Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for late April / early May. Detroit River walleye fishing, river steelhead report, and the impact of spring waters being colder than usual.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
The fall color is gradually coming to an end, and most of our inland lakes and Grand Traverse Bays have reached the mid- to low- 50-degree mark. This time of the year anglers can find several fun species to pursue in the Traverse City Area. Late fall can bring a lot of wind and rain, but if you can time the weather and wind with some warmer weather, you can truly have a great day on the water.
The perch fishing on Grand Traverse Bays has been excellent the past three weeks, and we are looking at some really good fishing in November. 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. On East Bay, the southern end extending up the east coast, as well as portions of Deep Water Point, have also held big schools of perch. 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 perch population is coming back in the GTB area, and we are thrilled to see so many different year classes of fish. Despite this amazing boom in the perch population, with lots of fish in the 12-15 inch jumbo range, selective harvest is still the best practice to help ensure excellent perch fishing for years to come. Good jumbo perch fishing can be a delicate balance, and responsible practices should always take precedence.
Smallmouth bass fishing in the Traverse City Area has also been good as of late. We are still finding some of the larger fish in deeper water flats and drop-offs. Drop shots, tubes, and swim bait rigs have been producing most of our fish. We have also enjoyed casting an Alabama rig in some of the shallower flats around isolated structure and steep breaks. This is a great time of the year for bass anglers to get out on the water for some big fish. Most all of the fish we catch this time of the year at stuffed to the gills with baitfish, presenting a great opportunity to land a trophy fish. Fall bass fishing is some of the best of the year, and anglers can enjoy much less crowded waters than in the spring surrounding the pre-spawn and spawn.
The cisco and whitefish fishery on the Grand Traverse Bays has also been very good, and as long as the wind and cold weather allows us, we will continue to target these aggressive fish into late November. Vertical jigging silver, gold, and white colored jigging spoons in a 3/4-1 1/2 oz size is an effective presentation. Most of the fish will be found suspended in depths ranging from 80 to 150 ft of water. It is always best to find areas of the bay that have the least amount of current and wind when targeting these fish vertically. Don’t be afraid to move around and cover large areas of water in varying depths when in search for the larger schools. Lake trout season is now closed until January 1st on the Bays, so any incidental catches of these awesome fish should be quickly returned.
We have finally seen an end to the best salmon run our area has had in the past ten years. What a great fall for salmon! The fish were enormous, and the numbers seemed endless. This has helped put an over-abundance of food in the area tributaries, setting us up for an excellent late fall/winter steelhead fishery. We are really looking forward to getting our clients out this winter for some exciting steelhead action; things are setting up nicely!
The past two weeks of October has brought nearly 5 inches of rain to our area, this has greatly increased the flows of the Manistee and Betsie rivers and put the steelhead on the move. With both rivers running fairly high and around 49 degrees in temperature. We are seeing a large number of active fish in the shallower faster water of the river. Not to say we are not finding active fish in deeper slower winter water, too, but we are just having better luck at the tail-outs of spawning beds and faster pocket water. Fishing this water has also presented a fair number of nice brown trout on some of our past trips. It is always a delight to have the opportunity to get into the browns in this feeding scenario.
With the higher darker river conditions, 10mm and 12mm trout beads in brighter colors have been working well. Glow Orange, Clown, Oregon Cheese have been good under floats and indicators. For those looking to use spawn bags, a 6-8 salmon egg bag has been producing the most results.
We wish all anglers a safe and successful fall; we look forward to seeing you on the water.
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!
Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for the second week of July 2017. Lake trout, salmon, and bass fishing tips and techniques to use when fishing in Michigan during mid-July.
Captain Ben Wolfe of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for the mid-June, Week 2, 2017. Outstanding opportunities for bass, lake trout, and brown trout fishing in Michigan.