Weekly Fishing Tip: Targeting walleye at the end of ice season
Walleye are a popular target for many ice anglers, particularly as the season wears on. Pursuing these aggressive fish can be a great adventure, especially if you follow some of these tactics.
Focus on using jigs with spoons or minnows or tip-ups with live bait to see the most success. You might want to use a few tip-ups and then jig around that same area.
Think about the depth of water as well as the time of day. Walleye fishing through the ice usually begins and ends in shallow water areas with deep water more productive during the heart of the winter.
Learn more about walleye fishing during Michigan’s winter by visiting their page on our Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them website.
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Anglers are reminded that walleye, pike and muskie season on the Upper Peninsula Great lakes, inland waters, St. Mary's River and all the Lower Peninsula inland waters will close at midnight on March 15.
The DNR has announced public forums to be held at each of the eight management units throughout the state this spring. The public is invited to "Conversations & Coffee with the DNR Fisheries Division". Get the chance to meet with managers and biologists to discuss local issues and management activities or get specific questions answered. Refreshments will be provided. For more details visit: www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10364-323080--,00.html
Lake Erie: The Metro Park Marina was producing some perch. Try minnows or wigglers. Walleye are still being caught in Brest Bay.
Huron River: Anglers did catch a couple steelhead near Labo Park.
Detroit River: Those fishing Airport Bay were still taking some perch. Cold weather will once again delay the onset of bigger perch coming up into the canals.
Lake St. Clair: The ice is holding. Anglers could still be ice fishing for a least a couple more weeks. Perch fishing was fair at best on the Michigan side. Anglers are sorting through a lot of small ones to get enough for a meal.
Saginaw Bay: Walleye action was better at dusk or early morning. Anglers were fishing four to five miles out from White's Beach, in17 to 20 feet of water off Linwood, 12 to 17 feet off the Bay City State Park, 16 feet northeast of Spoils Island, seven miles north off the end of Callahan Road or Finn Road, and the middle of the Slot off Thomas Road or Sunset Bay Marina. Fishing was slow in the Hot Pond. Bluegills and some big crappie were caught in the marina at Sebewaing. At Mud Creek, perch fishing was hit-or-miss.
Saginaw River: Anglers are reminded that walleye season on the river will close at midnight this Saturday, March 15th. There has been a lot of fishing pressure all over the river. Anglers might want to avoid the crowds and try fishing the areas between the main access points. Those fishing near the Zilwaukee Bridge caught walleye but many were small. The river ice should hold for the last day of walleye season.
The ice should be fine even after the warm up. Fishing for crappie, yellow perch, bluegill and northern pike was picking up on inland lakes.
St. Joseph River: Steelhead fishing was good.
Kalamazoo River: Is still producing some steelhead up near the Allegan Dam. Try small spoons, spinners or spawn.
Grand River at Lansing: Anglers will find a few scattered steelhead and pike in the river. Not many anglers have been out.
Park Lake: Was producing a few crappie.
Muskegon River: Continues to produce some nice steelhead. Target the deeper holes until the weather warms back up. Try flies that resemble small goby.
Au Sable River: Anglers have caught steelhead but the action was quite slow at times. Most are using wax worms or spawn. The ramp on Rea Road is useable but 4-wheel drive is needed. There is still quite a bit of ice between the Whirlpool and the pier. With the ongoing changes in weather, anglers should anticipate flow variations below Foote Dam. Extreme cold has caused difficulties in operating the spill gates at the Foote Hydroelectric Project which in turn cause unexpected flow changes when they are opened or closed. There is the potential for rapid flow changes due to the breakup of ice cover which causes ice dams and the temporary impounding of water followed by rapid flow when these blockages release water. Those steelhead fishing on the lower river should check the USGS website for current flow conditions. waterdata.usgs.gov/mi/nwis/rt
Higgins Lake: Still has lots of ice. Lake trout are hitting on grays in 90 to 100 feet. Those targeting whitefish on the bottom have done well with wigglers, wax worms or spawn in 85 to 100 feet. Rainbow trout have been caught near the Conference Center. Try wigglers in shallow waters about a foot deep. For perch, try off Evergreen Park on the north end or around the Sunken Island. Use minnows, wigglers and wax worms in waters 50 to 70 feet deep or more.
