"Even a bad day fishing beats a good day at work."

Just for a second, close your eyes. Picture your worst day at work. Inbox overflowing, double-booked meetings, and that co-worker two offices over who won't stop chatting. Now picture this: you're cozied up next to your shanty, bundled in your warmest gear, with nothing but the sound of the auger chiseling through the frozen Saginaw Bay and the soft crunch of a freshly-fallen Pure Michigan snow underfoot. Sound too good to be true? It's not! Because here on the calm, icy wonderland of the Saginaw Bay, Pure Michigan's most peaceful winter escape awaits - and so does the world-class walleye fishing that comes with it.


So, bring your shanty out of storage and dust off your warmest down coat - because we're giving away 9 insider tips from local pro angler Mark Martin that'll make your Pure Michigan ice fishing excursion one for the books!

Ice Fishing On The Saginaw Bay 

9 Pure Michigan Ice Fishing Tips From Pro Angler Mark Martin (of Mark Martin's Ice Fishing School):


1) Safety first.

As a rule of thumb, never venture out onto ANY body of water by yourself, especially a frozen one.  Use your common sense and you'll never go wrong. 

2) Don't be Columbus.

Navigating your way onto uncharted ice might sound like a taste of adventure, but it's one that almost never ends well. Set up your shanty near other shanties (safety in numbers) and avoid wandering around during low-light periods in the evening.

 3) Gear up or you'll be going home early

Layering outerwear is essential to enjoying the ice fishing experience here in Pure Michigan, from the tip of your hat to the toe of your boots. Mark suggests Ice Armor, which you can stock up on at Frank's Great Outdoors when you #gogreatlakesbay. (And don't forget your hand warmers!)

 4) Triump with trusted tackle

Not sure which tackle will do the trick here in the waters of Pure Michigan's Saginaw Bay? Try these tackle types for a chance at snagging the best catch:

  • Fishing sometime between dawn and 9AM? Try glow in the dark lures; every 20 minutes, take the lures out and light them back up with a flashlight to keep the catches coming!
  • Fishing in murky water? Use UV lures with bright colors (think oranges and pinks)
  • Fishing in clear water? Try firetiger lures or other lures in gold/black or blue/silver combos for the best results
  • Don't forget the Gulp Spray! Use this spray on your minnows before dropping them in the water!

Still confused on what any of this means? No problem! Stop by Frank's Great Outdoors in Linwood before setting out on your ice fishing excursion; they offer small-town customer service and expertly-trained staff that can help pick out a variety of lures for you. 

Mark Martin's Ice Fishing School 

5) Technology to the rescue 

The best ice fishing "location" on Saginaw Bay can be found through an app. That's right: like most things in life, there's an app for that. So get to the app store and download Navionics. It even acts as a GPS so you'll always know how to get back to the mainland. For more, check out this video where Mark shares even more tips for how to pinpoint fishing locations with Navionics.

6) Remember your spud

Besides your ice fishing gear and technology, you'll also need some equipment to do the heavy lifting (like an auger - the tool that will easily drill your fishing hole). Back in the day, icefisherman drilled their holes with a chisel better-known as a "spud." Today, it's used more commonly as a tool to test the ice.  If the spud goes through, then the ice is thin! (Ahem... safety first!) 

8) The best time to go... is when you have time.

Ice fishing is a sport best enjoyed when there's plenty of downtime to sit back, relax, and enjoy the Pure Michigan snow globe that surrounds you. Partly cloudy? Sure! Gusting winds? No problem! These conditions won't negatively affect your catch.  So, put on your Ice Armor gear, download the Navionics app, choose the best lure and location, and chill while you wait for the day's catch.

9) Insight > Intimidation

At first, ice fishing may seem intimidating, but with the right knowledge, training (and hands-on practice) you'll be hooked. Luckily for all, Mark Martin offers an annual Ice Fishing Vacation School right here in the Great Lakes Bay, helping everyone from first-time ice fishers to seasoned pros perfect their sport.  The 2017 Mark Martin Ice Fishing School runs March 2-8, kicking off at Frank's Great Outdoors with a seminar and tackle presentation. After that, 2.5 days of full-on Pure Michigan ice fishing begin, with pro angler Mark Martin there to guide you every step of the way with hands-on lessons and insider tips.

Mark Martin's Ice Fishing School