Five species swim under Boardman's ice

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    TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Outdoor folks will find everything at their fingertips when traveling to the Traverse City area," said George Rinehart of Chum's Corner (231-943-4750) in Traverse City, Mich.

    First on the list is Boardman Lake and its great ice fishing opportunities. Second are the good rabbit and snowshoe hare hunting in the area.

    And last, well, Traverse City has an unlimited amount of activities to keep the family busy. Shopping, skiing and Great Wolf Water Park will keep the family busy while you fish.

    Anglers will catch upwards of five different species through the ice, not counting the occasional bass. Bluegill fishing is average in both quantity and size.

    Most of the fish will fall into the 6- to 8-inch class. Pike are extremely plentiful, and the size ranges from just under the legal size upwards to 10 and 12-pounders.

    Walleye fishing has really taken off, and anglers should do well with numbers and better than average size.

    Most of the walleye will fall into the 15 to 25-inch range, with anglers walking off the lake happy on most outings.

    "Perch fishing is excellent on Boardman Lake, with tons of fish and really nice fish," Rinehart said.

    Anglers should not have any problems coming home with a pail of perch between 9 and 14 inches.

    The Lake

    Boardman Lake is long and slender, covering 340 acres. One large hole hits 70 feet, but most of the lake is less than 40 feet.

    Public launches are located on both the north and south ends of the lake.

    Early ice fishing anglers do well on the south half of the lake.

    As the winter takes hold, anglers start hitting perch, walleye and pike along the good breaklines on the north half of the lake.

    A small but really good spot for pike and walleye is straight off of Boon Road. This location borders a very shallow flat to the east and two deepwater flats to the southwest and northwest.

    Straight north, anglers will find a quick drop-off.

    Next up, the easiest spot to find on the entire lake, and perhaps the best location for most of the winter, is the huge flat on the southern third of the lake.

    This flat starts in 5 feet and then slowly moves into the 10-foot range before the slow drop into the 20-foot depths.

    This area has decent weed cover, but anglers will need to verify that the weeds remain green and healthy.

    Green weeds draw 'gills and perch, which brings in the walleye and pike.

    Early season the 5 to 10-foot depths produce well. As the ice thickens, the fish move into the 10 to 20-foot depths.

    A third location is in the center of the lake. This is a deep flat that hooks up with a sharp break line on both the east and west shoreline.

    This is a deep slot pushing the 40-foot mark. Perch and walleye use this spot a good portion of the winter.

    This is an excellent late afternoon and early evening choice.

    As Old Man Winter takes hold, the underwater points and deep slots on the north half of the lake heat up.

    On the east side of the lake between Hannah Avenue and Centre Street, anglers will find a nice shoreline point.

    This point extends underwater into the 20-foot depths.

    Just to the west of this is a long deep slot that averages between 30 and 50 feet.

    The deepest hole in the lake is west of this spot, near the center of the lake.

    Both of the locations mentioned are excellent on perch and walleye, and decent with pike.

    On the west shoreline where 16th Street meets the lake is another underwater point that starts at the shoreline.

    This location is straight west of the previous locations. This point and long slot has depths ranging between 10 and 40 feet.

    This location is similar to the last in the fact that walleye and perch make the bulk of the catch, with pike a close third.

    The last location borders the boat launch on the north end of the lake. This spot borders the Boardman River as well.

    Most of the flat is in water less than 20 feet, with 10 feet more likely. Bluegill, perch and pike are common, with occasional walleye.


    Early-season 'gills are almost always found near a weed flat. Fishing in 8 to 14 feet of water in the weeds or along the edges spells success most days.

    Often the fish will suspend, so start high and slowly work your way down. A graph will show the exact depth.

    Micro jigs or ultralight jigs are the rage with serious anglers. Most of these jigs weigh 1/32-ounce or less. Some are closer to 1/100-ounce.

    Some of the better selections would include the 2-Spot, Demon Glows and Rocker Jigs from Custom Jigs N Spins.

    Anglers attempting to match the Daphnia plankton should use the Moon Glow and the Moon Glitter from K&E Stopper Lures.

    Two excellent horizontal style jigs would be the Rat Finkee and the HT Marmooska Jigs.

    Set a tip-up down maybe four holes from where you plan on jigging. Fish each hole for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, then move towards the tip-up.

    After three holes, if the tip-up has failed, move the tip-up down another three or four holes.

    Continue this method until either you run out of holes or, hopefully, have pinpointed some fish.

    One of my favorite pike baits is a dead smelt. On any given day I will catch twice as many fish on a dead smelt than on a live minnow.

    However, you'll rarely catch a walleye on dead bait, so determine what your objective is going to be.

    Swimming baits include the Jigging Rapala, Northlands Airplane and the HT Walleye Ice Jig.

    Jigging spoons include the Bait Rigs Deep Willospoons, Bay de Noc's Swedish Pimple and the Mepps Syclops.

    Each day a different jigging technique might be employed. Start out with a short 4 to 6-inch lift and jig it slowly.

    If the action is hot, then often a 1-foot aggressive lift will work. On a really slow day the best technique is more often a shake of the rod tip.

    Tipping your lures with a small fathead minnow often out-produces a plain jigging lure.

    Perch anglers do well with the same teardrops in a larger size. Bright colors also work well on perch.

    Favorite baits include minnows, wax worms and maggots. Jigging with small spoons similar to walleye spoons is a technique that should not be overlooked.


    "Rabbit hunters will find their best success on the federal lands east of Traverse City," Rinehart said.

    Acker Hill Road runs east and west and is the northern boundary line.

    Five Mile Road, County Road 611 and Hobbs Highway cover the western line. Mayfield Road is the southern line.

    This section runs east 8 miles before entering Kalkaska County. Overall it covers an area better than 100 square miles, with good cover for both cottontails and snowshoe hares.

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