2017-01-05 / Outdoors

Sportsmen brave ice on south Lake Leelanau, smaller county lakes

North Lake Leelanau open
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

AUSTIN ODZIANA presents the 40-inch pike he pulled from a Leelanau County lake on Dec. 21. Ed Martin, who submitted the photo, said Odziana preferred to keep the name of the lake to himself. AUSTIN ODZIANA’S late- December hot streak included this catch of 20 bluegill from an unnamed lake in Leelanau County. Odziana, a former first-team all-state baseball player, is a 2015 graduate of Glen Lake. AUSTIN ODZIANA presents the 40-inch pike he pulled from a Leelanau County lake on Dec. 21. Ed Martin, who submitted the photo, said Odziana preferred to keep the name of the lake to himself. AUSTIN ODZIANA’S late- December hot streak included this catch of 20 bluegill from an unnamed lake in Leelanau County. Odziana, a former first-team all-state baseball player, is a 2015 graduate of Glen Lake. Al Garvin is ready for ice fishing season. The ice in front of his south Lake Leelanau home is not.

“I’m just a-pickin’ and a-grinnin’ and awaitin,’” Garvin said on Friday.

Garvin said he could see open water from his house and that last week’s windy weather made ice on the southern tip of the south lake unsafe.

Safe is a relative term when it comes to ice fishing on the south basin, however. Anglers have been braving other parts of the south lake for weeks.

Ed Martin, owner of Leelanau Setters in Centerville Township, said Cedar sportsman Austin Odziana is among them. Martin said Odziana hauled a handful of walleye from the lake on 4.5 inches of ice last Thursday.

Martin put ATV ramps out and walked the ice the next day, but advised anglers to proceed with caution.

“It’s not safe,” he said. “Make sure you don’t go alone, do not walk close to each other, take hand spikes and check with spud as you walk.”

Fortunately for Martin and other ice fishing enthusiasts in the county, arctic air is expected to speed up the freezing process in a hurry this week.

The National Weather Service is calling for high and low temperatures in the teens today, tomorrow and Saturday in Lake Leelanau.

Martin said anglers won’t have to wait long for thick ice on the south lake, at least not as long as last year.

“Average typically for south lake is the end of the first week in January, but last year it was the first week in February — and we ended two weeks earlier,” Martin said.

Greg Alsip, manager at Lake Leelanau Narrows Resort, said on Tuesday that fishermen have been busy on the north end of the south lake.

The north lake is a different story.

“North lake is still wide open,” Alsip said. “Northern half of the south lake has 2-5 inches of ice. There’s been some walleye, pike and perch caught.”

Alsip said this week’s forecast should lead to more solid ice, “just as long as we don’t get that foot of snow they’re talking about.”

Anglers on smaller Leelanau County lakes, meanwhile, have enjoyed thicker ice this winter — and some big fish to boot. Just ask Odziana, who pulled a 40-inch pike from an unnamed county lake on Dec. 21.

Martin said Odziana also caught 20 bluegill in one trip late last month.

Anglers like Garvin on the southern tip of south Lake Leelanau, on the other hand, keep on a-pickin’ and a-grinnin’ and awaitin.’

When will that part of the lake be ready?

“Only the Lord knows that,” he said.

Return to top