Michigan’s Free Ice Fishing Weekend on the Horizon

Michigan is an ice angler's dream. You have your choice of well over 11,000 inland lakes, the Great Lakes, and more than 36,000 miles of streams and rivers. The weekend of Feb. 18, 2012, you'll also be able to enjoy it all for free.

Ice fishing.

Here's the lowdown, including ideas on where to set your tip up:

Free Ice Fishing Weekend

Each year, Michigan holds two free fishing weekends. The first is for ice fishermen and the other takes place in June. This year's free statewide ice fishing weekend will be taking place Feb. 18 and 19. You don't have to be a resident of the state in order to enjoy the fishing license amnesty, so feel free to load up the truck and make the trek.

Lake St. Clair

One of the places to consider setting up shop is Lake St. Clair. It's situated on the border of Canada and the United States and runs about 27 feet deep and 26 miles wide. You'll find muskellunge, northern pike, perch, walleye, trout, steelhead, salmon, and more. If the weather is temperate and a boat dock is in order, consider hanging your hat for the night at the Guest House on Lake St. Clair in Fair Haven. You'll have access to the onsite boat dock, a fish cleaning station, outdoor grilling area, and comfortable accommodations. Room rates start at $110 a night.

Lake Gogebic

Lake Gogebic is another place that should be on your short list if you have a hankering for lake herring, smallmouth bass, walleyes, and giant perch. It is also located a short distance from Lake Superior, so it's kind of like a two-for-one deal. You have lots of lodging choices. I'd suggest that you check out the Casa da Lago or the Bear's Nine Pines Resort.

Hamlin Lakes

Hamlin Lake is in Ludington and is accessible from the Ludington State Park. It is a superlative site to snag mount worthy pike, bluegill, and walleye. If lakefront accommodations suit your fancy, try the Always Michigan Cottage or the At the Waterfront Cottages. Both have ample amenities geared towards anglers.

Houghton Lake

Looking for giant panfish? You might want to give Houghton Lake in Roscommon County a try. Ice shanty rentals and bait are available through Lyman's on the south shore of the lake. Prices start at $35 a day and include a propane heater and transportation to and from the shanty. Lodging is available nearby.

Killeen Gonzalez enjoys winter sports and has traveled extensively.

More from this contributor:

Attend the Annual Ice Festival in Plymouth, Michigan

Top 5 Places to Go Downhill Skiing in the Northwest Region of Michigan

Top 5 Places to Go Snowboarding in Michigan

4 Places to Go Dog Sledding in Michigan

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Updated Monday, Feb 13, 2012