Weekender Tips for Ice Fishing in Northern Michigan

Ice Fishing Michigan

A holiday weekend is the perfect time to enjoy one of northern Michigan’s favorite outdoor activities: ice fishing. And it’s not just locals who are itchin’ to go fishin’. Visitors come from miles around to catch their limit on our frozen lakes.

Here are a few tips from a local for the casual weekender who wants to give ice fishing a try —from advice on equipment, to safety and a fish finder for area lakes. These tips won’t guarantee a prosperous catch, but they’ll set you up for a fun, safe angling adventure on Michigan’s frozen playgrounds.

Walleye fishing Michigan

Licensed to Catch

The first thing every angler needs is a license. And the MDNR offers several options.

  • You can now buy an e-license online anytime at mdnr-elicense.com.
  • There are three licensing options: one-day license, season license and a new 72-hour all species license. The last option is great for the weekender as it’s available to residents and non-residents for $30.
  • Fish for free on one of Michigan’s free fishing weekends. Mark you calendars for February 14-15, 2015 for this winter’s free weekend.

Equipment

Here’s a list of the basic equipment and supplies you’d need for an afternoon out on the ice. And like most sports and hobbies, there are the necessities, and then there are thousands of variations, and upgrades that can expand the options, and empty your wallet. These are the nuts and bolts. You take it where you want to from here.

  • Valid Michigan fishing license, see above. Children under 17 can fish for free;
  • Ice Auger or spud, depending on the depth of the ice. More than four inches of ice and you’ll probably want an auger;
  • Sled to pull your gear, depending on how much you have;
  • Portable shanty, foldable chair or bucket to sit on;
  • Tip-ups or ice fishing rods;
  • Bait: for tip-ups use minnows like golden shiners or blues. For rods use wax worms or artificial bait like jigs and spoons.

Tip: Don’t forget to keep the receipt from the bait shop if you buy live bait, like minnows. Live bait must be certified to prevent the spread of disease. DNRE officers may ask for proof of purchase.

Safety Tips

  • Safe ice is thick ice. Four inches is recommended for safely fishing on Michigan’s inland lakes. If you’re heading out with a snowmobile or ATV, err on the side of caution and wait for 5″-6″ of ice.
  • Watch for holes, cracks and open ice. Freshly abandoned ice fishing holes are a quick way to twist an ankle or worse. Anglers often leave branches or markers in their abandoned ice holes as a warning, so keep your eyes open.
  • Bring emergency gear. Safety spikes are a great solution, and can be worn around the neck. They look like a short jump-rope with handles on the end, each equipped with a spike. If you fell in the ice you could use the picks to pull you out. A lifejacket and some rope are a good back-up plan.
  • Don’t fish alone. It’s not as much fun anyway, so bring a buddy.

Tip: If you’re unsure about the safety of lake ice, get some advice from the bait shop or a local. Many small inland lakes are not ideal for ice fishing because they’re spring fed. The way the ice forms can also determine whether it’s strong enough to support additional weight. So if you don’t see any tracks, or evidence of activity on the surface, don’t venture out, especially alone.

ice fishing for pikeFish Finder

There are dozen of lakes in northwestern Michigan that could be great for fishing. And certain species thrive in specific lakes. Here’s a short guide to some of the most popular species, and where you can find them.

  • If your fishing for pike check out Portage Lake in Onekema and Green Lake in Interlochen;
  • For smelt try Crystal Lake in Benzie county, and Green Lake;
  • For perch Crystal Lake and Glen Lake near Glen Arbor;
  • For walleye visit Long Lake in Traverse City, and Lake Leelanau on the Leelanau Peninsula.

Tip: Know your limit, and stay within it. The DNRE limits the catch on each species, and limits vary. Check out the MDNR website for all the details.

 

 

By |2018-12-12T09:21:39+00:00January 19th, 2015|Adventure, Family Fun, Travel Tips|0 Comments

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Traverse Traveler Holiday Gift GuideI know it’s challenging to find the time to scour the stores hunting for the perfect gift. So each year I sneak out to our local retailers in search of eye catching items for someone special on your list. I hope these suggestions will get the holiday spirit flowing. Each item includes a price (or price range) and the northern Michigan store where it can be purchased. I encourage you to shop local and help boost the economy in our own backyard. (more…)

Wellington Inn at Christmastime

Antiquities Wellington Inn

Discover the beauty of the Wellington Inn at Christmastime

If you’ve ever wandered down historic 6th Street and Washington in Traverse City and wondered what it would be like to live in those huge Victorian homes then this is for you. The Wellington Inn is opening their doors to the community for the 11th season in a celebration of old fashioned Christmas spirit. I stopped by the Inn this week for a behind-the-scenes peek at what’s to come this weekend and next during their annual Inn at Christmastime extravaganza.

