Archive of 2010 reports
The ice this year is about 18" thick. If you need some exercise, manually auger a few holes through the ice! For the best fishing locations locate weed structure. The weeds are way down this time of the year - at the bottom 2 feet. Fish in about 10-14 feet of water - deeper water may not have the necessary weed structure. Use minnows or Finnish pimples and jig very slowly, or just use tip-ups with a minnow. The fish are very plentiful... hungry but very slow. Exercise patience. Some days are better than others - but that is fishing. White Lake is a great fishing lake.
Safety First: As the ice eventually thaws, it will melt around the perimeter of the lake first. Exercise extreme caution if you decide to walk on the ice with these conditions. You can break through the ice, and endanger not only yourself but also others. Be smart.
Ice shanties: Please note that as of March 1st all ice shanties must be removed from the lake ice daily. The Michigan DNR will ticket owners from this date forward if any shanties are not removed from the lake.
Game fishing (pike, walleye, bass) is not permitted on White Lake during the month of April due to fish spawning. Bass fishing is not permitted until Memorial Day weekend.
Early Spring Fishing
Just a reminder... Fishing for bass, walleye, and pike game fish is not allowed during the month of April due to fish spawning and regulation from the DNR. The only fishing allowed is for pan fish, like blue gill and crappie. Walleye and northern pike fishing is allowed starting the first week of May. Bass fishing starts the last week of May.
The "ice off" date for White Lake this year was recorded as Friday March 19, 2010. This is not the earliest ever but it was early.
Spring Fishing Tip: So, you want to catch some fish early in the season? This is great time for fishing since the fish are hungry from the long winter, but remember that the water is still cold. Your catching success will have to take this into account. The fish move very slowly in the early spring, so your lures will have to move slowly too. A fast moving lure will have little if any success. Live bait - like minnows - usually works well in the shallow water on the edge of a drop off (the shallow water is warmer and this is where the fish will be).
Mitchell's Marina is hosting an Opening Day Bass Season Bass Tournament. If you're interested in participating in this fishing tournament drop by Mitchell's for more info.
On another note, a great tool to better understand where the fish are in White Lake is a sonar fishing finder. I purchased one this winter to replace one I had. This is probably one of the most valued tools that I can recommend for the fisherman, but remember it still does not guarantee that you will catch fish. This is still up to you!
Late Spring Fishing
The surface water temperature as of May 6th was 64 degrees. Northern Pike and Walleye season is now open (as of April 30th). Personally I have not caught a Walleye in over 3 years. In a future article I will discuss this, and how to best fish our lake for Walleye. Northern Pike and the Largemouth Bass are very active now. The Bass are currently on their nesting beds, and they protect their young from any predators (other fish).
Note: Bass season does not open until Memorial Day weekend. Mitchell's Marina is having a major Bass tournament that weekend. If interested, you should contact Mitchell's for more information.
The canals are full of green algae blooms, and are almost impossible to fish. Until chemical treatment is applied, your success will be very limited in the canals. The WLCL has been notified of this condition.
I fished the lake on May 6th for little less than 2 hours. The catch was 3 Bass and 2 nice sized Northern Pikes. Not a bad day! Weeds are still very low in the lake, and this makes fishing now very productive at times. Be aware that the lake water level is not as high as most Springs, and the sunken island can present some real issues to your boat and propellers if you are not careful... Fishing on the drop-offs around the sunken island is a recommended area. My Lowrance Fish Finder shows a lot of activity in this area (see the catch mentioned above).
On a separate note, Bluegill, Crappie and Catfish are very plentiful in the lake, and their sizes are getting bigger. The large Pike population in the lake is helping to keep the small Bluegill population down, and therefore game fish are gaining in size. The lake Carp will soon be entering the canals to spawn. Don't be too surprised if you hear or see a large splash in the water near you - it's only a Carp dispersing its eggs.
The water is warm and the fish are active. Early morning or late evening fishing is recommended. Patience is key because the weed growth is up now and the fish are hiding. But this is not all bad... The main preditors are hungry, and are looking for the small fish to feed on. This means that if you focus on the edge of the weed beds you will have some success.
To best attract the fish, I recommend a faster moving artificial lure, or live bait in conjunction with moving the lure or bait. Live minnows are a great bait, but don't discount the night crawlers. Note - the price of minnows is much less today than night crawlers. Meijer is probably the cheapest for night crawlers: 20 for $3.
On another note, in my last report I stated "Don't be too surprised if you hear or see a large splash in the water near you - it's only a Carp dispersing its eggs." Some people are concerned about Carp in our lake. Although they not a big game fish, Carp provide an ecological balance to our lake. Carp are bottom feeders and help keep the bottom of our lake clean. Yes, they are not what we would consider a glamour fish, but they are there for a reason and have been for many years. They are huge in size, and may have been gold fish at one time from someone's fish tank! Oh well, don't worry - they are a fresh water fish that we have lived with for thousands of years, and will for many more years to come.
