Michigan River Fishing Report 04.28.2014

It’s an exciting time here in Michigan, and the fishing possibilities are now seemingly boundless. Last week saw the ice finally melt in northern Michigan, and with the recent inland lakes and river walleye opener, the bass catch & immediate release opener, as well as the trout opener, opportunities for anxious anglers are huge. With so much ice covering the water until several days ago, anglers have been chomping at the bit to get out, and now they finally have their chance.


The Big Manistee River is fishing well, despite the record high water levels from a couple of weeks ago. The water is still incredibly muddy, but the fish are there, and are biting. Many large steelhead are being caught, on beads as well as flies. Several fish in the mid- to upper-teens weight-wise have been landed, and many of these fish are still bright chrome, meaning they are fresh into the river. Trout in the Manistee are also feeding, and with steelhead fanning the gravel to make their spawning redds, bugs like stoneflies are being dislodged and the trout are gorging. It’s surprising that the fish can see anything in the dirty water, but even though the clarity doesn’t seem good to us, the steelhead and trout don’t seem to be too bothered. Brown trout, resident rainbow trout, and planter smolts have even been taking bugs off of the surface, so obviously they can see in the water better than we can!

Sturgeon showed up a couple of days ago on the Manistee, and one of our Wolfe Outfitters trips from this past weekend had the excitement of battling 2 of these prehistoric fish, despite not being able to land them. Bank anglers around Tippy Dam have also been hooking these behemoths, which are in the river for their annual spawn.

The Platte River got a small push of steelhead, but many of the anglers fishing its waters fished for walleye the day of the opener. Walleye spawning was delayed because of the slow, cold spring, and in conjunction with the walleye opener this past weekend, anglers were able to target and catch these awesome tasting fish. The Betsie River is still stained, and many of the fish are now above the Homestead dam.

Big Lake

Anglers fishing the big lake down by St. Joseph have been catching king and coho salmon, with hot action as the weather permits. Up by Frankfort, the brown trout are biting, and the fish are averaging a respectable 4-6 pounds. Trolling body baits has been the ticket of late, and early morning and evening seem to be the best times.

Grand Traverse Bays just had ice out and, in fact, there is still slush floating on the water. A few anglers have been getting out, trolling the deep breaks. The water is very cold, and with a few nice sunny days, the fishing should start to get better.

Inland Lakes

Waters are still extremely cold, and it has been windy. Despite that, boats have been getting out on the smaller inland lakes, fishing for walleyes and perch. It has been an incredibly long winter, and it’s almost May, so anglers are bound and determined to make the most of the now open water!

The smaller lakes in northern Michigan will warm faster with some sun than will the larger lakes like Torch, Elk, and Crystal Lake. Steep breaks, old weed lines and medium-depth flats are likely targets for a variety of species, including walleyes, bass, northern pike and panfish. Lake St. Clair in Southeast Michigan is now open for catch & immediate release bass fishing, and from the sounds of it, the fishing is getting better and better. This is the time to fish prespawn bass, and the big ones are feeding heavily.