Ice Fishing

With four of the five Great Lakes forming its 3,200 mile coastline, plus more than 11,000 inland lakes and 36,000 miles of rivers and streams, Michigan is well known for its freshwater fishing. That holds true even when those waters are covered in ice. Whether you’re looking to hook walleye, perch, whitefish, bass, lake trout, northern pike or a variety of pan fish – Michigan’s got you covered even during the winter months. Check out the Pure Michigan ice fishing video.

Ice fishingIn fact, some experienced anglers say that winter is the best time to fish, because with the warm weather gone, so are the weeds. An ice fishing excursion can be as simple as drilling a hole in the ice and dropping in a line while perched on an overturned bucket. Or it can be an all-day outing complete with an elaborate ice shanty boasting all the comforts of home. With proper clothing and equipment, knowing the condition of the ice and following safety precautions, ice fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience in Pure Michigan.

Getting Started

Free Fishing Weekend 
- Courtesy of DNRIf you want to try your hand at ice fishing, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources 2012 Free Fishing Weekend is a great opportunity. During Free Fishing Weekend, February 18-19, all fishing license fees are waived with residents and out-of-state visitors allowed to enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes' waters for all species of fish during their respective open seasons. 

Kids new to the sport can take part in the annual Youth Ice Fishing Clinic at the Winter Festival being held at Bay City State Recreation Area February 18. As part of the clinic, participants construct a fishing pole, learn how to rig it, design an ice fishing jig, learn about ice fishing safety and get a few tips on how to ice fish. 

Hook Up with an Expert

Both beginners and fishermen looking for a great catch and tips can benefit from an ice fishing charter.  Experts who offer four-season guided fishing trips include Captain Dan Manyen of Walleye Express in the Thumb. He offers two ways to make the most of fishing for walleye on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay: Download his electronic ice fishing info for personal use at your leisure, or purchase a package and spend a day on the ice with an expert with gear, bait and shanty provided. 

If perch is what you are fishing for, Great Lakes Guide Service offers guided ice fishing trips on Muskegon Lake, just off Lake Michigan. A five hour package includes a portable ice tent and heater. 

Tournament Fishing

Get your competitive juices flowing with any of a number of ice fishing tournaments being held in the state. 

The Gettin' Jiggy Ice Fishing Tournament will be held February 25, 2012, at Pere Marquette Expeditions in Ludington. Payouts for the longest fish each category: bluegill, crappie and perch.

The Frostbite Ice Fishing Tournament in Harrison, February 16-19 includes a fishing derby on Budd Lake, as well as a frozen lake golf tournament, petting zoo and soup cook-off.

The North American Ice Fishing Circuit makes a stop at Croton Dam Pond in Newaygo County on March 4. In addition to the one-day total weight tournament, there will be a NAIFC Pro Staff Seminar and social hour Friday night at Driftwood Bar & Grill Restaurant, as well as a Kids Ice Camp Saturday morning, 

Fishing Fun

Several winter festivals in Michigan feature ice fishing among their activities, including Winterfest on February 11 in the villages of Beulah and Benzonia. In addition to ice fishing, the whole family will enjoy the annual fish toss competition, frozen turkey bowling, horse drawn wagon rides, the Winterfest parade and fireworks over Crystal Lake. 

Try your luck in the pike and perch fishing contest at Les Cheneaux Snowsfest in the Eastern UP February 16-19 or head to the Curtis Fish Coop February 18 on South Manistique Lake – part of the Curtis Winter Carnival. 

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