BARODA, Mich. - This past weekend was the first weekend for ice fishing in Southwest Michigan. The mild winter we’ve had so far has pushed back the sport almost a month but right now the first holes are being cut in the ice.
“I feel comfortable with three inches,” said Gordon Nye, one of the pioneers of the 2012 ice fishing season. Monday he was out on Hess Lake in Baroda. “Yesterday was the first day as far as I know (that) anyone was out.”
Hess Lake is not known for the best fish, but it is known as the first lake that freezes in Berrien County.
“I’m happy to be here,” Nye said. The winter thus far hasn’t been what he hoped it would be. “Generally we’re fishing around Christmas,” he said. “Last year we’d already been out for a couple of weeks.”
One little lake in Baroda isn’t going to keep businesses that rely on ice fishing open for business. “I have not had a worse winter than this one right here,” said Charles Miles, owner of Miles’ Bait and Tackle in Benton Harbor.
Miles is selling some of the first bait this season. “The last two days have been the best two days in a long time.”
In the winter, Miles relies on fisherman being at all of Southwest Michigan’s inland lakes. “When you can’t sell the bait (and people aren’t) fishing, you can’t make money.”
Miles needs the temperature to keep dropping. Nye thinks that is bound to happen.
“The ice wants to freeze and if we get somewhat favorable conditions this ice is going to come to other lakes,” said Nye. He is hoping soon he will have lakes, other than Hess Lake, to choose from.