New license season starts Monday; panfish still biting

Outdoors report

IRON MOUNTAIN — Anglers who haven’t yet bought a 2019 fishing license will need one starting Monday in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Bait sales were steady this week, thanks to lingering ice and pleasant temperatures, said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township. A 13 1/4-inch perch leads Grier’s monthly contest, with only a couple of days left to top it.

“They’re starting to buy more turkey licenses,” Grier added, noting plenty of bird sightings. The Upper Peninsula season opens April 22 with a maximum quota of 6,000.

Wisconsin has a locally run Learn to Hunt taking place for first-time turkey hunters next weekend, followed by the statewide youth hunt April 13-14, said Aaron McCullough, Department of Natural Resources wildlife technician at Wausaukee. The first regular season opens April 17. Leftover authorizations went on sale last week.

Boaters finding open water were catching a few walleye, and ice anglers were landing panfish, said Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis. “They’re catching a lot of crappies and some nice bluegills,” he said.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula activity:

Menominee River: Those fishing off Hattie Street and up near the dam caught a few brown trout on rapalas. There was a lot of ice floating and starting to jam up below Hattie Street.

Little Bay de Noc: Ice conditions are holding, although some areas of slush are present in the middle of the bay. Travel was mainly by ORV and snowmobile. Most are getting on the ice from the boat launch at Kipling and targeting yellow perch around the Second and Third Reefs when jigging minnows or wax worms. Catch rates were fair.

Keweenaw Bay: Ice conditions are day to day, as melting and freezing is producing honeycomb ice. Extreme caution needs to be used. The lake trout action was poor to fair when jigging cut bait just off the bottom in 100 to 225 feet. Coho were spotty, and the whitefish bite was slow. The smelt action was good two hours before and after dark with lights in 40 to 65 feet. The active fish were sporadic, as anglers would catch a bunch in a short amount of time then wait for the next batch to show up. No steelhead to report in area rivers.

Marquette: Fishing had started to pick up. Coho along with the occasional Chinook and brown trout were caught in the Upper Harbor near the “Bubbler.” A few lake herring were also caught. The city plowed a small path to the beach, so anglers are now able to launch boats in front of the Dead River. Most were jigging, but a few tried trolling with limited success. The Lower Harbor still had ice on it, but with each warm day, that is changing rapidly. Those fishing the Chocolay River picked up some nice brown trout.

Manistique Lake: Bluegills and crappie were caught in the South Lake.