Saginaw River Ice Fishing Tips

Saginaw River Ice Fishing Tips
Michigan's Saginaw River, which flows from the interior of the state into Lake Huron, is home to numerous fish species, including bass and trout. The abundance of fish along with the river's 22-mile length makes it a popular fishing destination for both traveling and local anglers. In the winter, much of the river freezes over. However, that doesn't stop those who want to try their hand at ice fishing. Here are some Saginaw River ice fishing tips to help you land a trout even during Michigan's notoriously cold winters.

Review the Weekly Fishing Report

Michigan's Department of Natural Resources issues a regular weekly fishing report, available via telephone at (517) 373-0908. Consult the report before heading to the Saginaw River to find what fish are biting and where the biggest fish populations are, as the Saginaw River is very big and it can be next to impossible to randomly choose a good ice fishing spot. Knowing ahead of time what fish to expect can also help you select the appropriate fishing tackle and bait to increase your chances of landing a catch.

Get a Michigan Fishing License

Make sure you have a valid fishing license before heading out onto the ice. You can purchase a Michigan fishing license at most sporting good stores found along the Saginaw River, or online (see Resources). An annual license is $28 (as of 2009). Keep the license on your body at all times while on the ice, as a wildlife officer may approach you and request to see it.

Ice Hole Size

A standard six- to eight-inch hole in the ice is sufficient for most of the fish in the Saginaw River, including most trout, carp and catfish. Anglers who want to try their luck with larger fish such as salmon may wish to use their ice auger to bore a 12-inch hole.


Plastic grubs and standard artificial lures are typically used while ice fishing with great success. You may also have success with live bait. For example, the Saginaw River's catfish typically respond well to shrimp, while most bass species quickly strike minnows.

Ice Safety

Much of the Saginaw River is typically frozen by mid-December. Anglers should check the thickness of the ice before walking on it. In general, a thickness of six inches is sufficiently safe. If you are not sure of the thickness, break a hole near the shore and measure it with a ruler.
While ice fishing, pay attention to the temperature and dress appropriately. The wind can add significant chilliness to the winter temperatures, increasing the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Wear multiple layers of clothing and consider insulated shoes to protect your feet, which will be in contact with the ice for hours on end.

Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle

Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.

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