2018-01-08 / Sports

Steelhead fishing comes to a standstill


LAPEER COUNTY — Steelhead fishing has come to a standstill as most rivers have shelf ice or floating ice. Ice fishing is on for most of the state, however, ice conditions are variable in some locations. Anglers will need to use caution especially in those areas that have received a lot of snow. Check the ice ahead of you and around you when heading out and remember deep snow and slush will hide dangerous pressure cracks and depressions.


Overall: Anglers are fishing the inland lakes in this area of the state.

Lake Erie: Perch anglers are taking fish in the Metro Park Marina and near the Banana Dike. Some good size fish have been caught on minnows and wax worms but anglers were still sorting out the small ones. Brest Bay is giving up walleye for those using Swedish pimples and jigging rapalas in 16 feet. Most anglers are walking out. Bluegills were caught in Lake Point Marina which is near the mouth of the Huron River.

Detroit River: Ice anglers have caught yellow perch along the south end of Grosse Ile in Airport Bay. Most were using minnows and wax worms.

Lake St. Clair: All the regular access sites have good ice. Yellow perch fishing was excellent on the north end of the lake.

Saginaw Bay: Had little fishing activity from White’s Beach south to Linwood. There has been a fair amount of activity off Linwood with some anglers going as deep as 24 feet and taking good catches of walleye however anglers need to use caution as there is an active pressure crack off Linwood and at least one machine has gone through the ice. Changes in wind direction can cause water level changes under the ice and this caused a pickup truck to break through the ice last weekend. There was a fair amount of ice fishing off the Bay City State Park. On the east side, there was light fishing pressure from Sebewaing to Bay Port with most fishing just outside the islands and in the Slot. Perch, pike and walleye were taken in Wildfowl Bay.

Saginaw River: Has ice anglers fishing the length of the river, from Wicke’s Park in Saginaw all the way down to the mouth. Ice thickness varies so anglers need to use extreme caution. Walleye were caught at most locations when using a fire-tiger jigging rapala tipped with a minnow head. Catfish have also been caught and a large lake sturgeon was caught recently. Anglers are reminded that any sturgeon caught anywhere in the Saginaw River or Saginaw Bay must be released immediately. Keep in mind that handling these fish for any length of time in these temperatures can cause the gill filaments to freeze and result in the death of a fish so get them back in the water as quickly as possible.


Overall: People have started ice fishing in this area of the state however the ice thickness varies considerably due to heavy snow. Many lakes have several inches of slush under several inches of snow which is slowing the freezing process. Ice thickness can go from four inches to once inch in just a few feet. Anglers should use extreme caution if they decide to head out, especially in the high snow areas near Lake Michigan or on lakes with natural springs. Ice conditions improve to the east including the area from Jackson to Lansing where there is less snow. Best advice is to use a spud and check the ice often. Anglers are catching bluegill and crappie using jigs and wax warms or spikes. With ice coming down the rivers, steelhead fishing has been difficult.

Kalamazoo: Ice in the Kalamazoo area is marginal due to heavy snow, but people have been getting out. Most reported trips cut short due to the ice sinking or difficulty getting to regular spots.

Muskegon Lake: Has ice anglers targeting panfish.

Muskegon River: Steelhead fishing and angler activity has been extremely slow during this period of arctic weather.

White Lake: Has ice anglers. No reports on catch rates have come in.


Mullett Lake: Anglers were out ice fishing but caution needs to be used. Those using tip-ups were targeting pike.

Otsego Lake: Had anglers out fishing.

Higgins Lake: Is frozen but anglers will need to use caution. No one was fishing in deep water yet because it takes longer to freeze. Anglers were walking out from the south launch. The ice was still thin off the west launch so avoid that area.

Houghton Lake: Has good ice however anglers need to use caution near the inlets. Some areas have little snow while other areas are drifting. Walleye anglers are getting a few fish when using Swedish pimples and do-jiggers or rattle jigs. Hot colors were nickel blue, orange, pearl and dark green. Walleye anglers are also catching a lot of pike. Bluegills have been caught on teardrops tipped with a wax worm. If the bite slows, try wigglers.

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