Anglers look for break in the clouds; bass bite still hot

IRON MOUNTAIN – Despite another relatively quiet week for anglers, fishing on Michigan and Wisconsin waters should pick up for the Labor weekend, regardless of the weather.

“We’re selling a lot of bait, so people must be going out,” said John Grier of the Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township.

Bob Kennard of Midtown Bait and Tackle in Channing said that customers who use the holiday week to travel for fishing are unlikely to stay inside.

“A lot of our customers are from places like the Chicago area, and after driving all that way they’re going to go out whether it’s raining or not,” he said.

According to Grier and Kennard, anglers continue to have success with both largemouth and smallmouth bass in Dickinson County.

Bass are biting in Iron County as well, according to Don Ciochetto of The Sport Shop in Iron River.

“Bass this year really has been terrific,” he said.

Kennard said people are heading to Dawson Lake east of Crystal Falls “like crazy” to catch bass.

Patti Teske of Florence Sport and Bait also reported some nice bass catches in Florence County, in addition to hauls of walleye, crappies, and whitefish.

Kennard mentioned that anglers continue to catch perch, crappie, and some walleye at the Michigamme Reservoir in Iron County.

Ciochetto noted that trout fishing in streams has been “very poor all year.”

So far this season, non-residential anglers have preferred two- and three-day fishing licenses over the more expensive annual non-residential license, according to Ciochetto.

This year, there is only one non-residential fishing license available, for $76, unlike last year, which offered a $34 option for anglers not looking to take trout, he said.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said that while most anglers consider winter the best time to catch a trophy-sized northern pike, a good-sized specimen can be caught during the warmer months.

The DNR advises anglers to search places with cooler water, where pike will hide, including where coldwater streams and river flow into lakes and around springs.

In addition, water bodies supporting other species that prefer cooler water provide a good pike forage base, and water bodies that are not densely populated with pike may offer those present a chance to grow fairly large.

According to the Wisconsin DNR, musky continues to be the main focus for many anglers in the northern portion of the state, though action has been inconsistent due to the changing weather.

The DNR reminded the public that boaters will be out in high numbers over the holiday weekend, and conservation wardens will be on-duty to check for adequate life jackets and impaired operators and working to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species.

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

Black River Harbor: Is producing lake trout just outside the harbor in 40 to 100 feet. Some nice catches were reported. Some are trying for salmon in the early morning but had little success.

Ontonagon: Fishing has been good. Lake trout were caught in 12 to 30 feet outside the breakwall. Spin glows behind a dodger have produced as well as green and orange spoons. The lake trout are eating small smelt and stickleback minnows. A few salmon and brown trout were taken but catch rates were not consistent.

Keweenaw Bay: All ports had few anglers because of the weather. Those that did get out caught a few lake trout but overall, not a good week.

Lake Antoine: Boat and shore anglers are catching a lot of panfish such as bluegills, sunfish, yellow perch and rock bass. Drifting crawlers with slip bobbers worked best during the rain and high winds.

Marquette: Had very little salmon action and varying degrees of success for lake trout. Granite Island was pretty much the same but catch rates were fair north of White Rocks where anglers were fishing in 180 to 260 feet. Most of the fish were caught along the bottom but a few were hitting at 50 to 70 feet. Surface water temperatures were still around 60 degrees.

Carp River: A few anglers spotted some chinoook salmon activity upstream. Shore angling remains slow with a few small rainbows caught at the mouth.

Little Bay De Noc: Walleye anglers were fishing in the south Bay near Round Island, Fishery Point and 11-Mile Shoal. Catch rates were fair. Fish were caught off the east bank of the Center Reef in four to 10 feet with crawlers or stick baits at night. The mouth of the Whitefish River produced a few fish for those trolling crawler harnesses in 12 to 14 feet but many were small. Fair catches reported along the south end of the Black Bottom in 18 to 24 feet and near Kipling in eight to 14 feet. Yellow perch were out deeper in 14 to 25 feet between the Second and Third Reefs. Pike were action throughout the Bay for those trolling or casting crank baits, spoons or spinners in 10 to 14 feet. The Escanaba Yacht Harbor had fair to good crappie action for shore anglers using minnows after dark and in the Escanaba River for those using minnows or small crank baits in the deep hole near the old steel bridge. Smallmouth bass were quite active in shallow water. Try casting plastics or crank baits in six to 10 feet near Garth Point or in the Ford River in five to 12 feet. Some reported salmon 40 to 70 feet down in 80 to 120 feet south of the Ford River Can.

Big Bay De Noc: Walleye anglers reported slower catch rates. The better fishing was around St. Vitals Island. Perch fishing slowed but fair catches were reported in Garden Bay for those using crawlers 100 to 200 yards out from the Garden Launch in eight to 12 feet. Fair to good smallmouth catches near Ogontz in eight to 12 feet, Popular Point in eight to 10, Kate’s Bay in 12 to 18 or Garden Bay in eight to 12 feet. Anglers are using crawlers, plastics, crank bait or spinners. Good salmon fishing off Fairport. Try 40 to 70 feet down in 80 to 120 feet with spoons near the “Gap” or meat rigs 60 to 80 feet down in 110 to 150 feet south of Poverty Island.

Au Train: Lake trout action was sporadic with most anglers using downriggers and spoons anywhere from 160 to 230 feet. Some days were good with five to eight fish while other days produced few fish.