Trout biting; Michigan walleye opener Tuesday

IRON MOUNTAIN — Despite high water, trout anglers are enjoying good success, and lakes should be free of ice for Tuesday’s opener of the walleye, northern pike and muskellunge season in the Upper Peninsula.

“We’re gearing up for walleye,” said Bob Kennard at Midtown Bait & Tackle in Channing.

With walleye fishing picking up on the boundary waters, Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township is also well-stocked for the U.P. opener. “We’ve got a ton of bait,” said owner John Grier.

“Trout fishing continues to be good,” Grier added. “A lot of good reports — 10- 11- and 12-inch brookies, and even one about 18 inches.”

At Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., Doug Whisler echoed the upbeat news on trout. “Pretty good numbers and pretty good size,” he said.

Respectable numbers of panfish were caught on some inland lakes in northern Wisconsin, said Aaron McCullough, Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician at Wausaukee.

“Turkey hunting is still going strong with lots of opportunities to see and harvest birds,” he added.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula fishing activity:

Overall: The lakes in the western part of the Upper Peninsula are now ice free and the streams were within the banks and dropping. Trout fishing in the streams has been good and there should be some good fishing on the inland lakes as it warms up.

Keweenaw Bay: Is opening up but there was still some ice floating around. Anglers were getting out on the Baraga side but there was no dock in yet. The ice is a concern if you plan on going out as it can block the dock area if the wind is right so pay close attention to where it is shifting. Catch rates were fair with coho, splake, rainbows and brown trout caught when trolling in the top two-thirds of waters 100 feet or less. For the South Entry, fishing was slow but a few lake trout were caught. The dock is in at the South Entry launch. In Traverse Bay, the dock was not in yet. Smelt were starting to trickle into area rivers.

Little Bay De Noc: The Rapid River launch needs some repairs after winter damage. The dock was not it but should be soon. The Ford River launch is ready and this area is also is being worked on as they prepare the area to be paved. All other docks are in with the exception of Kipling which will be done this week. A few perch anglers reported fair catches at the head of the Bay using wigglers or crawlers in and around 16 feet. Best catches were in the “Narrows” using minnows or crawlers in 35 to 40 feet. Only a few were caught but they were nice jumbo fish. The Ford River had shore anglers targeting smallmouth bass. Catch rates were fair with most casting jigs, plastics or crank baits. Water temperatures remain cold ranging from the high 30’s to low 40’s.

Big Bay De Noc: The Nahma, Fish Dam and Fayette launches will probably have the docks installed this week. Garden and Ogontz are up and running. The ice is gone from Garden Bay and perch anglers were taking good catches. The females still had eggs so it appears to be early in the spawn. Most fish were seven to nine inches. The best catches were by the Fish House on the northwest bank just off the dock when using wigglers, crawlers or minnows.

Marquette: Fishing was very slow. Ice has been moving in and out of the bay making it impossible to fish some days. Those trolling the Upper Harbor or jigging on the bubblers struggled to get a couple coho. Splake and coho were caught at the mouth of the Chocolay River. Not many steelhead were caught on the Carp and the Chocolay Rivers. The fish had not shown up yet as the runs are behind this year.

Munising: The ice is out and the docks are in at the public launch. There is still some ice floating in the bay so boat anglers should use caution. Anglers were mainly fishing near shore in the Bay Furnace area and at the Anna River. Water levels on area streams are low. Catch rates were hit-or-miss but a few splake and coho were taken on spawn or when casting spoons and stick baits.

Grand Marais: The ice here is pretty much gone except for the ice on the last section of the pier. Conditions could change as there is still substantial ice floe out in the lake which could blow back in. The area had moderate fishing pressure with most boat anglers taking fair to good catches of coho, brown trout and steelhead when trolling east of the port and near the mouth of the Sucker River.

Two Hearted River: Was about two feet higher than average for this time of year, however the water was not turbid which means it is dropping.

Newberry: All the area inland lakes in Luce County will be open water by the end of the week. Snowpack in the woods from Newberry to Lake Superior was 99.9 percent gone with only a few snow piles and drifts left.