Ice thickens, free fishing in Wisconsin

Outdoors Report

Inland lakes across the Upper Peninsula are producing bluegill, crappie, northern pike and walleye.

At Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township, John Grier is conducting a January contest for the longest pike. Crappie action was good this week, Grier said.

It’s free fishing weekend in Wisconsin. Residents and nonresidents are invited to fish anywhere without a license, although all other fishing rules apply.

Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., said ice conditions have improved and a couple of fair-sized pike were caught.

Some lakes have 10-12 inches of ice, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, but much of the ice is white/gray from mixing with snow and isn’t as solid as black ice. Anglers in Marinette County are reporting good catches of walleye during low light hours, and bluegills, bass and northern being caught during the day, the DNR said.

Some anglers have begun using ATVs and snowmobiles, but be sure to check the ice thickness.

Beginning anglers are reminded that Wisconsin offers a tackle loaner program at DNR offices and other facilities. There is no charge. For more information, go to https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/anglereducation/.

Snowmobile trails are in good condition with the Dickinson County-based Tri-County Snowmobile Club noting 400 miles of trails groomed in recent days. It’s been cold enough to freeze swampy areas that had been wet, the club noted.

Hunters are reminded that Feb. 1 is the deadline for Michigan spring turkey applications.

Most bucks are still carrying their antlers, although there are reports of some antler dropping occurring.

The Michigan DNR reported the following Upper Peninsula activity:

Lake Fanny Hooe: In Copper Harbor was producing splake and lake trout.

Lake Antoine: In Dickinson County was producing some perch for ice anglers; however, the fish were running small.

Little Bay De Noc: With the colder temperatures, anglers were fishing the Kipling area and north to the Days River. Though there is ice, many areas were not safe for travel, so extreme caution needs to be used. Catch rates remained steady, with most getting six to 12 fish with a few jumbo perch mixed in. The best catches were in 17 to 30 feet with minnows and wigglers, though wigglers were taking more. Walleye catches were spotty, and most fish were undersize. Anglers were targeting 20 to 30 feet while using tip-ups with minnows or jigging raps. A couple anglers were taking vehicles out from Kipling; however, this is very dangerous and should be avoided. The best means of travel was by foot. A few have been walking out at Gladstone and fishing the channel. The Escanaba River and south had been unfishable.

Manistique River: Anglers caught a couple steelhead and coho.

Manistique Lake: Anglers were catching several small perch on Big Manistique. Walleye success did increase but was still slow.

Munuscong Bay: Was producing a fair number of perch and a few pike. Due to unsafe ice conditions in many areas, fishing pressure has been low.

Caribou Lake: Near Detour was producing the occasional walleye.

Cedarville and Hessel: There was no fishing activity on Musky Bay or Government Bay in the Les Cheneaux Islands. Conditions were unknown; however, there was no open water compared to last week. In Hessel Bay, ice conditions on the west side were unknown; however, those fishing the east side caught some 8-inch perch when jigging minnows and wax worms in 15 to 18 feet.

Brevoort Lake: Was producing a few walleye and small perch.