2020 fishing licenses go on sale April 1

Anglers are hopeful of a big week. (Herald Review file photo)

Anglers are hopeful of a big week. (Herald Review file photo)

BIG RAPIDS -- The DNR announces 2020 fishing licenses will go on sale starting this Sunday. This gives anglers one month to purchase a new license, which is required by April 1 of each year.

While ice fishing continues for most of the state, the DNR said, the southern areas of the Lower Peninsula had questionable ice once again.

The DNR reported river fishing was picking up in Lake County.

Ice fishing continues for walleye, pike and panfish at Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, the DNR said

"They're getting some perch and walleye out on Portage," Dewey Buchner of Don's Sporting Goods in Manistee said. "The ice is still good, about eight inches. Manistee Lake, they're fishing Ninth Street and Penny Park, and getting their limits of perch and some nice pike. They're getting steelhead in the river."

Steelhead anglers found some fish during the warm-up at the Manistee River, the DNR reported.

"Portage is sketchy at best," Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co. of Manistee said. "At Manistee, they've been getting perch, but it's on thin ice, plus crappies and bluegills. The big river had a lot of fish in it. They've been using plugs. When it warms up I'm sure they'll switch to spawn. Right now, they're using plugs."

"They continue to winter steelhead fish in the Big Manistee," Rob Eckeson of Pappy's Bait Shop in Wellston said. "That continues to be good. "The water has warmed up to 36 degrees, so that's a glimpse of spring. A lot of the lakes have been fishable. I can't say they've been overly productive but they've been able to go."

In Osceola County, the inland lakes were producing some panfish, the DNR said.

In Mecosta County, Lake Mecosta continues to produce pike, perch and sunfish the DNR said. Brockway Lake was producing sunfish and the occasional crappie. Morley Pond had pike, perch and panfish. Lower Evans had slower catch rates, with only a few small catches of perch and sunfish, the DNR said.

"Probably the best news I've heard would be Big Whitefish Lake in Howard City or right back on the Morley pond here," Tanner Havens, of Frank's Sporting Goods in Morley Stanwood, 'and bluegills as well. I heard the specs (crappies) are hit or miss. On the river, I've heard it's been up or down. They're getting some walleyes. They've been kind of small, same with perch."

Bruce Vanscyoc at Anchor Wizards, in Evart said he's been fishing the Saginaw River for walleye and some pike spearing on Higgins.

"It's been hit or miss," he said.

Rose, Big Long and Hicks lakes "they're doing well on," VanScyoc said. "They caught a few specs last week on Hicks Lake."

Fishing was slow in Oceana County, the DNR said, with poor ice conditions on the west side of the county. East-side lakes had fishable ice, but the activity was slow.

Steelhead fishing was slow at Pentwater River, the DNR said.

Fishing Tip:

Tips to stay safe when ice fishing in early spring

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Winter is winding down, but there's still time to go ice fishing. Remember, there are a few important safety precautions to take if you plan to do so:

1. Toward the end of the season, ice becomes rotten and soft. Although ice may still be more than a foot thick, it might not be strong enough to hold someone safely.

2. Don't forget to keep carrying the appropriate safety items, such as ice picks and a throw rope. And remember to wear a personal flotation device when heading out.

3. Continue to use the buddy system and have someone with you to help if you fall through the ice.

4. Carry a fully charged cell phone in a waterproof plastic bag. Make sure it is easily accessible in case of an emergency.

5. Pay attention to the weather. If it hasn't been consistently cold or if there has been a lot of wind, you can't guarantee there will be solid ice to head out on.