Ice Firms, Perch and Walleye Biting + Four Tips for Pike Fishing

Cold weather has ice on Northern Michigan inland lakes and we are seeing slowly sprouting shanties. However, the bite is slow according to the February 3, 2021, Michigan Fishing Report below. Patience is needed. As is safety and caution. Varying temperatures have meant sporadic freezing patterns. If you’re heading out, 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 (stay 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.

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

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Crooked Lake: In Antrim County was producing a good number of pike on the east side, but most were undersize. Small perch were caught along with the occasional keeper. Pike were hitting on minnows and the perch were hitting wax worms.

Kalkaska County: Anglers are targeting walleye and perch, though the bite was slow on Manistee Lake. Cub Lake is producing bluegill and sunfish.

Grand Traverse County: The ice continues to firm up on Duck, Green and Long Lake. Small perch were caught on Green Lake. Ice shanties were seen off the Betsie River Road launch, where anglers are no doubt targeting smelt. Smaller inland lakes in the area are providing panfish opportunities.

Benzie County: Most of the smaller inland lakes had fishable ice. Catch rates were fair for bluegills and perch.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Ice fishing continues; however, the bite must have slowed, as not many anglers were out.

Manistee River: There are some steelhead in the river; however, the water is low, clear and cold, which makes fishing much more difficult.

Mecosta County: Bluegill, perch and crappie have been caught on Chippewa Lake. Panfish were caught on Pretty Lake.

Pentwater River: With cold, clear water, anglers found steelhead in the deeper holes.

Upper Peninsula

Keweenaw Bay: Ice was starting to form near shore. EXTREME CAUTION NEEDS TO BE USED, AS IT IS EARLY ICE. Anglers need to be aware of changing ice conditions, especially with a south wind.    

Little Bay de Noc: Ice conditions were widely inconsistent around the bay. Good ice at the head of the bay has created a false sense of safe ice, as it may be a foot thick in one area and less than an inch nearby. Several anglers have fallen through the ice recently, either walking or operating snowmobiles and ORV’s. EXTREME CAUTION NEEDS TO BE USED. Areas of special concern include Saunders Point, Hunters Point, the access site at Fayette and Ogontz, Farmers Dock, and near the mouth of the Escanaba, Days and Ford rivers. 

Munising: Ice anglers are out on the bay, and more ice shanties are popping up. ICE CONDITIONS ARE NOT CONSISTENT, SO ANGLERS NEED TO USE CAUTION, ESPEICALLY WITH MODERATE SNOWFALL AND STRONG WINDS IN THE FORECAST. Avoid the channels and Grand Island Access areas. There is a large pressure crack off Powell Point. Anglers are getting splake, coho, whitefish, burbot and perch, including some limit catches by those putting in the time. Fishing pressure was high in the mornings off the Anna River Access, the city docks and Sand Point. Splake were hitting jigs with minnows or wax worms in the bottom 6 feet. Coho were slow, with anglers getting maybe one fish per hour. Those spearing for herring reported slow catch rates. Those targeting burbot were seen off Sand Point and off the Anna River. 

Grand Marais: A few anglers have started ice fishing in the harbor for coho and Menominee, but no reports have come in. 

Cedarville and Hessel: There is ice fishing activity in Musky Bay, and a few anglers were out in Government Bay and the Cedarville Channel; however, ice conditions were unknown. Those out were taking 6- to 10-inch perch when jigging minnows. A few pike were caught. The ice in Hessel Bay was variable, with more on the east side than the west side. Perch fishing picked up with 7- to 10-inch fish caught when jigging minnows in 14 to 17 feet. A few splake ranging from 20 to 26 inches were also caught when jigging spoons in 10 to 16 feet.

Fishing Tip: Four tips for fishing northern pike in winter

Now may be the time to learn some tips and tricks for targeting northern pike through the ice:

  1. Consider using a fluorocarbon leader, which will be practically invisible to any pike, as opposed to a steel leader.
  2. Keep your bait lively by using both a well-aerated bait container and very sharp hooks to minimize injury.
  3. Consider using something flashy with your bait, such as a small spinner blade, to entice pike in murky water.
  4. Don’t be afraid to keep some slush around your hole in the ice to prevent pike from being spooked by your opening.

Want more information on fishing for northern pike? Visit the northern pike page on the Michigan website.