Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ice Fishing Report: Lake St Helen

Lake St Helen Smiling Sun on Shanty
K. Stephenson
Ice fishing on Lake St Helen is in full swing. According to Malcombs Tackle Box on M-55 Lake St Helen in having a great year of fishing with Bluegill, Perch and some Northern Pike and others being reeled in. The best fishing is off of Artesia beach. Photographs taken were by the DNR boat launch off Airport rd.

There are few heavy wood shanties on the lake as more anglers are using the portable shanties. Not too many of the fisherman are permanent residents who use the shanty often. Also if the weather warms and the snow melts and then reforms as ice, it's a major hassle digging the heavy shanty runners out of the ice when it comes time to move it.

Minnows and white artificial baits are currently on the menu. Also I am a proponent of jigheads. I started using them a few years ago and I love them. They give a natural presentation for more strikes. Hook the minnow through the lips.

For up to date information on the fishing and bait at Lake St Helen stop by Malcolm's Tackle Box on your way into town. They are knowledgeable and helpful, have a great selection of tackle and live and artificial baits.

Note: The St Helen Winterfest is February 5, 2011 and badges are only $3. We don't have a lot of snow so far this year and the warm snap melted a lot away. But we have since had more and currently have about 8" on the ground. so snowmobiling isn't great but still doable. There is a lot of snow on the lake so be careful about driving a vehicle on the lake.

Stay safe, stay warm and leave some fish for me.

Ken S

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tip Up Town, USA 2011 Update- Polar Bear Dip

Tip Up Town, USA. The temperature for the first weekend of TUT was "ice cold" as usual, with the temp in single digits, closer to zero. But that didn't stop the record crowd from having a good time at the 61st annual TUT, USA 2011.

The Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce has announced there will be "no" preregistration for the Polar Bear Dip, but only the first 250 jumpers will receive a sweatshirt. So if you want a sweatshirt plan to be early. The "dipping" starts at 1 pm on saturday Jan 30. Registrants start forming the line around 11am possibly earlier. Some of these people are hard core as they wait in line year after year to get that sweatshirt. I enjoy watching the Polar Bear Dip but personally, I don't need a sweatshirt that bad. At least not this year. Maybe next year. Never say never.

Coming next Fishing Report St Helen. Hope to have some photo's of the Polar Bear Dip for you after next weekend. So until then...

Stay safe. Stay warm. See ya next time.

Ken S.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tip Up Town USA 2011-Schedule of Events

Tip Up Town, USA 2011

I recently came across a copy of the schedule for this years events. Seems the Chamber of Commerce link isn't working. So here are the highlights:

Fri, Jan 21

  • 4 pm           Medallion Hunt Clues
  • 6pm-10pm  Tailgate Party with "Hidden Agenda" at Beverage Tent

Sat, Jan 22

  • 10 am          TUT Fun Run, Parade, Bed Races
  • 10am-3pm   Snowmobile Radar Run Races
  • 10am-4pm   Kids Ice Fishing Contest
  • 11am-6pm   Beverage Tent music with "Hidden Agenda"
  • 11:30 am     Winning Floats arrive TUT sight
  • 12pm           Youth hockey Tourney

Sun, Jan 23

  • 10am-1pm   Ice Fishing Contest Weigh In
  • 11am           Church Service
  • 3 pm            Pie Eating Contest

Saturday and Sunday both weekends
12pm-6pm   Family Fun Tent

  •        Carnival Rides and Games
  •        Ice Slide
  •        Mechanical Surfer
  •        Pony Rides-Petting Zoo-Kids Snowmobile Rides
  •        Redneck Horseshoes
  •        Magic show on both sundays 12:30-1:30

Sat, Jan 29

  • 10am           Ice Sculpture Judging
  • 11am-6pm   Beverage Tent music with "Revolver"  
  • 1pm             Polar Bear Dip (preregistration required)
  • 2:30pm        Brother of the Bush, Most Badges Contests
  • 3pm             Pie Eating Contest

Sun, Jan 30

  • 11am           Church Service
  • 12pm-4pm   Family Fun Tent
  • 3pm             Pie Eating Contest
  • 4pm             Grand Prize Giveaway in Family Fun Tent

Helicopter rides and fireworks on saturdays weather permitting.

Higgins Lake Winterfest for more info click here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Winterfest-Higgins Lake-2011

Winterfest in Higgins Lake, Michigan is the other winter festival held at the North Higgins Lake State Park and various other locations. The 2011 Winterfest falls on the 18th and 19th. This is a great family festival. The event starts friday evening with dinner specials and $1 Cosmic bowling. Saturday the day begins with a pancake breakfast at Timbers restaurant, on County 100 just north of the South Higgins Lake State Park entrance.

