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Michigan Fishing Reports

Scroll down and click on additional links below for the most recent fishing reports from DNR & other sites. Additional reports are being developed by SC staff and contributors that will also be posted here.

WEEKLY FISHING REPORT 3/18/20

From MI: Department of Natural Resources:

We know there’s been a steady stream of “closure” information and messaging about self-isolating to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s true, we are in uncharted territory, and such steps are critical in protecting Michigan residents from coronavirus risk. Safeguarding mental health is just as important, and spending time outdoors – whether in your backyard, on your balcony or in big, open spaces – can boost mind, body and spirit.

Although the public contact areas (restroom buildings, shooting ranges, visitor centers) at many DNR-managed facilities are temporarily closed, people are still welcome to enjoy the public outdoor areas at state parks and recreation areas, state game and wildlife areas, state forests, state trails and, of course, our lakes, rivers and streams. For the duration of the COVID-19 situation, we’re waiving the need for the Recreation Passport for entry at state parks and other destinations.

Though anglers are still ice fishing in the northern regions of the state, the shoreline ice is breaking up and making it harder for anglers to get on and off the ice. Where the waters have opened up, docks are slowly being installed. 

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

Buy your license

Southeast Lower Peninsula

Lake Erie: Boat anglers have caught walleye when trolling or jigging in Ohio waters. 

Detroit River: Walleye were caught in the upper river near Belle Isle and the Ambassador Bridge. Bluegills and perch were found in the canals and marinas. 

Lake St. Clair: Shore anglers have been doing well for yellow perch. Hot baits changed throughout the day, but emerald shiners or a piece of crawler seemed to work best. Perch were found in Anchor Bay. 

Saginaw Bay: The dock is in at Pinconning Park. The ice is pretty much gone except for a few floating sheets and what little could be found in couple marinas on the east side. Those trolling near Spoils Island caught walleye in 15 to 17 feet when using bandits. The average was five to nine fish per boat, and some were 8-10 pounds. On the east side, open-water season has started, but catch rates were poor. Many were moving multiple times while looking for perch but had nothing to show for their efforts.  Sebewaing to Bayport had little activity, and fishing was slow. Some were targeting Mud Creek for perch, but none were caught. Fishing was slow at Caseville except for a couple lake trout and burbot caught from the pier and small perch in the marina. Anglers are reminded that the inland waters off Saginaw Bay are now closed for northern pike and walleye. 

Saginaw River: Walleye and pike season are closed until the last Saturday in April. 

Southwest Lower Peninsula

Those fishing the smaller lakes are starting to catch crappie as the bite picks up. 

St. Joseph River: Steelhead, including fresh fish, have been caught all the way up to Berrien Springs. 

South Haven: Had pier anglers targeting steelhead and coho.   

Grand Haven: Also had pier anglers targeting steelhead and coho.    

Grand River near Grand Rapids: Anglers were catching a good number of steelhead, including some fresh fish, which are hitting on a variety of live and artificial baits such as jigs with spawn, flies, beads and wobble glo’s. A good number of steelhead are also being caught in the Rogue River, mainly on jigs tipped with wax worms. 

Grand River near Lansing: A few channel cats have been caught by those using cut bait upstream of Moores Park. On the right day, the smallmouth action was good for those using minnows, plastics, rattle traps or small spoons. 

Muskegon: Pier anglers and those surf-casting have caught steelhead. 

Muskegon Lake: Boat anglers are catching perch near the channel, though they are doing some searching to find them. When the winds allowed, fish also were caught near the Bear Lake channel. 

Muskegon River: Water levels were still a bit high but fishable. Both winter fish and some fresh fish are being caught in deeper water. Spawn and beads seem to work best.  Those fly fishing with black stone flies also were getting fish.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Cheboygan River: Had anglers targeting steelhead; however, there were no hookups, and no fish were seen jumping at the dam.  

Burt Lake: Still had ice and some still were taking snowmobiles out. Most were targeting panfish, as walleye and pike season are closed. 

Mullett Lake: The ice was holding, as anglers targeted crappie and perch. 

Higgins Lake: A couple anglers still are heading out. The shoreline ice is breaking up in areas where there are natural springs. Anglers continue to look for smelt in 40 feet or so and perch in 10 to 15 feet. Those looking for rainbow trout are getting on at the North State Park and fishing between the park and the RAM Center. 

Houghton Lake: Still had some ice; however, ice fishing looks to be done for the season, as finding a safe pathway out and back is becoming much more difficult as the shoreline ice deteriorates. There is open water just south of the North Bay. Anglers now are starting to fish open water including near the Reedsburg Dam. 

