IRON MOUNTAIN - This weekend is Michigan's annual Free Fishing Weekend, where both resident and non-residents can fish without a license. All regulations still apply.
This weekend marks a great time to provide new anglers, particularly youth, with the opportunity to enjoy Michigan's vast resources while learning how to fish.
Area bait shops reported steady fishing this week. Walleye success has slowed a little bit, but bass and bluegill were biting strong.
"A lot of bass being caught, smallmouth," said Tom Bean at Crystal Bait. "Gills seem to be picking up. Walleye kind of cooled a bit."
Northern are also biting. There was a 44-incher taken out of Michigamme's backwaters earlier this week. And Dean Lindblom's Country Bait and Tackle said a 38-inch pike was pulled out of Peavy.
"They're catching good amounts of perch out of Lake Antoine," Lindblom added. "Bass and crappie are going good. Cowboy Lake was producing bluegill and crappie."
John Grier's Whispering Pines Outpost also said the perch bite was good and added that some fishermen have reported seeing bluegills on beds.
Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River said the warm weather earlier in the week resulted in some nice trout hatches.
"Bluegill is starting to pick up too," he added.
Leeches, crawlers and fatheads were top bait selection at most shops this week.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported the following fishing conditions across the Upper Peninsula:
Copper Harbor: A lot of mature splake have been seen in the harbor but none were caught. Fishing with live minnows might produce some fish.
Keweenaw Bay: The bite has picked up as anglers were taking a good mix of chinook, coho, lake trout and steelhead when trolling just off the bottom in 30 to 60 feet of water from the head of the Bay northward. Try spoons, body baits, dodger and flies. Those jigging did well in 170 to 240 feet of water out from the Red Rock at the roadside park and off Pequaming. The bite picked up at the South Portage Entry near the lighthouse on the west shoreline and south to the old clinic.
Gratiot Lake: A few walleye were caught in 8 to 15 feet of water when using sucker minnows. Pike fishing was good but the majority of fish caught were too small. There have been no reports of spawning bluegills in this area of the state.
Marquette: Lake trout fishing remains scattered with most anglers averaging one to three fish weighing 4 to 6 pounds. Try near Shot Point in 120 to 150 feet of water. A few coho were taken between the Sand River and Shot Point. Water temperatures near the Carp and Chocolay Rivers was in the upper 40's.
Menominee River: Walleye anglers are trolling crawler harnesses. Catch rates were fair but many fish were small. Small muskie were caught by those trolling near Boom Landing. Shore anglers near the Hattie Street Dam caught walleye when casting rapalas, or when using jigs with minnows or crawlers. The current was much better on the Wisconsin side. The Cat Walk has produced a few walleye for those casting rapalas in the late evening. Those fishing behind K-Mart have caught bluegill, perch and bullhead. Try minnows, wax worms or crawlers. Anglers not registered at the campground should stay out of the gated area when fishing.
Little Bay De Noc: Had good walleye fishing as far south as Breezy Point when trolling or drifting crawlers in 6 to 12 feet of water. Walleye were caught at the head of the bay near the mouth of the Whitefish River as well as the Kipling Flats, Black Bottom and just off the mouth of the Escanaba River in 10 to 20 feet of water. Some limit catches were reported. Smallmouth bass were caught off the mouth of the Ford River. Those casting crank baits or spinners did well from the mouth downriver to the M-35 Bridge. For perch, try still-fishing with crawlers around in Butler Island in 10 to 17 feet of water or the Narrows in 30 feet of water.
Big Bay De Noc: Had plenty of smallmouth bass anglers. Warm nights have the bass in shallow waters. Try Ogontz, Martin Bay, Puffy Bay, South River Bay, and Porcupine Point when casting crank baits or plastics in 4 to 12 feet of water. Best walleye fishing was in the evening when trolling crawlers in 10 to 20 feet of water from the head of the Bay down to the "Boot." Nothing off Fairport but there will soon be just as soon as the water temperatures warm up.
Au Train: Lake trout fishing was spotty. Try the shipping channel east of Au Train Island or near Wood Island in 120 to 240 feet of water when fishing just off the bottom. Average fish were 4 to 6 pounds. Try fishing along the drop-off between Au Train Point and Scott Falls.
Munising: A few boat anglers were still taking chinook salmon when trolling in 20 to 55 feet of water. No limit catches reported this week and the fish were smaller in 3 to 6 pound range. Lake trout fishing was fair as the fish seem scattered anywhere from 70 to 170 feet down around Grand Island, Pictured Rocks and Wood Island. Splake fishing was very slow for pier and dock anglers.
Grand Marais: Pier anglers are doing well for whitefish. Early morning was best however some of the bigger fish have been caught after sunrise. Those fishing at night say the bite stops around 10:30pm. If weather conditions are right, the fish stay around throughout the day. A single egg or wax worm is best. Those in small boats were picking up a few perch. Lake trout action was good in the shipping channel in 200 feet of water. The fish averaged 2 to 5 pounds.
Manistique River: Boat anglers have caught smallmouth bass, pike, carp and the occasional walleye just upstream from the Municipal launch. Boats are trolling crawler harnesses while shore anglers are casting crank baits, crawlers or leeches. Those wading near the first dam are getting steelhead and brown trout but the numbers are low. Try drifting yarn or casting spinners.
St. Mary's River: Walleye have been caught in Raber Bay and Munuscong Bay when using Hot-n-Tots in 4 to 6 feet of water. The concentration of weeds is down so far this year so anglers can enjoy walleye fishing in the many bays along the river.
De Tour: Had good walleye fishing in Scott Bay when using planer boards and crawlers. Smallmouth bass were good in Scott Bay and Maxton Bay when using spinners, jigs or crank baits.
Cedarville and Hessel: Reported good northern pike and bass action out of Hessel. Yellow perch were starting to show up around the Hessel Pier, so perch fishing should improve. Cedarville Bay, Musky Bay and the Moscoe Channel are producing pike for those casting or still-fishing with chubs.
Carp River: Upstream anglers are harvesting trout, pike, walleye and white suckers.
St. Ignace: The primitive launch is a good opportunity for anglers to launch small boats or wade for northern pike and bass.