The Cardboard Classic featuring sleds of various designs. Come and cheer for your favorite to make it all the way down the hill. Designs from the past have included boats, tanks, Hummers, a tea cup and saucer and the list goes on, limited only by the imagination. All entries must be cardboard, tape and paint only.  Preregistration is required for entering the competition. For more info contact Higgins Lake-Roscommon County Chamber of Commerce. Or call 989-275-8760

Pioneer Hill is across from Pioneer Hills Marine just off County 100 on North Cut Rd.

February 18th  kickoff:

  • Timbers Restaurant with live music and dinner specials. 
  • Fred's in Roscommon will have Cosmic bowling beginning at 9:30 p.m.($1 per game ~ $1 for shoes) drink and dinner specials.

February 19th events include:

  • Pancake breakfast at Timbers Restaurant  8:00am - 10:00 a.m. 
  • Higgins Lake fishing derby 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. NHLSP
  • Snowmobile Radar Run ($10 registration) 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. NHLSP
  • Crazy Cardboard Classic Downhill Run on Pioneer Hill 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (my favorite)
  • Chili cook-off at the RAM Center 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. 
  • Hot dog lunch 12:00 - 3:00 p.m. 
  • Broomball competition begins at 1:00 p.m. and an awards celebration. NHLSP
  • Kid’s carnival games, horse drawn sleigh rides, snowman building contest, box hockey and ice slide.

NHLSP = North Higgins Lake State Park. To check times and locations call 989-275-8760.

So if you enjoy Tip Up Town, USA or you missed it, or you just have cabin fever. Come and check out the Winterfest at Higgins Lake on February 18 & 19, 2011. 

$5 badge is required for admission to events. Children under 5 are free when accompanied by adult with a badge.

Stay safe, stay warm and have fun,

Ken S.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Tip Up Town USA 2011-Elections Update-Ice Tea Party Wins Big!!!

Tip Up Town, USA  January 8, 2011

Election Results 

The Ice Tea Party were the big winners at the annual Tip Up Town kick-off on Jan. 8. Mayor "Jamaica" George Davis and Marshal "Caribbean" Chris Tribelhorn aligned themselves with the Ice Tea Party and ran uncontested. In keeping with this years theme "Life's a Beach" both candidates and their fellow party members wore outlandishly colorful tropical clothing (the umbrella hat was a particularly nice touch for the new Marshal), while singing songs and performing skits. . In a contest that requires little talent, a lot of imagination and telling some whoppers, these two had no competition (they were the only ones running) and cruised to victory like a runaway snowmobile.

Mellisa Sullivan was radiant while being crowned Tip Up Town Queen 2011. Runner up Kathy Pease was also quite elegant. No word has been given whether Ms. Sullivan will participate in the annual Polar Bear Dip which is held on the second saturday of the festival. A tradition which began some years back. The "Polar Bears" start dipping around 1PM and bleacher seats fill up fast. A good time will be had by all. For more info contact Houghton Lake Chamber of Commerce

See you there,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Houghton Lake Ice Fishing Report-Higgins Lake

Higgins Lake near W. DNR Boat Launch
K. Stephenson 

Two unidentified anglers try to start their gas powered auger to make a whole about twenty yards out from the north-west side DNR boat launch. There was one other fisherman who had a couple of tip ups and was watching from his truck. None of them was using a shanty.

Here's a tip: If your going to use a gas-powered auger, start it up the day before to be sure it will start. Bring a can of starting fluid just in case it won't start. Also I am a fan of gas treatment like Sta-bil. All of my gas powered equipment starts on the first or second pull. At the beginning of the season I may have to use a shot of starting fluid, but after that it will usually start right up.

Higgins Lake near Gerrish Township Boat Launch
 K. Stephenson

The shanties at Higgins Lake are placed well apart at the Gerrish Township boat launch. A couple of miles north there is a large concentration of fishermen a couple of hundred yards out between Old Point Comfort and Treasure Island along the shelf. There are good concentrations of perch, pike and walleye being caught. 

Higgins Lake near Gerrish Township Boat Launch
 K. Stephenson

These guys are ready for a long day of ice fishing in what looks to be an extra large homemade shanty. I don't know how they pulled the trailer onto the ice, but a few days before this was taken two snowmobiles went through the ice near the DNR boat launch.

Houghton Lake: Perch have slowed but Northern Pike are being caught off the lighthouse by Korbinski's and Walleye are still biting by Harvys Marine. In the East Bay.

