Promising signs for bass opener

IRON MOUNTAIN – A promising weekend forecast and preliminary reports of bass activity may just combine to give us a great weekend for fishing. And just in time for opening day of bass season.

Meteorologists are calling for 70s and sunshine in the area and the early catch and release bass season has been excellent according to DNR fisheries biologists.

John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township is hopeful the fish will continue biting.

“Walleye fishing has been really good, actually,” Grier said. “Even crappie are starting to bite.”

Grier said some walleye anglers have been seeing a lot of bass, too, a promising sign for the opener.

In Iron River, Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop said things have really started to pick up this week.

“It’s a bit hectic today,” Ciochetto said Friday afternoon. “We’re selling lots of licenses, and I tell you what, the walleye fishing has been really good from what I’ve heard.

“I am somewhat surprised because of the winter we had, but I had guys in telling me they’ve been catching a lot of walleye this week. Not all of them keepers,” he added “but still impressive.”

Trout fishing is beginning to improve in spots as well according to both Ciochetto and Grier.

“The water is still too high most places at this point,” Ciochetto said. “But it’s starting to get better and there will be hatches for fly-fishermen pretty soon here.”

Back in Breitung Township, Grier said he had an angler in this week who caught three nice trout, though he wouldn’t say exactly where.

There is still one week left for turkey hunting. Success has been fair so far.

Ciochetto said he saw two real nice birds this week, both between 22-23 pounds.

The Wisconsin DNR, in its weekly report said anglers fishing at the mouth of the Menominee River caught good numbers of walleye.

Walleye fishing was also very good on Green Bay in the Little Suamico area and anglers had great success fishing for white bass in the Fox River.

Lake Michigan trollers were catching good numbers of coho, and occasional rainbow trout and chinook off Racine and Kenosha, and shore anglers continued to have luck with brown trout at Milwaukee.

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

Keweenaw Bay: Float ice moved back into the bay making it impossible for anglers to launch or troll. Fishing off the rock docks and Sand Point in Baraga was also hindered. A few more rainbow trout were taken but the bite remains slow. Before the ice moved back in, those fishing off of the rock dock next to the L’Anse Marina and the mouth of Linden Creek had a couple good days of catching splake but many were small. Those looking for smelt did find some in the Ravine River, Silver River on Skanee Road, Linden Creek and the Falls River but catch rates were still hit-or-miss.

Lake Antoine: In Dickenson County is producing a good number of bluegills for those jigging or still-fishing with live bait in the shallows. Many are small but some nice fish were caught right along with a few perch and crappie. Both docks are in at the launch. Lake Antoine Road is down to one lane because of construction.

Marquette: Strong winds have blown ice into both the upper and lower launch ramps. ice in the harbor at Marquette Chances are by this weekend launching will not be possible without some very strong west winds to blow the ice out of the harbors. Shore anglers fishing for steelhead and coho have done poorly.

Little Bay De Noc: Had a good start to the walleye season despite poor weather conditions. Anglers caught a good number of large fish but many were released because no more than one walleye over 23 inches may be possessed. Fish were caught throughout however the northern bay was the best. Most are trolling stick baits or crawlers in 6 to 24 feet between the Second and Third Reef. Shallow water was best in the early morning. Some did well off the mouth the Whitefish River in 8 to 14 feet and off the mouth of the Ford River with crank baits or crawlers in 8 to 16 feet. The waters are stained because of run-off so walleye should be around for a while. Perch fishing was fair along the “Narrows” with crawlers in 35 feet and off the mouth of the Escanaba River in 25 feet.

Day’s River: Is also producing some steelhead up past the Gulf Course.

Escanaba River: Is producing walleye for those trolling crank baits.

Ford River: Is producing steelhead up near Hyde. Shore anglers caught several large walleye when casting rapalas.

Big Bay De Noc: Had few anglers for the walleye opener. A few fish were caught at the head of the bay between the Fish Dam Rivers and Valentine Creek when trolling crank baits or crawler harnesses in 8 to 15 feet. The better fishing was in Ogontz Bay when trolling crank baits in 6 to 8 feet. Limit catches were reported. Catch and release bass anglers reported good number of fish. The fish are staging despite the cold water temperatures. Perch fishing was fair to good in Garden Bay. Spawning is just about completed so anglers will find large numbers of small fish on the northwest bank by the Fishery. Try crawlers or minnows in 6 to 8 feet.

Manistique Lake: Had good walleye fishing. Try the southern portion near Burnt Island with crawlers and leeches.