DNR remind anglers to be cautious

BIG RAPIDS -- With the current, global COVID-19 situation, DNR advises fishermen to head out to fish only if you're feeling well and practice social distancing, at least 6 feet away from another person. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer. If driving to or from your fishing spot, roll the windows down a bit for air flow, the DNR said.

Though anglers are still ice fishing in the northern regions of the state, the shoreline ice is breaking up and making it harder for anglers to get on and off the ice. Where the waters have opened up, docks are slowly being installed.

In Mecosta County, "there's a few guys still out fishing for perch at Davis Bridge," Tanner Havens of Frank's Sporting Goods in Morley said.

"It's slowed down the last couple of weeks.

"We're just waiting for some rain down to Croton, they're catching a lot of steelhead. That's starting to heat up. With a little bit of rain in the next week or two, it's getting ready to kick off. We're needing some rain."

Tom Tanner, of Triggertime Outfitters, Big Rapids, said it's still a transitional period from ice to regular fishing.

"There's some steelhead and trout fishing. But I have no clue how it's going," Tanner said.

In northwest Michigan, at Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, anglers still were ice fishing, although the ice is becoming more and more questionable, the DNR said. Areas with moving water have opened, and the shoreline is starting to open.

"Steelhead is the order of the day, Rob Eckerson of Pappy's Bait Shop in Wellston said. "The Big Manistee is the place to be. Water is around 39 degrees. At 40 is when it starts to picking up. River flow is medium, so that's also good. Bear Creek has fish in it Betsie River has fish in it. The lakes have opened up. You can launch a boat at Portage Lake and you can launch a boat at Manistee Lake."

At Manistee, pier anglers were getting some steelhead. Once the waters clear up, fishing should be decent for steelhead and brown trout, the DNR said.

"I haven't heard of any walleye yet being caught off the pier," Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangle Tackle Co. said.

"River fishing seem to be pretty good all the way from the dam down.

For the Manistee River steelhead are in the river; however, there have been no great reports coming in, the DNR said

"It's slow down a little bit," Kristen Loeffler said. "It's mainly because of the coronaviris. The people going out fishing they're going to Manistee Lake and doing perch fishing. I here they're doing pretty good. I heard some people are going to the river. I don't know how they're dig there. I had some guys heading down to Manistee Lake. Some guys are heading over to Portage."

Pier fishing should improve for steelhead and brown trout at Ludington, the DNR said.

Fishing Tip: Storing ice-fishing equipment for next season

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

You may want to think about getting ready to store your ice fishing equipment. The key is doing it properly, so you'll be ready to hit the ice next winter. Here is a checklist of things to do:

• If you have an auger, check for any damage and dry all the blades before storing it. You may want to consult your power auger's manual to know how to appropriately handle any leftover gas and how to protect the engine.

• Remove batteries from any electronics to prevent any potential damage from leaking batteries.

• Make sure your portable shelter is completely clean and dry before storing. You may want to put some moth balls in it or hang it to keep pests at bay.

• Take a full inventory of your rods, reels and tackle to see what you might need/want next year. Also remove all bait or line from your hooks and lures for storage and make sure everything is dry.

By the time everything is properly stored, you'll be itching to get out on your favorite stream, river or lake for some spring fishing.