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Ice anglers finding success; access sites plowed in UP

Outdoors Report

IRON MOUNTAIN — Ice anglers have been targeting walleye, pike and panfish in the Dickinson County area.

“We’ve been going through a lot of walleye suckers,” said Bob Kennard at Midtown Bait & Tackle in Channing. “The ice has been great.”

Kennard cautions “safety first” and advises anglers to bring an extra set of clothes “just in case.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has called attention to the “honeycomb effect,” which weakens ice after freeze-thaw-freeze conditions. Be sure to stay safely on shore if ice conditions are questionable, the agency says.

Next weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Wisconsin. You can fish almost anywhere in the state Jan. 16-17 without a license or trout stamp. All regulations and seasonal restrictions are still in force.

The Michigan DNR has organized a pilot program to keep boating access sites plowed this winter at more than two dozen popular Upper Peninsula ice-fishing locations. Various local partners have volunteered to assist.

The 26 locations — situated across 10 of the U.P.’s 15 counties — are DNR boating access sites managed for recreational boating.

“Because we have had continued requests from the public to maintain access throughout the winter, we’ve partnered with a number of entities to assist with plowing for winter access,” said Zack Bishop, a DNR Parks and Recreation Division unit supervisor. “We have entered into agreements with each partner to try this concept for one year. Depending on the success of the pilot program, we may or may not continue it into next winter.”

An evaluation to take place at the end of the winter will assess several things, including how often the plowed sites are used and whether damage occurs to the access ramps, which has been a concern.

Boating access sites to be plowed this winter include Hamilton Lake in Dickinson County and Indian Lake, Swan Lake, Lake Mary, East Lake Emily, and Lake Ellen in Iron County.

Others include:

— Baraga County: Vermilac Lake, Silver River;

— Chippewa County: Conley Point;

— Delta County: Kipling;

— Keweenaw County: Gratiot Lake, Lake Medora, Lake Bailey;

— Luce County: Little Lake Harbor, Kak’s Lake, Big Manistique Lake (County Line access);

— Mackinac County: South Manistique Lake, North Manistique Lake, Milakokia Lake and Millecoquins Lake;

— Marquette County: Lake Michigamme, Greenwood Reservoir, Johnson Lake, Big Shag Lake, East Bass Lake;

— Schoolcraft County: Big Spring Landing.

“The DNR is very pleased with our partners offering to make this program possible, including the county road commissions in Baraga, Chippewa, Dickinson, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette and Schoolcraft counties, Forsyth Township, Bayshore Resort Bait & Tackle, Travel Marquette, South Shore Fishing Association and Gwinn Bait & Tackle,” said Doug Rich, DNR Parks and Recreation Division western U.P. district supervisor.

Organizations or individuals interested in partnering to keep additional sites open if this pilot project continues next winter can contact Stacy Haughey at WellingS1@michigan.gov or 906-226-1331.

The DNR reported this Upper Peninsula activity:

Manistique River: Had a fair number of steelhead.

Munuscong Bay: Had ice suitable for walking on near the shoreline, allowing anglers to get out and catch decent numbers of perch.

Cedarville and Hessel: Had the occasional angler fishing around the Les Cheneaux Islands; however, ice thickness is not uniform or stable. A few perch were caught off the bottom in Hessel Bay when jigging wax worms. The south side of Musky Bay is open water.

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