Crappie action highlights late season ice fishing

Outdoors Report

The Homestead-Aurora Conservation Club annually sponsors an ice fishing derby at the Pine River Flowage in Commonwealth, Wis., in memory of Pete “Toad” Church. Enjoying the Feb. 24 event, from left, were his niece Victoria Anderson, brother Joe Church, sister Fran Herman, and brothers Jon and Gerard Church. Family members expressed their appreciation to the club for the tribute and excellent event.

IRON MOUNTAIN — Warm weather has created plenty of slush but anglers still report about 20 inches of ice on area lakes.

“We’re hearing good stories on crappies and bluegills,” said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township. “They’re catching walleye at Way Dam.”

A 24-inch walleye was the winner in Grier’s monthly contest, which now switches to perch.

At Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., a 26-inch walleye catch was reported this week.

“Overall, most of the pike and walleye have been small,” said Doug Whisler. “The panfish action has been really good with some nice-sized crappies caught.”

Buds on maple trees are looking quite large and the warm weather has also started sap to flow, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said.

“Snow depths are really variable across Marinette County with the southern portions being nearly snow free and the wooded portions in north having 14 plus inches of snow,” said Aaron McCullough, DNR wildlife technician at Wausaukee.

The ice on Green Bay is starting to break up so anglers should use extra caution venturing out.

The 2018 Michigan fishing license is now on sale. If you buy an annual license it is valid until March 31, 2019.

Wisconsin’s annual license also expires March 31.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula fishing activity:

Keweenaw Bay: Still had ice with snow cover on top however the snow could be gone by the end of the week so anglers might want to bring cleats for easier travel on the ice. Lake trout fishing was fair off the Whirl-I-Gig. The whitefish bite was slow. Splake fishing was hit-or-miss in eight to 40 feet. Smelt fishing was great after dark but only fair during the day.

Lake Gogebic: Was producing a few walleye and pike. A few more perch were caught on the north end.

Little Bay De Noc: The ice remains although travel can be hampered by rutted or crusty snow. A few anglers reported good walleye catches down near the Ford River in 20 to 30 feet when jigging rapalas. Other walleye reports remain slow with spotty catches reported throughout the Bay. Fair catches of decent size perch were taken in the Escanaba Yacht Harbor with minnows or wigglers. The better catches were taken around the Kipling flats in 30 feet when jigging minnows or wigglers. Some did well with small rapalas. The quality of fish was great with some huge jumbo perch taken but the number of fish caught was down. Fair perch catches at the head of the bay with minnows and wigglers in 12 to 20 feet. A couple walleye were also caught but most anglers reported good pike action with fish taken between Garth Point and the Day’s River when using tip-ups with sucker minnows in 14 to 22 feet. The whitefish anglers reported little action off Sand Point in Escanaba.

Munising: Had high fishing pressure especially on the weekends. Anglers are mainly targeting coho and smelt and reported fair to good catches. The whitefish action was slow with most fish under 12 inches.

Manistique Lakes: Anglers caught walleye and perch. Tip-ups with minnows were the most productive.