Cold weather puts fishing at standstill

BIG RAPIDS — The Department of Natural Resources’ fish report has been like a broken record in recent weeks.

The DNR notes this week that frigid temperatures will slow anglers and catch rates. Ice isn’t the issue since there’s plenty of it. But mounting snowfall, blowing snow and bitterly cold wind chills are making it challenging for anglers everywhere, the DNR admits.

“There’s too much snow on the lake and it’s been too cold,” said Jolyn Hildabridle of The Eyes Have it Shop in LeRoy. “There’s too much ice. The ice is like 2 1/2 feet thick.”

A warming trend will help, Hildrabridle added.

The weather has also put a crimp on small game hunting.

“I  haven’t been out for the rabbits because of the depth of the snow,” said Rick Aube of Evart. “If I get a chance, I’m going.”

In northwest Michigan, the DNR notes that ice fishing continues on all the inland lakes and fishermen are getting crappie, walleye, pike and bluegills.

Jerry Mondrella of Big Rapids is an active fisherman during the ice season and likes to venture to such lakes as Hillview and Townline. Panfishing has been slow, he indicated.

“It’s just too cold to go out,” he said.

Last year, fishing was more productive at this time, Mondrella indicated.

Like other area anglers, he’s waiting for it to warm up with the anticipation the ice is going to around for awhile.

Ashley Elder at East Bay General Store in Chippewa Lake indicated that anglers last weekend had success during a fishing tournament, including one fisherman who caught a 29-inch pike. But she indicated that fishing in general, mainly because of the cold, remains slow.

Josh Mead at the Pere Marquette River Lodge in Lake County indicated much of the same.

The bays at Traverse City are producing a few whitefish and lake trout, the DNR said, adding that Lake Cadillac has crappie for those fishing in water 12 feet or deeper and the fish are located along the bottom or just under the ice.

The DNR says that Lake Mitchell is giving up some crappie and bluegills.

Portage Lake in the Onekama area has ice anglers catching perch and pike. The DNR reports that the better perch fishing is usually in 6 to 18 feet of water along the south end between the two camps.

Manistee River is pretty much locked up with ice from High Bridge down, the DNR says, adding that some steelhead were caught at Tippy Dam.