Benzie, Grand Traverse, Wexford County, Antrim, and Manistee Counties
After a week of inconsistent temperatures, we wished for colder weather, and our wish came true! This past week in northern Michigan was by far the coldest we have experienced this year. Cold temperatures and heavy winds have added multiple inches of ice to all bodies of water. After accumulating a large amount of snowfall in the past week, walking conditions on most lakes have gradually become more difficult. Some lakes listed below have 3-6 inches of snow with 1-2 inches of slush, we would like to prepare all anglers for these conditions. Despite lots of good ice on most of our lakes, caution should still be taken when venturing out with a 4-wheeler, snowmobile or larger vehicle. There are still the occasional reports of people finding weaker ice, especially towards the southern part of the state. In fact, an airplane went through the ice just a couple of days ago in Lowell out on Murray Lake. But our guess is that very few ice anglers are taking their airplanes out to go fish, so this is likely just an isolated incident!
Crystal Lake in Benzie County
1-2” of ice coverage on the very east end of the lake. We hope that this lake will continue to build ice in so that anglers can take advantage of excellent perch, lake trout, and whitefish fishing. There is currently NO safe, fishable ice on Crystal Lake. Heavy winds is causing the small amount of ice present to shift with the waves.
Long Lake in Benzie County
8-10” of ice. Pike have been found in 7-10ft of water on top of, and adjacent to, weed beds and flats. Perch and pike have been found in 10-13ft of water. Tip-ups with golden minnows 1-3ft off of the bottom have been best for pike. Perch minnows and small tungsten jigs have taken good catches of perch.
Bass and Otter Lakes in Benzie County
6-8” of ice. Pike fishing in Bass Lake has been producing a lot of action on undersized fish: 18-22inch range. Bluegill and crappie have been found in 15-18ft of water at first and last light. Perch fishing in Otter Lake has been generally slow, but some fish have been found in 20-23ft of water.
Green Lake in Grand Traverse County
5-6” of ice. Smelt have been found fishing off the south state park access at 30-40ft. Pike anglers have had success in 10-15ft in the weed-covered flats and along steep breaks. Perch have been found at 35-45ft.
Long Lake in Grand Traverse County
5-6” of ice (depending on the region of the lake). Long Lake often has inconsistent ice thickness. Anglers should use extreme caution fishing Long Lake. Anglers have had success finding active walleye jigging and by using fishing tip-ups along steep breaks and adjacent to weed beds. The best depth for walleye seems to be 20-30ft, and varies by the time of day. Large perch have been found in 30-40ft of water. While there has not been larger numbers of perch – the perch being caught are good-sized.
Skegemog Lake in Antrim County
8-9” of ice coverage (off the south shore access site). Anglers using blues, tungsten jigs, and wax worms with an underwater camera have had great success. 11-16ft of water has been yielding active fish. The larger perch have been caught on orange and green tungsten jigs tipped with spikes and wax worms.
Portage Lake in Manistee County
4-6” of ice coverage. Anglers have been fishing for perch, pike, and walleye mostly off the north access sites. Most perch have been found feeding on top of weed-covered areas in 16-25ft of water. Anglers looking for large perch in smaller schools have been targeting 35-40ft of water. This is also a great depth to jig and set tip-ups for walleye.
Bear Lake in Manistee County
8-9” of ice. Anglers have been targeting pike and walleye off the southwest and north access sites. More aggressive fish have been along weed covered drop-offs and contour changes in depths ranging from 12-18ft. Walleye and pike are grouping together feeding in the same general areas.
Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac in Wexford County
9-10” of ice. Crappie and bluegill in both lakes, transitioning from 8-10 foot weed flats to 16-20 foot drop-offs and holes throughout the day. Walleye have been found in 19-21ft on Lake Mitchell. Pike have been active throughout the day. Larger pike have been caught on tip-ups using 4-5 inch sucker minnows. Weed-covered flats ranging from 9-12ft have been best for pike fishing.