Bait of the Day: Minnows on jighead. Working at both Houghton and Higgins Lakes

Tip: Hook the minnow or chub through the lips. It is a more natural (if you use a standard horizontal jighead) presentation. Plus the minnows stay alive longer than hooking them through the back. Until next time.

Stay safe, stay warm and leave a few for me,


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Houghton Lake Ice Fishing-East Bay Shanty Town

East Bay Houghton Lake near Harveys Marine
K. Stephenson

The Houghton Lake East Bay was filled with shanties and fisherman today even thought the temperatures dropped well below zero in the morning. My computer read -6 degrees at 8:30 AM. The high for today was forecast to be 22 degrees and with the help of sunny skies I'm sure it made it. It was a beautiful day.

Above is a photo of a "shanty town" in the East Bay just off Harveys Marine. Both the marine store and the marina with boat slips are for sale. Someone suggested that the marine store might be a great place for a restaurant. With the boat slips and a dock for those on the lake and plenty of parking it would just take the right person to make it happen. I know nothing of the zoning laws or land use for restaurants, but a nice seafood restaurant there would sure be nice.

As for the fishing, all area are reporting moderate to good fishing, with minnows and wax worms the preferred baits. I haven't met up with anyone fishing either Higgins Lake or Lake St Helen. But as soon as a I do I'll let you know. As a matter of fact I may just take a drive tomorrow and check at least one. Until then..

Stay safe, stay warm and stay dry,


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Tip Up Town USA 2011-Houghton Lake Ice Fishing Festival

Tip Up Town USA, Houghton Lake, Michigan

For those who don't know about TUT you've come to the right place. TUT is a festival that happens the last two weekends of January. This year that falls on the 22-24 and 29-31. It is a celebration of those brave souls who venture out onto the ice to match wits with fish. 

Elections for TUT Queen, Mayor and Marshall will be held at the Houghton Lake High school Gymnasium on January 8 at 7pm. The public is invited to share in the fun. TUT badges will be available for $6. Badges are also available at area merchants and at the festival. The badges help to fund the festival. Should you attempt to circulate around the festival without a badge, the Marshall will put you in the TUT jail until someone bails you out (buys you a badge). The badge also enters you into a drawing.

Grand Parade is Jan. 22, 2011 at 10am. Followed by the Bed Race.

There are contests, rides, vendors and entertainment.

The single biggest draw at the festival is the Polar Bear Dip on the second Saturday at 1pm. Preregistration is required. Click here for more info.

Higgins Lake Winterfest the other winter festival for more info click here.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Houghton Lake-Reedsburg Fishing Report

Northern Pike-Reedsburg Dam
K. Stephenson

The temperature at midnight was 45 degrees. It's now 39 and dropping at 11:30 am. By tonight the temps will be in the teens and with the wind chill we're talking low single digits. Great for ice fishing but too late for snowmobilers. The snow has all melted and there's nothing but a few flurries in the forecast for the next week.The lake had significantly fewer shanties on it yesterday. Probably due to it being New Years eve and the warm weather turning the surface ice to several inches of slush. A good move since that slush will now refreeze and could lock a shanty in the ice until spring thaw.

Now for some good news. I was able to get out for a few hours of fishing by the Reedsburg Dam. The Northern shown above was only about 18" (just a baby), so I put it back to grow a little bigger. Of course, the big one got away. I was using a white plastic bait on a small black jig head (1/16 oz). The plastic was a 4" bleedin' tube. Anyway the short version is the hook was turned back into the bait so the hook didn't set. I pulled the big fella about 12 feet before his resolve gave out and he let go of the bait. Good thing he probably would have broke my pole.

The small one that I did catch I caught on a dead chub that some other fisherman had dumped after fishing. There were a few littering the bottom of the shallows just off shore but too far for me to retrieve. Besides I was just curious if I could get one to bite on plastic. It did but it took some time before the first strike. The dead chub was gobbled up within the first few minutes. Imagine what a live one could do for you! 

When I was young and went fishing with my dad, he would always bring both minnows and crawlers. I'm not a fan of minnows or chubs. They're a hassle because you have to haul around a bucket full of water, dip the little wigglers out and try to get them on the hook before they die. Also they don't last more than a day or two. Nightcrawlers on the other hand will keep in a refrigerator for weeks. Two dozen crawlers lasted me a month during the summer. As soon as I came home I put them in the fridge. 

But the most compelling reason I haven't  used minnows is, my dad never caught very many fish. At least not while fishing with me. I used nightcrawalers, caught plenty of fish and never looked back. Theres more to it than that but that's a story for another time. Rest assured I'll be toting a minnow bucket this summer, along with my crawlers, when I head out on Houghton Lake. I'll let you know how it turns out. So long for now.

Stay safe, stay warm and pray for snow,