(more…)

By |2018-09-12T13:20:14+00:00December 4th, 2013|Events|0 Comments

10 Places I've Never Been: Country Christmas

10 Places I've Never Been image

This summer I’m on a mission to explore uncharted territory in my own backyard, and improve Michigan’s economy one purchase at a time.

 

The strategy is simple. Visit 10 places I’ve never been before…just because, I’ve never been. Next on my list: Country Christmas

 Country Christmas exterior image

 

This is another one of those places that every local has driven past at one time or another. Located on the uphill side of highway M-72 as you’re headed out of Traverse City towards Empire is Country Christmas. This cozy cottage-like place, painted red with green gingerbread trim is the perfect spot for a crafty couple like Bill and Lee Smith.

Country Christmas interior view 

 

It was Tuesday when I walked in, completely unannounced and was met with a smile by Tracy Smith. Standing behind a desk, and in front of a beautiful antique hotel key box, was his father, Bill. I was immediately impressed when the first question they had for me was, "Have you been in to visit us before, or is this your first time?"

 

I introduced myself and explained the concept for the 10 Places I’ve Never Been article series. With a nod of recognition, they quickly responded, "You’re going to want to talk to Lee." Around the corner she came.

 Country Christmas interior image

 

The story of Country Christmas always goes back to Lee, and her love of homemade holiday crafts. For years Lee sold her creative Christmas decorations at arts and crafts fairs. She recycled and repurposed every piece of material, paper or holiday-themed gift that she came across. Pipe-cleaners, old spools, candy boxes, corks, cards, bits of fabric and ribbon all became materials for Lee’s creations. She saw potential in everything, and nothing was wasted.

 

In 1983 the antique store on these grounds came up for sale, just as their dreams of living on the bay were dashed by the housing market. A move to the country was in store, and their house suddenly sold to make it possible. That’s when Lee, Bill and their three sons went into the Holiday business.

Country Christmas spool angel imageCountry Christmas cork ornament image

Country Christmas driftwood santas imageCountry Christmas handmade ornament image

Upon taking a tour to learn more about their products, Bill really came to life. As he guided me through the three main rooms he was so proud to show off each of his wife’s creative designs. We saw angels made with spools and tulle, simple clusters of corks loved by wine-tasting tourists, Santas painted on driftwood and little boxes designed from bits and pieces she collects. Each ornament brought a smile to his eye and a nod towards Lee.

Country Christmas manger

 

But the store isn’t just filled with Lee’s handiwork. Over the years they’ve built relationships with artists all over the Midwest. In fact I began noticing red tags hanging on nearly half their merchandise — a sign that the piece is handcrafted and locally made. They were approached by one of the first Bronners employees who asked if the Smiths might like sell his handmade mangers. Since then Bill has begun decorating some with stones he finds along Lake Michigan.

Country Christmas santa ornamentsCountry Christmas bird ornament

Country Christmas antique tinsCountry Christmas chalkware image

They also have handcarved Santas, bells on leather straps from Ohio, and some very colorful handpainted ornaments from Traverse City artist Keith Smith. If handmade Christmas ornaments are what you’re shopping for, this is the place to go.

 

Another unique item Lee began to make and sell is called Chalkware. They started collecting antique tin folding chocolate molds. Lee fills the molds with a chalky plaster and when set, she paints the figurine. Each piece is handmade and unique.

Country Christmas Buyer's Choice carrolersCountry Christmas baby blocks 

 

There are many well-known collections available at Country Christmas. They carry Buyer’s Choice Carrolers, Santas, nativities, German glass ornaments and vintage pieces. Trees throughout the store show off collections of ornaments that will suit any holiday decor. I even found some lime green trees and modern fused glass pieces that fit the theme in my house.

 

If you’re looking for a personalized gift, you’ll love the solid cherry baby blocks which are laser-cut and personalized with your choice of designs on each side. With Lee’s steady hand she will paint a personal message or family name on nearly any item you wish.

Country Christmas Waldo-ClauseCountry Christmas Waldo-Clause

 

One of my favorite features is actually something the Smith’s started doing to keep children busy while shopping with their parents. Pasted on the front door before you even enter the store, is a sign announcing that Waldo-Clause is hiding inside. The children spend their time searching all the nooks and crannys of the shop looking for Waldo-Clause. Once he is discovered and reported the kids get to select a small prize. But perhaps the bigger reward is the priviledge of hiding Waldo-Clause for the next eager hunter.

Country Christmas purchase

 

After wandering the store, in search of my purchase, I was immediately drawn to some whimsical lime green trees I could use for display. I sheepishly admitted, the holiday I’m really addicted to is Halloween. Sure enough I found a couple candy corn glass ornaments that will look great with my Halloween decorations. So I had my purchase. Now all I needed was a photo of the happy couple who started this quaint little store on the side of the road.

