Fish turn finicky; Wisconsin DNR works on grouse habitat

A ruffed grouse finds some sun Friday on an apple tree branch in northern Dickinson County. (Betsy Bloom/Daily News Photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Fishing pressure was light this week, though John Grier reported steady bait sales Friday with a sunny weekend predicted.

A 24-inch walleye leads Grier’s monthly contest at Whispering Pines Outpost on M-95.

“It’s been so cold, not a lot of people have been going out,” he said.

Grier also said there was a theft of equipment from a fishing shack on Lake Antoine.

“Fishing has been slow, with many anglers reporting finding fish that were finicky and tough to catch,” said Aaron McCullough, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician at Wausaukee.

At Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., Fay Whisler said most catches this week — northern, walleye and perch — were small.

Leff’s Fishing Derby will take place Saturday, Feb. 17, with registration at Leff’s Bar, 5050 Keyes Lake Drive in Florence. The derby starts at dawn and participants can fish any Florence County water. Entry fee is $5 and payout is 100 percent.

To the south, anglers report catching a few smaller northern at the Peshtigo Harbor. Anglers off Door County reported success early in the week, with some catching limits of whitefish.

Wisconsin DNR wildlife staff have been mowing alder in the Dunbar area to regenerate it for grouse and woodcock habitat.

As alder stands age, they begin to fall over and no longer provide optimal habitat, McCullough explained. Mowing the old stems produces dense new shoots providing good cover and feeding areas.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula fishing activity:

Keweenaw Bay: Ice in the Bay was building on a daily basis and anglers were venturing further out. Smelt fishing after dark was good. Lake trout fishing was fair off Sand Point and the Whirl-i-gig. The whitefish action was fair but the coho, splake and brown trout bite was slow.

Little Bay De Noc: Snow storms made travel on the Bay a little more difficult with many getting stuck. Anglers need to be aware of a large pressure crack out from the Terrace Bay Inn which has been moving some as the weight of the snow increases. Overall fishing slowed some. Walleye anglers reported fair catches in the Kipling flats and north to the Vagabond Resort when jigging rapalas with minnows in 27 to 35 feet, out from the Terrace Bay Inn in 35 feet and near the Escanaba River in 25 to 30 feet. A few anglers were fishing out by the Ford River but no reports have come in. Perch catches were slow. Anglers are catching some nice jumbo perch but fewer fish total. Best spots were the Kipling flats in 27 to 35 feet, Gladstone Beach area in 30 feet and good numbers of smaller fish in the Escanaba Yacht Harbor when using minnows or wigglers with halo’s. Whitefish anglers reported fair catches in Escanaba off Sand Point with spawn or minnows in the deep water drop-off. Bigger fish were caught in 35 feet in the Gladstone area. A lot of pike continue to be caught throughout the Bay but most were undersize.

Munising: Ice was holding in the bay but the ice beyond Grand Island was not safe and Trout Bay was not safe as northwest winds shifted a majority of the ice. There is a large pressure crack near Rock 67 by Grand Island. Those on snowmobiles should not cross the lake as it is not safe. Several sleds went through the ice near Grand Island. Fishing has varied as some anglers report decent catches of whitefish up to 15 inches and others reported poor catch rates. The splake action was fair but the most fish were undersize. Most were using Swedish pimples and assorted jigs, mousies, spawn, cut bait or fathead minnows. Some have caught the occasional young rainbow trout or brown trout. Some smelt along with young coho were caught off Sand Point. Lake trout anglers fishing the west channel reported slow catch rates.

Cedarville and Hessel: Those fishing around the Les Cheneaux Islands reported slower fishing. Anglers were seeing lots of smelt, perch and splake with little to no harvest. Anglers need to use extreme caution near any pressure cracks, moving ice and in areas where there is a current.