Weekly Fishing Tip: Let’s catch some crappie!
Crappie are among the most difficult pan fish to pattern, because of their tendency to suspend in the water column, except in the spring. During this time, crappie move to shallow water -- sometimes in water only a couple feet deep -- to spawn, so there isn’t a lot of water column to suspend in.
Crappies are suckers for both minnows and jigs. The easiest way to fish for them is to suspend the bait (either a minnow or a jig) under a bobber, halfway between the surface and the bottom, around any sort of cover – weeds, brush, dock pilings…whatever.
Anglers who prefer a more active approach can cast with jigs and swim them back or fly fish with minnow-imitating streamers. Just think shallow in spring.
For more information on crappie fishing, visit their page on the Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them website.
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Shoreline ice is melting in the southern half of the Lower Peninsula however there is still plenty of ice to the north. Warmer temperatures and higher flow in the rivers is producing some good spring steelhead action.
Lake Erie: Is no longer safe including Bolles Harbor and near Sterling State Park. Anglers are now waiting for all the floating ice to clear.
Huron River: Most of the ice has cleared and a small number of boats were fishing for steelhead.
Detroit River: Walleye anglers are launching in the lower river but anglers need to watch for ice flow coming down. Conditions can change quickly depending on wind speed and direction. Small boats can easily become stuck in ice flows.
Lake St. Clair: Has more open water day by day. The ramps at the Harley Ensign site are ice-free and boats could launch but none have. There is still a lot of ice on the lake but the shoreline ice is getting soft. Some are still fishing but caution needs to be used in areas where there is a current. Perch were biting but many were small.
Clinton River: Anglers reported steelhead at Yates Park but catch rates were slow.
Saginaw Bay: Ice fishing was still going strong but ice near the shoreline was getting bad. It is not a good idea to be drive or park on the ice. Spring run-off was starting to stain the water. The days of ice fishing are numbered but walleye are now moving closer. Those heading off White’s Beach for walleye need to be careful near the pressure crack. Some perch were caught off the end of Newman Road and Townline Road. At Linwood, walleye were in 15 feet of water but the shoreline ice is getting bad. Walleye were caught in three to nine feet off the Bay City State Park. Those venturing out from Sunset Bay Marina caught a few walleye from the Slot in 13 feet. Sebewaing was slow due to muddy water. No activity at Caseville.
Saginaw River: Had no reports but suckers should be available in the tributaries including the Shiawassee, Cass and Flint rivers. Be sure to consult the Fishing Guide for gear restrictions on these rivers during the period when walleye, pike and muskie season is closed.
Lake edges in the southern counties have open water.
St. Joseph River: Large numbers of steelhead are moving through the fish ladder at Berrien Springs. Water levels are high but still below flood stage. Water temperatures have risen five degrees since March 30 and were at 43 degrees.
Branch County: Anglers caught limits of bluegill and crappie on Union Lake. Most were fishing the cove in front of Hanks Landing. Anglers will take a canoe out to get on the ice because the fishing can be good this time of year.
Kalamazoo River: Steelhead are being caught below the Allegan Dam.
Grand River in Grand Rapids: Is producing some nice steelhead. Water levels were up due to rain and melting snow.
Grand River in Lansing: Fishing activity was steady. Anglers are catching steelhead as more fish move up into the Lansing area.
Muskegon River: Has good steelhead fishing in the lower river. Most are fishing below Newaygo with flies or spawn.
White River: Has a flood advisory in place as water levels were at bankfull.
Cheboygan River: Anglers are beginning to catch the occasional steelhead.
Alpena: The boat ramps are frozen in so it is going to be a while before boats can get out. The only fishing in the area would be for panfish through the ice on the impoundments.
Thunder Bay River: Is still frozen below the 9th Street Dam however the ice is not safe for ice fishing.
Fletchers Pond: Was producing bluegill and sunfish. Some caught the occasional perch and crappie.
Au Sable River: Is finally open from the Dam to the mouth. The Rea Road access and the Whirlpool are open for launching. A 4-wheel drive is still needed but a few more days of warmer weather will make it easier to launch. Steelhead have been caught in the deep holes along the bends. Spawn, wax worms, spinner baits and small spoons have been working well. Keep an eye on the flow as it continues to pick up with rain and melt off. Anglers should avoid the ice shelves as they are not stable. The parking lot at the mouth is open but the skid piers are not in.
Tawas: Ice anglers inside the state harbor are catching small perch. Off Jerry’s Marina, a few walleye were caught near Buoy #4 and off the mouth of the river during the evening hours.
Tawas River: Is open. Steelhead and suckers have been caught in the lower river.
Rifle River: Sucker dippers are setting up near Omer, but they may have a hard time until the ice flows move downstream. Suckers are in the river and are hitting on crawlers. Just find some open water.
The inland lakes still have good ice but few are fishing. Be sure to use caution in areas that have even a small current. Steelhead fishing has really picked up with the rain and warmer temperatures.
Torch Lake: Is producing Atlantic salmon, whitefish and burbot.
Platte River: Is producing steelhead and brown trout in the upper section. Spawn and flies work best.
Frankfort: There is no boat access and both of the breakwalls are unfishable due to extensive ice.
Lake Cadillac: Those still ice fishing have caught some nice crappie and bluegills. Try minnows, wigglers and wax worms.
Lake Mitchell: Still has ice and was producing crappie and bluegills.
Manistee River: Steelhead fishing is going strong and some large fish have been caught. Anglers are using jigs with spawn, wax worms, wigglers or flies.
Ludington: It is going to be while before boats will be able to launch. The entire basin is still frozen solid.
Pere Marquette River: Steelhead fishing is going strong.
Keweenaw Bay: Warmer temperatures and rain have turned the slush into standing water. Snow by the end of the week will once again cause difficult travel. Lake trout and whitefish action was slow. A couple Chinook salmon were caught on tip-ups with minnows near the Falls River. Those jigging spoons also caught fish. Smelt fishing was spotty.
Menominee River: Anglers were targeting walleye or trout in open water on the Michigan side near the Hattie Street Dam and off Stephenson Island. Most are drifting yarn and spawn, casting rapalas or fly fishing. Catch rates were slow.
Little Bay De Noc: Warmer temperatures produced some nice perch for those fishing at Kipling and south to the “Narrows”. Try jigging minnows or wigglers and #3 rapalas in 38 to 41 feet. Several nice jumbo perch were also caught. A lot of smaller fish were seen in shallow water but few were caught. Several whitefish were caught on minnows in 30 to 40 feet around the “Narrows”.
Munising: Those fishing the bay reported catch rates as fair to poor. Because of rain, there was deep slush on top of the ice which made travel difficult. The ice was 20 to 40 inches thick in most areas. Most are targeting coho as they make their way into the bay. Some are still looking for splake, whitefish or smelt. A few salmon were caught between Sand Point and the Anna River. Anglers used jigging spoons 20 to 30 feet down. The best chance for a legal size splake has been off Sand Point or in front of the Anna River when using minnows. Smelt are in the bay however catch rates were poor. Fishing activity in Trout Bay was slow.
Munuscong: Nothing has changed. A few perch were caught near Grassy Island and west of Dan’s Resort.
Cedarville and Hessel: Perch fishing was slow and will be until spring gets here.