DNR Fishing Report

February 20, 2020

While there may be ice in some areas of the southern sections of the Lower Peninsula, a warm-up by the weekend will deteriorate the ice once again. Lakes to the north still have good ice fishing opportunities.

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

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Keweenaw Bay: Some managed to catch splake, brown trout, coho, lake trout and the occasional lake herring. Night anglers fishing for burbot and smelt reported slow catch rates, with only a few taken. Shore anglers had to battle pack ice to fish but did manage to get some coho and lake herring. 

Little Bay De Noc: After the cold temperatures, anglers were as far south as the Ford River. Walleye anglers had mixed results; however, bigger fish were starting to show up. The better areas to fish were the Center Reef in 24 to 32 feet, near the Escanaba River in 30 to 35 feet, the “Black Bottom” in 25 to 30 feet or south of Aronson Island in 30 to 35 feet. Anglers were using jig raps or tip-ups with minnows. Perch anglers also had mixed results. The best areas were Kipling near the green buoy in 21 to 35 feet or Escanaba near the ship docks in 30 to 35 feet with wigglers or minnows. The occasional pike also was caught. The whitefish anglers have not had a lot of success this year. A few were caught near Gladstone when using minnows in 35 feet. 

Indian Lake: Near Manistique was good for walleye in 10 to 15 feet. 

Munising: Cold weather helped ice conditions; however, ice fishing is not recommended in the following areas – Christmas, Grand Island Ferry Access (Trout Bay is still open except for floating pack ice) and Sand Point. Ice anglers could be found off the Anna River access, Sunset Motel, city docks and Powell Point. A few whitefish were caught, but in general the action was very slow. Try 55 to 65 feet. A few coho were caught by those jigging spoons, but only as incidental catches when a school of fish passed through. No reports on splake or smelt, as catch rates were very slow. 

Whitefish Bay: Finally has ice. A few anglers have ventured out in Emerson Bay; however, no catch reports have come in. 

St. Marys River: Those fishing Mosquito Bay have caught lake herring and whitefish. 

Cedarville and Hessel: There was no word on Musky Bay. Those fishing around the Les Cheneaux Islands could be found in Government Bay and in the Cedarville Channel; however, success rates and ice conditions were unknown. In Hessel Bay, those jigging wax worms, wigglers and minnows in 15 to 20 feet caught yellow perch ranging from 7-9 inches. Wigglers seem to work best. Anglers have seen schools of jumbo perch, but they could not get them to bite. 

Brevoort Lake: Was still good for yellow perch and walleye. Northern pike numbers have slowed a bit.

Fishing Tip: Techniques to target trout through the ice

Many anglers look forward to the opportunity to target trout – and not just on April 25 for the statewide opener! Trout fishing through the ice can be quite fun, if you use the proper techniques. Consider the following:


Certain species of trout, particularly brown trout, really gravitate to tip-ups as they linger in shallower water. Consider your depth if you do this type of fishing.


Lake trout and brown trout can be attracted easily by jigging with a spoon. For lake trout use a piece of smelt or sucker as your bait. For brown trout use the head of a minnow.

Don’t want to sit on the ice looking for trout? Then gear up for the open-water season! Check out lots of information about Michigan’s trout species online.

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