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Tag Archive | "ice fishing"

Get hooked on ice fishing 


Kyle Draper shows off a yellow perch (that he caught at an ice-fishing clinic at the DNR’s Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center) to his mom, Angie. 
Michigan DNR photo.

Kyle Draper shows off a yellow perch (that he caught at an ice-fishing clinic at the DNR’s Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center) to his mom, Angie. 
Michigan DNR photo.

From the Michigan DNR

Fishing is a year-round activity and when the thermometer plunges below freezing in Michigan, most anglers have little choice but to hit the hard water. Ice fishing becomes the go-to activity until spring.

For beginning anglers, ice fishing offers one significant advantage: access. Boat-less anglers, who otherwise are limited to shorelines or fishing piers much of the year, can often access entire lakes. That inspires some anglers to proclaim that ice-fishing season is their favorite time of year.

Fortunately, ice fishing can be relatively simple. All that’s needed to start is a way to make a hole in the ice (an auger or spud), a way to clear the slush from it (an inexpensive scoop), and rudimentary equipment. So, how do you get started?

A volunteer instructor shops a young angler how to use a weight at an ice-fishing clinic at the DNR’s Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center. Michigan DNR photo.

A volunteer instructor shops a young angler how to use a weight at an ice-fishing clinic at the DNR’s Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center. Michigan DNR photo.

There’s a good opportunity coming soon. Feb.14-15 is Michigan’s annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend, when no license is needed to participate. There are hands-on educational events scheduled at a number of areas. In addition, the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac holds on-the-ice fishing events every Saturday at noon. Novice anglers often can find assistance nearby. Tom Goniea, a fisheries biologist at the Department of Natural Resources, says finding a mentor helps shorten the learning curve.

“Ask around,” Goniea said. “Ask the guys at work or the folks at church. Ice fishermen make up a community that’s usually quite willing to introduce others to the sport. And most ice fishermen have enough equipment that they can get you started if you go with them so you can see what you need.”

DNR fisheries biologist Christian LeSage agrees.
“There‘s a big social component to ice fishing,” he said. “When you get out on the ice people are usually friendly; they’re willing to tell you what they’re doing, what they’re using, and how they’re catching fish.”

Except for largemouth and smallmouth bass—bass season closes Jan. 1 and doesn’t completely reopen until the Saturday before Memorial Day—anglers who ice fish can pursue all species they target the rest of the year. Ice fishing can range from fishing for panfish on a farm pond to making miles-long sojourns on the Great Lakes in pursuit of walleyes, lake trout or other top-of-the-food-chain predators.

LeSage recommends people start with panfish. He likes bluegills.
“You can try it on a small pond in a park,” he said. “And you don’t need extravagant gear. If you go places where people have been fishing, you don’t even need an auger – you can reopen a hole with a hammer. “Most veteran fishermen know that the best fishing is at dawn and dusk, but you can catch bluegills throughout the day. You can catch them in shallow water. You can catch a lot in a small area. And they’re delicious.”

What’s nicest about bluegills is that they can be found almost everywhere and, as fishing quarry, are relatively unsophisticated. All you need is a basic gear. Small fiberglass rods with simple, spring-tension spoons can be yours for less than $10 and you will see accomplished ice anglers using them. Add some light line, a few low-cost teardrops (small weighted hooks) and a container of insect larvae (wax worms or spikes, the early life stages of bee moths or flies, respectively) and you’re in business. Lower your bait to the bottom, begin slowly working it upward in the water column until you start getting bites, and then fish at that depth. It can (and does) get much more complicated with expensive rods, sonar fish finders, and a plethora of other equipment. But many anglers never acquire all that gear and continue to enjoy productive bluegill fishing.

As you progress in the sport and explore other ice-fishing opportunities, the equation becomes decidedly more complex. Get addicted to walleye fishing and you’ll be into snowmobile or quad runners, insulated ice shanties, GPS, underwater cameras, the list is endless.

But some factors never change: The first rule of ice fishing is to be safe. Good, strong ice can support a semi-truck, but every year there are tragedies that often involve recklessness. Make sure the ice is safe. Even arctic temperatures won’t guarantee it, especially if there’s an insulating layer of snow on top. You can get up-to-date info from bait shops around fishing locales, but always make sure yourself. Carry a spud to test the ice in front of you as you venture forth. Don’t approach ice that is discolored or has objects (such as vegetation or timber) protruding through it. Be especially careful of rivers (current can degrade ice quickly) or spring-fed lakes and ponds where warmer water can cause thin spots in an otherwise solid surface.

Always carry basic emergency gear, just in case. Ice picks (or homemade alternatives constructed of nails in dowels) will give you a way to get purchase on the ice should you break through. Carry a rope to toss to someone else who breaks through.

It’s better—some would say mandatory—not to go alone. You certainly don’t want to head miles off shore at Saginaw Bay, say, or Little Bay de Noc, without a partner. Always make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to return. Carry your cell phone.

Make sure you dress for the weather. Dress in layers from head to toe. The best way to keep your feet warm is to keep your head warm, and a waterproof outer layer is advisable. Small luxuries such as extra gloves and hand warmers often pay large dividends.
Ice fishing isn’t for everybody. But if you look around in the winter and see the huge shanty towns that spring up on some of Michigan’s best fishing lakes, it’s obvious that a lot of people are having a lot of fun out there. It isn’t that difficult to become one of them.
For more information on ice fishing, visit the DNR’s website at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Fishing tournament Feb. 8-9


Tom Enbody caught the biggest pike last year at the LOLA Ice Fishing tourney. It was 40-1/8 inches and 19.02 pounds.

