IRON MOUNTAIN - Today is opening day for walleye, pike and muskie on Upper Peninsula inland lakes and the Great Lakes.
The early thaw put fish a few weeks ahead of normal schedules, and anglers should plan to use techniques more applicable to late May or June in order to locate the most active fish.
Wet and windy weather leading up to today's opener kept angler numbers low over the past week. An improved forecast should help get many more people out fishing.
"We've had a lot of people coming in getting ready for northern and walleye fishing," said Dean Lindblom at Country Bait and Tackle in Iron Mountain. "We're selling lots of fatheads and night crawlers."
Patti Teske at Florence Sport and Bait also reported a slow week for anglers.
"Guys that were going out were having some success with northern," she said. "Now guys are coming in for the Michigan opener, getting fatheads and crappie minnows. Bluegill fishermen are buying worms."
Minnows and leaches were going at John Grier's Whispering Pines Outpost in anticipation for today's opener.
"It's been so windy the past week, I really haven't heard much of anything," he added.
Don Ciochetto at the Sport Shop in Iron River reported a lot of anglers gearing up for the weekend.
"The trout fishermen have been doing very, very good," he said. "Even with the low water levels, guys are catching nice fish."
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment reported the following fishing conditions across the Upper Peninsula:
Black River Harbor - Windy conditions were not good for anglers however much needed rain should improve fishing in the area.
Ontonagon - Boat anglers able to get out had trouble locating fish. The mud line should be a good place to fish in the week ahead.
Keweenaw Bay - The bite was hit-or-miss. Those trolling in the morning caught salmon 35 to 60 feet down in waters 40 to 80 feet deep between the head of bay and Old Mission. Most are trolling spoons or body baits off downriggers and dipsy divers. Those fishing near the South Portage Entry caught a mix of chinook, coho and lake trout when trolling near the lighthouse in 40 to 60 feet of water with spoons and body baits. A few lake trout were caught in 155 to 220 feet of water. Try jigs with cut bait.
Marquette - A few chinook, lake trout and brown trout were caught when trolling. Splake were caught on a single egg by those fishing off the lower harbor breakwall.
Little Bay De Noc - Some perch were still being caught off the sandbar near the Day's River. Use worms or wigglers in 20 to 25 feet of water. Off Sanders Point, fish were caught in 20 to 30 feet of water. Anglers anticipating the walleye opener are reporting the fish are scattered and might be harder to locate this year.
Big Bay De Noc - Had low angler participation and no fishing reports. Those anticipating the walleye opener might want to fish from the head of the bay south to the "Boot".
Au Train - Those able to get out were trolling for coho and lake trout however few fish have been caught.
Munising - Boat anglers have started catching more chinook along with a few coho. Shore anglers caught a few splake and menominee.
Grand Marais - Boat anglers have caught a mix of salmon and trout when they can get out. Lake whitefish were hitting on a single egg. For menominee, try natural baits on sunny days.
De Tour - Anglers are still trolling the #3 green can for lake trout, chinook salmon and Atlantic salmon. Some nice fish were caught using stick baits or spoons. Good colors were green, silver, purple or fire-tiger.
Cedarville and Hessel - Anglers in Hessel are fishing the bay and the pier for Atlantic salmon and splake. Catch rates were good for anglers casting minnows or small spoons. Water temperature in the bay is still 53 degrees which helps to keep the splake in close to shore.
Carp River - A couple steelhead were still caught on spawn bags between the mouth and the McDonald Rapids.