Winter Fishing in Michigan: Tips from a 17 Year Old Angler

Today, seventeen year-old angler and founder of XXL Chrome Chasing, Kyle McClelland, gives us some tried and tested tips for steelheading and ice fishing in Pure Michigan this winter. 

Photo courtesy of XXL Chrome Chasing

Michigan is a prime destination for fishermen all year round. From the Great Lakes to inland lakes, there are countless fishing opportunities to be had across the state. Although the weather can be harsh during the deep winter months, don’t be discouraged from venturing out on the water!

During the winter season, my favorite style of fishing is steelheading on the Great Lakes tributaries. With colors akin to autumn in Northern Michigan and a hint of chrome, steelhead can be found throughout many of the Great Lakes tributaries across Michigan. Known for their acrobatic jumps and bruising battles, steelhead are a very popular fish targeted by many anglers in the Great Lakes region.

The elusive fish enters the Great Lakes tributaries during the fall months to feed on the spawning salmon eggs. In the early winter months, steelhead will generally hold in the bigger river systems throughout the winter, such as the Big Manistee, Betsie, Muskegon, and the Grand.

Photo courtesy of XXL Chrome Chasing

Along with steelheading, ice fishing is another great and very popular style of winter fishing across Michigan. One thing us Michigan anglers can be thankful for is the number of species that can be targeted through the ice! Whether you like to set tip ups for walleye, spear northern pike, or jig for panfish, the opportunities are endless. There is bound to be one that will fit your desire.

Make sure you use extra caution before you head out on the ice. Always check ice conditions before you head out, bring a partner with you and make sure you have the proper safety gear. I generally like 3-4″ for walking, 6-8″ for driving an ATV and 12-14″ for driving a vehicle. Driving a vehicle on the ice isn’t recommend, but here in Michigan many ice fishing anglers do it.

With all these fishing opportunities here in Michigan, XXL Chrome Chasing is committed to getting the “next generation” more involved in the outdoors. If you have an interest in the outdoors, there are many ways to learn.  I suggest joining a fishing forum. There are many across Michigan, and they all consist of great information and members that are willing to help you learn and/or get started.

Some include upangler.com, glangler.com, Lake Michigan Angler and many more! You can also check out our XXL Chrome Chasing Facebook page. If you have any questions, you can message us at any time.

If you see a young outdoorsman on the water or in the woods, we encourage you to give them a helping hand. Growing up, countless people helped me to become a more successful angler and I’m very thankful for it, so I like to return the favor.

There really isn’t a better state to live in if you’re an angler! Make sure to dress appropriately and get out there and take advantage of the great fishing we’re blessed with here in Michigan.

If you have any questions related to fishing in Michigan, check out our Facebook page and get in contact with us. Feel free to post pictures and share stories about your fishing experiences in Michigan!

Kyle McClelland is a 17 year old fisherman from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Kyle and now lives in Fife Lake, MI outside of Traverse City. Kyle’s passion for fishing started during his earliest elementary school days. Now, his life revolves around fishing, on and off the water! 

Fishing in Pure Michigan: An Infographic

With trout, walleyes, salmon, perch, bass and more ready to bite, Michigan is home to the best catches a fishing trip can offer. And with four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes and hundreds of rivers and streams, there’s no end to the places to cast your line during your Pure Michigan fishing experience.

We compiled just a few reasons why Michigan is an angler’s dream. To download a full-sized version of the graphic, click here or on the image below.

For more on fishing in Michigan, visit michigan.org.

Step Back In Time at Walker Tavern in Michigan’s Irish Hills

It’s amazing how much history there is to explore in Pure Michigan! And if you head towards Michigan’s Irish Hills, there’s plenty to uncover. Today, the team at the Michigan Historical Center shares the story behind one of the area’s historic gems – Walker Tavern Historic Site.

The Irish Hills of southern Michigan, formed by glaciers millions of years ago, have been home to Native Americans for thousands of years and to Europeans for a little more than three centuries. Located within a two-hour drive of most of Michigan’s major metropolitan areas, they are a great place to bring a picnic, enjoy swimming in a local lake or camp at one of several campgrounds. One of the area’s long time summer destinations is Walker Tavern Historic Site at Cambridge Junction, near Brooklyn.

Passing through kettle lakes and rolling hills, two Irish Hills roads meet at Cambridge Junction. One road, a worn Indian trail surveyed in 1825, joins Detroit with Chicago (now US-12); the other the La Plaisance Bay Pike (now M-50) joins Monroe on Lake Erie to Alto in west Michigan.

High traffic on these two roads in the 1830s created the need for a wayside tavern where people traveling by stage, wagon or foot could rest, take a meal or stay the night. Cost for a meal and lodging was 50 cents — the cost for an acre of land was $1.25. Most travelers on the two roads were looking for farms to purchase. Today’s travelers looking for rest, relaxation and the excitement of learning something new still find Walker Tavern Historic Site an enjoyable stop along the road.

The historic site includes three buildings and 80 acres of park land. Walker Tavern and the barn focus on the 1840s and 50s with artifacts and exhibits about people, travel and work. The Hewitt House is undergoing restoration as it tells stories of early auto tourism. Sundays are the busiest of all the days at the site, with visitors coming by to purchase locally-grown produce at the onsite Farmers Market or to take in a baseball game played by 1869 rules.

Railroads built in the 1850s turned Cambridge Junction from stagecoach hub to community gathering place. For many years the site was a farm. With the advent of the automobile at the beginning of the 20th century, life at Cambridge Junction began to change.

In 1922, the Rev. Frederick Hewitt purchased the old frame tavern, once owned by early settler Sylvester Walker, as well as its counterpart, the brick tavern he built across the road in 1853. Hewitt loved the Irish Hills as a place to hunt and fish, and now he saw opportunity to follow his passion for antiques.

Opening the taverns as antique store, hotel, restaurant and museum, Hewitt capitalized on the automobile tourism that brought a boom to the Irish Hills economy. A day’s ride by car from Detroit, the Irish Hills drew thousands of vacationers, who came to enjoy the lakes, hills and other tourist attractions. In 1929, Hewitt built a colonial revival home on his property. His visitors included Henry and Clara Ford and Michigan Governor Woodbridge Ferris. In 1965 Hewitt’s daughter sold the frame tavern and the land around it to the state, and it became Cambridge Junction State Park.

Today, the park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Irish Hills and imagine a time of stagecoaches and one of early automobiles.  New this year in the newly painted red room of the Hewitt House are photos and the scrapbook of the family that recognized the historic value of Walker Tavern and preserved it.

To close out summer, why not find the road that takes you to the Irish Hills? Cambridge Junction State Park is open for picnics and gentle strolls seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The three historic buildings on site are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Park activities include a local Farmers Market on Sundays through Oct. 6, vintage baseball and various educational programs sponsored by the Friends of Walker Tavern.  To check the site’s events schedule please visit michigan.gov/walkertavern.