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Ice conditions sketchy; river walleyes biting

IRON MOUNTAIN — Fishing pressure is light and — with warmer weather in the forecast — ice conditions are continually changing.

“The Brule River has some open water in the middle, so people need to be careful,” said Doug Whisler at Whisler Outdoors in Florence, Wis.

Anglers were landing small walleyes from the boundary waters of the Menominee River and a few bluegills elsewhere, Whisler added.

At Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township, John Grier said only a few anglers have been heading out, although the pace was picking up as the weekend approached.

In Governor Thompson State Park at the Caldron Falls Flowage in Marinette County, Wis., ski trail grooming has ended and all trails are now open to hikers. They may find ice and hard pack snow on the previously groomed trails, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Although the public contact areas at many Michigan DNR-managed facilities are temporarily closed, people are still welcome to enjoy the public outdoor areas at state parks and recreation areas, state game and wildlife areas, state forests, state trails and, of course, lakes, rivers and streams. For the duration of the COVID-19 situation, Michigan is waiving the need for the Recreation Passport for entry at state parks and other destinations.

The Michigan DNR reported this Upper Peninsula activity:

Keweenaw Bay: Catch rates were slow, but those fishing in shallow waters found splake, coho, steelhead, brown trout and the occasional whitefish. Those who ventured out deeper caught lake trout, splake and whitefish. Night anglers targeting burbot and smelt also reported slow fishing. Most of the burbot were on the small side, and the smelt anglers had to work hard to get a few.

Little Bay De Noc: With walleye season closed, a few perch anglers were out. Most reported fair catches. A few whitefish were caught off Sand Point near Escanaba. Most were taken on minnows in 80 feet.

Manistique Lake: Ice conditions were holding, and navigation was relatively easy. Most are targeting yellow perch.

Munising: Nearshore ice conditions remain stable. Catch rates for coho and splake increased slightly, but no limit catches were reported. The coho have been small this year, averaging 15-16 inches, and the splake were 19-21 inches. Night anglers off Sand Point reported good catches of burbot, with parties averaging 5-10 fish. Night anglers also were marking large schools of smelt about 20 feet down in over 100 feet. Once the smelt start moving in, the coho should follow. There were no reports on any Chinook, steelhead or brown trout. A few anglers have been out for perch, but most of the fish were small. A few coho and lake herring were seen off the Anna River.

Cedarville and Hessel: Those fishing around the Les Cheneaux Islands caught slightly bigger perch in Musky Bay when jigging wax worms and wigglers. The south edge of Musky Bay is now open water, but the north side still had some ice. Hessel Bay still had ice, but Wilderness Bay has started to break away. The edge along the south end of Wilderness Bay and the edge of Burlee Point is now open water. In Hessel Bay, splake, lake trout, perch, pike, smelt and burbot were caught. Anglers noted good fish movement, but some days they did not want to bite. Many are now targeting splake when jigging spoons tipped with minnows in 15 feet. Some days were better than others for catching perch when jigging wigglers, wax worms and small minnows. Pike still were hitting on tip-ups with minnows.

Brevoort Lake: Still had ice and anglers targeting yellow perch.

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