickness. Pike and perch fishing has been good in 7-11 ft.

Upper and Lower Herring Lake both have fishable ice. Upper Herring Lake has roughly 11 inches of ice. Lower Herring is running about the same in ice thickness. Walleye, pike, and perch are being caught on Upper Herring. Most walleyes are coming in 17-20 feet on tip-ups. Lower Herring has been producing some walleye in 18-25 ft at last light. Evening bite for walleye has been better than the morning activity.

Big Platte Lake has an average of 11 inches of ice. The recent snow storm has given this lake 5-7 inches of snow coverage. Some walleyes being caught on the west end of the lake in 20-35 ft of water. Perch fishing on the SE side of lake has yielded a lot of action and smaller fish. Anglers looking for walleyes have had hit or miss results depending on the day. The evenings have been fishing better than the mornings this past week.

Green Lake continues to fish well for northern pike. Anglers setting tip ups with large sucker minnows have had good luck on the drop offs and weed beds in 10-15 ft of water. Marking smelt has not been an issue but some have had nights with little to no action. The current ice thickness is averaging 11 inches. Some anglers have found decent schools of larger perch in 40-50ft of water. Wigglers and minnows have produced nicer catches of perch and have helped anglers target picky fish with success.

Long Lake Grand Traverse County has 12inches of solid ice. This lake has been fishing well for walleye and perch. The better perch are being caught in areas with soft bottom content in 44-54 ft of water. Anglers have found the best walleye action near drop offs and flats ranging from 28-38 ft. Blues on tip ups and fire tire tungsten have yielded good perch and walleye catches.

Portage Lake has a consistent 12 inches of ice. The recent snowfall has covered the lake with 2-4 inches of snow, the wind has created drifts and some areas have more snow than others. The jumbo perch are being found on the right day on the western portion of the lake in 25-38ft of water. Walleye and pike are also being caught on some days. Pike fishing in the shallower east end of the lake has been steady for most. Perch fishing on the east end of the lake has yielded good action for 7-9 inch fish.

Mitchell Lake currently has 11 inches of ice with 4-6 inches of snow. Most of the slush has thawed and froze back to one solid layer. Crappie and blue gill fishing has been good for most anglers in big and small cove. Early morning and last light action has been best. Pike fishing in 5-10 ft on weed covered flats has been good as well.

Lake Cadillac currently has 11-12ninches of good, solid ice with 4-6 inches of snow. The crappie fishing off of Kenwood Park in 13-14ft has been producing good numbers of fish. Anglers actively hole hopping and using electronics seem to be doing the bulk of the damage. Pike fishing in 10-15ft of water has been the best depth for most.

Lake Skegemog currently has 11 inches of ice. All anglers should always avoid the areas of the lake that have current and rivers entering or leaving the lake. Anglers fishing 18-20 ft of water are having no problems catching good numbers of perch. Size of fish has fluctuated on a day to day basis. Some anglers are finding good fish when they find areas with a softer bottom content.

South Lake Leelanau has 11 inches of ice in most areas. Some areas have slightly less and some have more. Anglers have been reporting good perch and walleye fishing in 18-30 ft. Some anglers have reported good quality perch on the northern portion of the lake in the narrows. Finding isolated weed beds and softer bottom content has yielded better action for some anglers.

North Lake Leelanau Anglers are reporting 12 inches of ice, depending on location. There are reports of good smelt action on the north end of the lake, with other anglers catching lake trout in 80-90 ft of water. Anglers fishing drops offs and flats in 20-30 feet of water have been catching walleye, quality has surpassed quantity on this specific lake. Anglers in the past week have reported decent numbers of whitefish being caught after dark in 50 ft of water.

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.01.18

With the recent thaw we experienced last week, and the blast of cold temperatures we are getting currently, the ice conditions are as good as they have been all year. We are excited to see limited snow coverage on most lakes, and overall thicknesses doing very well. With this in mind, anglers should use this report as a reference guide and chose to use their own judgment when venturing out on the ice.

We strive to research as many lakes in our area as possible in order to give our area customers and anglers an accurate and honest ice report. With the constant change in weather it can be difficult to be exactly spot on with the area lakes ice conditions. We will try to update the report twice a week to give anglers an idea of current conditions. Good luck and safe ice fishing!

Crystal Lake in Benzie County is 100% frozen. The east end from Beulah to Railroad Point has 8-10 inches of ice that has melted and refrozen after last weeks’ thaw; we are very impressed with the quality of ice on this portion of the lake. The southern half of the lake on the western portion from Onkeonwe Bay to the CSA has 6-10 inches of ice depending on the area and depth. Most of the fishing activity on the lake is taking place from the south shoreline to the middle-halfway point to the north. The ice on the north shore is 5 inches and anglers should use caution. The lake has little to no snow coverage and is very slippery, be careful!

Long Lake in Benzie County has recovered nicely from the thaw our area experienced two weeks ago. It currently has 14 inches of hard ice, no snow coverage, and has a very slick surface with pockets of standing water due to recent rains. Pike and perch fishing has been good in 7-11ft.

Upper and Lower Herring Lake both have fishable ice. Upper Herring Lake has roughly 8-9 inches of ice. Lower Herring is running about the same in ice thickness. Both have very little snow due to high winds and the recent thaw. Walleye, pike, and perch are being caught on Upper Herring. Most walleyes are coming in 17-20ft on tip-ups. Lower Herring has been producing some walleye in 18-25ft at last light. Evening bite for walleye has been better than the morning activity.

