Chad Dilts – Coastal Angler Fishing Report – September 2018

What an amazing August! Sport Fish Michigan and clients had a terrific August, taking advantage of multiple fishing opportunities throughout the Traverse City Region. The lake trout and salmon fishing really picked up pace leading into this month, we are very excited to capitalize on every minute of action our area has to offer.

The lake trout, cisco, and perch fishing on Grand Traverse Bays in September can be red hot, allowing anglers the chance to take multiple species in one outing on the water. Anglers trolling and vertical jigging will have great success fishing in and around the thermocline for both trout and cisco.

The lake trout will be found in depths ranging from 75-120ft of water depending on wind direction. Most of the ciscos can be found making their way back to the southern portions of each bay over deeper water, 80-150ft. Larger schools of cisco transitioning to steep drop offs and deeper flats will almost always be found suspending in large schools in depths ranging from 80-110ft. When trolling and jigging over these deeper schools, anglers will also find hungry king and coho salmon. Looking for larger active marks on top of or underneath schools of bait fish can be very helpful in hopes of capturing some nice salmon!

Anglers looking for perch should mainly focus on depths ranging from 50-90ft. Areas with weed and gravel/rock coverage will produce more active schools than areas without. Last fall offered some excellent perch fishing, get out and enjoy some of these great tasting fish.

If the open water is getting old, don’t miss out on what our area tributaries have to offer this time of year. This summer we have witnessed some of the largest king and coho salmon our area has seen since the late 70’s and 80’s! Anglers looking to fish conventional gear in the area tributaries can primarily focus on using cured salmon eggs under floats and casting crank-baits. For those looking to tackle these hard fighting fish on the fly, larger streamer patterns can yield some positive results. No matter your preference, make sure you get the chance to get after some of the largest fish we have had in decades!

We at Sport Fish Michigan wish everyone a safe and successful September!

Ben Wolfe: Coastal Angler May 2018 Fishing Report

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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!

SFM Fishing Report 11.21.17

The last week of November has quickly come upon us in Northern Michigan. The past two weeks have had a very inconsistent mix of snow, rain, and cooler temperatures. The barometer has had the fish bouncing back and forth from heavy feeding patterns to complete lockjaw. With cooler consistent temperatures forecasted for the first couple of weeks of December, the long-term forecast looks as if it will allow anglers the opportunity to get in a few more open-water fishing experiences.

The past week and a half has offered some dynamite steelhead fishing opportunities on the Manistee, Betsie, and Boardman Rivers. Stream flows have finally balanced out after enduring the heavy rainfall that hit our area in early and mid-November. With the cooler evening temperatures and clearing water visibility, the fish have really been on the feed. We have had great success with 8mm and 10mm beads in subtler, neutral looking colors. Lighter color oranges, pinks, and yellows have been producing fish across the board. Spawn has also been red hot under floats, 5-8 egg salmon egg bags in white and pink mesh have seemed to correlate well with most of the rivers’ visibilities. Fly fishing has also been producing fish, egg patterns and indicator fishing are still excellent, but we are seeing some of the lower river fish acting more aggressive on streamer patterns. December is setting up nicely, with a lot of fish in all systems and fairly mild temperatures in the forecast.

For those wanting to take advantage of some excellent walleye fishing, now is the time to choose a nice, mild day to hit the water before the ice hits. Our area inland lakes have been producing some excellent daytime walleye fishing when drifting, jigging, and trolling. During midday, trolling bottom bouncers and crawler harnesses in 15-25ft of water at slow speeds has been producing fish. For those wishing to cast and jig, 1/4 -/1/2 oz. jig heads tipped with soft plastics and minnows has been effective as well. If you are willing to travel, the Saginaw River has been red hot for several weeks and will continue to produce great fishing throughout the winter. Vertical jigging has been the most effective technique on the Saginaw. 1/4 – 5/8 oz. jig heads with Lunker City Soft Plastics: this presentation will not let you down. Chartreuse, pink, purple, and orange color combinations have been consistent.

The perch fishing on Grand Traverse Bays continues to produce huge catches of fish. The key is finding a day where the wind will let up enough for anglers to safely venture out to capture these great eating fish. From the south end of West Bay to the tip of Northport, most of the active schools of fish can be found in 30-50 ft of water. Bottom content has been very key, the perch have been in areas with small rock, gravel, and chara weed coverage. Both larger perch minnows and wigglers have been a good bait for larger fish and steady action. The population of perch is really coming back in the GTB area and we are thrilled to see so many different year classes of fish.

We at Sport Fish Michigan would like to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. If you decide to enjoy the area lakes and rivers in the weeks to come, be safe and good luck!

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 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!

