Grand Rapids Fishing Report: December 2014

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Grand Rapids Fishing Report

We saw some strange sights this year in the months of October and November. There were guys bundled up in boats trolling patterns around the greater Grand Rapids area lakes. There may have been pike poles rigged, but the main attention was on the graph and looking over the side of the boat. Fall mapping was taking place. Anglers were finding weed beds and structure and logging every item into that virtual map of their favorite fishing hole. Anglers were loading up their notebooks, tablets, and smart phones with GPS waypoints and notes. I spent several days documenting sites that I hope will be hot spots during early ice.

A good knowledge of the bottom of your target lake can help out in the early season. Patterns don’t change that much between fall and early ice. A great map can turn you into a one-hole wizard.

Then someone says, “skim ice,” a tease to hard-water angler and that starts the equipment maintenance, shopping trips, and seminars. . . ice fever hits! Check your local shops to find out when their shows are scheduled. There are deals to be had, knowledge to be shared, and you might just meet some friends, new and old.

If we are lucky we might get some walk-able ice just before Christmas. Floating suits and limited equipment are the fares of the day. Text messages, evenings in the forums, even posting on the ice map ( will be the passion of anglers all around West Michigan who normally have little use for computers and text messages the rest of the year. Ice fever has got them.

That first ice is dangerous. It will break easily. Move slowly until you are sure of the ice. Safety ropes, picks, PFD’s, a spud to poke around, and some dry clothes to change into if you do get wet. Hypothermia is the real danger if you do get wet. I learned the hard way that dry jeans do not slide on over cold, wet legs, standing nearly naked on a boat ramp. I have a fleece pullover; sweat pants and slip-on shoes that I can change into to drive back home. And probably the most important NEVER go alone. It is not enough to just tell someone where you are going; they will never be able to help you like a partner can.

If you get out on safe ice, head for those weed beds you found in the fall. The fish are still feeding like there was no ice. The weeds generate oxygen, small organisms feed on the algae and plankton around the weeds, small bugs feed on them, and they are the food source the fish are feeding on. Walk and fish careful if you get the chance to find hard water; take along a partner you will have a better time even if nothing goes wrong.

And don’t be shy about putting a few of those new ice toys or sports shop gift certificates on Santa’s list. Be safe on that hard water.