The Winter Angler’s Ultimate Packing List

In what seems like the blink of an eye, snow and ice have transformed Michigan into a winter angler’s dream. Despite the cold, the fishing stays hot in Pure Michigan as ice fisherman ready their tackle boxes for this timeless Michigan fishing tradition.  

IceFishing1In celebration of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Free Fishing Weekend February 14-15, 2015, we’ve put together this handy packing list to ensure a successful day of fishing.

Don’t forget to check out the Pure Michigan store for items that will help you keep warm on and off the ice!

What to pack

Many Michiganders know how to handle the cold, but knowing how to dress for long hours on ice may not be so easy. Since you’ll be spending some quality time outdoors, consider layering up with these tips.

A hat, pair of gloves and jacket might seem obvious to pack, but there’s a lot more that can keep you comfortable when ice fishing. Consider layering with long underwear as a base under fleece and a windbreaker. Add some thermal socks and a scarf to stay toasty. Don’t forget to pick up a pair of boots specifically made for the cold, too!

One thing to avoid when layering up is cotton. No matter how cold the weather is, wearing layers causes sweating. There’s nothing worse than being damp on the ice as cotton clothes absorb and hold onto moisture.

What to bring on the ice

AugerWhen it comes to fishing, everyone has their own strategy – and that definitely applies when you’re about to head onto the frozen lake! Whether you choose to sit in a shanty or simply an overturned paint bucket, don’t forget these essentials to avoid being frosty.

Imagine you’re bundled up, bait in hand, walking out to that perfect spot on the ice. And then it hits you – your pole is sitting at home! With all the planning it takes to get ready for a day of ice fishing, sometimes even the most obvious things can be forgotten.

Remember to grab your fishing pole, bait, auger and something to sit on so you don’t freeze to the ice. If you’re heading out any other time but free fishing weekend, make sure you have your fishing license in hand, too.

The little things

OntheIceWhether you’re a perennial ice-fisher or this winter will be your first time, we’re willing to guess you’ll be spending more than just a few minutes trying to catch that prized fish. If you are committing a day, or even a few hours, to drop a line, don’t forget these small necessities to keep you safe and happy.

Remember to bring a few bottles of water to keep you hydrated (in a place they won’t freeze!), snacks to give you energy and your cell phone – in case anything goes wrong.  You’ll also want a camera ready when you reel in that monster under the ice.

When ice fishing, a few small items can make or break a trip. Remember to dress right, be safe and have fun when drilling into another Pure Michigan winter adventure. For more ice fishing tips, check out this post from the Michigan DNR.

What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day? Share your photos enjoying the snow and ice using #PureMichiganSnowDay on Twitter and Instagram or visit michigan.org/snowday.

iFISHIGAN Brings Traverse City’s World-Class Fishing to Your Living Room

Now, you can fish with the pros in Traverse City from the comfort of your living room! Traverse City Tourism tells us more about the new World Fishing Network show, iFISHIGAN. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.33.00 AMWord is traveling fast about the incredible fishing opportunities in Traverse City on a new World Fishing Network show. Real-life action and plenty of trophy worthy moments make iFISHIGAN a must see for avid fisherman!

“The Traverse City region is the Holy Grail in terms of freshwater sport fishing,” says Danny Leonard. “But if you’re not an avid Michigan fisherman who has fished around the world, there’s really no way of knowing it. The Traverse City region may be the best-kept fishing secret in all of North America.” Leonard, a former steelhead/salmon fishing guide and National Bass Tournament professional, intends to change that perception with iFISHIGAN, his new fishing show on the World Fishing Network.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.33.55 AMLeonard filmed the 13 segments with his own crew, Team Outdoors Dreams, during the summer and fall of 2014. He says the show “delivers extraordinary viewer-preferred big fish action,” interspersed with short segments that highlight the area’s natural beauty, lively food and wine scene and plentiful recreational opportunities.

With the clear, blue waters of Lake Michigan and scores of crystalline inland lakes just a short cast from its quaint shops, gourmet restaurants and sugar sand beaches, Traverse City has been quietly gaining fame among serious anglers and their families as the ideal venue for a fishing vacation. Viewers can live vicariously through the experts as they experience the excitement of the cast and the thrill of the catch. From battles with lake trout to peaceful casts along the river, this show captures it all!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.32.40 AM“Traverse City Tourism is excited to be involved with the show, to help educate sportsman on our great freshwater fishery, along with the allure and charm of our area and its many other great assets,” said Traverse City Tourism President Brad Van Dommelen.

The World Fishing Network delivers fishing programs to over 50 million households in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. iFISHIGAN was filmed exclusively in the Traverse City area and is underwritten by Traverse City Tourism. The half-hour programs are scheduled to air January to June, Wednesdays at 10:30 pm (Eastern Time), Thursdays at 1:30 pm and 2:30 am, and Sundays at 9:30 am and 6:30 pm.

Fishing is a year-round sport in Traverse City. Read more about it on our blog or visit our site to start planning your next fishing adventure!

How to Reel in a Salmon or Steelhead in Pure Michigan This Fall

DSK113 19 - salmon

Salmon and steelhead are ready to bite! Fall is a great time to get out on the water and reel in a big one. Today, Elyse Walter from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shares some tips and techniques for making a big catch in Michigan this fall. 

Michigan offers some fantastic fishing during the fall months – particularly for salmon and steelhead. In fact, now can be the perfect time to target them, if you know where to go and what techniques to use. Whether you’re looking for the various salmon species or steelhead (rainbow trout that are stocked in a river) you’re sure to find plenty of opportunities this month and beyond!

Atlantic Salmon
Fishing for Atlantic salmon is huge on the St. Marys River; in fact this spot is considered the best recreational Atlantic salmon fishery west of the East Coast. Most anglers troll for this species using downriggers, but other popular methods are fly fishing for them with wet flies or spin fishing for them with plugs, spinners and spoons.

DSK329 023 - girl charterChinook Salmon
These fish are often called “kings” and with good reason! Popular spots to target them in the fall include Great Lakes piers, streams along the Lake Michigan coast, or inland streams such as the Manistee (Tippy Dam), Pere Marquette and St. Joseph rivers. Many anglers focus on low-light time periods – such as in the morning or in the evening – but others target Chinooks after dark with glow-in-the-dark spoons. Artificial bait is what most anglers use to appeal to this species, but salmon eggs are popular as well.

Coho Salmon
This popular species can be caught in Lake Michigan at any time, though some of the best fishing happens in early fall. In particular, the Manistee River is very popular in late October and in the Upper Peninsula the Anna River is a great destination for this salmon. Lots of anglers use spinners, spoons and plugs when fishing for this species.

DSK265 65 - steelheadSteelhead
Michigan is considered one of the best steelhead fishing destinations in the country with several well-known spots located throughout the state. These include the Manistee, Muskegon and St. Joseph rivers in the Lake Michigan watershed, the Au Sable River in the Lake Huron watershed, and the Huron River in the Lake Erie watershed. Most anglers head out in November and/or December (if they’re not hunting) to target steelhead and use a variety of techniques to do so – including spinners, plugs and single salmon eggs floating under a bobber.

Don’t miss your chance to catch a big salmon or steelhead this fall. For even more information on fishing in Michigan, including rules and regulations, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing. 

Where is your go-to destination for fall fishing in Michigan? 

Elyse-Walter-150x1501Elyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She specifically works with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources.