Sport Fish Michigan Fishing Report 05.22.17

It’s hard to believe that May is already coming to an end. Fishing in northern Michigan has been spectacular this month, and things looks great leading in to June. The weather has created many of the good fishing opportunities in the area – we have had some warmer days and colder nights, building a gradual increase in lake temperatures. This is exactly what we wanted for our area!

Grand Traverse Bay has been incredible for cisco, trout, and whitefish in 25-60 feet of water. If you haven’t yet gone fishing for these species this year, you should! We are having great results casting gold-colored blade baits in a 3/4 ounce size along the steep breaks of East Grand Traverse Bay. Water temperatures in the bay have been bouncing back and forth between the mid- to low-40s. This is an optimal temperature zone for lake trout and cisco to cruise the shallows in search of alewife and gobies. Salmon fishing has also been fairly decent in Grand Traverse Bay. Anglers are finding active fish in 50-100 feet of water, high in the water column. Trolling lead core and slide divers with spoon presentations has been a productive technique. Trolling smaller spoon presentations at a speed of 2.4-2.7 mph is a good way to target the multiple available species available.

Bass fishing on most northern inland lakes is on fire! Due to the way water temperatures are setting up, the prospect of a longer spawning season is very good. Smaller inland lakes are maintaining temps in the mid- to upper-50s, with some even reaching into the low-60s. The last full moon brought a good push of males in to make beds, and females searching for the right spot to settle on for spawning. A lot of fish are being caught on the shallow flats adjacent to spawning grounds, and fish are very active both in and around beds. The larger inland lakes are still in an excellent pre-spawn condition with larger fish being found on weed- and rock-covered flats and drop-offs. Swim baits on darter jigs, drop shot rigs, and tubes have been working very well, but don’t hesitate to try covering some water with a spinner bait when the water presents the right opportunity.

Get out and enjoy the awesome fishing Michigan offers, it will not disappoint!

Sport Fish Michigan Grand Traverse Bay – May 2017 Angler Magazine Report

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Smaller inland lakes warm the quickest, and the biggest and deepest bodies of water warm the slowest. With waters ranging anywhere from the mid 40’s to the mid 50’s depending on which lake, the patterns can vary. From the onset of the season, we like to target smaller bodies of water. Blade baits can be great when the water is below 45 degrees. With a rip and a pause, or a hopping retrieve off of the bottom, a blade bait can really pay dividends with some great bites. As the waters warm above the 45-degree mark and into the low 50’s, a jerk bait really comes into its own. Generally, a cadence involving a combination of long pauses after a few jerks or pulls of the rod tip can be the ticket to getting bites. Smallmouths are sight feeders, and often will inspect a bait for quite some time before deciding to commit. This is a combination of audible and visual presentation. The jerking portion of the cadence creates flash and noise to call a fish in, whereas the pause portion of the retrieve can seal the deal. The colder the water, the longer the pause.

A swim bait can also be a great option this time of year. It’s also a visual presentation, but it’s subtle. For fish that are first moving up onto the flats from their deeper winter and early spring locations, they can be spooky. A subtle bait style like a swim bait can be a deadly presentation, and really shines as the waters warm into the 50’s as the fish truly go on the prespawn feed! When the waters hit the mid 50’s, a spinner bait is another great option for thunderous strikes. But don’t be too surprised if a stray pike or two also finds a spinnerbait appealing!

Grand Traverse Bay is still cold for May, as it is a big body of water that can reach down to depths over 500 feet on East Bay. Sunny days will help warm this body of water, and when we do have those sunny days, the bass will flock to the shallower waters to sun bathe on the sand. Often is the case that the bass fishing is so good on the inland lakes, both for size and numbers, that we at Sport Fish Michigan and Traverse City Bass Guide Service often steer away from the bay altogether until late May.

Sport Fish Michigan Fishing Report 05.08.17

The past two weeks have been filled with awesome fishing for SFM and clients. The walleye fishing has been on fire throughout the state! Fishing on the Detroit River continues to be red hot, both on the US and Canadian side. 35-48ft of water has held the more active fish. Larger fish are being found on the cleaner side of the mud line in US waters. Lime and antifreeze-colored heads with a black worm are most effective at this time.

Inland lake fishing for walleye in Benzie, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse Counties has been very good. Anglers trolling after dark with floating Rapalas on lighter fluorocarbon line have had great success. Anglers targeting 5-12ft of water trolling at a speed of 1.3-1.9 are yielding good catches.

The lake trout fishing off Frankfort and East-West Grand Traverse Bay has been very red hot. Anglers have also had frequent encounters with salmon in both locations. The most active salmon and trout have been found in 30-70ft of water, feeding on gobies and alewife in warmer temperatures. Finding the warmer water can be critical at this time of the year. Sometimes a 5-degree temperature variation can make all the difference in your catch.

Cisco fishing on Grand Traverse Bays is really starting to heat up as well. Lots of fish are being found in 50-70ft of water close to steep drop-offs. Blade baits, jigging spoons, and trolling lead core have been working very well. Anglers trolling smaller spoons have had good action. The cisco fishing should only continue to get better through the month of May! Get out and catch some of these awesome, hard-fighting fish!

