Ice fishing lingers; caution urged

Mike Miller of Kingsford found some good fishing in the Menominee area recently, catching this 14-pound, 34-inch brown trout.

IRON MOUNTAIN — April is the new December, at least for another week or so, but most anglers have decided enough is enough as far as ice fishing.

“Fishing has been sporadic,” said Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis. “Some people are catching panfish.”

There are reports of lakes with as much as 20 inches of ice, although river ice is starting to break up.

“This new snow will weigh down the ice and cover up some of the bad areas,” said Aaron McCullough, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician at Wausaukee. “Please be extremely careful if venturing onto the ice.”

At Whispering Pines Outpost on M-95, a perch measuring 15 3/8 inches was the winner of a monthly contest that ended March 31. “We’ve got our fingers crossed for nicer weather,” said shop owner John Grier. “There’s a few people going out.”

Turkey hunting begins soon, with Wisconsin’s youth hunt slated for April 14-15, followed by the start of the first regular hunting period April 18.

The Upper Peninsula turkey season opener is April 23.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula fishing activity:

Keweenaw Bay: Fishing was still slow unless you are looking for smelt as the fishing off Sand Point was great in 30 to 100 feet. Jig something shiny if the smelt are not there right away, as it will usually bring them in. This would be a good time to bring a youngster out, as the fish are frequently right below the hole during the day. Put a flasher fish right above the school and every time you catch one they move higher in the water column which can be exciting for a young angler. Try a light action rod with a Hali lure on the bottom and one or two small teardrop jigs above it and all tipped with a wax worm. A spring bobber is very helpful as smelt have a light bite.

Little Bay De Noc: Anglers were still ice fishing; however, a foot or more of fresh snow has covered many of the dangerous areas. Extreme caution needs to be used. Perch fishing was fair at best, with fish caught in the Kipling area. Anglers were using wigglers or minnows in 30 to 35 feet. It seems the fish had moved out from the usual areas and were scattered.

Marquette: The bubblers were ice-free, but a lot of ice remains in and around the harbors and it could blow back in any day. Coho fishing was hit-or-miss, with some days producing limit catches while other days were only a fish or two. Brown trout, splake and a couple Chinook were mixed in with the coho catches. Slow fishing on the Carp and Chocolay rivers, with only a couple steelhead or brown trout caught over the past couple weeks. Water levels still are very low.

Au Train River: Coho fishing was hit-or-miss. When the fishing is good anglers are getting limits in less than an hour but when it is slow they were only getting a couple. Those ice fishing the river need to use extreme caution, as the ice is very unpredictable and a few people have fallen through.

Munising: Had heavy snow with an additional 4 to 7 on top of the 10 inches received Saturday. Coho fishing was a bit slower, but some parties did manage to take a limit catch for the day, especially from Trout Bay and off Sand Point. Smelt were still being caught off Sand Point, with most using teardrop jigs or a Hali jig with a wax worm. No word on steelhead action.

Two Hearted River: No access continues as the area gets hit with yet another snow storm. The only access will be by snowmobile, as there are still no open roads in the area because of the deep snow pack.

Cedarville and Hessel: Fishing slowed this week. Anglers did catch some perch between 8 and 10 inches but many were throwbacks at only 5 inches. Anglers were using minnows, wigglers, spikes and spoons. A couple splake were caught on spoons at the pier. The area still had ice; however, strong currents are creating unstable ice conditions in some areas, so extreme caution needs to be used.