IRON MOUNTAIN - With the walleye and northern seasons concluded, fishing action has slowed considerably.
"Not too much going on," said Don Ciochetto at The Sport Shop in Iron River. "Most of the guys seem to be getting ready for the new season, buying their licenses and stocking up."
At Florence Sport and Bait in Florence, Wis., Patti Teske said things were slow as well.
"It's been absolutely dead," Teske said. "It's so hard to get out on the lake."
But anglers who can find a spot on the ice are still catching panfish. Teske said one angler took home 16 nice bluegill.
John Grier at Whispering Pines Outpost in Breitung Township said he has plenty of turkey licenses for sale. Both Ciochetto and Teske said they have the leftover licenses for sale as well.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in its weekly report, said game fish season is closed on most inland waters, and the cold weather has slowed panfishing activity, but snowmelt is starting to draw some steelhead up Lake Michigan tributaries. There's some decent steelhead action on open stretches of the Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Root rivers but many river sections remain unfishable due to ice flows.
Unseasonably cold weather conditions have delayed the start of Wisconsin's maple syrup season. Large producers and backyard hobbyists are anxiously awaiting a break in the cold weather which may occur next week. Ideal conditions for large sap runs are daytime highs in the 40s and nighttime lows in the 20s.
The Michigan DNR reported the following fishing conditions across the Upper Peninsula:
Copper Harbor: Has no ice and no anglers.
Keweenaw Bay: Catch rates for coho and lake herring were poor. Lake whitefish smelt and lake trout were spotty. Anglers could be found at the Center Reef, Newton's Reef and Big Reef in waters 80 to 260 feet deep. Try ? to 1 ounce jigs with smelt or cut bait such as suckers. Some are using Swedish pimples in 80 to 150 feet. Hot colors were white, orange and white, green and white or hammered brass.
Marquette: Was starting to produce a few coho and splake. Fishing was limited by a large area of ice. Those fishing near the "Bubblers" are using assorted jigs and spoons with spawn or cut bait. Dawn is the best time to fish. Strong winds will be shifting the ice packs this week. Most of the area still had ice with large pressure cracks near shore. Use caution. Whitefish action was slow.
Carp River: Anglers caught a couple steelhead. Try small orange in-line spinners, spoons or spawn. Not much open water at the mouth.
Groveland Mine Ponds: Travel on the lakes remains difficult. Island Lake had good bluegill action with a few nice ones in the mix. East Lake was producing some bluegills for those jigging wax worms. A few limit catches were reported.
Lake Antoine: Travel is difficult due to deep snow. Anglers need to use caution. There are two layers of ice after the thaw and refreeze. Some got caught up on broken ice. Bluegill and perch were in the middle of the lake but the bite was slow.
Little Bay De Noc: Ice remains but travel is difficult because of the snow cover. With walleye season closed, anglers are targeting perch. A few jumbo perch were caught in the Kipling Flats. Try wigglers or wax worms in 19 to 25 feet of water. Near Gladstone, try 30 feet of water. The better catches came near the Day's River for those using large minnows in 14 feet. Those targeting whitefish off Sand Point had fair catches in 80 feet of water when using minnows or spawn. Anglers need to use caution in this area as the Coast Guard has cut shipping lanes.
Au Train: Few anglers fished the Bay because of limited access with ice and snow. Ice extends out past Au Train Island. The Rock River remains frozen with no water flow over the spillway. Ice is still packed in tight at the mouth. The Brownstone ramp still has a good 3 feet of snow. Those jigging for coho off the mouth of the Au Train River said catch rates were poor.
Munising: Was producing a few splake, smelt and coho in the waters of Lake Superior. Perch were caught in Garden Bay but fishing was slow.
Munuscong Bay: Still has ice however fishing was slow. Anglers will start perch fishing soon.
Cedarville and Hessel: Perch fishing is fair to good. Hessel Bay, Musky Bay and Government Bay were the hot spots for anglers using minnows, wigglers or wax worms in 10 feet of water.