The 2012 fishing licenses went on sale Wednesday, even though the 2011 license is valid through March 31.
Keweenaw Bay: Catch rates were again hit-or-miss, but fish were caught off Sand Point. Those casting off the shoreline caught coho, lake trout and lake herring. The bay was about half covered with pieces of floating ice that are moving back and forth with the strong winds.
Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions are deteriorating along the edges due to people accessing the ice with vehicles. Many areas are considered borderline as far as safety goes. Ice conditions could change fast this year, so use caution at all times. Large walleye were caught just north of the Escanaba River, however the area is dangerous as the ice is not consistent. Anglers were jigging rapalas with minnows 25 to 30 feet down along the break. Walleye fishing was fair between the Narrows and the Terrace Bay Inn when jigging or using tip-ups with sucker minnows. Night anglers did fair with tip-ups at the Center Reef in 20 to 30 feet of water. Perch fishing was fair at best with most reports coming from Kipling by those jigging minnows or wigglers in 5 to 10 feet of water.
Munising: Reported limited fishing effort due to ice conditions. Most anglers were fishing the east shoreline between the city pier and the hospital. Sand Point had some ice, but conditions there change quickly so extreme caution needs to be used. Catch rates for whitefish were poor with mostly small fish caught. For splake, anglers caught just as many throw backs as legal fish. Most were using Swedish pimples or tip-ups with minnows. As for smelt, few fish were reported. Anglers were using a single egg or wax worm on the bottom in 30 to 70 feet of water.
Big Manistique Lake: Had good ice with fair walleye fishing and a limited number of 10 to 14 inch perch.
Munuscong: Had ice but walleye anglers were not having any luck. Those targeting perch will need to move around to locate schools of fish.
Cedarville and Hessel: The ice was holding, but not much has changed from last week. Perch anglers will find fish if they move around. Better spots to try are still Musky Bay, Hessel Bay and around Little Joe Island.
NORTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Long Lake: Still has ice. For perch, try fishing off the north shore or the south shore with minnows just off the bottom.
Au Sable River: Anglers are catching steelhead. Some are a nice chrome color and some are older fish.
Higgins Lake: Ice fishing continues. Perch were caught near the Sunken Island and Treasure Island. The smelt fishery can be good this time of year. Try 35 feet of water off the North State Park or the west launch. The better fishing was after 5 p.m. and continued into the night. Lake trout and whitefish can be found in deep water 80 to 120 feet deep. Try fishing just off the bottom.
Houghton Lake: Has good ice. A few walleye were caught including a couple bigger fish. Try off the boat launch on the west side, the Middle Grounds on the east side or the East Bay. Pike were hitting on tip-ups with sucker minnows. No word on bluegills but anglers may want to try fishing the Middle Grounds or the canals.
Tawas Bay: There was still some ice off Jerry's Marina but fishing was slow with only a few perch and walleye. Those spearing did manage to get one whitefish.
Au Gres River: Any remaining ice is no longer safe. On the East Branch near Whitney Drain, steelhead were caught on spawn upstream of the Singing Bridge.
NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Green Lake: Is usually a good spot for winter smelt fishing.
Crystal Lake: Is only partially frozen so most anglers are playing it safe and staying off the ice.
Betsie River: Has fair steelhead fishing.
Lake Cadillac: Ice fishing is still going strong here and on lakes in the area. Anglers are catching mostly pike, walleye and panfish. Late night is best for crappie when using small jigs that glow and minnows.
Lake Mitchell: Still has good ice with anglers catching a fair number of pike, walleye and panfish.
Lake Missaukee: Had good ice. Anglers are catching some panfish.
Manistee River: Steelhead fishing is fair. As winter holds on, the spring runs are not really starting yet. Those catching fish are using egg flies.
Pere Marquette River: Has the same report, catch rates are fair as winter continues to hold on. Fresh fish are entering the river but the spring run has not yet started.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
Lake Erie: Has open water fishing only. Shore fishing was good at the Metro Park Marina for bluegill and perch. Anglers may have to sort out the small ones.
Huron River: Is producing steelhead and pike. For steelhead, try a purple hair jig with a wax worm.
Detroit River: No word yet on walleye action. Perch were still being caught in the marinas along the south end of Grosse Ile. The river is open however anglers should still watch for any flow ice that may come downriver.
Lexington: The ice is no longer safe enough to hold anglers but it was still there so shore fishing is not yet an option.
Port Sanilac: Has no safe ice. Shore and boat anglers will be out soon.
Port Austin: Still had a couple shanties in the harbor but not for much longer.
Saginaw Bay: The ice at the Pine River access site is covered with water and slush and is no longer safe. A few anglers were still walking out off Palmer Road for perch. Fish in 1 to 2 feet of water and be ready to sort out all the small ones. Some were fishing in 2 feet of water at Cody-Estey Road, Newman Road and off White's Beach. Machines are breaking through the ice so those walking might want to wear waders. No activity at Linwood or Bay City as there is no ice. At Sebewaing, a few perch were caught however stay away from the docks. There's essentially no ice fishing activity on the east side of the bay due to the ice deteriorating and breaking up. Poor ice conditions are keeping anglers ashore at Port Austin, Grindstone City, and Harbor Beach.
Saginaw River: A good number of boats were out on the nice days. Anglers continue to sort through a lot of sub-legal fish but they are getting some 15 to 20 inch walleye from Rust Avenue downstream through Zilwaukee and on to Bay City. Walleye were also caught in the lower river around the Bay Aggregate Cut which is near Essexville.
Tittabawassee River: Walleye were caught by boat and shore anglers fishing from Gordonville Road upstream to the railroad bridge. Light lines and small jigs were the ticket when the water was low and clear. Not much activity further down as the gate at Imerman Park is closed. Boat anglers at the Center Road launch reported slow catch rates.
Quanicassee River: Small perch were caught by boat anglers.
SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Many of the lakes in this region have open water for boat or shore fishing.
St. Joseph River: Steelhead fishing is still good. A few walleye have also been caught. The fish ladders are now open.
Kalamazoo River: Continues with fair to good steelhead fishing. Walleye were also caught up near the Allegan Dam.
Gun Lake: Has open water. It may be time to get the boats out.
Gull Lake: Has open water. Some anglers are catching northern pike in the shallows when casting stick baits.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Steelhead are still being caught up near the dam.
Grand River at Lansing: Has open water however fishing is in-between seasons at the moment. Anglers are hoping warmer temperatures will bring the steelhead up this far. The fish ladders are now open.
Muskegon River: Has steelhead. Anglers are drifting an egg. Stay with bright colors like pink, chartreuse and orange.