SFM Ice Fishing Report 03.06.18

We at Sport Fish Michigan would like to thank all our customers who booked an ice fishing trip this winter; we truly had a great season. We were able to take advantage of an array of species on multiple bodies of water throughout the Traverse City Region. We are looking forward to next years hard water season, and even more so, cannot wait to hit the open water this spring.

The current ice conditions on most lakes in our region have become very inconsistent and unstable with the past two weeks of warming weather, rainfall, and wind. Last night our area was blanketed with 3-8 inches of heavy snow which has added to the weight on what was already unstable ice conditions. With the depletion of shoreline ice and unsafe, unpredictable ice conditions, we at Sport Fish Michigan will be ending our 2017-2018 ice season.

With many anglers still hitting some area lakes, we are aware of the fact that there are still several bodies of water that have fishable ice. We hope that all anglers use the highest level of caution when venturing out to ice fish over the next couple of weeks. Thank you to all who referenced our ice report this season, we hope that the information was useful and gave anglers an idea of what the regions’ ice conditions and fishing were doing. We wish everyone a safe and successful spring!

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 01.28.18

Due to the unseasonable warm temperatures and rainfall during the past week, we are providing an overview ice fishing report rather than a lake-by-lake report for the greater Traverse City region. Many area lakes are reported to have minimal deterioration due to weather. However, some lakes have lost a large amount of shoreline ice and have experienced a heavy accumulation of water on the ice surface.

Temperatures are expected to drop and normalize this week, which will allow us to provide a more thorough and accurate report regarding ice fishing conditions by next weekend.

We advise all anglers use extreme caution and good judgment if venturing out on the area lakes this weekend. Good luck and safe fishing to all!

SFM Ice Fishing Report 02.27.17

With any type of fishing, weather will always dictate what, when, and where an angler will fish. With this in mind, we at Sport Fish Michigan have put our ice-fishing season to an abrupt halt. As we all know, the recent warming trend has created an abundance of unsafe ice conditions across Northern Michigan, which has depressingly ended ice fishing for most anglers. Most of the lakes we list in our reports still have ice coverage, but due to warm weather and rain, it is too unsafe to fish and report conditions. While these lakes may have coverage, the integrity of the ice is much less than ideal, and with the added weight of the slush on top of what little clear ice there may be, it just isn’t safe in our opinion.

We ask that anyone that does plan to hit the ice for the remainder of the season use good judgment and take proper precaution. It has been a short but productive winter on the ice, fishing was excellent for all species and we positively look forward to the open water opportunities our area has to offer. We just want all anglers to be aware of the inconsistent thicknesses due to the past two weeks of weather. No fish is worth a life. Tight lines to all, we look forward to seeing you on the open water very soon!

Captain Ben Wolfe & Captain Chad Dilts

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!