Free fishing this weekend

Outdoors Report

IRON MOUNTAIN — Fishing is free this weekend in Michigan.

Anyone fishing today or Sunday won’t need a license, although other rules are still in effect, such as fish size and the number of fish to keep. Also, admission is free at state parks and recreation areas.

“We’ve got a lot of bait for the weekend,” said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township. “There’s loads of people going out.”

A 24-inch walleye continues to lead Grier’s monthly contest.

Bluegill action has been very good, with anglers using a variety of live baits, said Fay Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis.

A 32-inch northern pike was caught this week — otherwise pike and walleye fishing was fairly slow, she said.

In Marinette County, some nice crappies have been caught in deep water, said Aaron McCullough, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician at Wausaukee.

Many inland lakes in northern Wisconsin have about 20-plus inches of ice, the DNR said.

The Homestead-Aurora Conservation Club hosts the annual Pete “Toad” Church Ice Fishing Derby on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Pine River Flowage in Commonwealth, Wis.

Register on the ice beginning at 6 a.m. or pre-register at Bob’s Midland in Aurora, Wis. The fee is $7, with children 12 and younger free. The day-long event offers cash prizes and numerous prize drawings. Food and soda will be available on site.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula fishing activity:

Keweenaw Bay: Smelt fishing was good at the head of the bay as well as out from the Baraga Marina after dark. The lake herring action was fair in 40 to 60 feet. Lake trout fishing was good out from the Whirl-I-Gig.

Little Bay De Noc: Catch rates slowed considerably and as a result angler participation was low. Walleye anglers reported very few catches even though they were marking fish. Anglers were as far south as the Ford River but no reports came in. Most of the walleye fishing was near the Escanaba River and south to Portage Point when jigging rapalas in 25 to 40 feet. Mixed catches of walleye and perch were reported off the Second and Third Reefs when using rapalas tipped with minnows or wigglers in 30 feet. Overall perch catches were down but some nice jumbo fish were caught. Many small perch were reported around Butler Island. Walleye were caught at the mouth of the Day’s River but most were undersize. A few large northern pike were caught in the same area when using tip-ups with sucker minnows in 18 feet.

Munising: The ice was holding within the Bay. It is not recommended that anyone cross the channel especially from Sand Point due to unsafe ice and strong currents in the area. Ice anglers did fair to good for coho and whitefish and fair to good smelt action was reported off Sand Point.