Colder conditions could mean start of ice fishing

MANISTEE — The DNR reports that open water fishing for pike and panfish is a good bet this time of year, and while areas in northern Michigan may be making skim ice at night, there’s no safe ice to report.

That report came late last week prior to the weekend storm. The recent cold weather may start producing some ice, but anglers are advised to wait until safe surfaces emerge.

The DNR adds that northwest Michigan is getting little activity.  Steelhead fishing picked up with the last rain but colder temperatures will not only slow fishing but make it much harder to do anything.

At Manistee Lake, the coho salmon action was slow but steady, the DNR reported, adding a few more steelhead have been picked up as well. Trolling the deeper waters has turned out more steelhead, but shallower waters are good spots for coho. The lake remains completely open with no ice to report.

”There’s a lot of fish in the Big Manistee, a lot of steelhead around right now,” Dave Barkman, of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston said.  “Water temperatures are starting to drop dramatically.

At Big Manistee River, water temperatures are continuing to drop and water levels are up.  Water clarity is down and anglers have been getting fish well into the afternoon, the DNR said, adding that floating spawn from Tippy Dam all the way down to M-55 Bridge has yielded a steady number of steelhead. A few coho remain at the dam, but numbers have decreased.

“There’s nothing I know of going on (fishing),” Dan Osborn, of Osborn’s Sport Shop in Bear Lake said. “They’re muzzleload hunting right now.”

At the Pere Marquette River, water levels are up here as well and clarity is down which makes for better fishing, the DNR added while noting that fresh fish are in the river and anglers are using spawn or fly fishing.

“It’s kind of in-between seasons right now,” Dave Rommell of Big Bob’s Outfitters in Frankfort said. “We’re waiting on ice There’s been some steelhead fishing in the Betsie River.”

Pier anglers at Pentwater have caught a couple of steelhead, the DNR added.

”There’s not too much going on,” Dewey Buchner, of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee said.