If we are not able to fish the bigger drowned river mouths (Pere Marquette and Manistee Lakes) in our area the first week or so of March for perch then call the season a lucky one for the fish. It seems we keep getting teased with marginal ice then we have a melt off, and the ice disappears.
Our focus in the Ludington area has been on North Hamlin Lake for bluegill, crappie, and walleye along with part of Pentwater Lake for perch and steelhead because that is where the ice has been safe. Fishing on Hamlin Lake for bluegill started out hit or miss and seems to be getting better. Typically it is the opposite of that. This may be due to the mild winter and having a melt off on the Sauble River that feeds Hamlin Lake keeping oxygen levels higher than normal for February. The upcoming forecast shows very cold temperatures and should put us back on a normal schedule and force fish into deeper water in search of oxygen. Bluegills and crappie should be suspended over the deepest part of the lake during the first part of March this year.
Later in March, last ice can be some of the best fishing of the year. Fish return to weed beds that will start to grow again due to increased sunlight penetrating through the ice. The North end of lakes warms up the fastest. As the shoreline ice melts near the edges, it will also add more oxygen into the water giving the fish a new boost of energy, and they will begin to feed more.
You can use more aggressive jigging techniques and typically slightly larger lures if the fish are aggressive. Keep moving until you find the fish at the end of the season. Try looking for bluegills and perch adjacent to their spawning areas near drop-offs at last ice. The weather can be great, and it is easier to move when you do not require a shanty, and it is a great time to get kids out of the house and take them fishing. Be safe and see you on the ice.