If you are looking for something to do this winter, give ice fishing a try. Ice fishing is a fun and affordable sport. It can be equally fun for children and adults alike. We are so lucky to have Lake St. Clair right in our backyard with such a world-class fishery. If you do not own a boat, ice fishing is an excellent way to access some popular and good spots that you may not be able to access in the warmer months. Some fresh air and sunshine is also a good way to knock off a little cabin fever.
First and foremost is ice safety. If you are not sure of the ice conditions, check with a local bait shop or someone familiar with the area and current ice conditions – DON’T RISK IT! Also make sure you are dressed appropriately. Getting cold can put a damper on a good day in a hurry. A layered approach is a good way to keep warm, and you can always remove a layer if needed.
Basic equipment and tools needed are a fishing license, rod/reel combination, spud to make a hole, some lures and bait. There is an endless variety of jigs, spoons and baits that can be used to catch fish through the ice. My personal favorites are a plain hook with a live minnow and a jigging spoon. All of that, plus much more, can be found at the many local bait shops that dot the shoreline around Lake St. Clair. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the bait shop as well. They will help set you up and can give some very good tips and starting points. Talk with the fishermen in the parking lots. Not only can you get valuable information, but most are friendly, and you may just make yourself a new friend or two.
I try to get out ice fishing at least one time per weekend during the ice fishing season. Lake St. Clair has multiple spots that anyone can access to ice fish. Lake St. Clair Metropark is a popular one. Both the beach area and the boat marina are spots that can hold fish. The DNR access site at the end of M-59 (Hall Road) is another popular spot. I have fished both locations with good results. Access to the lake can also be found at the DNR launch sites at Crocker Road and Jefferson and at the end of South River Road as well as other places. Be prepared to move around a bit and drill a few holes until you find the fish. Spend up to 30 minutes at a spot, and if nothing bites, it is time to move. You do not necessarily have to move far. Sometimes 100 yards to another location is all that is needed to find fish. If you are not very familiar with a particular spot, just look for the gathering of anglers, and start near them.
Introducing kids to ice fishing is a great way to spend some quality time together and get them away from the video games for a while. For me, not much else beats seeing my kids with a smile on their face and a fish on their line. Every January, the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association holds an annual children’s ice fishing event at Lake St. Clair Metropark. This free event is a good way to introduce a child to the sport of ice fishing. Visit www.lscwa.net for more details if you are interested.
The most common species of fish that people target in winter are yellow perch and panfish. They can be relatively easy to catch at times and make for a great meal. I look forward having a fresh fish dinner just as much as fishing for them. Give ice fishing a try this winter and your taste buds will thank you for it.
For more information on ice fishing and to read the latest fishing reports or to learn more about the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association, visit their website at www.lscwa.net.
Tim Muir is an avid Lake St. Clair fisherman who serves on the board of directors of the Lake St. Clair Walleye Association.