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!