Bundle Up and Fish For Free This Weekend in Pure Michigan

Michigan offers wonderful outdoor opportunities throughout the year, including world-class fishing. While some anglers head for the indoors when the temperatures dip, others look forward to winter’s most popular angling activity – ice fishing.

 Need an incentive to head outdoors? How about fishing for free? February 13 and 14 is the 2016 Winter Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan, which means residents and visitors alike can fish without a license (all other fishing regulations still apply). Experience the state’s fisheries in winter, we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

If you’ve never been ice fishing there are a few things to think about so you’re prepared to have a fun and safe experience. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources often recommends anglers follow these six simple rules:

  1. Never fish alone.
  2. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  3. Always test the ice with a spud (a long shank with a chisel-like end).
  4. Take the appropriate emergency items, such as ice picks and a life jacket.
  5. Take a cell phone (enclosed in a plastic bag) in case you need to call for help.
  6. Lakes tend to be a safer choice during the early winter as streams or rivers have flow which makes them less safe at times.
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Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

After you round up your gear you’ll want to think about which species to fish for and which areas you might find them in. Check out these location suggestions!

Southwest Lower Peninsula

Coldwater-Marble Chain of Lakes (Branch County): This is one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in southwest Michigan. The chain consists of several interconnected lakes with a combined area of around 2,700 acres. These lakes produce a variety of game species; including bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, black crappie and redear sunfish.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Fletcher Floodwaters (Alpena/Montmorency counties): This 8,000 plus acre shallow impoundment often freezes fairly early in the winter and is an extremely popular winter fishing location. Anglers can target northern pike, yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed and black crappie.

Southeast Lower Peninsula

Saginaw Bay: Anglers should fish early and late ice near shore for yellow perch and deeper areas for walleye at this popular destination. The best walleye fishing is miles offshore.

Lake St. Clair: This lake provides ample access with opportunities to catch many different species, including yellow perch, walleye, northern pike, bluegill and pumpkinseed.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @xmissqueenx.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @xmissqueenx.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Higgins Lake (Roscommon County): This is a 9,900 acres ice fishing bonanza and offers excellent fishing opportunities for yellow perch, northern pike, lake trout, herring, whitefish, rainbow trout and smelt.

Eastern Upper Peninsula

Munising Bay (Alger County): When ice is established in Munising Bay, the fishery is comprised of splake, coho salmon, lake whitefish and cisco. Also available are smelt, yellow perch, lake trout and burbot.

Southern Upper Peninsula

Big Manistique Lake (Luce/Mackinac counties): This 10,000 acre lake has a maximum depth of about 20 feet. The primary winter sport fisheries revolve around walleye, yellow perch and northern pike.

Western Upper Peninsula

Lake Gogebic (Gogebic County): This 13,000 acre inland lake offers anglers good opportunities for walleye, northern pike, black crappie and yellow perch.

Don’t miss your chance to experience Michigan’s outstanding winter fishing opportunities and to get your family outdoors. Start planning your next fishing trip at michigan.gov/fishing

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Elyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Elyse works specifically with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources.

Why Smallmouth Bass Fishing is Perfect in Traverse City

If you’re looking for a Pure Michigan destination with bountiful fishing to enjoy this fall, look no further than Traverse City. The Traverse City area, in Michigan’s Northern Lower Peninsula, is a perfect location to drop in a line while enjoying the beautiful changing colors and cool, crisp weather. Read more as guest blogger Captain Chris Noffsinger shares the many fishing opportunities and other things to enjoy when visiting Traverse City this season.

There are many places to fish for smallmouth bass in the great State of Michigan, but one of the very best is the Traverse City area. Not only is Traverse City’s smallmouth fishing world class, but the opportunities for recreation, dining, wineries and craft beer nearby are almost endless. From kids to adults, there is something for everyone here.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Starting off the day with a beautiful sunrise overlooking the calm waters of East or West Grand Traverse Bay is a breathtaking experience in itself. But the thought of a trophy smallmouth breaking the calm by leaping into the air and back into the water is what every smallmouth fisherman dreams of. I have been fortunate to experience this firsthand on Grand Traverse Bay and on the surrounding inland lakes.

