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!

Michigan Ice Fishing Report 03.25.14

Ice fishing continues to be an intriguing prospect in northern Michigan, despite the late date on the calendar. Here is our latest Michigan Ice Fishing Report:

For those still seeking the thrill of late season ice, opportunities are still strong. Grand Traverse Bays are still boasting thick ice in the 15-16 inch range, but with the cold temps at night the past few days, more ice is not only possible, but probable. This means that anglers seeking to fish for lake trout or whitefish will still have their opportunities to land these excellent tasting fish. Depending on the fish’s moods, they can be found anywhere from 85 feet all the way down to 150 feet for the whitefish. The standard jigging baits work well for the lakers like Krocodile spoons, Sandkickers or Jonah Jigs. The same lineup for lakers will also take their share of whitefish, although they tend to prefer slightly smaller spoons. Swedish Pimples are another dynamite option for these fish, and bites are unmistakeable when they are on the bite.

Inland lake anglers are still taking plenty of perch and smelt. Walleyes on the Great Lakes remain open, so they are still able to be targeted. Only inland lakes and rivers are closed for walleye fishing.

The yellow perch have been above average in size on select inland lakes, and they have been willing participants for many who have located the schools of these tasty favorites. Smelt have been biting just at sunset and dusk, into the first hour of darkness. While smelt themselves aren’t a huge species of fish, they are loads of fun through the ice, and are just as good on a plate!

ice fishing michigan

Ice Fishing –
Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan

March 19, 2014

Grand Traverse Bays are still solidly covered in ice, much of it as thick as 17 or 18 inches in many places. For mid March, this is highly unusual, as we were still making ice just a couple of nights ago! The many ice anglers that have ventured out onto the Bays have been mostly pleased with the results, with many lake trout, whitefish and burbot being caught. Burbot are on the very tail end of their spawn, and many anglers have taken advantage of this excellent table fare’s willingness to bite. Anglers have also sought yellow perch with nice size perch being reported on East Bay. The bite in recent days has fluctuated greatly, with the full moon likely playing a large role in many angler’s success or frustrations. As the moon phase wanes, expect fishing for lake trout and whitefish to pick up a bit.

Inland lakes continue to be fishable, and weekend traffic has been steady. Although numbers of ice anglers on inland lakes might be down overall, but perhaps this is due to such good ice conditions on the Bays in Traverse City. The snow is gone off of the ice, leaving solid smooth sheets that resemble a skating rink. While the ice is still thick, care should be taken when driving snowmobiles on the ice, as the lack of snow can wreak havoc on a snowmobile’s hyfax and track without lubrication, as one unlucky group of anglers found out recently. Fishing has been spotty of late, with the smelt bite getting harder and harder. Many smelt that were caught were during non-traditional times, it seems. Panfish are still readily taken, when an angler can land on a nice school. Late season pike fishing is starting to heat up, and the walleyes are still plentiful, though not always willing to bite until just before sunset.

Anglers seeking to fish northern Michigan waters from a boat may have to wait a while. Soft water anglers can’t wait to get back in their boats, but with so much ice covering Lake Michigan, the Grand Traverse Bays and area inland lakes, it could be a while before that happens! Spring fishing will be pushed back a bit, but expect the fish to be hungry and willing.