ESCANABA - According to the calendar, spring arrives next week.
And thanks to a late winter thaw this year, spring fishing may start sooner than usual on the Bays de Noc, according to Chris Wahl from Bay View Bait and Tackle of Gladstone.
"Normally, you can't get out on a boat until about the second or third week of April," said Wahl. "This year, it doesn't look like the weather is cooling down anytime soon, so you might see a few boats heading out within a week or two south of Gladstone."
A sled and two ice tents were still on the Ludington Park ice about 200 yards from open Little Bay de Noc waters this week despite rapidly deteriorating ice conditions. They finally disappeared Thursday. (Daily Press photo by Dennis Grall)
The dilemma of the end of ice fishing season and the start of open-water fishing are vividly displayed with this shack at Gladstone 's VanCleve Park Tuesday. Deteriorating ice is in the background as the shanty rests in water just feet off the beach. (Daily Press photo by Dennis Grall)
Weather conditions have been almost perfect for fishing, but despite the mild temperatures, Wahl says business has been pretty slow lately.
""This is the earliest I've ever seen the ice start to melt (from the bay), but there is still enough where nobody is taking any boats out yet," he said. "We don't have the spring trout fishery here like we used to, so basically we're just waiting for the ice to go and hopefully get in on some early perch fishing."
Wahl adds a few people are still ice fishing down in Escanaba Harbor for perch, which he describes as extremely good compared to last winter. The same cannot be said, however, for walleye and pike seasons which ended Monday.
"It has been a very unusual winter this year for walleye and pike," Wahl said. "The fish were not very cooperative until the last two or three weeks of the season."
Anglers are reminded although the deadline for removing ice shanties in the Upper Peninsula is March 31, it is their responsibility to remove the shanties sooner if the ice should continue to be unsafe.