Ice Fishing in Pure Michigan

Bob Fisher is a lifelong avid Michigan sportsman. In addition to his love of the outdoors, Bob Fisher was also co-founder and co-owner of Baldwin Bait and Tackle, located in Baldwin. He answered a few of our questions about ice fishing. You can also check out this ice fishing article on for more.

Q: Besides the ice, how is ice fishing different from regular fishing?

A: Ice fishing offers many different positive aspects compared to “regular” or conventional open water fishing. First, everyone has access to an entire lake. With open water fishing, one needs access to a boat to access the entire lake. Once ice forms a hard surface, anyone can simply walk to any part of the lake they desire to fish. Large lakes will require an ATV or snowmobile to access far reaches, if the ice thickness is safe enough to accommodate the weight of the machines.

Ice fishing is typically inexpensive compared to other styles of fishing. While fly fishing or big lake trolling can be more expensive endeavors, with ice fishing all one needs is some basic gear that can be purchased for less than $30 all together and a bucket to sit upon.

Q: Are there different types of fish you can catch in Michigan when you are ice fishing vs. regular fishing?

A. There are numerous fish species that ice fishermen target. The list varies from large northern pike and lake trout to the tiny smelt. Typically, ice fishermen target fish for table fare. The most common fish that ice fishermen seek are pan fish such as bluegill, perch and crappie. Northern pike are often sought using tip-up’s and jigging for walleye is very common and popular. One should check the fishing regulations since several species of fish have closed seasons during certain times of the year.

Q: Is there any special equipment you need?

A: For starting out with basic ice fishing, one would need a small rod and reel, designed specifically for ice fishing. These can be very economical setups that can be purchased for less than $10 and they typically come with the fishing line already spooled on. One will also need either an ice auger to drill a hole through the ice or an ice spud to chip open an existing hole, an ice skimmer to remove ice that forms once the hole is open, some bait, some small jig “lures” and a five gallon bucket to carry your gear in and to sit upon while fishing. Warm clothing and boots are also typically needed.

If on the more serious side, some ice fishermen design elaborate ice shantys, complete with heaters, furniture, stoves to cook fish on, and even TV’s.

Q: Where are some good areas to ice fish in Michigan?

A: The beauty of ice fishing is that nearly every lake that offers good fishing in the Summer months can offer good fishing during the Winter months. A notable event is Tip Up Town USA, among the top 10 winter events in the nation, which is a large ice fishing carnival attracting 10,000′s of people to the Houghton Lake area every winter.

Q: Where can people get more information about ice fishing?

A: Local fishing stores usually offer the best local advice. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has very good information on ice fishing and also has weekly fishing reports. The Department of Natural Resources also offers a free fishing weekend, where no fishing license is required, so anyone can try their hand at ice fishing without buying a license.

Please note-while ice fishing is a fun Winter activity, one must always use caution and common sense whenever venturing out on any ice.

4 thoughts on “Ice Fishing in Pure Michigan

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  3. Hello Bob!
    I am assisting as a Volunteer Chief Lake Wilderness Youth Camp in Republic, Michigan! They are hosting an event, “Youth on Ice” to introduce Ice Fishing to area youth. We are always looking to network our camp for youth. I hope you might consider taking a moment to check us out and perhaps even contact us with your support in any way. Below is current press release:
    CONTACT: Steve Nesbitt
    Chief Lake Wilderness Youth Camp
    Phone: 906 376.2174 email:
    1362 Chief Lake Road
    Republic, Michigan
    Youth on Ice!
    In keeping with our mission statement of “No Child left indoors”, Chief Lake Wilderness Youth Camp invites the public and especially youth to attend our 2nd event at camp. This event is non-competitive and will introduce and foster the much loved U.P. sport of Ice fishing on Chief Lake in Republic at the Camps location. We are honored to have sponsors attending and providing this opportunity.
    Saturday January 28, 2012 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM EST.
    The participants can arrive at any time during this slot but it is recommended to try and arrive before noon. There will be no food served at this event. It is recommended that participants bring a lunch, snack and beverage. Pre-registration is recommended but not necessary.
    This event is open to both youth and adults. Minors must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or chaperone. If bringing multiple children in your care, please bring a permission slip.
    For additional information contact CLWYC at 906-376-2174 or by email: Maps and directions can be found by visiting our website:
    There is no cost or fee for this event. Chief Lake Wilderness Youth Camp is a non profit organization.
    Provided for this event: combo and jig poles, Tip ups, Augers, Skimmers, Tackle and bait, and limited shelters.
    Our commitment to you: Hands on training and demonstration. Knowledgeable staff for assistance. Safety and Fun. Dress accordingly for Winter Weather !

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