IRON MOUNTAIN Michigan's annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend runs today and Sunday.
No fishing license is required but all regulations still apply. This is an opportunity to introduce someone to the sport of ice fishing.
Local anglers were catching fish this week, with bluegills, crappie and northern the most plentiful.
"They're doing OK on gills, crappie and perch," reported Tom Bean at Crystal Bait in Crystal Falls. "Perch and crappie minnows along with wigglers were working for perch. Most are using wax worms for bluegill."
Pattie Teske at Florence Sport and Bait said fishing improved this week.
"Guys are catching crappie finally," she said. "Look for them to be suspended about 15 feet of water. Crappie minnows work best."
John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost saw a 29-inch walleye this week and another with it that was only slightly smaller.
"They're still going to Gene's Pond for bluegill," he offered. "Had one guy get into some really big perch, but he went back the next day and didn't get one."
Some hit-or-miss perch of the larger variety were also reported at Lake Antoine.
"They got a couple of nice northern out there too this week," said Dean Lindblom at Country Bait and Tackle. "Definitely a lot of guys going out this week."
Don Ciochetto at the Sport Shop in Iron River said anglers his way were reporting a lot of northern, but mostly small ones.
"The local predator hunts are really active," he added. "Had one started Thursday night out toward Kenton, and there were some nice coyote taken."
Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment reported the following fishing conditions across the Upper Peninsula:
Keweenaw Bay - Anglers need to watch for pressure cracks as the ice in these areas is often pushed up or down and can leave a sizeable pocket of water. There is open water out from Carla's Restaurant. Do not venture to close to the edge of this area because the ice can break loose at anytime and start drifting. Lake trout action was good off Jentoft's Dock, Whirl-l-Gig Road, and Old Mission. Anglers did better jigging in 240 to 260 feet of water with most fish in the 15 to 19 inch range. Bigger fish were caught in 70 to 220 feet of water. Try jigs with cut bait out deep and Swedish Pimples in shallow water. Whitefish action was spotty but some nice fish were found in 40 to 105 feet of water east of the Baraga Marina, out from the Falls River and about a mile north of Indian Country Sports. The lake herring and coho bite was spotty. Most are fishing off Sand Point, Tribal Police Road, and Old Mission. Try 8 to 15 feet down in 30 to 70 feet of water with small jigs and wax worms. No perch but anglers were catching smelt north and south of the Baraga Marina.
Little Bay De Noc - Anglers were still fishing along the northern end from Garth Point to Portage Point. Good numbers of fish have been marked throughout the bay. The better walleye fishing was off the Second Reef when jigging rapalas or using tip-ups in 28 feet of water. Good action off the mouth of the Escanaba River in 25 to 35 feet of water. A few small perch were taken in shallow waters around Butler Island, but the best action was around the Second and Center Reefs when jigging minnows or wigglers in waters 22 to 30 feet deep. Whitefish were caught off Sand Point when jigging spawn or minnows in 80 to 90 feet of water. Northern pike catches were up slightly near Kipling. Try tip-ups with sucker minnows in 10 to 20 feet of water.
Munising - Most anglers are focusing on whitefish. Catch rates were slow and most of the fish caught were small. The occasional splake was caught on minnows. Lake trout were in deep water in the west channel around Grand Island.
Indian Lake - Warmer weather has caused the ice to shift along the pressure crack. Some areas also have water on top of the ice. Danielson's Landing is still the best bet for entering the lake on the northeast side since there was deep snow and slushy spots near Arrow Head. The better perch fishing was on the west side of the lake where a few 9 inch fish were taken on a Swedish Pimple and minnow. A few walleye and pike were caught in the center on both sides of the pressure crack along the north end.
Munuscong Bay - Is producing a few walleye; however with no consistency. Fish were caught in waters 3 to 30 feet deep. Perch fishing was slow and many were small. Mid-March is when anglers anticipate the best perch fishing. The ice was holding however there are some very deep snow drifts.
Cedarville and Hessel - Fishing out of Hessel was very slow with only an occasional legal size perch taken. Musky Bay was better with several nice catches in 10 to 12 feet of water east of Ducks Bay when using wigglers or wax worms.