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Ice Fishing in Michigan: The Ultimate Guide

Studying Time: 8 minutes

When you come to the “Nice Lake State” and yell “Winter is coming!” you’ll most likely hear a variety of cheering. That’s as a result of Michigan’s wealthy waters don’t disappoint even throughout the winter months, with 11,000 lakes in Michigan ready to be explored. Ice fishing in Michigan is a time-honored custom, and anglers from all around the US come to this winter wonderland yearly. 

With slightly know-how and an skilled native information, you will discover loads of trophy catches and are available again dwelling with a bucket filled with fish. Your journey could be something from merely drilling a gap within the ice and dropping a line to a full ice fishing extravaganza with shanties and snowmobiles. It takes only one journey to fall in love with ice fishing in Michigan, no matter you select to do. 

A family sitting on the ice by their  fishing haul, a portable shanty and snowmobile

On this ice fishing information, we’ve tried to cowl every little thing there’s to know concerning the Michigan ice fishing scene, from high catches to hottest spots. So let’s dive proper into it!

High Ice Fishing Catches

Ice fishing season in Michigan is fairly beneficiant, providing anglers sufficient time to reel in some good catches by means of the ice. What you’ll discover on the finish of your fishing line closely will depend on the lake you select to your ice fishing journey. 

There are over 150 fish species in Michigan, and you will discover most of them throughout the winter months. You may get your arms on something from Panfish like Perch and Bluegill to massive Northern Pike, Walleye, Trout, Whitefish, Burbot, and even the occasional Salmon. 

Right here’s a brief overview of a number of the species you’ll be able to catch whereas ice fishing in Michigan: 

Yellow Perch

An angler holding a big Yellow Perch caught while ice fishing on Lake Gogebic

Each Michigan angler is aware of how rewarding ice fishing for Perch is. The factor is, these fish journey in massive colleges, so for those who handle to search out one it’s fish on. To be able to discover your tasty dinner, there are some things you should learn about ice fishing for Yellow Perch.

They like to remain in shallower water with wholesome vegetation early in winter. Because the season progresses, they’ll transfer to deeper water. By the top of the ice fishing season, Perch will head in direction of their spawning grounds. Since they transfer in massive colleges, you’ll want to remain cell and transfer a bit all through your lake.  

Lake Trout

An angler wearing gloves handling a Lake Trout caught while ice fishing.

Lake Trout are actual cold-water predators, and catching a type of underneath the ice is enjoyable for any angler. In actual fact, winter is the height feeding season for Lake Trout. Some anglers say that this era is rather like the summer season months for Walleye. 

Whereas Lake Trout are making use of the frozen lakes, you, in flip, may pack your ice fishing tools and head to your chosen lake for some Trout fishing. Understand that Trout are extremely cell, so that you’ll have to depend on baitfish as a way to discover these predators. Spots with clear water and good visibility close to steep construction are arguably the perfect for Lake Trout ice fishing in Michigan. 

Northern Pike

An angler holding a huge Northern Pike caught while ice fishing

Ice fishing lovers love Northern Pike for a number of causes. To begin with, these stunning fish keep energetic even throughout the chilly months, slowing down solely a bit. Secondly, they’re among the many heaviest fish you’ll be able to take by means of the ice. And final however not least, Pike are nice fighters. 

Many ice fishing anglers use a rod and reel combo to catch these giant fish. Synthetic lures and frozen bait often work properly, however some choose to work with stay minnows. Northern Pike wish to eat rather a lot, so pack greater bait. 

High Ice Fishing Spots

With 1000’s of rivers and inland lakes to select from, plus entry to 4 out of the 5 Nice Lakes, there’s little doubt Michigan is an ice fishing paradise. The largest problem right here is to decide on the place to go first. Let’s see what ice fishing in Michigan has to supply!

Grand Haven Lighthouse and a frozen Lake Michigan in winter

Decrease Peninsula

Walleye lovers hit the early and late ice of Saginaw Bay and Houghton Lake or head to the mighty Lake St. Clair so as to add Yellow Perch and Northern Pike to the record of potential catches. St. Clair is comparatively shallow, with many nice areas to fish underneath the ice. 

In southwest Michigan, one of many prime ice fishing spots is the Coldwater-Marble Chain of Lakes, positioned in Department County. This vacation spot is nice for catching giant Northern Pike, identical to the primary and final ice in shallow Fletcher Floodwaters in Alpena/Montmorency counties. 

The third-largest lake in Michigan, Lake Charlevoix, is a good ice fishing spot with a variety of spots to hit for anglers seeking to catch trophy Cisco, Walleye, Perch, Lake Trout, and Pike underneath the ice. Higgins Lake in Roscommon County additionally affords winter entry at quite a lot of areas. 

Higher Peninsula

Winter anglers come to Munising Bay for his or her dose of Coho Salmon, Cisco, and Lake Whitefish, together with Yellow Perch and Lake Trout. Murray Bay and Sand Level are fairly fashionable spots within the Bay, together with Trout Bay off Grand Island. 

