Ice fishing ends for season

BIG RAPIDS — The DNR reminds anglers walleye, pike and musky season on all Lower Peninsula inland waters closed at midnight on Thursday, March 15. Walleye and pike season is open all year on the Lower Peninsula Great Lakes.

“They’ve been picking up steelhead over the weekend,” Tanner Havens, of Frank’s Sporting Goods, in Morley said. “It sounds like there’s a run of them coming up. The guys up by Davis (bridge) said Saturday was a slower day, but on Sunday they did all right.”

Some walleye were being caught, Havens said.

Avid ice fishermen Jerry Mondrella of Big Rapids and Jeff Greene of Rodney agreed ice fishing has ended.

“We’re pretty much done, I think,” Mondrella said. “I went out a week ago last Monday. I’m, not going to go out now unless someone else is out there. For me, the season wasn’t as good as last year. I got my limit four times this year. But there were maybe six or eight times I went out and didn’t get anything.”

Greene express overall frustration with season.

“I have pretty much a negative report,” he said. “The last time I went out on the ice was two weeks ago (Feb. 27). We had about enough bait for one more trip. But I just disposed of it because of the bad ice. As far as I’m concerned ice fishing is done for the year. It’s the poorest ice fishing season I’ve had in 15 years. I bet I talked to six people who echoed the same thing. For some reason, nobody caught a whole lot of fish this winter. The good news is there ought to be a bunch of fish left this summer.

East of Mecosta and Osceola counties, “Guys are chasing walleyes,” Travis Bohy of Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, said. “The big story here is walleye. It closes on Thursday, the last day. That’s the hot bite as of now. Ice fishing is all but over.”

“The ice is gone, almost, on the lakes,” Woody Raymond of Sanford Sports Shop said. “The river is full of walleye right now. The Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers are loaded. A buddy of mine was there on Sunday and said they got their limit in two hours or less.

The DNR released the following statements on Saginaw Bay and Saginaw River fishing:

Saginaw Bay: “Boat fishing along the west and south end of the bay was not possible due to ice that blew back in, although a few boats did get out by Spoils Island and took some walleye by vertical jigging in the ship channel. Shore anglers fishing the lower Kawkawlin River near Castaways and the cuts at Thomas Road and Kirk Road were taking a few small perch. There was not much happening on the lower Quanicassee River except for the odd crappie or a few perch caught from the Old State Road Bridge. Shore anglers caught a few perch and a couple pike in the lower Sebewaing River. The cut at Bay Port also produced a few perch. At Mud Creek, a few fish were still being caught in the early morning but tapered off quickly. A few walleye were also caught while perch fishing. Anglers are reminded that the inland walleye regulations call for a minimum size limit of 15 inches (not 13) and a daily bag limit of 5 fish (not 8). Shore anglers at Caseville were taking a few perch in the marina by poking a hole through the soft ice and fishing from the docks.”

Saginaw River: “Had a lot of activity at the Rust Avenue ramp and at the Zilwaukee ramp. Boat anglers did well for walleye upstream from the Zilwaukee Bridge in 15 feet when vertical jigging and near the St. Mary’s Health Building in downtown Saginaw. Boats from Rust Avenue were going upstream to the confluence of the Shiawassee and Tittabawassee rivers and did fairly well. Most were vertical jigging with a chartreuse jig tipped with a blue, purple ice or black ice plastic tail. Boats trolling for walleye in the lower river were not doing very well. The bite slowed with the cold temperatures but should pick back up as the weather improves.”


In northwest Michigan, there was still some ice fishing taking place but anglers are urged to use extreme caution.

Steelhead fishing in this area has been so-so, the DNR said. Fishermen are getting a few winter fish, but the main spring run hasn’t appeared yet.

“We’ve had guides out every day,” Dave Barkman of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston said. “Steelhead fishing at the Big Manistee River has been good. We expect things to get better as the snow melts.”

The area was hit with eight inches of snow earlier this week.

“Ice fishing has been deemed pretty much unsafe,” Rob Eckerson of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston said. “The river fishing for steelhead has been improving. The water levels are medium. Clarity has improved, so that’s good. There seems to be new silver fish coming out of the lake. Prospects are good.”

When anglers were able to get out on boats, they were trolling for trout and salmon and catching brown trout, the DNR said. A few coho were also mixed in, the DNR added. Those vertically jigging in the channel got a few walleye.

Some chrome colored steelhead were taken in the lower section of the Manistee River.

“A lot of guys are going north toward Crystal (lake) right now,” Kristen Loeffler of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee, said. “It’s been crazy with this snowstorm we had (on March 7). Other than that, people are going off the piers here in Manistee for browns. I haven’t heard of much else. A lot of guys are waiting for the snow to melt.”

At Ludington, boat anglers were getting some nice catches of brown trout and a few coho when trolling along the beach in 10 to 15 feet. Pier anglers were getting brown trout.

At the Pere Marquette River, anglers were getting steelhead but the return of cold weather late this week will slow the bite. Anglers should try fishing the deeper holes until it warms back up, the DNR said.

In Traverse City, anglers are getting a few perch along the south end of the West Bay. The Betsie River has been producing some steelhead. Ice fishing season is over at lakes Cadillac and Mitchell and any remaining ice isn’t considered to be safe.

Amanda Rommell, a fishing observer in Benzie County, acknowledged action is slowing down.

“There’s maybe a little bit of steelhead in the (Betsie) river,” Rommell said. “Other than that, not much is going on. Ice fishing is done.”