Tom Enbody caught the biggest pike last year at the LOLA Ice Fishing tourney. It was 40-1/8 inches and 19.02 pounds.

The Land of Lakes Association will hold its annual ice fishing tournament on February 8 and 9. It will include eight lakes: Lincoln, Friant, Little Lincoln, Black, Blue, Maston, Little Muskellunge and Cedar Lakes. There will be door prizes and prizes for several categories of fish. For more info, call Mike Nienhuis at (616) 813-9585.

 

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Weekly Fishing Tip


 

From the Michigan DNR 

 

*OUT-Weekly fishing tipAre you ready (and prepared) to go ice fishing?

 

Several parts of Michigan should hopefully have ice in the coming weeks, thus providing anglers with an opportunity to go fishing. Will you be joining them? Then it’s time to get prepared to head out safely on the ice!

Equipment

You’ll need some special equipment if you head out ice fishing. Take stock of your spud/auger, skimmer, shelter and apparel to have an enjoyable experience out on the water.

Techniques

Pick your preferred ice fishing technique and the species you wish to target and brush up on your skills. Whether that is hook-and-line fishing for bluegill, sunfish, perch or crappie; using tip-ups for northern pike, walleye or trout; or spearing for northern pike, muskellunge or sturgeon.

Safety

You should always stay safe when heading on the ice. These five tips can help: 1) Never fish alone; 2) Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return; 3) Always test the ice with a spud; 4) Take the appropriate emergency items, such as a lifejacket and ice picks; and 5) Take a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help. Keep it in a plastic, sealable bag to make sure it doesn’t get wet.

Want more information on ice fishing? Visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Winter arrives for ice fishing derby


Tom Enbody caught the biggest pike last weekend at 40-1/8 inches and 19.02 pounds.

Tom Enbody caught the biggest pike last weekend at 40-1/8 inches and 19.02 pounds.

Winter showed up just in time for the 32nd annual ice fishing derby in Spencer Township last weekend. But the winter storm may have kept some people away.

The Land of Lakes Association holds the event each February at eight area lakes—Maston, Little Muskelunge, Blue, Black, Friant, Cedar, Little Lincoln, and Lincoln Lake.

“We had 151 people signed up to fish, which is down over 100 from previous years, possibly due to poor weather conditions,” said former activities director Pam Bradfield. Nike Nienhuis is the new activities director.

The winners are:

Pike: Tom Enbody caught one at 40-1/8 inches and 19.02 pounds.

Bluegill: Lee Enbody at 9-3/8 inches.

Speck: Josh Morrison at 13-3/8 inches.

Perch: Ben Hoofman at 10-1/4 inches.

The smallest fish caught was a three-inch bluegill by Riley Eastman. The elusive bluegill got away again this year.

Mary Bolton won the grand prize fishing shanty from Tows Country Store.

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Free fishing weekend Feb. 18 and 19




The LOLA Ice Fishing Derby has been canceled this year due to warmer weather. According to organizer Pam Bradfield, they will are planning a spring event. Post photo by L. Allen.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone the annual Winter Free Fishing Weekend is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 18 and Sunday, Feb. 19. On that weekend, everyone can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.

Michigan has been celebrating Winter Free Fishing Weekend annually since 1994 as a way to promote awareness of the state’s vast aquatic resources. With more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, 36,000 miles of rivers and 11,000 inland lakes, Michigan and fishing are a natural match.”Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world, including during the winter months,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “Fishing is an inexpensive activity anyone can pursue, as an individual or as a family. We encourage you to get out this February and experience it for yourself, for free!”To encourage involvement in Free Fishing Weekends, organized activities are being scheduled in communities across the state. These activities are coordinated by a variety of organizations including: constituent groups, schools, local and state parks, businesses and others.

Find an event occurring in your community. Visit the newly revamped website www.michigan.gov/freefishing for all things related to this unique weekend; including where you can find help on event planning and promotion and where you can identify events in your area or register an official event. 


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Ice fishing derby celebrates 30th year


Tom Swanson with the winning Pike at 31-3/4 inches.

By Judy Reed

The snow and ice may be disappearing this week, but it was perfect for the 30th annual Land of Lakes Association (LOLA) ice fishing derby in Spencer Township last weekend.

“The weather was great, no problems,” said activities director Pam Bradfield. “The wind kept the thaw down, so it wasn’t too sloppy.”

The annual event held at eight area lakes—Maston, Little Muskelunge, Blue, Black, Friant, Cedar, Little Lincoln, and Lincoln Lakes—had just under 200 people registered in the tournament. “That’s a little slower than in the past, but there were other events happening in the communities also, not to mention the poor economy,” said Bradfield.

And the winners are…
Blue Gill – Chop ingraham 9 1/4 inches
Speck -Byron Andres 13 3/8 inches
Perch – Woody Norton 10 1/8 inches
Pike – Tom Swanson 31 3/4 inches
Smallest fish caught — Ben Enbody with a 3 inch Blue Gill

3-Man team winners were Blain Beemer, Roy Beemer and Ernie Jensen taking the traveling “Green Hornet Pole” for best weight.

According to Bradfield, there were no walleye caught and no trash fish brought in this year.

“Everyone had a great time even though the fish were elusive. Now spring can officially begin!” she said.

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