Ice Fish Michigan Ice Report 02.12.16

Benzie, Grand Traverse, Manistee, and Wexford County

Long Lake in Benzie County has continued excellent conditions. Pike have been very active. From daylight until around 10:00 a.m, and picking back up from 12:00-2:00 p.m. have been the best hours for bites. Golden Minnows on tip-ups have been working well.

Upper Herring Lake Walleye have been less aggressive lately, biting in the morning at first light, and in the evening during the last hour of daylight. Tip-ups have not been working well, but jigging rods have been effective. Small blues on tip-ups have enticed nice jumbo Perch – but not in great numbers.

Ellis Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Spider, and Arbutus Lake are locked up tight due to the recent cold snap. Most of the snowfall on these lakes has frozen. Crappie and Bluegills are biting at the brighter times of the day due to the amount of snow cover. Pike have been active in the shallow flats and weedy contour lines, mostly biting on Sucker Minnows.

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County is being fished in most areas. We encourage all anglers use their best judgment when venturing out on this body of water due to inconsistent conditions. The anglers that have had recent success have been targeting Walleye and Perch. The Walleye have been found in 16-25 feet at low-light. Most of the Perch and Walleye being caught during the day have been found in 25-35 feet of water. Blue Minnows on Perch Rigs and Jigging Rapalas have been most successful. Tipped jigs with minnow heads entice the bite.

Skegemog Lake Perch bite has picked up in the last week. Mature fish are showing pre-spawn feeding patterns. Anglers have reported larger fish and consistent numbers of females. The best fishing is yet to come!

Portage Lake in Manistee County is still producing great fishing. Mature Perch have been feeding in 17-25 feet of water. These fish are picks and have been caught on both small and large presentations. Big Blues on tip-ups, size 12 treble hooks with light fluorocarbon leader have been effective. Some anglers have had success with small tungsten jigs.

Lake Mitchell has been consistently out-fishing Lake Cadillac. Anglers utilizing subtle depth changes and depressions are finding pan fish. Small tungsten jigs with 1-2 lb. test tipped with spikes and wax worms have proven successful. The best depth for active fish on Mitchell has been 10-11 feet. Pike have been more scarce. Most Pike have been found between 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. in the shallow flats with weed cover. Larger sucker minnows on tip-ups have been effective.

Ice Fish Michigan Ice Report 01.22.16

Benzie and Grand Traverse County

It’s looking good for ice fishing in northern Michigan! Most inland lakes have safe, consistent ice. Smaller bodies of water have the best conditions. Pike, walleye, bluegill, and perch are good species for targeting at this time.

Long Lake in Benzie County has 5-6 inches of solid ice. Pike have been active. Days with high barometric pressure and sunlight have been good for fishing. There are perch, but they’re small and not very active.

Bass and Otter Lake have also formed 4-5 inches of good ice. Recent snows have made walking and towing jet sleds difficult. Anglers are having decent tip-up action on the shallow side of the breaks. At first and last light, the pan fish bite has been good.

The Big Platte shoreline has not yet formed good ice. Once the shoreline thickens the lake should be ready to fish.

Upper Herring Lake has formed a good base of ice. Most areas have 4-5 inches of good ice. Depending on the time of day and weather patterns, walleye fishing has been good with jigging and setting tip-ups. The best depth seems to be between 16-19 feet of water. The Perch have been active, but small.

Ellis Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Spyder, and Arbutus Lake have 4-5 inches of ice. Each of these lakes has a fair amount of snow on them, which creates slushy walking conditions. Also, there has been a few reports of spotty ice due to the snowy conditions. Caution should be taken on Spyder and Arbutus. Pike fishing is steady on Lake Dubonnet with most of the catches on the small side: 12-20 inches. Spyder Lake has had fair bluegill action

Long Lake in Grand Traverse County is 100% frozen, but the ice thickness is very inconsistent / unsafe. Crescent shores’ boat launch has 3-5” of ice with 6-7” of snow. This has added a lot of weight on the ice as well as created slushy conditions. The ice off of Long Lake Peninsula is very unsafe and inconsistent. We recommend that all anglers avoid fishing on Long Lake for the time being.