Tawas: Pier anglers caught lake trout when still-fishing with minnows or casting spoons and body baits. There is one dock in, and those trolling and jigging in 10 to 25 feet or more with spoons and body baits caught lake trout and walleye. 

Au Gres: There is one dock in at the launch. A brown trout was caught by a perch angler using minnows off Palmer Road. A few anglers were fishing the Pine River; however, no fish were caught, as it is still a bit too cold for suckers. Several campers were setting up along the Rifle River for the sucker run, but no reports had come in yet.   

Au Gres River: A few lake trout were caught when trolling body baits. A couple steelhead and the occasional sucker were caught upstream of the boat launch. 

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Thumb Lake: Ice conditions were unknown. Fishing slowed, with no reports of splake caught. The north middle basin was still the best spot to target them while jigging spoons with minnows in 20 to 30 feet. At times, anglers did better when jigging suspended or fishing on the bottom. A few perch still were found off the beach access when jigging minnows and wax worms in 8 to 15 feet. 

Lake Charlevoix: The South Arm still had ice, and a few anglers were getting perch on tip-ups. 

Elk Lake: In Antrim County was producing some nice lake trout. Fishing may be limited, as ice along the shoreline is getting bad. 

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell: Anglers still were ice fishing, although the ice is becoming more and more questionable. Areas with moving water have opened, and the shoreline is starting to open. 

Manistee: Pier anglers were getting some steelhead. Once the waters clear up, fishing should be decent for steelhead and brown trout. 

Manistee River: Steelhead are in the river; however, there have been no great reports coming in. 

Ludington: Pier fishing should improve for steelhead and brown trout.

Upper Peninsula

Keweenaw Bay: Catch rates were slow, but those fishing in shallow waters found splake, coho, steelhead, brown trout and the occasional whitefish. Those who ventured out deeper caught lake trout, splake and whitefish. Night anglers targeting burbot and smelt also reported slow fishing. Most of the burbot were on the small side, and the smelt anglers had to work hard to get a few.    

Little Bay De Noc: With walleye season closed, a few perch anglers were out. Most reported fair catches. A few whitefish were caught off Sand Point near Escanaba. Most were taken on minnows in 80 feet. 

Manistique Lake: Ice conditions were holding, and navigation was relatively easy. Most are targeting yellow perch. 

Munising: Nearshore ice conditions remain stable. Catch rates for coho and splake increased slightly, but no limit catches were reported. The coho have been small this year, averaging 15-16 inches, and the splake were 19-21 inches. Night anglers off Sand Point reported good catches of burbot, with parties averaging 5-10 fish. Night anglers also were marking large schools of smelt about 20 feet down in over 100 feet. Once the smelt start moving in, the coho should follow. There were no reports on any Chinook, steelhead or brown trout. A few anglers have been out for perch, but most of the fish were small. A few coho and lake herring were seen off the Anna River.

Cedarville and Hessel: Those fishing around the Les Cheneaux Islands caught slightly bigger perch in Musky Bay when jigging wax worms and wigglers. The south edge of Musky Bay is now open water, but the north side still had some ice. Hessel Bay still had ice, but Wilderness Bay has started to break away. The edge along the south end of Wilderness Bay and the edge of Burlee Point is now open water. In Hessel Bay, splake, lake trout, perch, pike, smelt and burbot were caught. Anglers noted good fish movement, but some days they did not want to bite. Many are now targeting splake when jigging spoons tipped with minnows in 15 feet. Some days were better than others for catching perch when jigging wigglers, wax worms and small minnows. Pike still were hitting on tip-ups with minnows. 

Brevoort Lake: Still had ice and anglers targeting yellow perch. 

Fishing Tip: Storing ice-fishing equipment for next season

You may want to think about getting ready to store your ice fishing equipment. The key is doing it properly, so you’ll be ready to hit the ice next winter. Here is a checklist of things to do:

  1. If you have an auger, check for any damage and dry all the blades before storing it. You may want to consult your power auger’s manual to know how to appropriately handle any leftover gas and how to protect the engine.
  2. Remove batteries from any electronics to prevent any potential damage from leaking batteries.
  3. Make sure your portable shelter is completely clean and dry before storing. You may want to put some moth balls in it or hang it to keep pests at bay.
  4. Take a full inventory of your rods, reels and tackle to see what you might need/want next year. Also remove all bait or line from your hooks and lures for storage and make sure everything is dry.

By the time everything is properly stored, you’ll be itching to get out on your favorite stream, river or lake for some spring fishing!