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Ice fishing wrapping up

By JOHN PEPIN, Journal Munising Bureau, 3/28/04

MUNISING — With the air temperature climbing to 60 degrees in Munising Thursday, pools of water dotted the ice on Lake Superior at Munising Bay.

But ice anglers still had plenty of thick ice to fish from. It was a beautiful day for fishing heading into the last weekend of the winter for more “permanent” ice shanties to be allowed on Upper Peninsula lakes.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources deadline for ice shack removal is midnight on Wednesday in the U.P. The ice shanty removal deadline for Lower Peninsula lakes was March 15.

Anglers may still fish on local lakes, as conditions allow, but the more sturdy shacks that are typically pulled by snowmobiles or other vehicles and left on the ice throughout the winter must be removed.

“You can continue to fish with shacks, but you have to remove them each day,” said Capt. Curt Bacon, northern field operations supervisor with the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division in Marquette.

Late in the season, many ice anglers choose to use portable shanties that are easily assembled and taken down each day.

The DNR recommends removing the more permanent type shanties before poor ice conditions arrive.

Lyle Rushford of Munising and his wife Bernetta headed out onto Munising Bay Thursday fishing for only the first time this season.

“Today we’re going to fish for coho, whitefish and smelt and whatever,” Lyle said.

Churning a power auger through the ice, Lyle measured the thickness at almost 3 feet in a hole a short distance off the open mouth of the Anna River. Nearby, numerous ice shanties were scattered across the frozen lake.

Some catches of coho salmon and smelt were reportedly been taken last week, along with lake trout in some places.

Anglers were taking advantage of the late-season ice thickness and biting fish Thursday, fishing mostly along the eastern side of Munising Bay out to Sand Point and in additional areas to the west.

Onshore, many ice shanties had already been pulled from the water’s edge and were standing in the dirt and mud. The sound of melting snow dripping was heard everywhere.

Elsewhere, ice shacks were still out on several inland lakes, according to the DNR. In some other places, fishermen were able to fish from boats in open waters.

Munising City Police Chief Steve Swanberg said the city typically gives fishermen two weeks to remove their ice shacks from city property along the shore.

Then, in the middle of April, a reminder is typically issued to get the final shacks removed from the shoreline.

Bacon said fishermen need to remember to remove all portions of their ice shanties and any debris from around the shack in the fishing area. Items not collected typically end up as a nuisance to property owners when the trash drifts onshore to lawns and other areas.

Ice shanties that sink into the bay or inland lakes can become navigational hazards to boaters. Ticketed anglers can face court penalties of up to 90 days in jail or a $100 fine for not abiding by the shanty removal deadline.

Each year, the DNR issues a number of tickets for the misdemeanor offense. But perhaps worse for sport anglers, those who leave trash and ice shanty debris on lakes can tarnish the image of fishermen. This can create negative attitudes that can affect future fishing access.

“It’s the job of the sportsmen to continue to conduct themselves in a positive light,” Bacon said. “It behooves those who use the ice to clean up after themselves.”

Meanwhile, Bernetta Rushford said she and Lyle have enjoyed ice fishing on Lake Superior at Munising Bay for years. The location is typically popular with anglers because it offers both early and late ice in most years.

Watching Lyle churn a hole in the ice, Bernetta said she knew who was likely going to catch more of the couple’s fish Thursday afternoon.

“Probably me,” she said, laughing. “I’ve got to beat him at something.”
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