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Panfish action highlights ice fishing; snow trails still good

Outdoors Report

IRON MOUNTAIN — Temperatures are expected to be in the 30s today and the low 40s on Sunday as anglers report the late-ice panfish bite is improving on area lakes.

“I’ve heard of some nice catches of bluegills and a few crappies,” said John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost on M-95. At least one angler was doing well targeting perch, he said.

“A lot of people went out last weekend,” Grier added. “I’ve got my fingers crossed for this weekend, too.”

A walleye measuring 20 9/16 inches leads Grier’s monthly contest for February, which ends today.

New fishing licenses will go on sale beginning Sunday in Michigan. The annual fishing license is valid from March 1 of a given year through March 31 of the following year.

Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis., said jigs tipped with artificial baits were attracting bluegills and crappies. Perch anglers were having some success with minnows and wigglers.

Last weekend’s warm weather took a toll on area snowmobile trails, but overall conditions remain good, according to travelwisconsin.com. Tri-County Snowmobile Club will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Waucedah Township Hall in Loretto.

Dickinson Trail Network will host a snowshoe run/walk and bike race at 10 a.m. today at the Oakcrest trail in Norway.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reported this Upper Peninsula activity:

Copper Harbor: Anglers have caught splake. Many were small, but some were above the 15-inch size limit.

Portage Lake: Was producing walleye. Crappie were caught in Pike Bay.

Keweenaw Bay: Anglers were seeing a decent number of fish; however, catch rates were slow, as they did not want to bite. Those who did have success caught splake, coho, brown trout, whitefish or the occasional Chinook or lake trout. Most were caught by jigging, but some were taken on tip-ups and jaw-jackers in both shallow and deep water. Smelt fishing at night was slow, but a couple burbot were caught.

Little Bay De Noc: Drifting snow made for poor travel except for snowmobiles. Walleye anglers reported fair to good catches, mostly in southern waters, with the better fishing near No-See-Um Creek and near the Escanaba River in 20 to 30 feet with jigging raps or tip-ups with minnows. A good number of large fish were reported in this area. Walleye have started showing up at the head of the bay, but only a few catches were reported with tip-ups in 18 to 25 feet. Perch anglers reported spotty catches. The best areas were Kipling and south near the Escanaba ship docks in 30 feet with wigglers or minnows.

Indian Lake: Anglers caught walleye and a couple nice pike.

Manistique River: Was producing some steelhead.

Big Manistique Lake: Good-size walleye were caught, but anglers were putting in a lot of time to get them. Pike also have been caught.

Munising: Warm, sunny weather and southerly winds caused some changes in ice conditions. Anglers should avoid the following areas: West and East Channel, along Grand Island and the eastern end of Sand Point due to areas with open water. Strong wind deteriorated some of the top ice and created some small pressure cracks near Sand Point. There is open water near the boathouse and only a couple hundred yards of pack ice near the park service. Fishable ice was reported off the Grand Island Ferry access, Christmas, Powell Point, the city docks and the Anna River access points. Fishing was hit or miss, with anglers doing the best for whitefish. Try 60 to 70 feet with a single egg, spawn, wax worms or minnows. Splake were caught on a jig tipped with a minnow head, though several were sublegal. The coho and smelt action was sporadic, with only a few caught. A couple rainbow trout and lake trout were caught recently. Night anglers had been out for burbot, but only a few were caught.

Whitefish Bay: Had some fishing activity in Emerson Bay, but the ice was not good.

Munuscong Bay: Anglers caught walleye, pike and perch.

Cedarville and Hessel: Perch fishing was hit or miss around the Les Cheneaux Islands. Those jigging minnows and wax worms in 15 to 20 feet found fish in Musky Bay. Perch anglers were reported in Government Bay and the Cedarville Channel. In Hessel Bay, perch ranging from 7-10 inches were caught on minnows and wax worms in 15 to 20 feet. Pike were taken on tip-ups with minnows. More splake were seen in Hessel Bay, but no harvest reports came in. There is some slush and areas with higher water flow that have lost some of the ice, so anglers need to use caution.

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