Sport Fish Michigan Grand Traverse Bay – June 2017 Angler Magazine Report

June in northern Michigan is a wonderful time to be on the water. Not only is the weather usually quite pleasant, the fishing is also red hot. Whether it’s on one of the countless inland lakes or on Grand Traverse Bays, the bass fishing opportunities are seemingly endless.

On Grand Traverse Bays, the southern portion of each bay warms earliest, and anglers can target big smallmouth bass using moving baits like jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits and swimbaits with great success. As the month progresses, look further north and deeper for fish as they spawn, and then post spawn on the flats adjacent to their spawning areas. And of course, there is the usual go-to drop shot rig or a tube when fish don’t want to play chase.

For us here at Sport Fish Michigan and Traverse City Bass Guide Service, we prefer to fish a tube on a jika-rig. For a couple of reasons, we feel that this is a better presentation for tube fishing. This jika-rig has an exposed weight on the bottom, allowing for much greater sensitivity. The tube itself is rigged Texas style, and so the plastic of the tube does not dull the feel of the bottom. This allows anglers to detect the subtle strikes that can often occur when tube fishing as bass frequently pick up a tube and swim with it. Also, the hook point rides upright, never tipping over as often the case with a traditionally rigged tube with the weight inside the head. We at Sport Fish Michigan and Traverse City Bass Guide Service have not noticed any difference in hookups or bass being shy about the weight. The tube rides above the weight, almost as if it is neutrally buoyant. With our underwater observations, this seems much more natural in many cases. Most importantly, with this jika-rig, bass that inhale the tube are very rarely deep-hooked. This is not the case with traditionally rigged tubes. Mortality from deeply hooked bass with tubes in their throats is a common sight these days. Not so with this style of tube rigging, as bites are much more evident. Give this rigging a try—we’re sure you’ll love it too.

For inland lake bass fishing, bass are mostly in post spawn and are willing to chase actively moving baits. When the wind is blowing, spinnerbaits are a great option when fished right in the rough stuff. A windy-blown shoreline is prime for tossing double willow leaf blades for bass, and the takes are incredible in our clear northern Michigan waters. It is common to watch a brown torpedo chase down a spinnerbait that is burned just below the surface this time of year! Don’t forget about topwater action as another great option. Insect hatches like the mayfly are king here, and a popper or a walking bait are not only visually exciting but also deadly on both largemouth and smallmouth bass on the inland lakes.

Enjoy the great bass fishing that northern Michigan has to offer—with fantastic weather and fantastic fishing opportunities, it’s a win-win!

Sport Fish Michigan April 2017 Angler Magazine Report


April is upon us. The ice has melted, and instead of seeing the lakes covered with shanties and snow, we see waves and boats! Northern Michigan spring weather can be cold and rainy, but that will not stop anglers from hitting the inland lakes in hopes of landing some big pre-spawn smallmouth and largemouth bass. With the new DNR regulations in place allowing us to target bass, the month of April is now wide open for us, where it was previously closed. While we can target bass, it is still catch and immediate release, however.

With a lot of the lakes maintaining water temperatures in the upper 30’s to low 40’s it is important to note that most of the bass in the larger inland lakes are still rather lethargic. Feeding fish can and will be found transitioning from deeper water to shallower flats and weed covered drop offs. The feeding window tends to be short lived this time of the year; generally, it can be the warmest time of the day. Smallmouth’s love sun and a sunny day can really trigger a nice bite as the sun will penetrate down through the clear waters here in Northern Michigan.

A good go-to presentation in April can be blade baits and jerk baits. With the blade bait, retrieving with a double pump action associated with a fall can be key. Try several different styles of pumps making the blade bait flutter in your retrieve to trigger a strike and establish a pattern. The same goes for jerk baits–make sure you play with the jerk/pause cadence to establish what the fish want. With cold water, we at Traverse City Bass Guide Service like to start with at least a 3-5 second pause in between jerk/retrieve. In the colder water, April bass can even want as long as a 10-second pause. Keep in mind as well, that sometimes a twitch can be more effective than a jerk!

When targeting bass with these techniques, you have a very good chance of stumbling into a post spawn pike. This can make for a nice added bonus to get the blood flowing. Pike have a tendency to be found actively feeding adjacent to drop offs and on weed covered deeper flats this time of year. When you find one, you will usually find more! If you find that you’ve stumbled into an area that has nothing but pike, try moving a little deeper or in contrast a little shallower. The bass usually aren’t too far away.

We at Traverse City Bass and Sport Fish Michigan look forward to a great season chasing fish on the open water. We hope everyone has a great April and we look forward to seeing you on the water.

Michigan River Fishing Report 11.03.14


Hook N’ Look’s Kim Stricker is enjoying a nice fall day on the water with Capt. Ben on Platte Bay in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Salmon and Lake Trout Trolling


Trolling in Frankfort when the weather has allowed has been pretty good for 2 and 3 year old king salmon, steelhead and the occasional brown trout. The cold water has fish feeding heavily when the winds are down. Steelhead are in the top portion of the water column, and can be targeted just a few feet down with body baits and flashy spoons with gold or orange. Salmon can be trolled quickly this time of year, with a slightly faster speed often producing quality bites.

Mae with one of the many trout she landed while fishing with Wolfe Outfitters on the Manistee River.

Michigan River Fishing

Big Manistee River (Lower)

Salmon season is over, aside from a few holdover fish on gravel. Steelhead is the name of the game now, but there aren’t tons of steelies in the Manistee just yet. While there are definitely some fish in the river, fishing hasn’t been gangbusters as hoped. Trips are yielding a few bites per outing, but action has been bolstered by a great trout bite when fishing close to Tippy Dam. Fishing with spawn bags or beads under a float has been the best option lately. Fly anglers fishing egg patterns and beads under a float have also seen action. Hopefully the recent snow and windy weather will trigger another push of fish, giving anglers more great days on the water.

Capt. Jeff Mallory, Wolfe Outfitters/Sport Fish Michigan

Betsie River

Steelhead are in the Betsie, and fish are running large when they can be found. Fishing above Kurick road is closed now for the closed trout season, but there are plenty of steelhead opportunities below Kurick. Float fishing with beads has been producing in the slower water just below gravel areas.

Recent higher waters have given the river some stain, and brighter flies or beads can be key. The hard north winds and rain/snow mix should bring fresh chromers into the river.

Capt. Jeff Mallory, Wolfe Outfitters/Sport Fish Michigan

Steelhead are in the rivers, and the action is heating up! Not bad for John’s first-ever steelhead caught while fishing with Jeff Mallory and Wolfe Outfitters! Great job!

Northern Michigan Inland Lakes

The fall bass bite is on, and some of the best fishing can be when it’s nasty out. Traditionally, snow or sleet squalls can produce a red hot bite, helping to keep anglers warm during what is otherwise a chilly time of year. Fast moving baits like lipless crankbaits can trigger reaction bites from big bronzebacks and largemouths. Deep diving crank baits can also produce well when fished around isolated cover, and underwater points or humps. Some of the biggest bass of the year come now, and as the inland lakes cool more quickly than the bigger water of the Grand Traverse Bays, action has been dynamite when the wind and weather allows anglers to get out. When fish aren’t willing to chase down fast moving baits, crawling a tube or a drop shot rig can pay off handsomely. Blade baits will come into play as water temps drop into the upper to mid 40’s. Care should always be taken when heading out onto the water this time of year, but when the weather cooperates, the fish usually do as well.

Capt. Ben Wolfe, Traverse City Bass/Sport Fish Michigan