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Archive of 2011 reports
from "The White Lake Fisherman"

January/February Fishing

It is 5 degrees today as I write this report. The ice has been on White Lake since December 1st of last year. I measured the ice thickness as of February 2nd and it was 24". So if you do not have a power auger you have some work ahead of yourself. I personally have a manual auger that I use, and it takes about 5 minutes to make a nice 8" hole through the ice. If you are a bit cold prior to doing this, you will not be after! Also, the lake is covered with a thick blanket of snow now, and is very challenging to walk unless you walk on the snowmobile trails. I recommend that you really dress warmly and in layers prior to going out on the lake, since it does not take long before hyperthermia can set in.

My observations currently indicate that there is little risk of falling through the ice - even where there is the presence of springs or soft spots - since the ice is very thick. Do not let this give you too much comfort though, since the ice is still cracking, and there are stress cracks throughout the lake. As the temperatures rise and springtime approaches this dynamic of nature will be more apparent.

So, how is the ice fishing going? I have been out a numerous times and at different locations on the lake. My catching success has not produced anything to report. I have tried minnows, grubs, jigs, pike minnows, and other artificial lures without much success. I have a portable fish finder that I use after boring a hole through the ice and it has indicated that the fish are plentiful. The main issue currently is that the oxygen in the water is very low right now due to the thick ice. Because of this, the fish are very slow and are not moving much. They do not seem to have any interest in eating - very lethargic so to speak. If you are having better results drop me a note at fishing@wlcl.org and let me know. Good fishing.


Early Spring Fishing

March has come and gone... finally! And spring fishing will be upon us soon. As of Sunday April 3rd the ice has essentially cleared off of White Lake. We can log this past winter as brutal, with some of the thickest ice I have ever seen and cut through. Personally, my ice fishing this winter was one of the worst on record - without one catch. I will have to do some homework for next season so I can get better at this. I did note though that the thicker ice does block the oxygen flow, and fish are not active without this stimulus.

Note that game fish fishing is not allowed on White Lake during the spawning season - through the month of April. Yes, you can fish for pan fish like blue gill or sunfish, but don't get caught with a walleye, pike or bass. The DNR has fines starting at $300 per fish if you are caught. This gets very expensive.

The water temperature is currently about 33 degrees. If you go out in the lake now you will note how clear the water is in the spring. I recommend that you get your fishing tackle and boat ready for a great May of fishing.


Late Spring Fishing

Spring is here and the fishing is HOT on White Lake. Yes, if you can get out between the rain storms, wind, clouds, and whatever nature has to offer, the fishing has been very good. Pike are very aggressive now and are hungry. Be ready to for some fun. Personally, I have been catching keeper pike just about everywhere. A rapella lure works very well. I have not had any luck with walleye. If you do please let me know.

Bass season opens Saturday morning of Memorial Day Weekend. The bass are spawning and are on the bed nests. I caught and released one 3 1/2 pounds a couple of days ago.

The water temperature is in the mid 60's and this means it is the premier time for great fishing on White Lake. As the water temperature rises, the fish will head for cooler water and sit on the lake bottom. Currently the fish are suspended and very active. Have fun.


Summer Fishing

Summer fishing on White Lake is in full swing. The water temperature is very warm, and will probably get warmer as August approaches. Currently the temperature is 78 degrees on the surface. This means that the fish are going near the bottom where the water temperature is around 54 degrees. The problem with fishing the bottom is that you are in competition with the lake vegetation. The Starry Stonewort has been quite an issue in that it is floating around the water unattached, and you catch it with your lures. White Lake has been chemically treated to try to disperse it, but it is persistent. The WLCL is doing the best they can, and they are working with the DNR to help them.

Bass fishing has been very active on the lake, with many good catches of large mouth bass. A couple of Sundays ago there were a couple of boats that had limited out their catches with bass. They were using some bright spinner baits and casting around the weeds in the southwest section of the lake. Pike have been a bit slow, but are there if you want to try to catch a keeper. Almost any lure will work for pike.

Has anyone caught a walleye this year? I have not seen any catches of walleyes on White Lake in a few years. Let me know if anyone has had some success. Enjoy the nice weather and keep fishing.