Photo courtesy of Captain Chris Noffsinger

Photo courtesy of Captain Chris Noffsinger

Traverse City is uniquely intriguing to any angler in search of trophy smallmouth. We have caught smallmouth in the 4-7 pound class every year in the Traverse City region.  They are plentiful and very willing to bite.

The waters here are extremely clear, with visibility reaching depths of 30 feet in some locations. Smallmouth live in most of the inland lakes that surround Traverse City, and the clarity of that water gives you an unparalleled ability and opportunity to sight these trophy bronzebacks. Watching a 4-7 pound smallmouth swim from over 100 feet away to strike is amazing to say the least. This happens every spring and fall, and it never gets old.

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

As fall approaches, some of the best bass fishing of the season takes place. Fall colors begin to transform the lush green forest that stood tall all summer long. The reflections of colors on a calm lake in the fall are an unforgettable sight, and as the leaves fall from the trees, the smallmouth sense that winter is coming. This triggers a feeding frenzy that smallmouth fisherman like me look forward to every year.

One of the most notable bass anglers in the world, Kevin VanDam, will visit also visit the Traverse City area this fall to take part in this amazing autumn fishery while filming an episode for “iFISHIGAN.” He will have a special guest this year, Gov. Rick Snyder, who will be joining Kevin on a fishing trip that most anglers only dream of – fishing with one of the most notable bass in the world’s best smallmouth fishing waters.  Catch the action of “iFISHIGAN” on the World Fishing Network when the second season starts in January 2016.

Photo courtesy of Captain Chris Noffsinger

Photo courtesy of Captain Chris Noffsinger

I look forward to smallmouth fishing in this area every year and hopefully I will be able to for many years to come. The Traverse City area is a truly special, world-class, Pure Michigan fishery.

What is your favorite Michigan fishing destination?

fishingAbout the author: Captain Chris Noffsinger has more than 20 years of experience on the water. His knowledge of both inland and Great Lakes fishing is extensive and is used daily to charter tours for Northern Adventures Fishing.

 

 

 

Plan your Perfect Pure Michigan Summer Fishing Trip!

Many anglers in Michigan are constantly looking for tools and resources that equip them with better knowledge when they are planning trips. Now, with the help of many Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) partners, trout anglers don’t have to go much further than the DNR’s website!

The East Branch Black River Highbanks, Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

The East Branch Black River Highbanks, Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Michigan is nationally known as a trout fishing destination with nearly 20,000 cold, quality streams and hundreds of lakes. Michigan’s Trout Trails was recently launched online in an effort to connect anglers with lesser known trout waters all around the state. This new tool highlights several of these waters – specifically those located in the western Upper Peninsula, north central Lower Peninsula, and southwestern Lower Peninsula.

Trout Trails will be rolled out in several phases, with the first featuring 129 locations that include detailed descriptions and photos for each site and information for area lodging, restaurants, and guide services if available. Additional information includes trout species available, fishing regulations, presence of stocked or naturally reproducing fish, driving directions (with a link to Google maps), and note-worthy information (such as presence of fast water, canoe/kayak/tube accessibility, best times to fish, and much more).

Breathtaking Forest Lake. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Breathtaking Forest Lake. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

The goal of this site is to help anglers find new places to go and how to plan the best fishing trip possible. Each location has been verified by DNR fisheries biologists to ensure the information is accurate and up-to-date.

The information on Michigan’s Trout Trails is presented in a map format that makes it easy to glean all the necessary information from each destination point. The site is mobile-friendly and accessible via any type of device. Additionally, information for each of the 129 sites is available in a printable format.

The St. Joseph River Shamrock. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

The St. Joseph River in Berrien Springs. Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Don’t forget – this is just the first batch of locations that will be featured within the Trout Trails application. Each year the DNR is looking to add additional sites to eventually provide statewide trout trails. We hope it will entice anglers (both residents and non-residents) to explore new fishing locations, opportunities and adventures they haven’t had before.

To access Michigan’s Trout Trails, visit Michigan.gov/trouttrails.

SuzanneStoneSuzanne Stone is the Education and Outreach Specialist for the Fisheries Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Stone earned a B.S. in Natural Resources Management in addition to a secondary science teaching certification. Stone is an avid trout angler.