Anglers hope for better conditions ahead

IRON MOUNTAIN — Fishing pressure has been light during the recent rollercoaster weather, but catches could improve as winter gets back to a steadier pace.

“This weekend is looking a little better,” said Fay Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., mentioning “a few walleye, perch and crappie” among the week’s catches.

At Whispering Pines Outpost on M-95, a walleye measuring 21 1/2 inches is the best so far in John Grier’s February contest.

Perch anglers are having some luck using rosy reds and wigglers, Grier noted.

Ice thickness is variable, with most northern lakes holding 14 to 22 inches of ice, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. To the south, the sturgeon spear fishery on Wisconsin’s Winnebago system begins today.

In Florence County, Leff’s All Lake Fishing Derby takes place Saturday, Feb. 16. Register at Leff’s Bar, 5050 Keyes Lake Drive, 3 miles west of Florence off Highway 101, and fish any Florence County water.

On Saturday, Feb. 23, the Boundary Waters Musky Club hosts its annual Expo from noon to 5 p.m. in the Antoine Banquet Room at Recreation Lanes in Iron Mountain. That same day, Family Baptist Church of Kingsford hosts its annual Sportsman’s Seminar and Supper beginning at 3 p.m. at the Iron Mountain Central Gym and Cafeteria. Both events are free and open to the public.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula activity:

Keweenaw Bay: Had fair lake trout fishing for those jigging cut bait in 150 to 225 feet. Many were small with a few keepers mixed in. Coho fishing was slow in 15 to 30 feet. The splake action was fair with numerous sub-legal fish taken on tip-ups or when jigging in 30 to 60 feet. The whitefish bite was slow in 50 to 70 feet. Smelt fishing was good in 30 to 90 feet just before and after dark when jigging wax worms. Large schools of lake herring have been spotted all around the bay however they did not want to bite.

Little Bay De Noc: Has good ice however snow drifts were still causing some problems for those traveling across the ice. Walleye catches were spotty. Deeper water was more productive with fish caught on rapalas with minnows in 35 to 45 feet. Perch catches were also spotty. The better catches came from the Kipling area with minnows or wigglers in 27 to 40 feet. Whitefish anglers in Escanaba reported fair catches off Sand Point using minnows or spawn in 70 to 80 feet. Anglers were spread out and fishing the entire bay as far south as No-See-Um Creek.

Munising: Ice conditions in the bay are good. There are some areas where anglers will have to drill through shove ice. Anglers are scattered throughout from Christmas, White Rocks and Murray’s Bay to Sand Point. Fishing in general was slow, with a few catches of whitefish, coho and undersize splake. The coho have been about 17 inches and are running slightly larger than last season. A few anglers jigging for lake trout north of the West Channel and near Grand Island were taking fish up to 10 pounds. Perch anglers did poorly with mainly small ones reported so far. Night anglers have been trying for smelt and burbot, but no smelt were reported to date. For whitefish, try jigging with a single egg or wax worm. Splake were hitting jigs tipped with minnows.

Cedarville and Hessel: Weather conditions have limited angler contact. There was a lot of slush on top of ice therefore ice conditions were unknown.