Country Christmas owners

 

"I always told the kids, ‘Don’t buy me something, make me something’," said Lee. And it’s that philosophy that keeps her creating every day.

 

With our crafty backgrounds, and ability to see creative opportunities everywhere we look, I knew Lee and I were kindred spirits. It was my pleasure to meet such a sweet couple. And I’m sure I’ll be back to the Country Christmas store.

Country Christmas interiorCountry Christmas entry

 

Country Christmas is open from Memorial Day to Christmas Eve, Monday – Saturday from 10-5pm, and 7 days a week starting on October 1st. You can find them at 9005 M-72 West, Traverse City, Michigan 49684. To place a special order call 231.946.6294. Visit their website at www.countrychristmastc.com. As with all my 10 Places locations, I’ll be adding them to the Traverse Traveler iPhone app — our free mobile guide to the Traverse Area. Download on iTunes here.

 

 

If there’s a place in northern Michigan you’ve been dying to visit, but you’ve never made the time, you have one more week to tell me about it on the Traverse Traveler Facebook page. I’ll be choosing my last place from your suggestions!

 

And stay tuned, as I plan to explore the next stop on my 10 Places I’ve Never Been tour:  Two Fish Gallery.

 

By |2011-08-19T09:01:39+00:00August 19th, 2011|Place's I've Never Been, Traverse City|0 Comments

Holiday Open House, The Village

Village at Grand Traverse Commons imageShop The Village for Holiday Fun
Friday December 12

Come experience the holiday magic in the historic Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Enjoy live music, delectable appetizers, and seasonal specials as you shop for that perfect gift from dozens of unique merchants. Join in The Village Adventure Game for a chance to win big.

When:  Friday, December 12th from 5pm – 9pm

Where: The Village at Grand Traverse Commons

Who: Building 50 and the Surrounding Merchants

By |2008-12-10T15:13:17+00:00December 10th, 2008|Attractions, Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Warehouse District Progressive 12-6

Holiday Open House in the Warehouse District, Traverse City

Saturday, December 6th from 5pm – 9pm

 

Check out the unique shops, restaurants, galleries and more during the Warehouse District Open House. Fourteen merchants will open their doors into the evening offering raffle prizes, food, music and of course Shopping.

Follow the merchant trail and enter for a chance to win a $140 gift certificate. Must be present to win.

Merchants include:

  • By Candlelight
  • Lighting Center
  • Waara Technologies
  • Handz on Art
  • The Red Dresser
  • Bay West Antiques
  • Boardman Paddle & Pedal
  • Rebecca’s Studio & Gallery
  • Salon/Saloon
  • Right Brain Brewery
  • Cuppa’ Joe
  • NM3
  • Vision Modern Salon
  • InsideOut Gallery
By |2008-12-03T11:16:23+00:00December 3rd, 2008|Art Scene, Check This Out, Events, Traverse City|0 Comments

Wellington Inn Old-Fashioned Christmas

Wellington Inn at Christmastime photoThe Wellington Inn’s Sixth Annual "Inn at Christmastime" December 5-7th

Experience an old fashioned Christmas at this beautifully restored 1905 neoclassical mansion in Traverse City’s historic Boardman neighborhood.

December 5 & 6 from 5pm – 8pm
December 7 from 1pm – 4pm

Area florists and artisans have ‘decked the halls’ with a spectacular display of holiday designs and decorations.

  • Tour the entire Mansion while enjoying holiday entertainment by local musicians.
  • Enjoy refreshments provided by local businesses in the third floor ballroom.
  • Many displays will be available for purchase through participating designers.
  • Tickets are $15 at the door. 
  • Proceeds will benefit THE GRAND TRAVERSE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
  • Family portraits can be scheduled in advance with Windborne Photographic 231-946-2940

 

For more information call 231-922-9900 or visit www.WellingtonInn.com


 

By |2008-12-02T10:28:05+00:00December 2nd, 2008|Check This Out, Events, Lodging, Traverse City|0 Comments

Downtown Tree Lighting 11-28

 Santa’s Arrival and Tree Lighting in Downtown Traverse City

Friday November 28th the magic of the holiday season begins. Spend the day lingering over 150 downtown stores and restaurants, enjoy a serenade of holiday music and stay for the evening’s festivities.

 

Join the downtown community around 5:15pm for a sing-a-long of holiday carols lead by the Traverse City Central High School students around the Christmas tree.  The fun continues with the excitement of Santa’s arrival in a horse drawn sleigh.

Santa’s house will be open for children to visit from 6-8pm on the corner of Cass and E. Front Street. Horse & Carriage rides from Abraham Carriage Service will be available for an affordable price until 8pm.

 

For more information on Holiday events in Downtown Traverse City check out their website or call 231.922.2050.

By |2008-11-26T10:52:52+00:00November 26th, 2008|Events, Traverse City|0 Comments