The water surface temperature on White Lake is 84 degrees. Summer has definitely arrived! If you are a swimmer, you will note that the water temperature below the surface of the lake is always cooler. The fish know this only too well. Most fish prefer a temperature in the mid 60's, so if our lake is warm at the top, the fish will be deeper. This is the case right now, and fishing is a bit slow since the fish are deep and resting near or on the bottom of our lake.
The deep holes are a very popular place for fish to school or gather, since they prefer the cooler water. If you fish the canals or shorelines, you will note that shaded areas can be a very productive place to fish, since the fish are out of the sun. The best productivity for fishing on our warm days is early mornings or late evenings. The fish are much more active during these times, and fishing success has proven this time and time again. If you have a fish finder/locator, you can watch this effect by monitoring your screen during these times. The screen will be mostly blank, and then as the sun sets you will see the fish rise from the bottom like they are magically appearing out of nowhere. Hold on to your fishing pole for the fun will soon begin.
I hope this helps you better understand why fishing this time of year can be a bit more challenging. The best success for fishing during the day, with the fish lying on the bottom, is with live bait. Minnows or night crawlers are always a favorite, although leeches and crayfish are also a good choice. Casting is a preferred method on White Lake, since you can better control your location for the area you are fishing. Trolling this time of year can be more difficult due to weeds.
Personally my success fishing this month has been limited. My best success has been with live bait caught in the lake, and then used as bait for larger fish. This method can be very successful if you have the patience and time. As a matter of fact, you never know what you will catch... I caught a 15 pound Snapping Turtle a week ago! I released him, but he put up one heck of a fight. Northern Pike and the Large Mouth Bass are more dominant catches with this method.
On a final note, a friend of mine wanted to know if hot dogs work as bait. The answer is... YES. A good buddy of mine uses hot dogs for bait to catch Bass with much success. Meat is bait for these fish and they don't discriminate. I find it a bit out of the ordinary to fish with hot dogs, but if it works... why not?
Late Summer Fishing
Where are the fish? If you are like most fishermen this past August (yes... we are in September now), you could not help but ask this question. The fish catching has been very slow for most fishermen. The heat of August and the water temperature are the answers. Fish like most humans prefer to be in a cooler climate during the heat of summer, so they lay more on the bottom of the lake or in the deeper spots. Personally I have fished the lake on a number of days in August and my success rate has been poor at best. Even the northern pike are laying low, which is very unusual, but this only tells one that the water is just too warm for activity.
Okay, let's get more positive... Autumn is coming and with it cooler temperatures. The fish are hungry, and they will need to fatten up for winter - so look out! Better days are ahead for better catching success. If you are to catch fish this Labor Day weekend, I recommend fishing the deep water off of Dawson's Island on the east side. The water is deep and the fish plentiful.
It is prime time for fishing on White Lake. The water temperature in early September dropped from 84 degrees to 67 degrees in a matter of a week. Today the water temperature is in the upper 50's. Wow! What difference from the hot days of summer to the cooler days of autumn. The fish are no longer sitting on the bottom but are suspended and feeding. Your opportunity for success has never been better. These conditions should continue through the month of October.
On another note, the weeds are down in most areas where the last lake treatments were applied. I recommend you try some of these areas, since you might be surprised. If I had some luck... so can you. I cannot recommend any specific bait right now since the fishing is hot. Almost anything will work if you have the patience right now. Go for it.
Late Autumn Fishing
It is official... the lake has turned over, autumn has arrived, and fishing success is spotty at best. The "lake turning over" relates to the temperature difference from top to bottom. In the spring and summer, the water temperature is much warmer at the top surface than at the bottom. In the autumn - as the air temperatures cool - the opposite happens, and the temperature at the bottom is actually warmer than at the top. Eventually the top surface freezes, ice forms, and this element of nature confirms what I just said.
So, what does this mean for fishing success? Well, the bait fish have moved out of the canals and into the lake. Don't waste your time in the canals now. The fish are hungry, and feeding to prepare for winter. The water temperature currently is basically the same from top to bottom, so the fish are not just sitting on the bottom. They are suspended into all depths, and are where the bait fish are. If you can locate the bait fish, you will find the keepers.
On a final note, people on the lake are putting their boats away into storage for the winter now, so fishing has not been too active. This time of the year, most people miss the best fishing of the year, but for good reason. The weather is not too cooperative, and you need to dress accordingly. Good Luck!
Burr... We are waiting for the ice to form and freeze on White Lake so we can test our skills for ice fishing. November was a very trying month for fishing on White Lake. The gales of November presented some real challenges. If you did not put your boat away, and braved the elements, there was some fishing going on. The few who did brave the weather accounted for some good catches early in the month. The fish were feeding to fatten up for the long winter ahead of them. This is very natural for fish. The bluegills and sunfish left the canals in October with the change of water temperature. This can be a tip for you for the winter: canals are not very productive in the winter.
Most people on the lake this time of year have been focusing on winterizing their boats for use next year. Docks need to be removed or one chances the ice removing the dock for them during a thaw. This can be a lose-lose situation for all.
One final reminder - Christmas trees are not good for the lake. Please recycle your tree with the garbage pickup and not in the lake. I am looking forward to some great ice fishing in January. Happy Holidays!
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White Lake Citizens League
P.O. Box 851
Highland, MI 48356