One other winter fishing spot in Higher Michigan is Huge Manistique Lake – a ten,000-acre lake in Luce/Mackinac counties. Right here, you may get your arms on Walleye, Yellow Perch, and Northern Pike – a combo that may hardly disappoint. 

The marginally greater Lake Gogebic in Gogebic County is understood for its early ice with Walleye, Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, and Black Crappie lurking beneath. 

And That’s Not All

Father and son standing over a hole in the ice while setting up their ice fishing equipment.

After all, we’ve coated only a small portion of ice fishing spots in Michigan. When you rent an area information who is aware of the precise spots, ice fishing in Lake Michigan generally is a fantastic expertise for anglers of all ages. For additional security, you’ll be able to fish across the lake’s harbors and ports, the place the ice is thicker. 

Proper subsequent to this Nice Lake is one other premier ice fishing spot, Hamlin Lake. Ice fishing lovers often entry it by means of Ludington State Park. The lake’s deeper than others, though the shallower higher half freezes over first. 

Close to Metro Detroit, you’ll be able to get pleasure from ice fishing in Michigan’s Cass Lake with out having to go removed from the town. Jumbo Perch, Crappie, Pike, and Walleye are widespread catches on this lake. Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac are different good spots for winter fishing positioned proper subsequent to one another. 

So, are you within the temper for a Nice Lake ice fishing journey or would you slightly discover a smaller lake? There are such a lot of choices to select from, and lots of extra to search out by yourself!

Ice Fishing Season and Circumstances

Multiple anglers set up for ice fishing.

Michigan often has round 4–5 months of chilly winter, from December till March. Throughout this era, the lakes freeze over sufficient so that you can get pleasure from your ice fishing expertise. Nonetheless, the climate and ice thickness varies from 12 months to 12 months. Whilst you’re planning your Michigan winter fishing journey, it’s essential to comply with these 5 easy guidelines:

  1. Examine the ice thickness. The state’s Division of Pure Sources often updates the anglers on the advisable thickness of ice. Normally, lakes are safer throughout the early winter months than rivers and streams. 
  1. Don’t neglect to examine the climate. One of the simplest ways to be sure to’re additional protected is to examine the climate whereas planning your journey (if doable), a couple of days earlier than, and proper earlier than you hit the ice.  
  1. Don’t fish alone. When you can, head out along with your fellow anglers, pals, or household. When you’re going solo, take into account telling somebody you belief the place you’re going and whenever you count on to return again. 
  1. Pack a life jacket. Together with a life jacket that’s an important a part of your security gear, it’s advisable that you just pack a spud to check the ice, together with ice picks. 
  1. Rent an area information. Ice fishing includes carrying a variety of gear round, and attending to the perfect spots would possibly typically be tough. A educated information who is aware of the native waters often takes care of all the main points as a way to totally get pleasure from your ice fishing journey. 

If you wish to study extra about ice fishing security, take a look at the remainder of the recommendations on The Michigan Division of Pure Sources page

Learn how to Go Ice Fishing in Michigan

An ice shanty and a snowmobile on a frozen lake in Michigan

When you’ve already deliberate your subsequent ice fishing journey in Michigan, you is likely to be questioning the way you’re going to get to the fishing spots and how much gear you’ll be utilizing to catch a fish underneath the ice. Under, we outlined a couple of issues that may assist you be productive (and heat) throughout your Michigan ice fishing journey:

  • Everlasting/moveable ice shanties. These are ice homes – sheds – that match all of your gear and electronics, in addition to a heater, whereas separating you from the ice. Sheds could be made of various supplies, from plastic to wooden. 
  • Navigational electronics. Good electronics and a fish finder will help you find the fish. Some Michigan ice fishing guides might carry underwater cameras that will help you spot your subsequent goal underneath the ice. 
  • Transportation. Relying on the place you’ll be fishing, you would possibly want a snowmobile or an airboat to maneuver on ice. There are numerous sorts of these, some may even propel by means of water earlier than clawing again to the ice. 
  • Fishing gear and deal with. Your go-to gear whereas fishing in Michigan might embrace spinning rods and reels. Relying in your goal fish, you might also use jigging spoons, reels, and varied sorts of bait. 

Check out this final illustrated information to ice fishing if you wish to study extra concerning the artwork of ice fishing. 

Guidelines and Rules

Michigan ice fishing license infographic

All anglers aged 17 and over have to have a sound Michigan fishing license. There are numerous choices obtainable for each residents and guests, from a single day to annual licenses. Relying on the place you’ll be ice fishing, there are dimension and bag limits, and preserving some species could also be prohibited. Be at liberty to study extra about it on the Michigan Division of Pure Sources web site here

Michigan Ice Fishing – an Journey Filled with Wonders

…which you could expertise your self. All it’s a must to do is to hit the ice with knowledgeable information and a bunch of pals, household, or fellow anglers and see why ice fishing right here is so nice. Chances are high, you’ll need to return subsequent season and even earlier to see what the hotter months in Michigan have to supply. 

Let’s hear from you. Have you ever ever been ice fishing in Michigan? What’s your favourite spot? Share your expertise within the feedback beneath!

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