Panfish still biting; turkey permits available Monday

IRON MOUNTAIN – Panfish action is still good for anglers willing to venture out in the waning days of ice fishing.

“Bluegill and perch are still hitting,” said Bob Kennard at Midtown Bait & Tackle in Channing. He listed Six Mile, Squaw and Witch lakes as popular destinations.

Kennard said a lucky angler pulled a 30-inch walleye from Way Dam just before the inland season for that species closed.

At John Grier’s Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township, a 14 1/4-inch perch leads the March contest. Grier said slush and snow is making access difficult, although fishing at Gene’s Pond remains “pretty good.”

“Everything’s kind of winding down for now,” said Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River. “Panfishing, and maybe some lake trout, that’s about it.”

In Michigan, leftover turkey licenses go on sale Monday morning to all hunters, including those who did not participate in the application process. Leftover licenses will be sold until quotas are met.

In Wisconsin, leftover permits for northeastern zones go on sale Friday, March 22.

Winter is lingering a bit longer and so are many birds, who are biding their time waiting for warmer, sunnier days before heading north, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported.

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

Keweenaw Bay: Lake trout fishing was slow off Jentoffs, the Center Reef, Whirl-I-Gig Road and Pequaming. Those moving around in 120 to 270 feet of water did manage to catch a few. Some were caught in 100 to 150 feet of water off Newton’s Reef, Farmers Reef and Big Reef or the south end of Big Reef in 260 feet of water. Coho, lake herring and smelt were slow but should pick back up.

Marquette: Most of the area is covered with floating pack ice. Boats now have access from the beach. Jigging for coho was slow. A couple anglers were fishing from the coal docks in the Lower Harbor but caution needs to be used. Strong winds will cause the ice to shift.

Chicagon Lake: Is producing a good number of small perch. The few walleye that were caught were taken in waters 25 feet or deeper. The slushy conditions are worse than they have been all winter. Don’t drive on it if it is not plowed.

Iron Lake: Fishing was slow with only a few small pike and some bluegills caught. Deep snow and slush make for difficult travel.

Groveland Mine Ponds: Still have ice however slush is making travel more difficult. Island Lake is producing a lot of small bluegills for those jigging wax worms. Perch and crappie were also caught. West Lake was producing bluegills and perch out in the middle. Anglers on South Lake were fishing near the boat launch but catch rates were slow for perch, crappie and bluegills.

Lake Antoine: Still has ice but slush is making travel difficult. Both the south end and the east side of the lake have produced some perch. Many were small but anglers still managed to catch some ranging eight to 10 inches. Bluegill fishing slowed but a few were caught in the middle. Anglers are jigging wax worms or still-fishing with tip-ups and minnows. Pike spearing was slow.

Little Bay De Noc: Has ice but travel has become difficult after the rain and heavy wet snow. Walleye catches were fair at best with the majority of anglers north of the “Narrows.” Most of the fish caught were females measuring 25 to 30 inches. Walleye were caught in three to six feet of water around Garth Point when using tip-ups with sucker minnows. Even though scattered catches were reported all along the reefs the overall harvest was much lower than this time last year. Perch fishing was best along the Kipling Flats and the “Narrows.” Most are jigging minnows and wigglers in 19 to 30 feet of water. At Sand Point, anglers need to use caution and watch for areas where the ice is breaking up along the pressure cracks.

Au Train: Still had some ice beyond Au Train Island. Anglers need to use caution as some of the ice has started to buckle. Anglers were jigging for coho off the mouth of the river but catch rates were poor. The Brownstone launch had an average of two or three feet of snow.