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Continuing DNR pilot project clears the way for UP winter fishing access

A close-up photo shows an ice angler drilling a hole through the ice on Lake Superior with an auger.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is continuing a pilot program begun last winter to keep boating access sites plowed at more than two dozen popular Upper Peninsula ice fishing locations.

Various local partners have agreed to assist the DNR with the program to ensure access to ice fishing opportunities in the U.P. are available consistently during snow conditions.

The 25 locations - situated across 11 of the U.P.'s 15 counties - are DNR boating access sites managed for recreational boating.

"After we had continued requests from the public to maintain access throughout the winter, we partnered last winter with a number of entities to assist with plowing for winter access," said Zack Bishop, a DNR Parks and Recreation Division unit supervisor. "The effort to enter into agreements with each partner to try this concept worked out well. We have decided to continue the program again this season."

An evaluation will take place at the end of the winter, which will assess several things, including how often the plowed sites are used and whether damage occurs to the access ramps, which has been a concern.

Locations to have boating access sites plowed this winter include:

  • Baraga County: Vermilac Lake, Silver River
  • Chippewa County: Conley Point
  • Delta County: Little Bay de Noc
  • Dickinson County: Lake Louise
  • Houghton County: South Entry of Portage Canal
  • Iron County: Indian Lake, Swan Lake, Lake Mary, Lake Emily, Lake Ellen
  • Keweenaw County: Gratiot Lake, Lake Medora, Lake Bailey
  • Luce County: Little Lake Harbor, Kak's Lake, Big Manistique Lake
  • Mackinac County: South Manistique Lake, Big Manistique Lake and Millecoquins Lake
  • Marquette County: Lake Michigamme, Greenwood Reservoir, Johnson Lake, Big Shag Lake
  • Schoolcraft County: Big Spring Landing

Entities partnering with the DNR to clear the access sites include the county road commissions in Baraga, Chippewa, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette and Schoolcraft counties, Forsyth Township, Bayshore Resort Bait & Tackle, South Shore Fishing Association and Gwinn Bait & Tackle.

Organizations or individuals interested in partnering to keep additional sites open if this pilot project continues next winter, please contact Stacy Haughey at or 906-226-1331.

For more information on places to fish in Michigan, visit the DNR's webpage at: Before you go fishing, review these DNR ice safety tips.

Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. A suggested caption follows. Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources, unless otherwise noted.

Angler: An ice angler uses an auger to cut a hole through the ice on Lake Superior./

Contact: Doug Rich, 906-353-6651, John Pepin (media), 906-226-1352