Free fishing today, Sunday in Wisconsin
IRON MOUNTAIN — This is Free Fun Weekend in Wisconsin, with free fishing as well as free admission to parks and trails.
Today and Sunday people may fish without licenses or state trout stamps. No state park admission stickers or trail passes are required. In addition, non-resident all-terrain vehicle operators do not need a non-resident trail pass to ride state ATV trails.
Next weekend it’s Michigan’s turn, with free fishing June 8 and 9 along with free entry into state parks and recreation areas. The “Three Free” weekend also allows Michigan residents and nonresidents to legally ride state-designated routes and trails without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit.
Upper Peninsula waters are warming slowly but are still about two weeks behind when it comes to water temperatures, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
“We’ve been selling a lot of bait,” said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township. Reports on bluegill have been good, along with some crappie and walleye action. Trout fishing has slowed as streams remain high, he said.
At Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., Doug Whisler suggested large fathead minnows for walleye. Fatheads have also been used to land some big perch — up to 14 inches.
“Bass fishing has been really good … some people are using top-water baits,” Whisler continued. Pike fishing has been steady, with spinners and crankbaits recommended, and a twitch bait was the ticket for at least one muskie catch.
Scott Poquette, Wisconsin DNR fisheries technician at Peshtigo, reported a 53-inch muskie catch on the Peshtigo River over the weekend. Both jigging and trolling were producing walleye in the lower part of the river, he said.
The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula activity:
Overall: High water levels continue to hamper fishing efforts on the trout lakes. Many rivers and streams were at their banks.
Copper Harbor: Pier anglers caught a few splake. Some nice pike were caught in Eagle Harbor.
Keweenaw Bay: Fishing has been good the past few days. Those trolling throughout the water column in 20 to 50 feet caught Chinook, coho, lake trout, brown trout and splake with spoons, stick baits or a flasher/fly combo. Mornings were best with trolling speeds between 2.2 mph and 3 mph. Finding the warmer water is key. Temperatures were ranging between 36 and 49 degrees. Coho were found near the scum lines. Schools of smelt have kept bigger fish in the area.
Marquette: The fish cleaning station is back up and running for the season. Boat anglers were picking up Chinook, coho, brown trout and steelhead near shore.
Deer Lake: Access to the boat landing north of Ishpeming will be restricted Monday and Tuesday while a contractor works on repairs to the dam at the reservoir.
Chocolay River: The upstream waters were still very high making it difficult for anyone trying to target brook or brown trout. Boat anglers fishing near the mouth did manage to pick up a few trout and salmon.
Little Bay De Noc: Water temperatures were in the low to mid 50’s and water levels were still high. The bass opener was good along Garth Point, Gladstone Bay and in the Ford River when casting plastics or crawlers in four to eight feet. Walleye anglers had mixed results at the head of the bay when trolling a crawler harness or stick bait in eight to 20 feet. Fair to good catches were reported south of Garth Point in 32 feet, in the Escanaba River from the US-2 Bridge to the mouth and off Breezy Point with crawlers in 10 feet. A few perch were caught off Kipling in 23 to 30 feet with crawlers. Good pike action was reported near the mouth of the Ford River by those targeting bass.
Manistique River: Steelhead anglers were still getting a few fish in the lower waters when casting yarn or spawn.
Munising: Boat anglers reported fewer catches of Chinook and coho salmon.
Two Hearted River: Water levels are high, but a few fish were still caught.
Tahquamenon River: May have a little more traffic with the muskie opener this weekend. Anglers are reminded to report their harvest via the hotline or online.