Big Platte Lake has good, fishable ice. Limited snow coverage has also helped this lake build good solid ice after our recent thaw. Anglers are reporting 8-9 inches of ice depending on where you are on the lake. The ice surface has little snow and is very slippery. Some walleyes are being reported being caught on the west end of the lake in 20-35ft of water. Perch fishing on the SE side of lake has yielded a lot of action and smaller fish.

Green Lake has been fishing well for northern pike and some anglers, on the right evening, have been reporting good catches of smelt. Marking smelt has not been an issue but some have had nights with little to no action. The current ice thickness is 8-10 inches. Some anglers have found decent schools of larger perch in 40-50ft of water. Wigglers and minnows have produced good results.

Long Lake Grand Traverse County has 9-11 inches of solid ice. This lake has been fishing well for walleye and perch. The limited snow accumulations in the past week have really made the lake easy to travel on, especially with the recent thaw and refreeze last week. The recent thaw has saved this lake’s condition and created a good hard surface with little to no snow.

Portage Lake has a consistent 10 inches of ice. The thaw has created a great fishing and traveling surface. The wind from Lake Michigan has kept the lake clean of snow accumulation. The jumbo perch are being found, on the right day, on the western portion of the lake in 25-38 ft of water. Walleye and pike are also being caught on some days. Pike fishing in the shallower east end of the lake has been steady for most. Perch fishing on the east end of the lake has yielded good action for 7 to 9-inch fish.

Mitchell Lake currently has 9-10 inches of ice with 1-2 inches of snow. Most of the slush has thawed and froze back to one solid layer. Crappie and blue gill fishing has been good for most anglers in Big and Small cove. Early morning and last light action has been best. Pike fishing in 5-10ft on weed-covered flats has been good as well.

Lake Cadillac currently has 8-10 inches of good, solid ice with 1-2 inches of snow. The crappie fishing off of Kenwood Park in 13-14ft has been producing good numbers of fish. Anglers actively hole hopping and using electronics seem to be doing the bulk of the damage. Pike fishing in 10-15ft of water has been the best depth for most.

Lake Skegemog currently has 9-10 inches of ice. All anglers should always avoid the areas of the lake that have current, and rivers entering or leaving the lake. Anglers fishing 18-20ft of water are having no problems catching good numbers of perch. The size of fish caught has fluctuated on a day-to-day basis. Some anglers are finding good fish when they find areas with a softer bottom content.

South Lake Leelanau has 9-10 inches of ice, with an average thickness of 8 inches. Anglers have been reporting good perch and walleye fishing in 18-30ft. Some anglers have reported good quality perch on the northern portion of the lake in the narrows. Finding isolated weed beds and softer bottom content has yielded better action for some anglers.

North Lake Leelanau Anglers are reporting 7-9 inches of ice, depending on location. There are reports of good smelt action on the north end of the lake, with other anglers catching lake trout in 80-90 ft of water. Anglers fishing drops-offs and flats in 20-30ft of water have been catching walleye, quality has surpassed quantity on this specific lake.

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 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 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!

Michigan Ice Fishing Report 12.02.14

After a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend spent relaxing, doing plenty of eating, and spending time reflecting on how appreciative and thankful we are here at Sport Fish Michigan, it’s back to reality with dropping temperatures following the weekend’s spring-like weather. In fact, several places experienced lows in the single digits Monday night.

Temperatures reaching into the low 40's here in northern Michigan melted most of the snow that had built up, and it felt positively nice out! This didn’t help the formation of ice on the area’s lakes, but it didn’t do too much to melt what ice had formed on many inland lakes to date. The current cold will freeze many of the smaller lakes. Temperatures expected in the low 30's for the next week or so should really help form ice at night, and keep it throughout the day. While the ice is still not thick enough to safely venture out onto, more and more lakes are beginning to freeze over. For the most part, it’s the smaller, shallower lakes that have ice.

In Glen Arbor, Little Glen Lake remains frozen, but its larger brother, Big Glen Lake, is completely open with only a little bit of slushy ice in the shallows. Spider Lake, east of Traverse City, has ice and slush on its shoreline, but the main lake is still wide open. Skim ice formed over the last couple of days in many of the shallow bays that Spider Lake is known for. Long Lake, just south of Traverse City, is completely open. There is slush floating in the shallow waters of Long Lake, and some of the shallow back bays are skimmed over. To the west of Traverse City, North Lake Leelanau and South Lake Leelanau are both open water lakes right now, and the narrows that separates them is skimmed over. Both Leelanau lakes also have slushy ice in the shallows.

Duck Lake, near Interlochen State Park, is completely open, but water temperatures are 33 degrees. The recent cold couple of nights created skim ice floating in the shallows. The same can be said for Duck Lake’s neighbor, Green Lake.

Near Frankfort and Beulah, Loon Lake, inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is completely frozen over. Similarly, Little Platte Lake is also completely frozen over, and this shallow panfish lake has close to 3 inches covering it. It won’t be long before it’s safe to venture out onto the ice to fish. Crystal lake is also wide open. Betsie Bay, which is a fantastic pike fishery among other things, has slush and skim ice in parts, but being so close to the open waters of Lake Michigan, it’s still mostly open.

Further south and inland are lakes Cadillac and Mitchell. Both are frozen over, and this has ice anglers itching to get out. One report has close to 3 inches of ice on Lake Mitchell, however this has not been verified. The DNR has issued warnings that despite the ice coverage on these very popular ice-fishing lakes, venturing out onto the ice is very risky at present, and all activities on the ice should be avoided.

With the below-freezing night-time temperatures in the near forecast, it won’t be long before we have full ice and will be out ice fishing! Early ice should always be treated with extreme caution, and while the thrills of the rewards that early ice fishing can yield, no fish is worth risking one’s life over.