Anglers landing bass, panfish

IRON MOUNTAIN – Fishing got off to a slow start this week, with cold fronts and periodic rain showers hampering the prospects of anglers in some areas of the Upper Peninsula and northern Wisconsin.

Despite the weather, anglers continue to find success with bass.

Patti Teske of Florence Sport and Bait reported that bass fishing has been steady in Florence County, and John Grier of the Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township said the same for Dickinson County.

“Nobody’s complaining about not getting any bass,” he said.

He added that anglers in his area have also found luck with crappies, and several big catches were reported.

Complaints appear more likely in regards to stream trout fishing. Grier said that streams are low right now and trout fishing has slowed in Dickinson County.

The situation is similar in Iron County, according to Don Ciochetto of The Sport Shop in Iron River. “This year, trout fishing in streams has been rather disappointing,” he said.

Ciochetto added that panfish have been doing well in Iron County, particularly bluegill and perch.

Teske said that Florence County anglers have also had luck with bluegills, mostly using crawlers close to shore.

She also mentioned that a few musky have been caught recently on the Brule River, and some nice walleye have been caught with crawler or leech harnesses.

Ciochetto expects walleye fishing in Iron County to pick up when it is cooler in a few weeks.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources advised that walleye feed on aquatic insects as well as small baitfish, and that using crawlers on crawler harnesses can be an effective technique for working towards a limit.

The Wisconsin DNR reported that walleye fishing has been erratic in the state, though some nice catches have been made in the deep weed beds during low-light periods.

Grier relayed a story from an angler who recently caught a northern pike that had a metal boat stringer pierced through its gill and mouth. The angler told Grier that the pike was skinny and could barely open its mouth, and that he removed the stringer and released it back into the water.

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

Keweenaw Bay: The salmon bite was slow. Those jigging for lake trout had fair success in 180 to 260 feet out from Jentoff’s Dock, Whirl-I-Gig, Big Reef and the pine tree on the north side of Pequaming. In Traverse Bay, lake trout were caught five feet off the bottom in 100 to 150 feet along the 5, 6 and 7 Mile Reefs and in 120 to 165 feet off Big Louie’s Point, Gay Point and Hermits Cove. Most are using a variety of spoons and colors but purple and white worked best. Those jigging in 140 to 260 feet off the 6 and 7 Mile Reefs and off Big Louie’s also caught lake trout.

Lake Antoine: Was producing a good number of panfish but most were small. Bass anglers are still taking some nice large and smallmouth when casting crank baits or trolling crawlers and jigs with plastic worms.

Marquette: Surface water temperatures remain in the low to mid 50’s near shore. Foggy conditions are hampering boat anglers. Lake trout were caught in the bottom 40 feet of waters less than 140 feet deep near Shot Point and north of Granite Island towards the “Sand Hole” in 180 to 220 feet. Lake trout were also caught on spoons 40 to 50 feet down around Partridge Island. Those fishing Stannard Rock reported good catches of fish ranging three to 20 pounds when jigging twister tails and artificial gulp baits. Small rainbow trout and brook trout averaging seven inches were caught on spinners in the mouth of the Carp River.

Little Bay De Noc: Walleye anglers reported fair catches up by the Vagabond Resort when trolling crawler harnesses in 10 to 24 feet. Those trolling the “Black Bottom” marked few fish but did catch some with crawler harnesses in 20 feet. Perch anglers reported fair to good catches in eight to 14 feet off the mouth of the Day’s River and near Gladstone Beach in 14 to 25 feet with crawlers or minnows. Lots of freshwater drum were caught by those trolling for walleye near Gladstone, the “Black Bottom” and the Center Reef. Pike were active at the head of the Bay. Anglers were trolling spinners and crank baits in 10 to 20 feet from Garth Point to just south of the Day’s River. Salmon fishing has picked up with fair to good reports around the Ford River Can. Most were trolling spoons or cut bait 50 to 70 feet down in 80 to 120 feet. Walleye were caught by those trolling crawler harnesses in 12 to 20 feet in the mouth of the Escanaba River.

Big Bay De Noc: Smallmouth bass anglers had little to report as the fish were elusive. Some were caught from the Garden Bluff area and into Garden Bay when using plastics in 10 to 18 feet along the shoreline. In Nahma, anglers fished plastics or crawlers in 12 to 20 feet just off the mouth of the Sturgeon River but most were too small. Rumor has it some walleye were also caught during the evening in the same area. Good pike action in Kate’s Bay and over near Ansell’s Point when trolling spoons, spinners or crank baits in eight to 14 feet. At Fairport, salmon catches improved as water temperatures warmed. Good catches were reported by those trolling spoons or cut bait 30 to 70 feet down in 80 to 140 feet along the “Gap.”

Au Train: Catch rates were fluctuating with most anglers taking one to three lake trout for about five hours of fishing. Most are using spoons but some are using cut bait in waters less than 100 feet and up to 225 feet. A couple large lake trout up near 30 pounds were caught recently. Anglers reported hatches of flying ants.

Munising: Cool and breezy weather has slowed overall fishing effort. Those heading out were mainly targeting lake trout but catch rates were very slow. Target areas were along Pictured Rocks toward Grand Portal, around Grand Island and north of Wood Island. Surface water temperatures were in the low to mid 50’s. Pier anglers managed to catch a couple splake that were legal size.

Grand Marais: Pier fishing was slow but with the cooler water there may be some whitefish in the area. The better fishing is usually in the morning on windy days. Boat anglers were targeting lake trout north and west of the bay, 3 to 6 miles out in the shipping channel and near Sable Point in 70 to 200 feet. Boats trolling in 40 to 50 feet caught the occasional trout and salmon.

St. Mary’s River: Had excellent Atlantic salmon and whitefish action when drifting artificial spawn just off the current in eight to 10 feet on the discharge side of the power plant. Lake George had good pike action for those trolling spoons just off the weeds in eight to 10 feet around Gem Island. A few muskie were taken on bucktail spinners below the Rock Cut at Tea Cut Island.

Detour: Whitefish continue to hit around Cherry Island, Ashmund Island, Grape Island, Howard Island, and Reck Island for those using red teardrops and wax worms. Salmon and trout anglers were harvesting Atlantic, Chinook and lake trout from the city launch to the #3 Green Can, around the Lighthouse and to the #2 Red Can on the Drummond side. Walleye action was good around Drummond Island with fish caught by those trolling planer boards and crawler harnesses in Scott Bay or between Peck Island and Paw Point in four to six feet.

Cedarville and Hessel: Hessel Bay is good for yellow perch. Anglers are fishing the east end and just into Snows Channel. Moscoe Channel was fair for perch. Both large and smallmouth bass fishing was excellent in the shallow bays when casting spinners along the weed beds and into the lily pads. Pike fishing was excellent along the north shore of Government Bay in 10 to 15 feet, in Middle Entrance and Musky Bay, and along the south shore of Hessel Bay. Try still-fishing with chubs or casting.

St. Ignace: Anglers are catching lake trout and steelhead in the middle of the bay on green and white or green and gold spoons.

Evan Reid’s e-mail address is