Despite Heavy Ice and Snow Still Ice Fishing in Michigan

Rapid ice development on Michigan’s rivers and streams may result in ice jams and limit access for Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan ice fishing. Heavy snowfall on the inland lakes will make the ice softer and deep slush will make travel on the ice difficult. Fewer anglers have been out, so reports are limited.

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

If you’re headed out fishing, please do your part to keep yourself and others safe by following COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines. Go fishing only if you’re feeling well. Practice proper social distancing (at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your household) and keep a face-covering handy for when social distancing cannot be maintained. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Lake Charlevoix: Those targeting Cisco have done well on the main basin when fishing off Hemingway Point.

Grand Traverse County: Ice conditions are not as great as they were a couple of weeks ago on lakes in the Traverse City area due to snow cover resulting in quite a bit of slush which is making it difficult for anglers traveling by foot. The perch action on Duck Lake near Interlochen was steady but the fish were small.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Both lakes had very light fishing pressure with the extremely cold weather. The next warmup should help get more anglers out and improve the bite.

Manistee River: Is running low, clear, and very cold. Those putting in the time have found the occasional fresh steelhead in the deeper holes. A couple walleye along with some crappie and bluegills were caught on Tippy Dam Pond.

Hamlin Lake: Ice anglers were targeting bluegills in the bayous. Crappie were found along the drop-offs.

Upper Peninsula

Conditions in this region of the state have been brutal with temperatures anywhere from -15 to -25 degrees, strong winds, and whiteout conditions. With the extreme weather, fewer anglers have been out.

Keweenaw Bay: Anglers recently had better success with catching fish each trip out. Most were catching splake along with the occasional coho, brown trout, lake trout, whitefish and burbot. Anglers have reported seeing smelt but very few have been caught during the day.

Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions improved, and anglers were fishing all the way down to Escanaba. Lots of anglers are walleye fishing, however catch rates have been spotty. Yellow perch fishing was fair to good.

Munising: Fewer anglers have been out due to bitter cold temperatures. Those that have gone out reported nice catches of coho and quality size splake. Whitefish numbers were low. Those targeting lake trout were starting to head out. Schools of smelt were scattered off Sand Point and the Anna River.

Cedarville and Hessel: Ice conditions off Cedarville were unknown. Anglers were seen in Musky Bay, Cedarville Channel and Government Bay. Catch rates were unknown. Off Hessel, anglers are fishing in the bay however there are some areas that do have considerable snowdrifts. Perch fishing slowed but some were still able to find fish up to 10” when jigging minnows, wax worms and spikes in 14 to 17 feet. No word on splake or pike being harvested.

Techniques to target trout through the ice:

Many anglers look forward to the opportunity to target trout—and not just on April 25 for the statewide opener! Trout fishing through the ice can be quite fun if you use the proper techniques. Consider the following:

Tip-ups

Certain species of trout, particularly brown trout, really gravitate to tip-ups as they linger in shallower water. Consider your depth if you do this type of fishing.

Jigging

Lake trout and brown trout can be attracted easily by jigging with a spoon. For lake trout, use a piece of smelt or sucker as your bait. For brown trout use the head of a minnow.

Don’t want to sit on the ice looking for trout? Then gear up for the open-water season! Find information about Michigan’s trout species.

Continue to use caution. Toward the end of the season, ice becomes soft. Although it may still be more than a foot thick, it might not be strong enough to hold someone safely. Never go out alone, take a cell phone, check the ice ahead of you with a spud and pay attention to the weather. For more safety tips visit Michigan.gov/IceSafety.

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