Steelhead are starting to show up in streams in east-central Michigan, giving anglers another outlet for fishing. While some lakes to the north may have enough ice for fishing, the southern half of the Lower Peninsula is still experiencing no ice or unsafe ice conditions so some are now open water fishing. Remember, river ice is usually not safe because of moving water. All ice needs to be checked carefully before proceeding and remember to never fish alone! Use the buddy system in case you run into trouble.
Huron River: Steelhead have been caught downstream of Flat Rock.
Detroit River: Perch and walleye anglers are in the lower river but catch rates were hit-or-miss. Walleye were caught by those jigging in the Trenton Channel near the Edison Plant. Those fishing the protected inlets caught perch and panfish.
Lake St. Clair: Is producing some perch but catch rates were still hit-or-miss.
Lexington: The ice was holding but certainly not getting any thicker. Most anglers are staying close to the shoreline. Perch fishing was spotty with a lot of sorting to do. A couple steelhead or brown trout were caught on minnows or spawn.
Port Sanilac: Has been an open water fishery from shore and small boats. A few browns were caught on live minnows, and steelhead when casting.
Harbor Beach: Anglers sorted perch taken in the City Harbor and Offshore Marina but the ice was poor. The Edison Plant was off-line so shore anglers were casting in the channel in the afternoon after the skim ice is gone.
Saginaw Bay: Ice conditions continue to deteriorate around greater Saginaw Bay, so ice fishing is giving way to boat and shore fishing in many areas. Ice anglers off Palmer Road were taking a few perch in 1 ½ to 3 feet of water. Mornings were best but anglers reported seeing, hooking or breaking their line by large pike.
A few perch were caught off White’s Beach, Cody-Estey, Pinconning, Newman, and Townline 16 Roads, but ice conditions were deteriorating. Those inside the Linwood Marina were still sorting through a lot of small perch to get a few keepers. Ice off the Bay City State Park is pretty much gone except for about 100 yards of shore ice. A few boats were fishing out on the bay as the ice at the mouth of the Saginaw River has broken up. Those trolling crank baits in 17 feet of water caught walleye. Some are walking to the Hot Ponds off Jones Road and catching walleye after dark. Those taking machines out near Vanderbilt Park have gone through the ice. Anglers were going up to two miles off Sunset Bay and Thomas Road however the ice is changing daily so anyone thinking about going out that far will need to use extreme caution.
At Sebewaing, anglers inside the marina are sorting perch while others have returned to using a regular pole for perch fishing in the river, which opened up last week. Some were still ice fishing behind the sugar factory and at Geiger Road but ice conditions were listed as poor so the area is not safe. At Bay Port, ice fishing was concentrated along the south edge of Wildfowl Bay as ice conditions north of there were not safe. At the Filion Road access site, spearing shanties have been pulled ashore as Mud Creek has opened up and was taking out the ice near shore. At Port Austin, spearing shanties have also been pulled to shore.
Saginaw River: Fishing was not that good near the confluence of the Tittabawassee and the Shiawassee River, but it does improve as you go downstream of the ramp at Rust Avenue. Boat fishing was the order of the day on all area rivers. The best walleye fishing was from Zilwaukee downstream to the ramp at Cass Avenue but anglers had to sort through a lot of sub-legal fish to find keepers. Most are vertical jigging while drifting. Further downstream in Bay City, walleye anglers were sorting out the small fish. Perch anglers fishing from boats did well in the Bay Aggregate Cut. It is now possible for boats to launch off the ramp at Patterson Road which is at the mouth of the river. A few made their way through the ice flows to get to the Lower Bay but watch the channel to make sure ice does not close it off when you’re trying to come back in.
Tittabawassee River: The boat ramps at Gordonville Road, Imerman Park, and Center Road were free of ice but catch rates were slow as it appears the walleye are not up that far.
Quanicassee River: Is open and anglers are perch fishing from shore and small boats. Lots of sorting is necessary to get some keepers.
St. Joseph: Boats fishing on Lake Michigan were taking limit catches of coho along with a couple steelhead. Pier anglers caught coho and whitefish.
St. Joseph River: Steelhead fishing was very good at the Berrien Springs Dam. Walleye were also being caught.
Gull Lake: In Kalamazoo County had boat anglers catching a few smelt.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Continues with good steelhead catches by those using jigs and wax worms or wobble glows. Off the east side boat launch and the Post Office, anglers are using pink or chartreuse yarn with four to six foot leaders with ½ ounce of weight. Off the east wall, try jigs with wax worms about four to six feet down. Walleye action was good off the east side wall with bucktail jigs and minnows. Those fishing off Wealthy Street and Fulton Street caught steelhead and walleye with chrome Hot-n-Tots with red lips or chartreuse floating rapalas.
