2017-01-19 / Columns

Outdoors This Week in the Eastern U.P.

By Stephen King

The snowmobile trails are in great shape. There is lots of snow on the north half of the U.P. and plenty on the south half. Trail reports from all over are very good.

My tip of the week on snowmobiling: Ride during the week. On weekends, a lot of people come up from that other end of the Mackinac Bridge and, at times, there can be a bit of traffic out there. During the week, not so much. On a Wednesday morning, say, you can expect light traffic. You’ll find trails that probably don’t have a track on them and no lines or waiting at the various cafĂ©’s, gas stations, and other stops on the trails. Perfect time to ride.

We are officially right in the middle of some of the best ice fishing of the year. From one end of the EUP to the other, the fish are biting. All reports are good. Sounds like about all you have to do is make a hole in the ice and they start popping right out. Well, maybe not quite that good, but pretty close.

In Curtis, Mick from Mick’s Bait Shop said, “Fishing is good. From what I’m hearing, there is from 7 inches to 15 inches of ice. But always be careful. With a warmup predicted, watch out for slush. They are getting good catches of walleye, blue gills, perch, and pike.”

Mick also said, “I want to remind everyone of our fishing contest that takes place on January 28. Anyone wanting more information can either come in or call.”

Over in Naubinway, Dan Plue, who always has his bobber on the pulse of fishing in this area, said, like everywhere else, the fishing is great on Millecoquins Lake. There are lots of shacks on the lake, so if you don’t know the area, just head out into the middle of the village.

A 41-inch pike was caught Sunday by a local fisherman, Dan reported. As you may have noticed, often I don’t say exactly who or exactly where things are caught or shot. If I did, the guy that got this fish would probably find himself in the downtown Detroit of ice fishing towns. Just a mention of a fish like that attracts a lot of fishermen.

It was caught on a sucker and a tip up. This makes sense; suckers are a good pike bait. Here comes the tip of the week, for tip-ups or whatever else: Think, “match the hatch.” That’s what the fly fishermen always say. It means think about what the fish you are trying to catch are feeding on. Now, locally, think pike. Think about what the main diet of pike is. At the moment, the results from the autopsy on Dan’s friend’s pike were not back yet, but I’m betting that it had a fair amount of small perch inside it. This lake is known for small perch, and pike love them.

So, when you think about what to put on the end of that tip-up, think about small perch. These aren’t available at the bait shop, but it’s not a big problem. Use a very small jig and a wax worm or wiggler to catch a few yourself. Or, if you really want to have some fun, bring a child along and let them catch the bait. It will be fun for everyone. Catching a small fish can be a really big thing to a small person.

Tabitha, at K&V Grocery in Moran, said, “Fishing is good. They are catching a lot of pike and walleye on the big lake.” She has been seeing a lot of snowmobilers, and said, “It’s good to see all the people again.”

The report from Chuck’s on Drummond Island is that the fish are biting, there is a lot of snow, and the trails are good. Lots of snowmobile riders are visiting. The Drummond Island Slush Fest is planned for Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19.

It’s another great week in the EUP. Get outdoors!

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