Anglers looking forward to free fishing weekend

Mixed results of success are being reported

An ice fisherman uses a power auger to grind a hole through the ice.

An ice fisherman uses a power auger to grind a hole through the ice.

John Pepin/Michigan Department of Natural R

BIG RAPDS – It’s Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan and anglers are confident it’s going to be a good one.

In Mecosta County, “it sounds like it’s picked up in the last week or so,” Tanner Havens of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “They’re catching perch and walleye in the river. Some guys are making a long travel to Saginaw Valley and said they’re doing well over there.”

In northwest Michigan, in Charlevoix, anglers were catching cisco in 50 to 100 feet of water. Fishing earlier in the day provided the best action.

At Portage Lake, pike fishing was decent with several small fish caught and an occasional keeper, the DNR said.

Manistee Lake had decent perch fishing occurring off the 9th street boat launch. Pike fishing was also good, the DNR said.

“I know they’re getting a few pike on Lake Manistee and a few perch,” Larry Scharich, of Shipwatch Marina in Manistee, said. “There’s a few of them on Portage Lake, but not a lot of activity going on right now.”

“Perch fishing, they’ve been catching some at the PM, but mainly small ones, and that’s been slow,” Caleb Keegstra at Captain Chuck’s in Ludington said. “Hamlin Lake has produced a few fish like pike and crappie. But that’s been slow as well.”

A bait shop spokesperson in Benzonia said people are fishing on Crystal Lake and said anglers are catching lake trout, smelt, pike, walleye and burbot.

Fishing Tip: Techniques to target trout through the ice

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Trout fishing through the ice can be quite fun, if you use the proper techniques. Consider the following;

Tip-ups: Certain species of trout, particularly brown trout, really gravitate to tip-ups as they linger in shallower water. Consider your depth if you do this type of fishing.:

Jigging: Lake trout and brown trout can be attracted easily by jigging with a spoon. For lake trout use a piece of smelt or sucker as your bait. For brown trout use the head of a minnow.

Anglers are reminded to report marked and tagged fish they may encounter while fishing. Fisheries managers are continuously monitoring fish populations using clipped and marked fish. Reports can be made by filling out our Eyes in the Field form.

All anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license.