Ice fishing on Lake Michigan is your ticket to an unforgettable winter adventure. If you’re “itchin’ to go fishin’” or simply looking for a new way to leave your comfort zone, put on your warmest clothes and head out to the frozen kingdom. As ice fishing requires a different approach, make sure to take this trip with a professional guide.
When to Go
Most fishing guides run their ice fishing trips from mid-December till mid-March. Each year’s season depends on weather conditions, so it sometimes starts as late as January. You may be eager to start your trip as soon as possible but it’s better to be patient and wait for the ice to get thicker – safety first!
If you’re not sure what time of day to head out, many fishing guides recommend early morning. This is because fish react to temperature and light change, so you can expect the most activity and hardest bites as the sun rises.
What to Expect
If you picture an ice fishing experience as standing above a hole in the ice with a rod and freezing, you’ll be happy to know it’s nothing like that. Most captains in the area use heated ice shacks, so you’ll be safe from the cold wind. Just be sure to dress warm enough and feel free to ask your guide what to expect ahead of time.
Your fishing guide will drill several holes in the ice, provide you with fishing equipment, and then it’s mostly a waiting game. Once you get used to the surroundings, you’ll find that it’s actually quite relaxing.
The usual winter catches are Walleye and Lake Whitefish, but significant numbers of Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, and Trout are there too. Yellow Perch is a great fish to start with if you’re a novice or bringing your kid, as they require less skill than Walleye.
Need to Know
Anglers age 17 or older need to have a valid fishing license.
During the Free Fishing Weekend in February, everyone can fish without a fishing license. This applies to both residents and out-of-state visitors.
Ice shacks can be very comfortable and warm, but the “floor” is still lake ice – make sure to wear thick socks and warm boots.
A Lake Michigan ice fishing trip is something you ought to try at least once. Some anglers even prefer winter fishing, and the only way to find out why is to give it a go yourself!