Tip-up! Flag! Either of those words gets an immediate reaction from ice fishermen chatting up a storm in their ice shelter. Legs flying, they race to the tip-up, watch intently as line is pulled from the spool, and then reach down to set the hook on a walleye or northern pike. Modern and sophisticated electronics along with portable shelters or ice shacks, and snowmobiles make ice fishing a sport that can be enjoyed in comfort by family and friends. Fishermen oftentimes work a jig-and-minnow combo for game fish or a small jig tipped by a waxie for panfish while waiting for flags to pop up.
Perch is the top draw for winter fishermen in the county. But you may have to keep mobile to stay on top of schooling perch. Walleye can be found in numerous lakes, including Stanley, Sunset and Emily. Sunset is an “action” lake for smaller and medium size pike, although it gave up a monster 48-incher a few summers ago. Appropriately named, Ice Lake is another good lake for pike and walleyes. Golden and Ottawa lakes are good prospects for lake trout.
Check with local bait shops to see what’s hitting as well as for ice conditions. The bait shops stock all the favorite artificial bait, live bait and supplies such as chisels, buckets, scoops, ice augers and tips-ups.
Two days twice a year, families and friends can enjoy one of Michigan’s premiere outdoor activities, Michigan Fishing, for FREE!
The Free Fishing Weekends are scheduled annual in February.
All fishing license fees will be waived for two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations will still apply.
For many, the annual Free Fishing Weekend has become a tradition – a time to get together and have some fishing fun. While some may find time to reflect while fishing, there are no limits to variations on a great theme! Experienced anglers who offer a child or young adult the chance to take their first fishing trip can provide a rewarding experience for all. People who fish tend to understand the natural aquatic network of plants and animals that help to sustain fish as well as the regulations that govern fishing in Michigan.
Research shows that young people today do not have access to fishing opportunities that were enjoyed by generations before them. Some of the reasons: living in urban or suburban areas where fishing access is not readily available, competition for time by an ever-increasing schedule of special activities, and too little time for unstructured leisure.
Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world, with more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams.
So grab a rod and your family and friends, and let’s go fishing!