Ben Wolfe – AnglingBuzzTV Fishing Report – Early May 2017

Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for early May in Michigan. Walleye fishing – Detroit River, smallmouth bass at Lake St. Clair, cisco on Grand Traverse Bays, and fishing tips.

Sport Fish Michigan April 2017 Angler Magazine Report

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April is upon us. The ice has melted, and instead of seeing the lakes covered with shanties and snow, we see waves and boats! Northern Michigan spring weather can be cold and rainy, but that will not stop anglers from hitting the inland lakes in hopes of landing some big pre-spawn smallmouth and largemouth bass. With the new DNR regulations in place allowing us to target bass, the month of April is now wide open for us, where it was previously closed. While we can target bass, it is still catch and immediate release, however.

With a lot of the lakes maintaining water temperatures in the upper 30’s to low 40’s it is important to note that most of the bass in the larger inland lakes are still rather lethargic. Feeding fish can and will be found transitioning from deeper water to shallower flats and weed covered drop offs. The feeding window tends to be short lived this time of the year; generally, it can be the warmest time of the day. Smallmouth’s love sun and a sunny day can really trigger a nice bite as the sun will penetrate down through the clear waters here in Northern Michigan.

A good go-to presentation in April can be blade baits and jerk baits. With the blade bait, retrieving with a double pump action associated with a fall can be key. Try several different styles of pumps making the blade bait flutter in your retrieve to trigger a strike and establish a pattern. The same goes for jerk baits–make sure you play with the jerk/pause cadence to establish what the fish want. With cold water, we at Traverse City Bass Guide Service like to start with at least a 3-5 second pause in between jerk/retrieve. In the colder water, April bass can even want as long as a 10-second pause. Keep in mind as well, that sometimes a twitch can be more effective than a jerk!

When targeting bass with these techniques, you have a very good chance of stumbling into a post spawn pike. This can make for a nice added bonus to get the blood flowing. Pike have a tendency to be found actively feeding adjacent to drop offs and on weed covered deeper flats this time of year. When you find one, you will usually find more! If you find that you’ve stumbled into an area that has nothing but pike, try moving a little deeper or in contrast a little shallower. The bass usually aren’t too far away.

We at Traverse City Bass and Sport Fish Michigan look forward to a great season chasing fish on the open water. We hope everyone has a great April and we look forward to seeing you on the water.

Sport Fish Michigan Fishing Report 04.01.17

The fishing in Northern Michigan is on fire right now! Our area is producing some excellent numbers of fish, both in the rivers systems and on open water. We are so grateful to have such awesome fishing and wonderful clients. Here is a sneak peak at what we have been up to:

Inland lakes and Grand Traverse Bay have been producing good catches of perch. Most fish in GTB have been found in 50-70ft. of water. We have seen schools even as deep as 90+ ft., as well. Larger schools are consisting of 7-9-inch fish, but when you can find the smaller concentrations, you can locate the larger fish. Good electronics, such as a Humminbird Helix unit, are crucial in finding these schools. We are so excited to see the perch populations returning to GTB and surrounding ports. Inland lake perch fishing has been good adjacent to drop-offs and weed covered flats in 25-55ft., depending on the bottom make-up. Perch minnows and wigglers have been working well. Finding a softer bottom has been key.

GTB has been producing limits of lake trout and cisco. Locating fish has not been difficult at all, finding hungry, active fish has, and can be, a bit of challenge. Fish in deeper water have been more aggressive than the shallower schools. 100-135ft. seems to have large concentrations, but the more active fish have been found feeding in 145-160ft. The trout are gathering in the bottom 10 feet, and the cisco seem to be behaving as they always do in 35-degree water. Cisco can be found feeding aimlessly, with no patterned depth in the water column. A simple mark and drop technique has been working well when jigging and casting for these fish in deeper water. Cisco in the spring often feed half-way up in the water column, and seeing marks “zooming” across our Humminbird Helix screens is the tell-tale regarding the depth in which these scrappy fish are feeding.

Trolling the shallow water on the shores of Lake Michigan out of ports like Frankfort, Manistee, Arcadia, and Onekama for brown trout has been great. Using lighter fluorocarbon and longer leads on inline planer boards has worked well. We have found that using more natural colors in clearer water, and brighter colors in dirtier water, has been producing more biters. Most temperatures have been from 36-38 degrees, if you can find any pockets of water with 40-41 degree temps, you should find browns.

Fishing on the rivers, we have seen one of the best runs of steelhead our area tributaries have had in quite a few years. We have consistently been hitting fresh fish for the past three months. Just when we think that the run has peaked, and the fish are slowing down, we get another inch of rain and more fish come into the Lake Michigan tributary systems!

This past week’s warmer temperatures, however, have increased temps to the low 40’s, and this is really initiating the spawning process. A lot of active, hungry fish have been coming in the faster tail-out water of spawning gravel. Depending on the river, 3-5ft of water has been good. Finding the slower seams in the bottom, inside and outside of faster water covering the spawning gravel has been best. Steelhead seem to have now left the slower, sandier, wintering holes, working their way to higher, faster sections of water.

