SFM Fishing Report 12.05.17

The last two weeks of November has offered some of the best steelhead fishing we have seen in years. The weather has been mild in temperature and provided area tributaries with a good amount of rainfall. These conditions have made excellent fishing conditions, and brought a good fall push of chrome into the area rivers.

The forecast looks as if it is going to take a turn for the worse after the end of this week, the fish will be entering their winter patterns before we know it. It will be that time of the year to fish the lower, slower sections of the river that hold deeper water and slower currents. With the amount of fish that entered area tribs this fall, we are chomping at the bit to get our clients on some good winter fishing for December and January.

Spawn has produced some excellent results these past few weeks; it has been hard to give it up with the number of hungry, aggressive fish we are seeing. Peach and pink netting have produced excellent results. Beads have also been working very well on some of the more educated fish, peach and orange colors in the 10mm size continue to produce results on both the largest and smaller river systems.

We are starting to see the resident trout population activity increase as well. On the Manistee, the brown trout action below Tippy Dam has been heating up in recent weeks. Both egg and nymph presentations under an indicator have been putting good fish into the net. Streamers will keep getting better as the water cools and the fish lose a larger portion of their food supply, so get out there and strip away!

Good luck these next few weeks on the river, be safe and stay warm!

SFM Fishing Report 11.8.17

As late fall gives way to early winter, there are a lot of things that we are excited for here at Sport Fish Michigan. After an incredible salmon and steelhead season for us guiding on the northern Michigan area rivers, we are still plying the waters for a variety of species and gearing up for another busy season on the ice, guiding customers from all over the country.

For river anglers, late fall/early winter can be a tremendous time to be on the water steelheading. The crowds are low, and the fish often bite several different presentations extremely well. For traditional gear anglers, spawn bags can really ignite a bite during the chilly, dark days as the scent from salmon eggs can get fish into a feeding mode. Beads presented under a float or indicator can also pay huge dividends: smaller presentations can often be the ticket if fish are fussy. Brown trout in river systems will often prefer these smaller bead presentations when fished along holding waters and seams in the river currents. As the waters cool, fish are less apt to move far to take baits, and thoroughly working a run or hole can be crucial to finding where the fish are holding. Fly anglers fishing streamer or egg patterns can do very well this time of year as fish are still looking for a pre-winter meal.

A funny phenomenon occurs on the rivers at this time of year to which many steelheaders can attest: some days, a sunny afternoon can lead to some incredible action as just a degree or two of temperature rise can get a bite going, in contrast, sometimes a snow squall with near-blizzard conditions can yield the better bite.

Open waters still have some excellent fishing opportunities during this pre-ice period, and anglers willing to brave the cold can be rewarded with some outstanding catches. Yellow perch both on Grand Traverse Bays and area inland lakes are heavily feeding, and having a variety of baits can be the difference in getting bites from the jumbos or just catching the smaller biters. Perch can switch from one offering to another more easily than we would like, but having everything from minnows to wigglers, small pieces of shrimp, and even small jigging spoons can be crucial in figuring out what the jumbos are willing to bite.

Walleye fishing this time of year can be dynamite as well. While many anglers troll, looking for active fish, don’t be afraid to cast reaction baits like a Rapala Jigging Rap or Flat Rap. Near dusk, or on dark days, a rattling rattle-trap style bait like the Rapala Rippin’ Rap can be deadly, calling fish in from a distance. Fished in a yo-yo retrieve, fish will actively chase down and crush these baits when seemingly nothing else will work. And, of course, a big minnow under a slip bobber can also do its share of damage as fish are on the prowl looking for an easy meal.

Pulling out the ice fishing equipment at this time of year for a pre-ice inspection is often much more comfortable than looking over shanties and running augers when the temperatures are bone-chilling and the snow is flying. Charging electronics batteries to ensure that they will hold a charge is another good thing to check when taking stock of ice equipment. Before our boats are winterized and put away for the season, one thing that we at Sport Fish Michigan like to do is to transfer GPS waypoints that we have from our Humminbird electronics to our Humminbird ice electronics. Waypoints that we find during the warmer months can often produce well for us through the ice, and transferring these now is just one of the things that we try to do as we prepare for our guide season.

Late fall and early winter fishing can be exceptionally rewarding and fun. Get out, have fun on the water. Most of all, stay safe!

SFM Fishing Report 08.24.17

It is crazy to think we recently experienced our last day of summer! The fishing in the Traverse City Region has treated us so well these past few weeks. We have had the opportunity to successfully target a variety of species using multiple techniques and strategies. Here is a bit of information on what we at SFM have been up to:

The king salmon bite has been excellent and we are looking forward to several more weeks of great fishing in the area. Not only are the rivers getting huge fish and good numbers, the big lake is still going strong. As most anglers are having great success trolling a salmon program, we have been vertical jigging most of time. We are finding good numbers of feeding fish staging just outside of our local tributaries. The kings we have had most success with, have been huddled close to bottom in what we like to call a holding pattern. These schools of salmon are looking for the coolest water they can find, waiting for the right time of the day to feed. As usual, the best time for aggressive biters is the first two and last two hours of daylight. Most all anglers have been doing the bulk of their damage during these hours.

Larger alewife profile jigging spoons like Jonah Jigs and PLine Laser Jigs have worked best in the 2-ounce size. Chartreuse and white glow have been effective colors. We have found that during this time of the year, jigging 5 to 15 ft. off of bottom for suspended fish at low light levels works well. We are also casting crank baits in a fire tiger pattern and having some success. This is a simple cast and slow retrieve technique that can help offer some variation in your presentation when seeing surfacing or high-cruising fish in the water column.

The lake trout bite in Grand Traverse Bay has continued to produce, and does not look like it will be losing any speed until its season close October 1st. The fish have been active and on the move following the cooler water temperatures and schooling bait fish. Steep drop-offs and windblown points have produced good catches as of late. A 1.5-ounce white/glow/grey jigging spoon has been out-fishing most all other jigging spoons. We have also been seeing abundant schools of alewife in all depth ranges. Setting up just next to, or on top of, these schools is a great way to get on a hot bite.

We at SFM have also been having great luck targeting jumbo Lake Michigan perch in Grand Traverse Bay. We have been seeing a significant increase in the perch population over the past two years, and we are really looking forward to targeting these great-tasting fish with our clients. Both East and West Bays have been producing large numbers of perch in 30-50 ft. of water. Rocky and weed-covered bottoms seem to be holding the larger schools of fish. Utilizing your sonar in this situation to tell the difference between baitfish and perch is key, and can be difficult at times. Perch rigs tipped with shrimp and worms and small 3/4- and 1-ounce jigging spoons have been working great.

We wish everyone the best of luck, and look forward to seeing you on the water!

Ben Wolfe’s Michigan Fishing Report for AnglingBuzz.com 09.11.15

Early September report includes information about northwest Michigan’s bounty of fishing opportunities in September, including smallmouth bass, walleye, lake trout, coho salmon, and king salmon.