Anglers take aim at panfish, walleye, pike; deer moving mostly at night

Outdoors Report

IRON MOUNTAIN — The panfish bite is hot as winter fishing gets off to a good start.

“We had one guy say he had the best fishing day of his life,” said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township. “He didn’t say where, though.”

Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., said a few anglers have caught their limits of crappie and other panfish.

“We’re selling a lot of bait,” he said. “They’re also catching some small walleye and a few northern pike.”

Grier said bluegills and crappies were biting the most. “Seems to be more people fishing every day,” he said.

The Michigan DNR advised that ice thickness varies, and some lakes in the southern U.P. still had areas with open water at mid-week. To the west, Lake Gogebic offers perch and panfish on the north end. The Lac Vieux Desert flowage also has good panfish opportunities.

Extreme caution needs to be used on any and all ice, conservation officers advised.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported 6 to 8 inches of ice on many northern lakes, with panfish and northern pike action the best.

For crappie, biologists suggest focusing on weed lines. A lot of times crappie will hang out in the middle of the water column, half-way between the ice and bottom.

Early-ice walleye are known to be aggressive. Use tip-ups at varying depths. Regardless of the depth, try setting the live minnow under the tip-up to swim 12 to 15 inches off the bottom.

Hunters out for last weekend’s antlerless season in Wisconsin said the majority of deer activity seemed to be at night, the DNR said.

Grier said a few muzzleloader hunters in Michigan got bucks this past week.

The following Upper Peninsula fishing activity was reported:

Teal Lake: In Marquette County, is offering some early perch fishing. The occasional walleye also has been caught.

Little Bay De Noc: Anglers are just starting to head out, although they are staying in close as most were only about a quarter mile from shore. Use extreme caution.

Muskallonge Lake: In Luce County, had perch anglers as well as those looking for walleye and pike. Some of the inland lakes south of Munising also had angler activity.

Manistique Lakes: Have seen quite a bit of activity, mainly for yellow perch and other panfish.

Two Hearted River: Has steelhead and normal water levels for this time of year. Expect heavier snowpack in this part of Luce County.