IRON MOUNTAIN - Wisconsin's general inland game fish season opens today and state fisheries managers say the early spring that arrived this year should result in some excellent fishing conditions for anglers.
In the north, ice-out was early and water temperatures have climbed into the low to mid-50 degree range even on northern lakes. Most lakes across the north are about three to four weeks past the main walleye spawning period, so the fish should be fully recovered and getting back to active feeding.
Northern pike should also have recovered from their annual spawning ritual and look for them to be active near any new green weeds that are starting to grow in the shallows. In addition, crappie, bluegill and perch have been starting to get active near the shallow and warm bays.
Patti Teske at Florence Sport and Bait said anglers were getting crappie and bluegills this week. She suggested crappie minnows for the crappie.
"They were getting some nice browns on the Brule," she added.
John Grier's Whispering Pines Outpost reported trout fishermen doing really well so far this season with fish as long as 15 inches being caught and many anglers hitting their limit.
Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River also had positive reports on trout.
"Some guys did fairly well," he said. "There were some nice trout taken."
Spring turkey hunting has produced mix results. Ciochetto said it was a bit slower out his way, while Grier's shop reported hunters doing really well. Thousands of tags are still available for the season, which concludes at the end of the month.
Also, Michigan bear applications are available.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported good brook trout fishing in rivers and streams across the Upper Peninsula. However, caution needs to be used as water levels are lower than normal for this time of year and conditions have cost boat owners a few props.
Elsewhere in the U.P.:
Ontonagon: Fishing was good especially in the morning. Chinook, coho and brown trout were the majority but lake trout and steelhead are also being caught by those trolling in eight to 12 feet of water with stick baits and body baits. Green, purple and orange were the hot colors.
Black River Harbor: The boat launch is closed this week for maintenance. A few coho were still being caught off the breakwall in the morning when still-fishing with crawlers.
Keweenaw Bay: Fishing was spotty with a few chinook, coho, and lake trout caught by those trolling from the Head of the Bay northward to Sand Point. They were 25 to 45 feet down in waters 30 to 50 feet deep with spoons or body baits. Best colors were green, orange, gold and white. Those fishing off the rock dock near the L'Anse Marina caught a coho and steelhead. For Traverse Bay, lake trout were caught when jigging in 170 feet of water with white jigs and cut bait. Lake trout were also caught in 160 to 180 feet of water along Farmers Reef, Newtons Reef and the Mud Banks.
Falls River: Water levels are low and catch rates were slow.
Marquette: Catch rates were slow with only a few lake trout taken in 150 to 180 feet of water north of Granite Island and near the Little Garlic River. No report from Stannard Rock and no salmon to report.
Menominee: There were a few boats going out from the Cedar River and trolling spoons or stick baits along the shoreline for brown trout and walleye. Shore anglers caught suckers. Those fishing off Stony Point were trolling spoons and stick baits for trout or rapalas and crawler harnesses for walleye, but catch rates were slow. The flies were and still are very thick.
Menominee River: Boats were trolling up to the Hattie Street Dam while shore anglers and those wading were found between Stephenson Island and Hattie Street. Catch rates for walleye were fair in the early morning or late evening. Those drifting yarn caught trout on the Michigan side. Suckers can still be found in the river.
Little Bay De Noc: Is producing some perch.
Big Bay De Noc: Perch were caught in Garden Bay.
Au Train: Harvest rates for coho declined this past week.