Grand Rapids Fishing Report: January 2016

Freezing temperatures during late December has closed in on most of the lakes, NOT! Golfing was more prevalent than skim ice this year. But fear not, the ice has started to form. January will be our month of early ice. Once a lake closes in with a half- inch or better, the cold nighttime temps will form ice quickly. Light precipitation during the day, even rain will help build from the top. Anglers should use extra caution should when venturing out; this new ice can fool you. The larger lakes may have less ice formation due to winds keeping the surface in motion. Unless temps drop drastically, some of our big bodies of water may not be safe south of Grand Rapids this month.

Remember where you found the weed beds in late fall will still be the oxygen rich locations that provide food sources for the pan fish around Grand Rapids. December afforded us a few more days in the boat to do some research fishing around the mouths of creeks and the deep side of weed beds. We found that the pan fish continued to bite on the cold fall tactics. Just for the fun of it, we started using the new ice jigs under slip bobbers, to do a little distance jigging. Reading the side scan instead of the flasher took a bit of an adjustment, but we got it.

Move carefully as you venture out and start jigging the new bright tackle. You can expect to have to entice the gills in a bit more since they have been feeding in the oxygen rich open water. We are hoping it will translate to some larger fish this year. I plan to target the shallow flats on the protected sides of some of our smaller lakes. Some tight bays and protected corners may yield the crappie before they go suspended later this month.

Mid-January should have ice suitable for tip ups. I plan to place them along the edges of the weed beds that yielded early ice catches. Some even out over the shallow sides to take advantage of the natural patrol of predatory fish.

As soon as we get some snow cover on solid ice, the sand flats should start to produce perch catches. Use your flasher to find any dips or cuts in the bottom. An over-weighted pike decoy can be used to fool perch into believing there is feeding in an area. Simply bang it on the bottom every few minutes in a secondary hole. Disturbing the bottom not only fills the water column with debris for perch to munch on but also simulates a school working the bottom.

Wishing you a safe New Year of fishing and those wonderful meals of fresh caught Michigan bounty, please remember to share ice conditions on and observe limits and rules. Be a great Michigan sportsman!