Weekly Fishing Tip: Try bigger baits to attract bigger fish
What seems like common sense may be news to winter anglers. Try bigger baits for bigger fish, whether you’re fishing open water or through the ice!
Many people argue that most fish are lethargic and unmotivated during the colder months and require a smaller bait to encourage them to bite. Smaller baits can get you more action, but a consequence of this can be catching many small fish to get a few keepers (perch, crappie, etc). By increasing the size of your fly or lure, either a size or two or drastically, you may encourage bigger fish to come in for a closer look.
Take a page from the Esox handbook and go big for trophy fish. Some people fishing tip-ups will use suckers or chubs up to a foot in length for big pike and musky. A challenge with these is using a tip-up that won’t accidentally trip, since a foot-long baitfish can struggle hard enough to make a flag go up. Likewise, those flyfishing for monster end or season musky or pike often use chicken-sized streamers that push a lot of water. These aren’t fun to cast, especially in heavy wind, but a follow or hit from a beast over 4 feet long is more than worth the effort.
SOUTHEAST LOWER PENINSULA
There is ice in Southeast Michigan, but conditions are marginally safe and will deteriorate rapidly with rain and warm temperatures by this weekend.
Lake Erie: Winds out of the west/southwest dropped not only the water levels along the shoreline but catch rates as well. Ice in these areas should be considered unstable.
Huron River: The steelhead action has been slow. A few fish were caught between Flat Rock and the mouth by anglers floating wax worms or casting Little Cleos. Higher water levels from snowmelt and rain may bring in more fish.
Detroit River: Fishing has been spotty. Those fishing the canals near Gibraltar have had some luck, particularly those targeting giant turtle-musky or sewer bass.
Lake St Clair: Has some ice but it is marginal and with warm weather in the forecast, it could become unsafe by the end of the week. Anglers are encouraged to be patient and wait for safe ice before heading out.
Saginaw Bay: Ice conditions were marginal at best. Shoreline ice will deteriorate with the warm weather this week. While it’s true that most perch fishing takes place in two to three feet of water, anglers still risk getting wet. Perch anglers have been fishing off Palmer Road. The action wasn’t red-hot but some keepers were taken. At Linwood, perch were caught in the marina basin and out in front of the marina. Those casting tube jigs into the open water around the bubblers seem to catch more fish than the ice anglers. Near Quanicassee, a lot of anglers were fishing at Vanderbilt Park. While the bite was good, too many people fishing may have spooked the fish as not many were caught. Ice conditions on the east side of the bay were questionable. The area off Sebewaing is so shallow that fish are normally not attracted to it. Most fishing activity was inside the marina basins at Sebewaing, Bay Port and Caseville where a few perch were taken.
Saginaw River: An ice breaker came up into the lower Saginaw River last Friday and broke up all the ice as far upstream as the Wirt Stone Dock, so anglers fishing the river mouth are out of business until it freezes up again.
Tittabawassee River: The river and boat ramp are ice free at Gordonville Road, and as far south as Tittabawassee Road, but no boat anglers were fishing.