Ice fishing activity starts to slow down

Spring fishing prospects are bright

BIG RAPIDS – It looks like ice fishing locally is heading into its final days.

Local angler Owen Seay likes the local fishing prospects the spring.

“It’s kind of the start of spring o steelhead fishing right now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that. Croton Dam is pretty good. I also fish the White River and the Pere Marquette River for steelhead trout.”

In Mecosta County “guys are still out bluegill fishing on most the inland lakes,” Vic Havens at Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “They tell me here’s anywhere from 12 to inches of ice. They’re using wax worms and spikes. On the river for fish, they’re buying wigglers and minnows.”

“It’s starting to wind down,” Seay said of ice fishing. “We had some pretty good success. The Haymarsh Lake was pretty good for some panfish. A couple of other lakes around Big Rapids were pretty good.”

In northwest Michigan, the DNR reports Hamlin Lake was producing decent catches of crappie and northern pike.

Anglers at Higgins Lake, the DNR said, reported good catches of lake trout, smelt and yellow perch.

At Lake Cadillac, anglers reported some good catches of yellow perch.

Muskegon Lake anglers told of some good catches of yellow perch.

The DNR reported at the Muskegon River, steelhead fishing was fair to good for brown trout. There was some early run walleye in the upper reach near Croton Dam. The DNR said anglers should try drift fishing with live minnows for both species.

At Lake Mitchell, anglers reported some good catches of crappie.

At the Big Manistee River, steelhead and brown trout fishing was fair to good with better trout catches near Tippy Dam, the DNR said.

“We’ve still got some good ice,” Dewey Buchner of Don’s Sports Shop in Manistee said. “They were getting limits of bluegill and perch at Penny Park and Ninth Street. Walleye and pike fishing close on Thursday.”

Don’s was having a tournament this Saturday and Sunday. It’s winner take all by weight. Anglers can fish anywhere.

Eric Budreau of Captain Chuck’s in Ludington said “ice is starting to get really bad. It’s 10 to 11 inches but we’ll have 40s and up next week; they’re were catching some crappies the upper end of Hamlin. They were getting a few walleye in the river bed in about 30 feet of water. It’s been pretty slow on the PM.”

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!

The 2022 license year goes into effect on April 1. Anglers are encouraged to check out this year's fishing guide for updates on regulations.

For all other major changes, please refer to page 3 of the fishing guide.

All anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license.