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Minnows doing the trick for northern pike, crappies

Outdoors Report

IRON MOUNTAIN — Northern pike fishing in the region has been good, although pressure has been fairly light as anglers deal with repeated storms.

A pike measuring 30 3/4 inches leads John Grier’s monthly contest at Whispering Pines Outpost on M-95. The contest switches to walleye Feb. 1. That date is the deadline as well to apply for Michigan spring turkey hunt permits, Grier noted.

At Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., Doug Whisler recommends rosy red minnows for crappies. Northern pike also are hitting minnows.

Bluegills have been running “on the small side,” and walleye action has been limited to “a few here and there,” Whisler said.

If targeting northern pike, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests trying a fluorocarbon leader, which will be practically invisible to any pike, as opposed to a steel leader. Also, consider using something flashy with bait, such as a small spinner blade, to entice pike in murky water. Keeping some slush around the hole in the ice will help prevent fish from being spooked.

Tip-Up Town of The U.P. takes place Saturday, Feb. 1. The fishing contest will run from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sawyer Lake in Sagola Township. Registration starts at 7 a.m. on the ice.

The Tri-County Snowmobile Club says its Dickinson County area trails are generally in very good condition. An exception is Black Creek, where there are some downed trees. Trails in Florence County are rated excellent, while Marinette County’s are good, according to travelwisconsin.com.

The Michigan DNR reported this Upper Peninsula fishing activity:

Little Bay De Noc: Was hit with another big snowstorm. There is ice from the Kipling area and north. There was still some open water in the “Narrows,” so the area should be avoided. There are pressure cracks from Gladstone south to the Terrace Bay Hotel. Those fishing near the Escanaba Power Plant and the Escanaba Beach were using caution. A few vehicles have started driving out, but this is dangerous due to variable ice thickness throughout the bay. Others are traveling by foot or snowmobile. Those chasing walleye could be found along the east bank at Gladstone in 30 to 35 feet or the Third Reef in 28 to 32 feet with minnows and jigging raps. Catch rates were spotty, and most fish were undersize. Perch catches remain steady; however, fewer jumbo perch were caught. Try Kipling in 18 to 30 feet, the Second Reef in 30 feet or near the Escanaba Power Plant in 30 to 35 feet with minnows and wigglers. Northern pike were active throughout, with good numbers of undersize fish caught. Those spearing pike reported good action southwest of Butlers Island in 6 feet or so.

Cedarville and Hessel: Fishing pressure picked up, and catch rates improved. Those fishing Musky Bay caught perch in 7 to 10 feet or pike in 20 feet when jigging minnows and wax worms. The snow and drifts are getting deep, and those with four-wheelers were having trouble in some areas. Ice conditions in Government Bay, Cedarville east channel and Mackinac Bay were unknown. Perch, pike and splake were caught in Hessel Bay. Perch measuring 7-9 inches were caught in 15 to 17 feet when jigging minnows and wax worms. A few splake were caught in 5 to 10 feet when jigging minnows.

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