Late Summer Fishing

Fishing on White Lake has been very productive if you know the methods that work this time of year. Live bait seems to be a good choice. I caught 3 fish (2 bass and one pike) inside of 10 minutes using small blue gills on a hook and bobber. I did not even leave my dock. The fish are everywhere. I suggest that you focus on one area that is your favorite and keep working it. The fish are there.

I have also had some luck trolling with lures that do not sink much below the surface so they do not catch many weeds. The pike love to strike in the weeds. Their eyes are located such that their best vision is upward. You may get lucky and get a nice bass too. I got a 3 1/2 pound large mouth bass a couple of weeks ago and had it had for dinner. Just great.

The cooler weather is coming so enjoy the fun. Patience is key. Early morning or dusk are the preferred times.


October Report

I sent the following e-mail to the Michigan DNR Fisheries Division (Attention Jim Dexter - Acting Chief):

To whom it may concern:
I am a long time resident on White Lake of Oakland County.  I am a very active fisherman on White Lake and write a monthly fishing report for publication in the White Lake Citizens League monthly newsletter.   I have been fishing White Lake for 25 years now.  I can count on one hand the number of walleyes I have caught while fishing White Lake. I have just visited your website for fish stocking and noted that in June of 2009 43,000 walleyes were stocked, and again in 2010 41,000 fry were planted.

White Lake has been stocked with walleye for many years, yet my personal experience has shown very limited results in catches.  I understand that White Lake may not be conducive of reproducing walleye naturally, but one would think that the large stocking of these fish over the last 20 years would produce some better catch results.

Note, I am not just a representative sample of one person, for I talk to many people who live and fish White Lake with similar results.  The MDNR does monitor through trap netting from time to time progress of fish development.  When was this last done?  What were the results?  Please note, I will gladly volunteer my time to assist the MDNR with any future actions if required.  Please let me know what I can do.   

I will update you upon response from the MDNR.

Meanwhile... Fishing on White Lake for pike and large mouth bass is booming now. The fish are very hungry and getting ready for winter. I personally caught 3 keeper fish last week, and noted upon cleaning that their stomachs were empty. In view of this it is easy to conclude that they will not stay that way, for their life is that of survival. I have been using live bait (small blue gill and minnows) on a large hook. The response has been very good. Try this in front of your water front. You do not have to go far.


November Report

If you have been following some of my articles, you may recall that I contacted the MDNR with some questions about fishing for walleye on White Lake. They have since sent me a couple of replies via e-mail, and a full fish survey report from 2007. One of the e-mails is below:

Hopefully you have by now received the copy of our latest fisheries survey on White Lake.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about what it contains.  The survey catch of 12 walleye, for a catch per unit effort of about 1 fish per net lift, is fairly typical of the walleye lakes in this area.  It indicates there is a fair fishery present, but not so many they would be easily caught.  I would recommend trying live bait like leeches or crawlers drifted slowly along the drop-off areas of the lake, but no deeper than about 15-20 feet.  You might also try casting minnow-like jerk baits or crank baits over the shallow, sand/gravel flats late in the evening or at night.  Good Luck.
Jeffrey Braunscheidel
Fisheries Biologist
Lake Erie Management Unit
MDNR Fisheries Division

My conclusions in review of the survey data, as well as my conversations with Mr. Braunschedel of the MDNR, are as follows: Thousand of walleyes have been planted in White Lake over the last 20 years, in hope of improving the fishing on White Lake, as well as adding a non-native sport fish to our lake. The success rate has been dismal at best. The survival rate of the walleye planted is less than 0.1%. This means that over 99% of all walleyes planted in White Lake are basically bait food for other fish, or just die naturally due to other complications.

This is normal for most in land lakes in Michigan, according to my discussions with the MDNR. This also explains why the chances of catching a walleye when you fish our lake are so remote. Further discussions indicated that our success rate for walleye survival can be improved, but we need to provide a better environment for the fish for them to reproduce naturally. I will discuss this more in a future article.

The White Lake Fisherman


for more information e-mail
communication@wlcl.org (Bob Parrett)
president@wlcl.org (Bill Maine)
weeds@wlcl.org (Frank Dyson)
White Lake Citizens League
P.O. Box 851
Highland, MI 48356