Post-spawn walleye fishing tips. Smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing report. Southern Michigan salmon and northern Michigan lake trout fishing report.
By: Capt. Chad Dilts
We at Sport Fish Michigan have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of summer, and with July upon us, it is finally time for some consistently warm weather and great fishing opportunities.
With the warming weather trends in June we are seeing the start of a very defined thermocline in the Grand Traverse Bay’s, forcing the majority of the lake trout, cisco and other predatory species away from the shallow water flats and steep breaks where they have spent most of May and June.
This is an exciting time for anglers looking to vertical jig for a variety of species. Some of the best lake trout jigging in July will take place in depths ranging from 80-110 ft of water. Finding isolated humps and steep drop offs just adjacent to deep water is almost always the most productive place to concentrate your efforts. When utilizing your electronics to find active fish, don’t be afraid to set up over 1-3 individual fish marks, some times these can be the most aggressive fish to take advantage of. Jigging spoons such as Jonah Jiggs, PLine Jigs and Swedish Pimples in a 1-2 ounce size are a great option for this presentation.
With the southern end of Lake Michigan experiencing such great numbers of king and coho, July is setting up to be an incredible time to take advantage of some good salmon action in the northern Lake Michigan ports. Anglers looking to either troll or jig vertically for these hard fighting fish should definitely not miss out on the opportunity. Success will be found in areas with a define thermocline that periodically presents schools of bait fish. With the moderately cooler Lake Michigan water temperatures we have experienced in May and June, most of the active salmon will be found 60-120 ft down depending on the port and wind direction. We are very excited to see such great numbers of salmon with a very good average size. Anglers have been consistently reporting fish in mid to upper 20 lbs range. We hope all anglers have a safe and successful July, we hope to see you on the water!
Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for mid-June. Michigan bass fishing is legendary, and June is presenting great opportunities on both inland lakes and larger bodies of water like Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, Grand Traverse Bays, and Saginaw Bay.
Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for early June. Update on smallmouth bass, cisco, and lake trout fishing in the Grand Traverse Bay area, and salmon fishing on Lake Michigan.
Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for late May. Northern Michigan spring bass spawning season is creating outstanding fishing opportunities. Saginaw walleye fishing tips, and Lake Michigan lake trout and salmon update.
The month of May is an excellent time take advantage of numerous fishing opportunities in Northern Michigan. Anglers throughout the area will be gearing up in hopes of kicking off the open water fishing season on our area inland lakes and surrounding Lake Michigan ports. The water temperatures are just starting to hit that magical 50-degree mark, filling the shallower water flats and steep breaks with baitfish and all the opportunistic predator fish that we love so much!
On Grand Traverse Bays, the perch fishing has really picked up pace in the last two months. Larger schools of perch can be found just off steep weed- and rock-covered drop-offs in 45-85 ft of water. Any flat in the depth range with a good weed, rock, or gravel bottom composition will also present as a great area to target the larger schools of perch. Anglers using perch spreaders, live bait, and even soft plastics will have no problem taking home good numbers of perch. In this same depth range, anglers will have the opportunity to jig and cast for cisco, white fish, and lake trout. This time of the year is the best time to get into all three of these species in a shallower water situation. Trolling, casting, and jigging are all great ways to capture huge catches of these fish. Everyone should get out to enjoy this awesome fishery.
Anglers looking to take advantage of some spring brown trout action should definitely consider hitting the shallow water shoreline of Lake Michigan in the month of May. Ports like Manistee, Onekama, Arcadia, Frankfort and even Platte Bay will provide good numbers of brown trout on the right days. When in search of these acrobatic footballs, anglers will have good success finding areas where dirtier “stained” water presents. Finding areas with lower visibility and warmth are key when trolling or casting the shallows. Don’t be afraid to scout a shoreline for several miles in search of a temperature increase or color change in the water. Trolling with inline planer boards and fluorocarbon leaders seems to be effective for most anglers. Yozuri, Rapala, Bomber, and Challenger body baits work excellent for this application.
Anglers will also not want to overlook the terrific walleye fishing our area inland lakes have to offer during the month of May. With cooler water temperatures and very limited weed growth, shallow water casting and trolling at this time is extremely effective. Low-light hours and even well into the darkness of night are great times to get on a hot bite. 4-15 ft of water just adjacent to drop-offs will most commonly hold feeding fish. Slow trolling and retrieving can be key in this situation. Quiet and stealthy is the name of the game! We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to seeing you on water, good luck!
We at Sport Fish Michigan look forward to seeing you on water, good luck!
March has snuck right up on us here at Sport Fish Michigan; we are very excited to be putting away the ice fishing gear! This past winter offered some excellent fishing, as well as stellar ice conditions, allowing us to offer a wide variety of species to our ice customers. We had success targeting lake trout, burbot, whitefish, perch, walleye, and northern pike. With the ice conditions quickly diminishing, we have already had the opportunity to hit the open waters of the Grand Traverse Bays. Here is a quick look at what we have been targeting and what we will be perusing over the course of the next few weeks.
As most of you know, the perch fishing on Lake Michigan has greatly improved in the past two years; this past fall yielded high numbers of perch with a good average size. With the bays not receiving much if any safe ice this winter, the fish have had the chance to feed and flourish with limited pressure.
Access to the bays is just starting to improve, shoreline ice is melting, and most of the drift ice has found its way to one shoreline or broken up into miscellaneous pieces. These conditions have made getting out in a boat possible in locations like southern West Bay and southern East Grand Traverse Bay. We are successfully finding large schools of perch with good size in 70-90 ft of water. Most of the active schools are appearing to be 1-2 ft off the bottom in rock and weed-covered areas. Steep drop-offs and inside turns of drop-offs have proven to hold the larger schools. We have had good luck using traditional perch rigs with perch minnows and as well as jigging small jigging Rapalas and 3/4 ounce Jonah Jigs.
We have also had good luck finding pre-spawn burbot in 85-110 ft of water just off of 40-50 ft spawning flats. It has been difficult to mark these fish because they are hugging bottom so tightly. Because of this, we have used a fan-casting technique 360 degrees around the boat with 1 oz jigging spoons to locate active fish. Once we have located the school, we then can set up on them vertically. Anglers will also find active lake trout and cisco while fishing this same depth of water. Any 1 oz blade bait or jigging spoon will help in effectively targeting all three of these species. As the water continues to warm anglers will find that the lake trout and cisco will gradually work their way into shallower water in search of warmer temperatures and baitfish.
We have also had some excellent steelhead fishing this past week, the warmer days have generated some good runoff and rainfall which has helped bring some fresh fish to our local tributaries. With good numbers of steelhead running this past fall, we have been seeing a large number of holdover fish that are becoming more active on a day to day basis. The most effective form of fishing has consisted of float fishing beads and spawn with conventional gear. Light leaders and smaller presentations have been working best. We have a lot of great fishing ahead of us this spring, and we are looking forward to good numbers of steelhead running our tributaries.
This fishing is only just starting to get good; the next two months will only get better for these three species. This is a great time of the year to get out on the Bays and take advantage of some awesome fishing for fish that not only fight hard but taste excellent.
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!
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!
Captain Ben Wolfe with Sport Fish Michigan gives his report for the Michigan area waters for early July, 2016