ESPN Covers Fishing in the Upper Peninsula

You can own a lake lot on one of these lakes! – Vermilac Lake

U.P. Offers Three Lake for Pike Opportunity

By Robert Dock Stupp – Fishing and Hunting News

Vermilac Lake In Baraga County

The day may come, of course, when trophy hunting doesn’t provide fast enough action, and you yearn for 1-gallon plastic bags of pike filets to take home for pickling. That’s when anglers turn to Vermilac Lake, aka Worm Lake.

Vermilac spans 622 acres and, believe me, most anglers won’t go 5 minutes before pulling a pike out of a hole. Michigan DNR’s Gunderman describes it as “a family place, without many pike reaching 24 inches. Most of the pike will average 17 to 22 inches, but there is no size limit.” This is very fun fishing, especially when it’s hand-over-hand combat with a mouthful of teeth at the other end of a tip-up line.

Only 7 feet deep, the lake does not experience winterkill because of the steady influx of fresh water from the Murphy and Vermilac rivers, and the out-flowing Rock River. Experienced anglers know that fishing in close proximity to these current spots offers super prospects for catching lots of feisty pike.

Vermilac Lake is located north of Crystal Falls on Highway 141 near Covington. There is a launch access and a view of the lake from Hwy. 28.

Information on Baraga County and Vermilac Lake is available by calling the Western Lake Superior Management Unit of the DNR at (906) 353-6651.

Here’s the complete article:

U.P. Offers Three Lake for Pike Opportunity

 CHASSEL, Mich. — February is a watershed month for ice anglers. Panfish have left the shallows, and walleye are sounding deep too. This — one of the most bitter, weather-addled months of the year — is when some of the biggest pike of the hard water season lose their aggressiveness and get a whole lot tougher to catch.

For those anglers still wanting a shot at a sow-bellied, predatory waterwolf at this time of year, though, it pays to beat the odds and head north, north to the Upper Peninsula.

Portage Lake in Houghton County

Crenellations — the up-and-down movements of waves — could be seen far out on Lake Superior as we crept onto the ice at Portage Lake. The lake is 9,640 acres of fishing heaven, connected to the big lake.

Our strategy for fishing here? The old, but true adage: “Big water produces big fish.” When it comes to chasing down the big boys, the oversized Esox lucius, we were in the right place. Aptly named Pike Bay, on the southwest corner of Portage, is very near the town of Chassel. It’s a great place to start a trophy pike quest.

There’s a boat landing here with easy access onto the lake, and plenty of parking for snowmobiles and ATV trailers.

Good Growth Rates

Michigan DNR fisheries biologist Brian Gunderman is bullish about Portage Lake pike. “The pike in Portage have good growth rates,” he said. “There is plenty of forage. On our last survey, 40 percent of the legal pike were in the 38-inch range.”

Portage’s pike give anglers a better-than-most-places chance of hooking a fish at or above that magic 40-inch length that all pike anglers covet — the minimum length for a Master Angler Award for northern pike in the Catch-and-Release Category.

How It’s Done

Tip-ups are popular on Pike Bay, with some anglers also jigging with spoons. Live 6-inch suckers or jumbo golden shiners are used for bait on single treble hooks or quickset rigs (two trebles on a wire leader).

That being said, as the ice fishing season progresses, and pike become less aggressive, be sure to buy some dead bait, particularly oily, smelly baits like smelt and herring that can broadcast scent a long distance.

Rig a couple of these stinky baits on Swedish hooks or large treble hooks under tip-ups. Place these tip-ups in the middle of a circle of regular live-bait tip-ups, and see if that doesn’t increase those orange flags popping up in the breeze. Only two tip-ups per person are allowed in Michigan, so bring some friends.

Another good place to fish is Oscar Bay in the Portage Canal towards Houghton/Hancock, but be careful of the current in the channel. “You don’t necessarily have to join the crowd,” said Steve Koski of Indian Country Sports. “Work the edges of the old ship channel, which is 26 miles long — fish those drop-offs that naturally occur in channels, especially around Oscar Bay.”

There are no operating bait shops in the Chassel area, so your best bet is to stop in L’ance for bait and information at Indian Country Sports (906-524-6518), right on the shores of Lake Superior. The shop is 25 minutes from Pike Bay.

Vermilac Lake In Baraga County

The day may come, of course, when trophy hunting doesn’t provide fast enough action, and you yearn for 1-gallon plastic bags of pike filets to take home for pickling. That’s when anglers turn to Vermilac Lake, aka Worm Lake.

Vermilac spans 622 acres and, believe me, most anglers won’t go 5 minutes before pulling a pike out of a hole. Michigan DNR’s Gunderman describes it as “a family place, without many pike reaching 24 inches. Most of the pike will average 17 to 22 inches, but there is no size limit.” This is very fun fishing, especially when it’s hand-over-hand combat with a mouthful of teeth at the other end of a tip-up line.

Only 7 feet deep, the lake does not experience winterkill because of the steady influx of fresh water from the Murphy and Vermilac rivers, and the out-flowing Rock River. Experienced anglers know that fishing in close proximity to these current spots offers super prospects for catching lots of feisty pike.

Vermilac Lake is located north of Crystal Falls on Highway 141 near Covington. There is a launch access and a view of the lake from Hwy. 28.

Information on Baraga County and Vermilac Lake is available by calling the Western Lake Superior Management Unit of the DNR at (906) 353-6651.

Big Bay De Noc in Delta County, just off Lake Michigan

Care to fish in peaceful solitude? If you like elbowroom and lots of it, and lots of big pike, Big Bay de Noc is definitely for you.

To get there, go down the pike (pardon the pun) a bit, heading west of Escanaba and Gladstone, to Big Bay de Noc, following U.S. 2 west, past Nahma Junction, to the Fishdam River (there’s a sign). This is a public access point. Here you can try areas directly out from the access, between Porcupine Point and Popular Point, in 10 to 20 feet of water.

Ogantz Bay is a popular perch spot and therefore a big pike attraction. Try off the mouth of the Ogantz River south to Martin Bay, Sand Bay and Chippewa Point. The pike here average 5 to 10 pounds, but 20-pound pike — those beautiful, Olympic-sized fish-eating machines — are caught here every year.

Walleye Too

The area around Garden Corners, on the corner of U.S. 2 and Highway 183, however, may be the most super spot in Michigan to fish for monster northerns and “big-mama” walleye.

During the last 2 weeks, a 48-inch northern pike was caught and, two days later, a giant 52-inch pike was brought into Rick Le Moine’s Garden Sport Shop (906-644-2908).

Le Moine reports that “the northern pike are feeding on an invasive species, the goby, and they love to eat them. But don’t forget trophy walleye. Last week three walleye were brought in to the shop that stretched 26, 30 and 29 inches.”

For more information on Big Bay de Noc, contact the Delta County Area Chamber of Commerce at (906) 786-2192.

Here’s the link to article in it’s original format: http://sports.espn.go.com/outdoors/fishing/news/story?page=f_map_06_MI_UP_pike

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