ESCANABA - With the winter season underway, ice fishing enthusiasts are heading out on Little Bay De Noc.
"It's (ice fishing) getting going here finally," said Chris Wahl of Bay View Bait and Tackle of Gladstone. "It's been slower than last year at this time, but still much better than a month ago. There's plenty of ice out on the bay, just not as much as last year at this point."
Wahl says north of Gladstone, on average, there is eight to 10 inches of good ice right now. South of Gladstone, for the first half mile or so, there is about five to eight inches of good ice.
A fisherman prepares an ice shanty Tuesday at Ludington Park in Escanaba. (Daily Press photo by Dennis Grall)
That pales in comparison to a year ago, when a cold spell froze the bay over much earlier in the winter.
"Guys were already driving trucks out on the bay at this time last year and the fish were biting really well," Wahl said, adding the anglers he has talked to are saying walleye fishing has been slow but perch fishing is picking up.
Over at Bayshore Resort Bait and Tackle near Kipling, Naomi Johnson is also seeing an increase in business related to ice fishing.
"We got off to a slow start with the holidays, but now the fishing is picking up," said Johnson. "The perch have been sporadic, but are a nice size when they are caught, as big as one and a half pounds in the last week."
According to Wahl, the bait being used has been all over the board.
"For walleye, guys who are jigging are using rapalas and the moonshine shiver minnows," he said. "As far as spoons go, fishermen are going with Swedish pimples and rattling flier spoon are going pretty well too."
Wahl says in the shiver minnows, there are two smaller sizes that came out this year in a variety of colors and those have been selling pretty good.
From what Johnson has seen, anglers have been using wigglers and shiners for perch and suckers and shiners for walleye and suckers for pike.
As always, safety is the top priority when ice fishing and anglers should use caution when going out on to the bay.
Johnson says there is an ice shove on the winter access road to the bay, north of the Kipling boat launch. Also, according to Johnson, a truck went into the bay off the north end of Butler's Island earlier this week so fishermen should stay away from there for the time being.