Weekly Fishing Tip: Targeting midwinter pike
Fishing for northern pike can become more difficult at certain points during the winter, particularly when ice and snow are at their thickest. Thick ice and snow alter fish behavior, due to decaying vegetation and lowered oxygen levels. These changes can affect the feeding cycle of baitfish and panfish, and large predators like pike instinctively change their tactics.
To overcome this mid-winter slump, try the following:
1. Look for areas on your chosen water body that have new ice. This allows more light to penetrate, and could mark areas of higher dissolved oxygen levels. As always – new ice needs to be approached with caution.
2. Search for areas where the wind has blown the snow off, as opposed to heavily snowed areas.
3. Consider finding a new water body to fish. Larger, deeper lakes are likely to have frozen later than smaller waterbodies.
4. Try deadsticking in addition to your usual tactics of jigging and/or tip-ups. No matter how sluggish, pike still feed occasionally, laying in wait or cruising slowly, watching for an opportune meal – but the conditions need to be just right. A suspended golden shiner or dead smelt, hanging over the bottom, may offer just the right enticement to a fish that’s feeling the effects of the midwinter slump.
SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN FISHING REPORT – Week ending 2/9/13
Ice anglers were out everywhere and catching fish until the warm spring weather returned. Anglers are ice fishing to the north but caution is still needed. Ice conditions in the southern sections of the state are not safe for the most part. Those fishing rivers will experience higher water levels. Shore anglers need to use extreme caution as the river banks may not be stable after all the rain.
Huron River: The past week’s rain, ice and snowmelt have caused the river flows to fluctuate wildly. Many areas are too deep to wade safely, but look for steelhead to move into the holes as the flows subside. As always, spawn, egg flies and nymphs will all work if you know your water and presentation. There’s no substitute for patience and the willingness to explore a little.
Lake Erie: Metro Park Marina and the Banana Dike were producing good catches of perch and bluegills with some sorting. The ice in these locations should be considered suspect. Be especially careful around the edges and any area along a south-facing shore or wall.
Lake St. Clair: Finally got some decent ice but the warm rain did soften the shorelines, open up the pressure cracks, and muddy up the waters. Anglers need to use extreme caution especially around the shoreline, docks, pressure cracks, and areas with a current. Watch for soft spots.
Saginaw Bay: Wet, slippery, sloppy and miserable. Conditions have improved by the weekend with much colder temperatures. Before the drastic change in weather, perch fishing at Palmer Road was slow. Before the warm up, walleye anglers heading out a couple miles were getting fish. There was a lot of walleye activity about three miles off Erickson Road and near the Spark Plug off Linwood. Anglers need to use extreme caution as there are several pressure cracks between the shore and the fishing spots. There was a lot of perch activity at Quanicassee off Vanderbilt Park but catch rates were spotty. Those after walleye caught fish out near the Slot and beyond. From Sebewaing to Bay Port, anglers were after perch and pike just off the Mud Creek access site in Wildfowl Bay. Anglers need to watch where they are going because there were some spots with open water. Pike spearing was just getting started. Those fishing in the harbor and marina at Caseville caught some perch on live minnows. At Port Austin, some were pike spearing inside the harbor.
Saginaw River: Record high temperatures this week will make for dangerous fishing especially with a big push of water from the rain and snowmelt coming down. Walleye fishing was good before the front moved in. Ice anglers were out in force with more than 250 shanties between Saginaw and Bay City. After sorting out the small ones, anglers were still going home with at least a couple walleye. A few bigger perch caught near the mouth.
Tittabawassee River: Little or no activity. There was too much ice to launch a boat and not enough to walk on.