Area fishing action remains slow

MANISTEE — The Department of Natural Resources reports fewer anglers are out and many have put their boats away for the winter, while others are concentrating on hunting.

Windy conditions are making it challenging to fish the Great Lakes this time of year, but the best inland lake fishing, the DNR said, is happening right now, the fish are on a feeding frenzy and there is more room to fish because of fewer anglers.

A spokesman at East Bay General Store at Chippewa Lake indicated activity at the lake has been slow in recent days.

But, it’s not slow everywhere.

“They’re catching some really nice perch and some nice walleye on the Muskegon River right now,” Vic Havens, of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “They’re using minnows and wigglers for the perch. Walleye have been coming more on minnows than they have been on crawlers lately. Deer hunting has been coming on good.”

Surface water temperatures were at 58 degrees at Manistee. Young chinook and some steelhead were caught in 250 feet while pier fishing was very slow.

Trout and salmon fishermen haven’t been seeing much luck at Manistee Lake, but they have had limited success for bluegills and other panfish in the coves along the southeast end.

“They’re actually starting to get some steelhead on the beach and in the rivers,” Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co., said. “The few salmon we actually have are actually on the beds now. They’re still getting some salmon in the river. The perch are about done in Portage Lake. They’re still getting them up north, but there’s a lot of sorting.”

Water temperatures continue to drop at the Manistee River and there was a good push of chinook over the last week and the fish are quickly moving up on the gravel to spawn.

“The fishing this week has been extremely productive,” a spokesperson at D-Loop Outfitters in Wellston, said. “The salmon have come up toward Tippy Dam, and following behind them have been nice big brown trout and steelhead. The steelhead are here. Our guides are catching them every day. That cold weather and rain we got Thursday night pushed some fresh fish into the river.”

Steelhead are moving into the river in good numbers.

“Salmon fishing is at its peak,” Rob Eckerson, of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston, said. “Water temps are finally in the 50s, so that’s the explanation for that. It’s taken this long to get there. There are some steelhead coming on the tail end of the salmon to eat the salmon eggs. That process has begun.”

Bass fishermen are having success at Portage Lake on getting fish at the shoreline that weighed five pounds or more, the DNR said, adding perch and bluegill anglers are still reporting good catches, but the numbers and the sizes were down from last week.

“The perch fishing at the inland lakes like at Portage and Manistee lakes has been pretty good,” Eckerson said. “At the other small lakes, the guys fishing bluegills have done pretty well, too, fishing the dropoffs.”

Water temperatures on the outside of the breakwalls at Frankfort ranged between 41 and 43 degrees, the DNR said, adding steelhead were hitting on fresh coho spawn with low numbers and small fish size.

The Betsie River is getting some reports of chinook trickling into the river in low numbers and there’s still activity at the Homestead Dam.

“The salmon are starting to taper off,” Dane Bovee, of the Backcast Shop in Benzonia, said. “They have been doing decent on Crystal.”

Surface water temperatures also were near 58 degrees at Ludington, the DNR reported, adding steelhead and young chinook salmon were found in 200 to 250 feet. Pier fishing was slow, the DNR added.

Pier anglers have been targeting steelhead with spawn, the DNR said, but at Pentwater Lake, those drifting minnows or casting lures in the channel caught pike.

There’s been no word on bluegills or other panfish, in the Pentwater River, but anglers caught salmon while casting crankbaits or drifting spawn in the middle and lower sections.