Ice Fishing on the Bays De Noc

Delta County has the longest freshwater shoreline of any county in the entire US, making it a veritable fishing paradise any time of year. While fishing is a year round activity in Delta County, ice fishing has its own special fascination as “villages” of fishing shanties spring up on the ice on both Little and Big Bays de Noc.

Walleye, northern pike and perch are the prime interest in the winter months, although a 54″, 43 pound sturgeon was taken through the ice off the tip of the Stonington Peninsula in mid-January 1996.

Experts say that good ice fishing can be had at the same places that are successful in the spring, summer and fall. The northern most bay offers the first ice and therefore the first fishing of the winter. The boat landing at Kipling has an extensive weed bed which attracts walleye. The “black bottom” area to the south is well-known for being a good fishing spot. Check your depth charts and fish the edges.

Ice Shanties

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has the following requirements regarding the placement and removal of ice shanties:

  • A person placing a shanty on the ice for fishing shall permanently affix their name and address on ALL SIDES of the shanty in legible letters at least 2 inches in height. The name and address must be on the shanty and may not be placed on a board or other material which is then attached to the shanty. Tents and other temporary shelters which are removed each day and not left on the ice do not require identification.
  • Persons placing a shanty on waters of the Upper Peninsula shall remove the shanty by midnight March 31 of any year.
  • In all areas of the state, a shanty must be removed if ice conditions become unsafe, regardless of the date. After the above dates, a shanty must be removed at the end of each day’s fishing activity.

Maps and Fishing Guides

The Delta County Area Chamber of Commerce sells Fishing Hot Spots maps— Big Bay de Noc and $9.95 for Little Bay de Noc.

Winter Access

CAUTION! Avoid river mouths. Heavy currents and unstable ice are often found there. Watch also for pressure ridges.

Little Bay de Noc
  • Escanaba Municipal Marina, Escanaba
  • Gladstone Marina, Gladstone
  • Kipling, 1 mile north of Gladstone
  • Twin Springs, 8 miles south of Rapid River, on the Stonington Peninsula
  • No See-Um Creek, South of Escanaba on M-35
  • Boon-Dockers Store (private), Stonington Peninsula
  • Days River, North & South (DNR) North of Gladstone
Big Bay de Noc
  • Fayette State Park, on the Garden Peninsula
  • Little Fishdam River 2 miles east of Isabella on US 2
  • Nahma, 4 miles south of US 2
  • Ogontz Bay, South of US 2 on County 503
Lake Michigan
  • Portage Bay State Forest Campground 6 miles east of Fayette

Watch for Thin Ice!
Every year, someone goes through thin ice or drives onto an ice floe which breaks loose and floats into the bay. Use common sense and heed warnings, especially late in the season when ore shipping resumes. Arrival of the first ore boat is often preceded by Coast Guard ice breakers.

Fishing Regulations

Contact your nearest Michigan Department of Natural Resources office for the latest Michigan Fishing Guide. Rules are effective April 1.

A fishing license is required for all persons who have reached their 17th birthday, including those serving in the Armed Forces. Michigan residents with a 100% V.A. disability benefit or who are legally blind are entitled to purchase a Senior Resident Annual license.

Persons with mental impairments and residents of a home for the aged may fish without a license if they are a member of a group and accompanied by one or more adults who possess a permit issued by the DNR.

License Fees

DNR Sportcard $1.00

All-species Fishing Licenses

Resident Annual $26
Nonresident Annual $68
Senior Annual (Residents 65 or older or Residents who are legally blind – see License Requirements) $11
24-hour (Resident or Nonresident) $10
72-hour (Resident or Nonresident) $30

Permit or Tag (Unavailable online or with web app)

Muskellunge Harvest Tag (License Required, see Common Terms) FREE
Sturgeon Fishing Permit and Harvest Tag (License Required, see Common Terms) FREE

Combo Hunt/Fish Licenses (Base, Annual Fishing, 2 Deer)

Hunt/Fish Resident $76
Hunt/Fish Nonresident $266

Fishing license fees are waived for Michigan residents who are veterans with 100% disability or active-duty military (see License Requirements).