MyNorth News Service

(Press Release provided by Department of Natural Resources)

CADILLAC: The Department of Natural Resources offers anglers and would-be anglers an opportunity to learn about the basics of ice fishing at its second annual Hard Water School. The DNR’s Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac will host this one-day class beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, and again Saturday, March 14. 

“This class will cover everything from how to set up equipment and how and where to fish, to when to be out on the ice, ice safety, electronics, and rules and regulations,” said Ed Shaw, interpreter at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center. “We encourage the whole family to come.” 

The main focus of Hard Water School will be techniques for pan fish, walleye and pike. Participants will spend the first part of the day gearing up, and after lunch they will go out on the ice and spend the rest of the day fishing. After dark the group will meet back at the center to go over the day’s catch and to review what everyone learned, and then will head to dinner at Lake Side Charlie’s across the street.

 The cost for the class is $40 per family or bucket, which includes indoor and outdoor class instruction, ice-fishing rod and reel, tip-up, line, bait, various other tackle as available, a certificate and credit toward the Outdoor Academy.  

A warming hut, augers and some shanties (available on a first-come, first-served basis) will be provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own equipment if possible. Participants will be responsible for paying for their own lunch and dinner on Saturday. Sunday is available as an optional fishing day; those interested in fishing Sunday should let DNR staff members know when they sign up for the class. 

Registration is required. To register, visit and click on the link for Schedule of Weekly Programs at Carl T. Johnson

Hard Water School is one of a variety of winter programs offered at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center. Others include: 

  • Rod Building – Wednesdays, 4-8 p.m. Learn the basics of how to make your own fishing rod. Available rod styles include custom ice rods, casting rods, Sage fly rods or repurposing/fixing an old rod. Cost varies based on rod type/style.
  • Fly Tying – Wednesdays, 7-9 p.m. Learn how to tie flies with the local Trout Unlimited Pine River Chapter and the Mackinaw Trail Fly Fishers. This class is free.
  • Decoy Carving – Thursdays at 6 p.m. Learn to carve and paint your own fish decoys in the Cadillac style of carving. Participants may bring their own materials or a starter kit may be provided at cost of materials.
  • Ice Fishing – Saturdays at noon. All rods, bait and some other gear is provided at no cost.

The Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center is located in Mitchell State Park, at 6087 E. M-115 in Cadillac. More information about the center and its programs is available at or by calling 231-779-1321.

A Recreation Passport is required for entry into Mitchell State Park.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state’s natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. For more information, go to

Photo(s) by Michigan DNR