Anglers set to make transition to spring fishing

BIG RAPIDS - The DNR has said reports are limited this week since this is a transition time from winter to spring.

"The warming temperatures means that the ice angling is winding down except in a few northern locations," the DNR stated in its report. "Many inland lakes still have ice and are unsafe to fish, be safe and try when the water is open. Great Lake tributaries are seeing increased fishing effort as some fish species like steelhead migrate upstream to spawn. Inland waters are starting to warm in the southern portion of the state as anglers start getting out in search of panfish.

"Bass and muskellunge fishing is open all year because of the catch-and-immediate-release fishing seasons. However, northern pike and walleye fishing do not have catch-and-immediate-release fishing seasons so targeting them outside of the possession season is unlawful. Some inland trout lakes and many small trout streams are closed to fishing until the last Saturday in April."

The DNR reminds anglers to don't forget to check the online Fishing Guide for the most recent regulation information and to see if the water you plan on fishing is open during this time of year.

The DNR said it is accepting written comments on the draft walleye management plan through April 1, 2021. All written comments should be submitted to

In Mecosta County, "perch are biting now at Davis Bridge all throughout the river," Tom Vernon, of Franks Sporting Goods in Morley said. "You get over toward the Croton Dam and the steelhead are there."

Greg Clark, of Schafer's Sporting Goods in Weidman, said, there is still ice in various areas.

"Maybe the rain this week will get rid of this stuff so they can get back out," Clark said. "There's not much going on."

In northwest Michigan, at Frankfort, windy weather has hampered angling effort on the pier and shoreline areas, the DNR reported.

At Manistee, anglers were able to get out on the piers and reported catching a few steelhead and brown trout.

"Things are going good," Rob Eckerson, of Pappy's Bait Shop in Wellston, said. "We're approaching the peak of the steelhead run at Tippy Dam. Water temps are approaching 42. Spawning has begun.

"They're trying to catch perch at Manistee and Portage lakes coming into spawn from Lake Michigan. They've had some success with that."

Some steelhead were being caught by anglers using spawn at the Manistee River. Anglers using body baits and flies have also reported catching fish. The Little Manistee River is closed to fishing until April 1, the DNR said.

"We're getting some perch out in Manistee Lake," Dewey Buchner of Don's Sporting Goods in Manistee said. "The steelhead and browns are slow but they are getting some browns out in front of the pier. The browns are small."

Steelhead fishing is starting to warm up at the Pere Marquette River.

"Perch fishing is solid on Pere Marquette and Pentwater lakes," Captain Chuck's in Ludington reported. "Browns, coho and steehead are being caught off the pier, mainly on spawn bags. Steelhead suckers are being caught in Pere Marquette river, worms and nightcrawlers (have been best) for suckers."

Fishing Tip, Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Michigan's numerous piers and breakwalls offer great fishing opportunities throughout the year. Anglers often participate in this activity to target a variety of species, with trout and salmon being two of the most popular.

If you decide to partake in this type of fishing you'll need a high-quality rod and reel. Technique-wise you'll want to vary the depth and speed of your retrieves and consider fan-casting as opposed to casting perpendicular to the pier/breakwall.

There are lots of bait options to consider, including spawn bags with steelhead, trout or salmon eggs; live alewives; or night crawlers. You'll also want a long-handled net to aid in landing your catch!

As always, take plenty of safety precautions when fishing piers and breakwalls.

If you're headed out fishing, please do your part to keep yourself and others safe by following COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines. Go fishing only if you're feeling well. Practice proper social distancing (at least 6 feet away from people who don't live in your household) and keep a face covering handy for when social distancing cannot be maintained. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer.