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!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.04.15

Crystal Lake has seen quite a bit of ice fishing pressure the past few weeks since it has frozen over. With lots of good solid ice, measuring an average of 9”, anglers are able to fish anywhere they want. Perch fishing has been fantastic most days, with the occasional slow day here and there. Perch rigs have been producing well when fished in waters anywhere from 24-35 feet. Whitefish and lake trout are starting to be caught, but they haven’t moved up shallow yet. Anglers having the most success are fishing anywhere from 100 to 150 feet of water. Smelt action is heating up in earnest, and reports are that several anglers have had 150+ smelt evenings/nights when fishing for these tasty fish.

Long Lake has lots of ice, but the bite has slowed considerably of late. Walleye anglers are still managing to scratch out a few here and there, but the hot walleye bite from a few weeks ago is over.

Lake Leelanau, however, has had steady walleye action lately in the Southern Lake. Anglers fishing at dusk both jigging and fishing tip ups have seen action. North Lake Leelanau has been very poor so far.

Big Glen Lake has been producing some spotty perch action—the perch that have been caught have been of good size, even if the numbers haven’t been high. Little Glen has had better numbers of perch the past week or so. Small jigs tipped with wax worms or wigglers when they can be purchased are producing as are the standard perch rig with minnows.

Portage Lake has had some great perch action for some anglers, and terrible perch action for others. From the sounds of things, those anglers that are willing to move a lot and chase the schools are the anglers that are finding the success. The anglers that take a more stationary approach are finding the bite next to impossible. The standard perch rig or small jigs tipped with spikes or wigglers are the best bet.

Further to the south, Muskegon Lake has been mostly a dud despite reports to the contrary. Anglers have struggled to not only find perch, but also to get them to bite. Seasoned ice anglers that are well familiar with Muskegon Lake’s perch fishing are even finding the bite difficult.

Other Area Lakes and Rivers:
Crappie, pike, walleye, and good-sized perch are being caught on inland lakes. Steelhead fishing pressure is low, making this a great time to beat the crowd.

Hamlin Lake: Bluegill, crappie, and perch are being caught.

Lake Cadillac: While the bluegill, crappie bite has been slow, pike fishing has been good for both tip-up and spear anglers. Some walleye and good-sized perch.

Lake Charlevoix: A large pressure crack is forming around the drop-off at 95 feet.

Lake Missaukee: Perch, bluegill, and crappie are all being successfully targeted.

Lake Mitchell: Anglers have been targeting perch, pike, bluegill, and crappie. Perch anglers are getting the best results by moving to find schools of active fish.

Manistee River: Steelhead fishing on the Manistee is providing a great way to get away from the crowds on the lakes.

Pere Marquette River: While the steelhead bite has been good, cooling temperatures will likely slow the bite.

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.