Ice Fish Michigan Ice Report 01.17.17

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Wexford County, Antrim, Leelanau, and Manistee Counties

We are currently facing an aggressive warming trend that is threatening ice conditions. To many people in the region this is great news, but it is depressing for ice fisherman! The 10-12 day forecast, indicates that most lakes will face very slushy and wet conditions, which will lead to potentially unsafe ice conditions. Of course, the weather forecast can change from day to day, so let’s keep our fingers crossed for colder temperatures. This ice report is regarding “current” conditions, and we expect things to deteriorate over the next week. Things will change each day, and so what may have been safe a day or two ago may not be on following days. Please be safe and use your best judgment when venturing out on the ice.

Crystal Lake in Benzie County
4-5in of ice coverage on the very east end of the lake. Anglers have had nice catches of perchin25ft of water fishing off the Beulah access. The remainder of the lake is virtually open water. The only fishable water is right off of the town of Beulah. We feel that this will change with the forecast and create unsafe conditions in the very near future.

Long Lake in Benzie County
10-11in 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 set 1-3ft of bottom have been most productive for pike. Minnows and small tungsten jigs have taken fair catches of perch.

Bass and Otter Lakes in Benzie County
9-10in of ice. Pike fishing in Bass Lake is still producing a lot of action on undersized fish in the 18-22in range. Crappie and bluegill have been found in 15-18ft of water at first and last light. Perch fishing in Otter Lake has been slow, but some fish have been found in 20-23ft of water.

Green Lake in Grand Traverse County
8-9in of ice. Smelt fishing has been slow on both ends of the lake. Marking fish has been relatively easy, however finding active schools has been difficult. 60ft of water has produced the most smelt action after dark. Anglers targeting pike have had success in 10-15ft in weed-covered flats and along steep breaks. Perch have been found in 35-45ft of water.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County
7-9in of ice depending on the region of the lake. Long Lake can be very inconsistent in ice thickness. Anglers should use extreme caution fishing Long Lake. Anglers have had success finding active walleye both jigging and fishing tip-ups along steep breaks and adjacent to weed beds in 30-35ft. The hottest depth for both big perch and walleye has been 25-35ft, depending on the time of day. Large perch have been found in 30-40ft of water. Anglers have not found large numbers of perch. However, the perch being caught have been very nice in size.

South Lake Leelanau
8-9in of ice (on the south portion of the lake only). The north end of the lake is not producing safe ice at this time due to inconsistent weather and winds. Anglers have found pike, perch, and walleye off all major boat ramp sites. Walleye fishing has been best in 18-25ft on tip-ups and larger blue minnow presentations. Perch have been found in 15-25ft. Shallow weed clumps have produced nice quality catches. The deeper, softer weed-covered depths are producing larger numbers of fish.

Skegemog Lake in Antrim County
9-11in of ice coverage off the south shore (Baggs Road access site). Anglers using blues, tungsten jigs, and wax worms accompanied by an underwater camera have had great success. 11-16ft of water seems to consistently produce active fish. The larger perch have been coming on orange and green tungsten jigs tipped with spikes and wax worms. Anglers seeking musky and pike have been reporting slower action. A word of caution to anglers venturing close to the Skegemog and Elk Lake channel: a snowmobile went through the ice just 2 days ago. While the person was rescued, it shows that ice near any current can be weaker. The further to the west anglers venture, the thinner the ice is.

Portage Lake in Manistee County
8-10in of ice coverage. Anglers have been fishing mostly off the north access sites for perch, walleye and pike. Most perch have been found feeding on top of weed-covered areasin16-25ft. Large perch in smaller schools have been targeted in 35-40ft of water. This is also a great depth to jig and set tip-ups for walleye.

Bear Lake in Manistee County
9-11in of ice. Anglers have been targeting walleye and pike off of southwest and north access sites. The more aggressive fish have been feeding along weed-covered drop-offs and contour changes in depths ranging from 12-18ft. Pike and walleye seem to be on the move together feeding in the same areas.

Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac in Wexford County
10-12in of ice. Blue gill and crappie have been slow and small during the middle of the day. However, crappie and bluegill have been on the move in both lakes during early morning and late evening. Transitioning from 8-10ft weed flats to 16-20ft holes and drop-offs throughout the day. Walleye have been found in 19-21ft on Lake Mitchell. Pike have been active throughout the day; larger pike have been coming on tip-ups using 4-5 inch sucker minnows as bait. Weed covered flats ranging from 9-12ft have been best for pike.