Anglers land pike, panfish

IRON MOUNTAIN – Unpleasant weather kept things fairly quiet on the outdoors scene this week, with only a few anglers getting out on the ice.

At Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township, John Grier said things are looking better for the next few days.

“I would think it’ll pick up nice this weekend,” Grier said. “The weather is supposed to be good.”

Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River said northern pike action has been good.

“There have been some really nice big northerns taken,” Ciochetto said. “I’ve been very surprised this year.”

Walleye are another story. Both Ciochetto and Grier reported very few being caught. The walleye contest at Whispering Pines is still wide open, according to Grier, without a single entry as of Friday afternoon.

At Florence Sport and Bait in Florence, Wis., Patti Teske said panfishing has been good on the Chain of Lakes in Spread Eagle, Wis. She also said some nice northern have been taken on Keyes Lake.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said after running hot and cold for weeks, teasing and taunting Wisconsin outdoor enthusiasts in the process, weather conditions are now prime for winter activities.

Ski, snowmobile and ATV trails are increasingly open. Inches have been added to many state waters, and ice anglers are out – but always keep in mind ice conditions vary and are subject to change.

For many, the big event of the week in Wisconsin is the opening of the 2013 sturgeon spearing season today at 6:30 a.m. The season will run for 16 days, or until harvest caps are reached. More information, including regulations and harvest caps, can be found on the DNR website by doing a keyword search for “sturgeon spearing.”

Also according to the Wisconsin DNR, ice angling success has increased in Marinette County especially crappies on the flowages. Ice depths vary from 12-17 inches on most lakes in Marinette County.

The Michigan DNR reported the following fishing conditions across the Upper Peninsula:

Lake Gogebic: Had good walleye fishing with a number of legal size fish taken by those using tip-ups or jigging rapalas in 7 to 11 feet of water near the weed beds. The perch bite was fair in 12 to 17 feet of water.

Imp Lake: Had good splake fishing.

Keweenaw Bay: Catch rates were slow off the L’Anse Marina with only a couple lake trout, rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon and coho caught. A few smelt were taken out from the Baraga Marina but ice conditions were not consistent. There is open water from Morin Fireworks on the Baraga side to the L’Anse side, just north of Jentoff’s Dock.

Chicagon Lake: Fishing was fair with a few walleye caught just before and just after dark by those using tip-ups with sucker minnows in 10 to 15 feet of water. Perch ranging from 6 to 9 inches were caught just off the edge of the weed beds. Those jigging spoons caught a couple lake trout off the west side in 30 feet of water. No reports yet of any whitefish being caught.

Iron Lake: Fishing has picked up with a few nice catches of bluegill up to 7 inches however most are sorting through a lot of small ones to get a few keepers. Try small jigs tipped with a wax worm. Crappies are still being caught during a small window of opportunity just before dark. For pike, the action was steady with tip-ups but the fish were running small.

Groveland Mine Ponds: Have good ice conditions. Island Lake was producing mainly bluegills and a few yellow perch. Lots of smaller bluegills and a few crappie were caught in East Lake. West Lake was hit-or-miss. Some anglers found and caught good numbers of bluegill while others caught few. South Lake finally had some anglers. They caught a few nice yellow perch and some crappie straight out from the boat launch in 25 to 30 feet.

Lake Antoine: Has reports of good ice conditions. Those jigging have caught a good number of small bluegills and yellow perch on wax worms. Those fishing in 15 feet of water or deeper did catch bigger fish. No reports on walleye or pike.

Little Bay De Noc: Ice conditions were improving as anglers were moving to the southern end of the Bay. Ice thickness varies from the northern end down to the Escanaba River. Walleye catches were slow this season but with anglers moving south fishing has improved. Fair to good catches were reported between the Escanaba River and south to the beach area when using jigs or tip-ups in 25 to 30 feet of water. Fish were marked out from the Terrace Bay Inn but they were most likely whitefish. The bigger walleye were caught in the waters of the Southern Bay. In the Northern Bay, the better catches came from the Center Reef when using tip-ups in 6 to 23 feet of water. Smaller perch were caught southeast of Butler Island and off the southern tip of the Third Reef in 14 to 28 feet of water by those using minnows and wigglers. Northern pike were active throughout the bay however the better spots were the Center Reef and out from the Escanaba Power Plant. Those fishing near Sand Point were starting to catch whitefish when jigging spawn or minnows in 75 to 85 feet of water.

Munising: Angling effort has been widespread throughout the bay from the West Channel near Christmas to Sand Point. Despite the extreme cold the ice has been slow to build due to all the snow which is creating slush. Travel is difficult. Catch rates have been slow. Most anglers targeting whitefish had poor results. There have been scattered reports of splake catches at various locations. Some have caught perch. No reports have come in for Trout Bay.

Munuscong Bay: Has lots of snow on the ice and scattered areas of slush. Anglers still need to use caution east of Roach Point. The walleye bite was slow. Anglers were jigging or still-fishing with minnows.

Cedarville and Hessel: Perch fishing in Musky Bay was slow. Anglers are fishing in 10 feet of water with minnows or wigglers.