IRON MOUNTAIN - Perch and bluegill anglers are enjoying an active bite throughout the area, according to local bait shop owners.
"I had reports on perch and bluegill on all area lakes," said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township. "I understand some places are producing some nice crappie too."
"I understand guys are having a pretty good time of it with panfish, especially perch and bluegill," said Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River. "They're doing pretty well with northern, and surprisingly enough, some walleye too."
Warmer temperatures and improved ice conditions seem to be enticing more activity.
"We've had a lot of guys coming through for bait," said Tom Bean at Crystal Bait said. "I imagine this weekend will really see an increase."
Dean Lindblom at Country Bait and Tackle has been selling anything and everything when it comes to bait.
"Everything is biting right now," he said. "There is 11-12 inches of ice on Lake Antoine, so more guys are going out."
Pattie Teske at Florence Sport and Bait mentioned a 45-inch muskie that was pulled through the ice and released this week.
"Northern have continued to bite and they're getting keeper walleye yet," she said. "Crappie and bluegill are hitting too. Crappie tend to be in a bit deeper water."
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported the following fishing conditions in the Upper Peninsula:
Green Bay/Menominee River - Ice conditions on the bay are still poor but are improving with the cold temperatures. Anglers have been fishing between the docks in the marina for panfish, northern pike and trout. Pike and trout fisherman are jigging and using tip-ups.
Little Bay de Noc - Ice conditions from just north of Saunders Point to the head of the bay are reported to be stable with a few exceptions. Extreme caution should still be used. Saunders Point, the edges of Butler Island and the mouths of the rivers should be avoided. South of the Narrows the ice extends just past the Terrace Inn with most of the area considered unsafe.The best walleye catches were out in the Gladstone area jigging Rapalas in 25 to 35 feet of water in early morning or at dusk. Anglers spearing the Kipling area for northern pike reported seeing better numbers of fish with several large fish harvested.