Trout beads, stoneflies, and hare’s ear flies have been great with both fly rod and conventional gear. Indicator fishing and float fishing with beads and spawn has been most productive. We have found that even with the dirtier water, 8mm beads have produced the most fish. Colors like Sun Orange have definitely been the MVP of the spring, with the Clown egg in a close second.

While anglers with a valid fishing license are certainly allowed to keep their limit of steelhead, we at Sport Fish Michigan like to practice catch and release whenever we can. Many of these fish can successfully spawn, and are not reliant on stocking programs. For this reason, releasing spawning fish is crucial in helping to maintain our steelhead fisheries for years to come.

Good luck out there, we hope to see you on the water!

Sport Fish Michigan Lake Report March – April 2017

Spring is here! With all the ice gradually melting, open water fishing on most inland lakes is in full swing and Grand Traverse Bay is open for some great fishing opportunities, as well. Listed below is brief description of what techniques and tips Sport Fish Michigan has to offer anglers when hitting the water over the course of the next month.

Inland lake fishing for perch has been very good, and this is an awesome time of year to take advantage of big fish and large schools. Most fish can be found feeding in 38-50 feet of water adjacent to steeper drop-offs and weed-covered flats. If you are lucky enough to find perch minnows at your local bait shop, this will help yield the best action when targeting perch. The fish tend to move this time of year as they are actively spawning and transitioning from deeper to shallower water. Make sure to use a Minn Kota Motors I-Pilot or back trolling technique, as using an anchor can spook the school, forcing them to move.

Grand Traverse Bay has been fishing very well this March and will only continue to heat up for several species. Lake trout and cisco fishing is incredible this time of year. Utilizing good, effective electronics, and successfully anchoring on top of large schools will bring the most success. This time of the year, jigging spoons and blade baits are key, fish are constantly moving, in search for alewife, gobies, and other baitfish in the warming water. 50-100 feet of water is a great place to start, this is usually a key area to find both species, however don’t be afraid to check shallower as the water warms, as most of the baitfish and insect life will be gathering around the warmer rocks and weed cover. And if all else fails, deep waters of 150 feet or even more will almost always hold fish. These deeper fish may not be the actively feeding fish that cruise the shallower waters, but can often be tempted with a good jig.

Traverse City, Frankfort, Leland, and Manistee offer some excellent shallow water trolling opportunities on Lake Michigan for brown trout, steelhead, and even the occasional lake trout. Anglers will have great success trolling body baits on in-line planer boards in 8-15 feet of water. Locating stained water areas and gradual temperature breaks will help pinpoint where feeding fish are located. Browns tend to congregate in the water that has the least amount of visibility and the warmest temperature. Don’t be afraid to fish very close to the shoreline, the inside trough can be very productive this time of year!

Good luck and see you on the water!

Sport Fish Michigan March 2017 Angler Magazine Report

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With there still ice fishing to be done on many inland lakes, the annual spring steelhead run into the area’s Lake Michigan tributary rivers, as well as the open water bite for species like cisco, lake trout, burbot, brown trout and lots more, the opportunities abound for anglers here in Northern Michigan.

The river fishing for steelhead pushing into the area’s rivers should be excellent if this fall’s run is any indication. While many fish held over the winter in the rivers, there should be a few nice pushes of fresh fish to target. Jigs tipped with wax worms fished under a float should tempt these frigid water chrome battlers if a spawn bag doesn’t do the trick. For fly anglers, egg patterns, leech patterns or small minnow patterns will all work.

For anglers looking to get that last ice bite, the perch and the walleyes are feeding more these days with their upcoming annual spawn. Both of these species will spawn in the early spring, shortly after ice-out, and much of their pre-spawn bite window takes place under the ice. Jigging Rapalas or jigging spoons tipped with a minnow head can be deadly for cruising walleye both early or late in the day. For perch anglers, minnows can often attract hungry jumbos, but sometimes downsizing to a small tungsten jig tipped with a spike or a wax worm will seal the deal. But anglers should keep in mind that as ice thaws, extra caution should be taken when venturing out. No matter how good the late ice bite can be, no fish is worth having an accident over.

Ciscos, burbot, lake trout and whitefish all bite well during the cold water periods of March. Trolling is an excellent way to cover water, and vertical jigging is a fantastic way to stay over top of a school of fish. Trolling spoons, plugs or even vibrating blade baits can be the ticket to getting the Ciscos, lake trout and whitefish to bite. For jigging options, spoons and blade baits are the way to go. Look for schools or marks adjacent to steep breaks or depth contours like inside turns or points or humps.

We here at Sport Fish Michigan are looking forward to getting back onto the water after a busy ice guiding season. While there are still ice trips to be run yet, we are anxious to get after the early ice-out fishing that can often times be dynamite. Get out and have a great time fishing, whether it’s on the last of our ice or in a boat. Take lots of care, however, since the waters are still ice cold. No matter which body of water you fish, know what technique is most enjoyable to you, have fun, stay safe, and catch some fish!