Ice anglers looking for more success

BIG RAPIDS -- The DNR reports the southern regions of the state remain unchanged, with there being no safe ice on the inland lakes and the rivers continuing to run high.

There is ice farther north, the DNR points out, but adds anglers should use caution on the large, deep lakes, which take longer to freeze.

Osceola County has a few panfish caught on both Center Lake and Sunrise Lake. Ice conditions were questionable, the DNR said, due to heavy slush on most lakes in the area.

"There's about eight inches of ice on lakes around us," a spokesperson at Buck's Country Store in LeRoy said. "There's slush on top, but they're catching crappies and pike."

Mecosta County has had bluegills, crappie and small perch caught on Lake Mecosta, the DNR said, adding small bluegills and a few decent-size pike were taken on Jensen Lake. Those on Pretty Lake, the DNR said, caught bluegill, crappie and even a few pike on tip-ups.

"We've got quite a few people out here at Morley Pond," Scott Hart, of Frank's Sporting Goods, in Morley. "We have some people out at Croton. They're catching mainly bluegills and specs."

The DNR added bluegill and perch were taken on Chippewa Lake but ice on the Martiny Chain of Lakes was spotty and not safe.

"Steelhead fishing has been a little slow," Steve Forrester, of the Backcast Fly Shop in Benzonia, said. "Portage has some pike and perch."

Crystal Lake in Benzie County does not have safe ice, the DNR said, adding steelhead were caught on spawn and jigs at the Betsie River.

Crappie and a few perch were caught on Lake Cadillac, the DNR said. Lake Mitchell was producing panfish near the coves while walleye were found along the drop-offs.

"Right now, we have some ice fishing on Portage, limited," Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co., said. "The southside has been a little soft. The west end is open water. But they are getting some nice fish. We had a guy who pulled a just under 13-inch walleye out of it.

"Bear Lake is frozen. They're getting walleye at night. We started to get our spring run of steelhead in the Big Manistee River. There wasn't much off the pier or the beach this past week."

With the mild weather, steelhead fishing continues at the Manistee River, the DNR said, with anglers reporting some decent catches.

"We have marginal ice," Rob Eckerson, of Pappy's Bait Shop in Wellston said. "There's people going but I caution them about the quality and thickness of the ice. They're on Portage Lake, avoiding the channel, obviously. They're on most of the small lakes around here."

Fishing Tip: Targeting walleye? Wait until the sun goes down

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

While many anglers pack up their gear and head off the ice after dusk settles in, some anglers will stick it out - especially if they've got a lighted shelter. This can be an ideal time to target walleye and to see some angling success.

Many anglers adopt a simple presentation when targeting walleye in the dark - they jig a spoon to catch the fishes' attention and then offer them a setline with a minnow nearby. Focus on baits that glow to appeal to the walleye's senses, and keep the minnows small to accommodate their slower appetites.