Skegemog Lake has safe ice conditions and some great Perch fishing. The perch have been very active in 15-17’ of water. Wigglers and minnows have been working well. The average size has been 6-8” with the occasional 10-11” fish.

Ice Fish Michigan Ice Report 01.13.16

Benzie and Grand Traverse County

Long Lake, Benzie County:
4-5 inches of solid ice. Snow has not yet settled on the surface due to high winds coming off Lake Michigan. Northern Pike are starting to travel the shallow breaks and flats.

Bass and Otter Lakes:
2-3 inches of good blue ice. There was roughly 4 inches by Tuesday afternoon, but 1 inch of the ice is frozen slush.

Big Platte Lake:
Ice on about 90% of the surface. It is not yet safe, and should not be fished until the ice has had more time to gain thickness.

Lower Herring Lake:
No ice yet. Because the lake is so close to Lake Michigan, the high winds have made Lower Herring Lake rough. The cold front should cause this lake to get ice coverage, maybe even as early as this weekend – with the potential for safe ice by next week.

Upper Herring Lake:
Ice coverage. An ice angler was seen by the launch Tuesday afternoon.

Arcadia Lake:
Frozen – in the town of Arcadia, just south of Frankfort. Look for northern pike, lake-run yellow perch, bluegills, and walleyes. Exact ice coverage is uncertain, so normal cautionary measures should be taken.

Ellis Lake, Lake Dubonnet, Spyder, and Arbutus Lakes:
Each have 3-4 inches of ice. There is also 3-5 inches of snow accumulation – navigate cautiously. Pike fishing is steady on Lake Dubonnet, and bluegill action has been fair on Spyder Lake.

Long Lake – Grand Traverse County:
Developing a considerable amount of ice over the past few days. This location still has areas of open water with thin and inconsistent ice.

Ice Fish Michigan Ice Report 01.05.16

It is early January, and unlike last year, we are just now seeing the first ice forming on our inland lakes. As we all have witnessed, it has been an incredibly mild winter so far all across Michigan, and northern Michigan is no different. With the recent cold snap, and last night’s lows in the low teens, we are making some ice! We have had our Sport Fish Michigan guides out doing ice checks the past few days, in both Grand Traverse and Benzie Counties.

Most of the smaller inland lakes have 1-4 inches of ice on them. Some of the lakes closer to Lake Michigan just have ice around the fringes. Lakes like Little Platte Lake, Otter, Long Lake in Benzie County all have ice. There is also a fair bit of snow on top of the ice making for slushy conditions already. The ice is about 2-3 inches, and building. Betsie Bay, near Frankfort, froze over last night, and hopefully the heavy south winds this afternoon haven’t broken it back up.

In Grand Traverse County, small lakes like Dubonnet and Cedar Hedge are also showing about 2-3 inches of ice. The bigger, deeper lakes have too much wave action to freeze just yet, but we are getting closer. Hopefully by this time next week, we should see at least some skim ice over the rest of the lakes.

First ice here in northern Michigan is an awesome time to take advantage of some great pan fish action as well as northern pike. Both perch and bluegill bite aggressively during early ice conditions. Shallow flats adjacent to gradual drop offs can hold schools of pan fish, and where these drops slope into deeper water is always a good bet to start looking for active schools. Northern pike roam the shallow weedy flats and drop offs during first ice looking for an easy meal. Tip-ups with sucker minnows or shiners are the preferred presentation for these toothy critters. Walleyes also can go on a great early-ice bite. Low light periods tend to be the prime time to target ‘eyes up shallow. Either with a tip-up or with jigging techniques, walleyes will draw lots of attention again this winter.

Sport Fish Michigan’s guides and customers are looking forward to a great 2016 season on the ice. With any ice, caution should always be taken but especially with early first-ice. We all have the itch to get out for that first-ice bite, but please take care when heading out. It’s always better to play on the safe side. This report should only be used as a reference point, since ice conditions can change rapidly with differing weather patterns. Use your best judgment and check the ice with a spud as you walk. And always make sure you either go with a friend or you let somebody know where you plan on fishing and for how long. Have fun out on the ice, and we look forward to seeing you out there!