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Birds returning early; anglers try for panfish

Outdoors Report

April 14, 2012
The Daily News

IRON MOUNTAIN - Following a record warm March, birders and bird researchers are reporting many records for early bird migrations.

Typical early migrants like sparrows, eastern towhee, and brown thrasher were consistently found earlier than normal and winter wrens, hermit thrushes, northern flickers, and golden-crowned kinglets returned to breeding grounds in the north a couple weeks earlier than normal, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said.

Also, loons have become to arrive on lakes.

In the Dickinson County area, anglers were mostly targeting panfish, with Sawyer Lake and Lake Ellen drawing attention, along with Witch Lake and Sawyer Lake in southern Marquette County.

"We've been selling a lot of leaf worms and crappie minnows," said Bob Kennard at Midtown Bait & Tackle in Channing.

At Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township, John Grier reported a few perch and bluegill catches, but little so far on crappie.

Plenty of leftover turkey licenses remain available, Grier added.

High winds were keeping anglers off the lakes in Iron County, but a number of people were arriving to open their cottages, said Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggested that anglers look for crappies in shallow water in the spring. They sometimes spawn in water only a couple feet deep.

The easiest way to fish for them is to suspend a minnow or jig under a bobber, halfway between the surface and the bottom around any sort of cover, such as weeds, brush or dock pilings.

The Wisconsin DNR reported that walleye runs have now finished on most major river systems, and walleye spawning is already winding down on northern lakes.

The sturgeon spawning run on the Lake Winnebago system is pretty much over, and this week Wisconsin DNR fisheries crews captured an 87.5-inch female sturgeon estimated to be 240 pounds and 125 years old during spawning assessments on the river. The fish is the largest recorded since tagging began in 1950.

The Michigan DNR reported the follow fishing conditions across the Upper Peninsula:

Copper Harbor: Has had good splake fishing this spring.

Marquette: North winds and cold water temperatures have resulted in poor catch rates. The trout and salmon were scattered. Water temperatures were in the low 30's. Both the Dead River and the Carp River have low water levels.

Menominee: Brown trout were caught about a mile out when trolling rapalas or stick baits. Those heading out from the Cedar River caught brown trout, steelhead and splake when trolling north and south along the beach. Brown trout were caught off Stony Point when trolling spoons or stick baits. Walleye fishing was slow.

Menominee River: Boat anglers are starting to troll for walleye between the mouth and the Hattie Street Dam. They are using rapalas, stick baits and crawler harnesses. Catch rates for walleye were slow but a lot of suckers were caught. Shore anglers caught brown trout when drifting yarn or casting spinner baits.

Au Train: Windy conditions resulted in poor catch rates for those shore fishing near the Rock River. Boat anglers caught coho near the river and in Shelter Bay.

Munising: Fishing has been slow with the exception of some calm mornings when boats could get out and caught a few coho. Catch rates were poor to fair in Trout Bay, Murray Bay, off Grand Island and near the Miners River. Most are trolling rapalas and spoons. Some have started to target lake trout in 100 feet of water where catch rates were fair with fish ranging two to five pounds. Shore anglers casting or still-fishing with spawn caught a couple splake or coho. Pier anglers caught splake using eggs or soft body baits.

Grand Marais: Pier anglers had fair success for coho, steelhead, menominee and whitefish. Some limit catches of coho were taken on spawn bags or a single egg. Boat anglers were limited by the high winds but those trolling rapalas in front of the Sucker River did catch the occasional steelhead.



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