Grand River at Lansing: Steelhead fishing is keeping anglers busy. Fish have been caught near Ionia in Prairie Creek and in Sycamore Creek. Try pink or chartreuse yarn or flies. Pike have been caught on sucker minnows.
Lake Lansing: Anglers are open water fishing and catching pike on sucker minnows.
Jackson County: Has little to no ice available for ice fishing.
Muskegon River: Steelhead anglers are active with fresh fish being taken. Walleye have been caught in Hardy Pond and some of the fish were in excess of 5 pounds.
White River: Steelhead activity slowed but fish are still in the river system.
Grand Lake: Has ice anglers and good perch fishing.
Long Lake: Also has ice anglers catching fair to good numbers of perch.
Thunder Bay River: Is producing a couple steelhead and the occasional brown trout below the 9th Street Dam. There is ice on the turning basin upstream of 2nd Avenue but it may not be safe. Anglers caught the occasional walleye, pike, brown trout or steelhead. Ice conditions in the boat harbor might firm up by the weekend if temperatures return to normal for this time of year.
Hubbard Lake: Continues to have what most anglers consider unsafe ice conditions.
Au Sable River: Is producing unusually good steelhead fishing below Foote Dam. The ramps were open but the ramps may still have ice on them so be prepared.
Higgins Lake: Has ice however anglers need to watch for soft ice near the creek mouths. With no snow or slush, the ice is extremely slippery so bring your ice cleats. Perch were caught off the South State Park and along the ridge between the west launch and the Sunken Island. Smelt were caught in the evening off the west launch.
Houghton Lake: Ice anglers are doing well for walleye, perch and pike. Anglers have started fishing along the west side of lake but for now, foot traffic only in this area. Perch were caught from the weed beds along the south shore. Try minnows just off the bottom in 6 to 10 feet of water. Pike have been caught all day long when using tip-ups. Walleye was best in the early morning or late evening along the north shore and in the East Bay.
Tawas Bay: Ice anglers are still venturing out to fish walleyes in 15 to 20 feet of water off Jerry’s Marina, and they’re getting a few. Those out spearing are getting a few pike. Perch fishing is hit-or-miss with a lot of sorting for some 7 to 9 inch keepers. A couple small brown trout were caught in the harbor.
Au Gres: Anglers are seeing lake trout in 5 feet of water off Booth Road and Santiago Road. Try moonshine lures with minnows. Anglers need to use caution in this area and travel by foot only. Perch were caught in the harbor and channels.
Au Gres River: Has good steelhead fishing in the lower river.
Ice conditions are marginal on the bigger lakes. Pike have been caught in smaller lakes throughout the area. Anglers who have access to boats capable of fishing the Great Lakes will find yellow perch at several locations when weather conditions allow for safe travel.
Lake Skegemog: Anglers are catching good size pike.
Lake Cadillac: Is producing bluegill, pike and crappie.
Lake Mitchell: Is also producing bluegill, pike and crappie.
Portage Lake: Yellow perch are starting to show up.
Manistee River: Good weather has produced some nice steelhead catches below Tippy Dam. Cold water temperatures have the fish holding in the deeper holes.
Pere Marquette River: Continues with good steelhead fishing.
Haymarsh Lake: In Mecosta County is producing limit catches of northern pike.
Lake Gogebic: Is producing a few walleye.
Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions were about the same but the thicker ice was in the northern bay. Some have started fishing in the southern waters but caution needs to be used.
Pressure cracks have been dangerous this year and are causing problems for those trying to cross them. Anglers have been marking the most dangerous areas with orange cones or small trees. Walleye anglers were fishing between the Escanaba River and the ship docks however this area is dangerous! Whitefish were caught out from the Terrace when jigging spawn or minnows in 30 to 40 feet of water. Anglers could see good numbers of perch however few wanted to bite. The better catches were near Butler Island in 10 to 20 feet of water and Gladstone Beach in 20 to 25 feet of water. The head of the Bay has been quiet this year. Some walleye and perch have been caught but the numbers have been down from previous years.
Au Train Lake: Reported good catches of pike and perch.
Thunder Lake: In Schoolcraft County had good days and bad days for panfish.
Indian Lake: Was starting to produce some good catches of walleye.
Munuscong: Anglers are perch fishing in 3 feet of water near Grassy Island. Catch rates were poor but an all day effort may result in 20 to 30 fish. Try jigging or using tip-ups with minnows. A few walleye were caught as deep as 25 feet of water.
Cedarville and Hessel: Some nice 12 to 15 inch perch were caught in 10 to 14 feet of water in Musky Bay and Hessel Bay. Wigglers, minnows and spikes worked best but getting the fish to bite has not been easy. Be sure to use caution and watch the ice around and off the points.