SFM Weekly Fishing Report 01.22.17

Despite the current warm-up, ice fishing is still red hot in Northern Michigan. Sport Fish Michigan has been on some great fishing this past week establishing consistent bite patterns for perch, walleye, and bluegill.

Walleye and large perch have been actively feeding in the same general area on several different bodies of water. The best action has been found fishing 28-33 feet of water directly on top of larger flats consisting of a soft bottom. Fire tiger tungsten jig presentations tipped with wax worms have been deadly. Size 3-5 Jigging Rapala’s in black and silver have also been great for targeting walleye and keeper perch at the same time. We have found that rigging our tip-ups with a 3/16oz egg sinker, 18” 4lb fluorocarbon leader accompanied by a #14 gold treble and blue minnow has been most effective for both species.

The bluegill bite this past week was very good! We had several limit catches on some smaller bodies of water fishing in 12-16ft. The most desired presentation we found consisted of glow 1/32oz tungsten jigs tipped with natural colored spikes. The fish really wanted the jig moving, consistently attacking the jig on the rise 2-3ft off of bottom.

Sport Fish Michigan September 2016 Angler Magazine Report

Northwest Michigan Fishing Report

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September’s fishing in northern Michigan is usually incredible, and this year should be no exception. With lots to fish for, the opportunities abound for anglers wanting to target a variety of species using multiple techniques. Most attention this time of year is on the mighty salmon, and this is the prime time to target them!

Out on Grand Traverse and Platte Bays, salmon and lake trout fishing are fantastic—a far cry from what it was the last couple of years. Quite a few king salmon are present, and they are running as true adults should-in the 20-25 pound range! Coho salmon are also present, and these silver salmon are a very respectable 8-9 pounds. There aren’t huge numbers like in years long past, but enough to have people once again excited to get out to target king and coho salmon. Trolling early in the day and later at dusk is the best option to get the most out of willing king salmon. Spoons and plugs are great options as are meat-rigs behind a flasher. Flies and smaller plugs are a great way to target the coho salmon on both Grand Traverse and Platte Bays.

For those wanting to vertical jig, early morning or right at dusk is prime time for king salmon using 2-3 ounce jigs like a Jonah Jig. For coho jigging out on Platte Bay, the middle of the day can also be productive, and Sport Fish Michigan captains prefer slightly smaller 1.5 or 2-ounce jigs to trigger biters.

Platte Bay in September can be a truly world-class place to target coho salmon in shallow water using light tackle. Spinners retrieved at a medium speed can lead to some awesome action, and Platte Bay is the place to do this. This is an absolute favorite way for several Sport Fish Michigan captains to fish in open water for these silver salmon. A 7 to 9-foot rod will help not only make long casts but will also help to cushion these fish when they run, jump and charge under the boat!

Targeting salmon is incredibly fun, and with many anglers out plying the waters, showing a little patience with other anglers is critical. We are all out trying to have fun and catch some fish. A little common sense and some etiquette will go along way to helping us all have fun while we’re on the water. Stay safe, and great fishing!

Grand Traverse Bay Fishing Report

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Bass fishing in northern Michigan can be just as incredible as is the scenery in which we fish. With so many lakes to fish, there never seems to be time enough to hit them all! September is a fantastic month to get out to target northern Michigan bronzebacks as they are beginning their fall feed. With daylight hours shortening, the feeding windows are condensed, making for what can feel like a true feeding bonanza by our northern smallmouths. As the northerly fall winds descend upon us, the inland lake waters seem to experience smallmouths coming shallow more quickly than out on Grand Traverse Bays.

Many of the inland lakes are great places to not only find calmer waters during the north winds that come with fall, but they are also loaded with quality smallmouth options. Windy points and shallow flats adjacent to weed edges and drop-offs are prime spots to start looking for fish that are moving shallow to feed. As the water temperatures fall throughout September, power fishing options like crankbaits, umbrella rigs and spinnerbaits once again take hold. Drop shots and finesse style fishing is still a mainstay when the weather is warm and calm.

Grand Traverse Bays are slow to cool, and many of the bigger smallmouths are still down deep in 30 plus feet. Drop shot rigs are a great way to tempt these fish. As the month progresses, more and more fish will make the push shallow where they will be easier to target using a larger arsenal of techniques.

The Traverse City area is known for its amazing smallmouth fishing, and any given day can showcase just why its been so popular with television shows and well-known bass professionals. Stay safe out on the water, have fun, and tight lines!

Ben Wolfe’s Michigan Buzz Bite Report for AnglingBuzz.com 07.28.16

Captain Ben Wolfe with Sport Fish Michigan gives his report for the Michigan area waters for the end of July, 2016.