Tawas: Some perch were caught inside the harbor. Keepers were running six to eight inches but some caught a few bigger fish. A couple pike were speared or taken on tip-ups off Jerry's Marina.
Au Gres: A few walleye anglers were fishing off Booth Road. Perch anglers caught a few nice fish in seven feet of water off the mouth of the Rifle River and in six feet of water straight off Palmer Road. Most fish were seven to 10 inches. Walleye were caught in seven to 15 feet mostly in the evening.
As winter continues, there is still plenty of ice to fish on and there will be for a while.
Traverse City: The East Bay is giving up lake trout and burbot in waters 90 to 150 feet off Deep Water Point and Yuba. Anglers are using jigs, sand kickers and pimples. Some are using tip-ups with a lure and minnow attached. In the West Bay, several nice perch including a few master angler fish were caught off the West Arm launch by those using perch minnows with an orange or chartreuse pimple in 40 to 50 feet. Lake trout were hitting in 135 to 165 feet. Try sand kickers or pimples. Glow and green were good colors.
Green Lake: Is still producing some smelt.
Lake Cadillac: Though ice fishing continues, pike and walleye season will close on Saturday, March 15. This is the time to target bluegill, crappie and perch with minnows, wigglers or wax worms.
Lake Mitchell: The better fishing has been in and around Big Cove. Pike anglers have done well spearing or with tip-ups.
Manistee River: Lower sections of the river are still iced over however steelhead can be caught anywhere there is open water. Those fishing up near Tippy Dam have caught fish.
Pere Marquette River: The lower section below Custer is still iced over. Those fishing the open water have caught steelhead.
Marquette: Few anglers were fishing the Lower Harbor. The ice was good however conditions can change quickly with strong winds. There are pockets of open water off the Coast Guard Lighthouse and towards Picnic Rocks. Catch rates were poor with only a few small splake taken. In the Upper Harbor, there was ice near the "bubblers" however this is new ice because strong winds blew out the existing ice. Catch rates were poor with only a few coho, lake herring or small chinook caught. There is some open water out from the Upper Harbor breakwall. South winds have opened up stretches of water between the Carp River and the prison. Most areas will see shifting ice over the next few weeks.
Carp River: The mouth is open just below the bridge on Hwy-41 and to the discharge area. A few anglers have tried fishing but had no luck. Conditions are difficult due to snow and ice along the shoreline.
Au Train: The entire bay is frozen over but no anglers were observed. The Brownstone launch is not plowed. Parking is marginal on M-28 as plows have not widened the highway. One angler fishing off the Rock River had no success. The ice was thick with large pockets of slush in-between which makes it difficult to auger good holes.
Menominee River: On March 4, the center door at the Hattie Street Dam was opened to full capacity which released much of the ice that was secure on the Wisconsin side of the dam. Anglers caught walleye at night when jigging a piece of minnow. Trout anglers targeting the open water on the Michigan side did not catch any fish. Those jigging for pike between the Marinette Marine and Stephenson Island are marking fish but the bite was slow. Those looking for panfish tried near the boat launch at the lighthouse. Anglers need to use caution and watch for unsafe ice near the middle of the river.
Little Bay De Noc: Has exceptional ice this year but travel has been difficult. Many have added extensions to their augers because the ice is so thick. More anglers are out as the walleye action was good. Fish were caught by those jigging rapalas with or without a minnow in 25 to 40 feet between the Escanaba River and Gladstone. Fair walleye action was noted along the "Narrows" in 30 to 40 feet and off the Second and Third Reefs in 20 to 35 feet at night. The head of the bay had mixed results with some fish caught in eight to 35 feet by those using tip-ups with large sucker minnows. Perch anglers had good catches in the "Narrows" when using minnows or wigglers in 33 to 41 feet. Good numbers of jumbo perch reported from this area. Near Kipling, lots of small perch along with some jumbos were taken in 28 feet or in 14 to 30 feet near the Day's River. Whitefish anglers off Sand Point did not do well. Several large northern pike were caught on tip-ups in 20 feet at the head of the bay.
Munuscong: Catch rates were poor to fair with the better catches coming from deeper water along the channel. Thick ice remains.
Cedarville and Hessel: Hessel Bay is producing a few small yellow perch. Wilderness Bay is producing a fair number of keepers. Musky Bay and Duck Bay had fair catch rates.