Chad Dilts – AnglingBuzzTV Fishing Report – Mid-July

Captain Chad Dilts of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzzTV fishing report for early July. Summer is here, and temperature increases have pushed fish into deeper waters in both Lake Michigan and inland lakes. Check out angling opportunities for salmon, lake trout, walleye, and smallmouth bass.

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!

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!

Sport Fish Michigan August 2016 Angler Magazine Report

Northwest Michigan Report


Sport Fish Michigan has had terrific fishing this summer; water temperatures have gradually increased providing a consistent bite for most big water species. August is a great month for anglers to target some very willing trout and salmon in the Northwest region of Lake Michigan.

Grand Traverse Bay is fishing very well this August. Water temperatures have been varying with wind direction from 68-70 degrees on the surface. Anglers that have successfully found the thermocline have been producing good catches of Lake Trout in 80-100 feet of water. Jigging and trolling have produced good catches of trout. Ciscos have been feeding above the thermocline attacking higher in the water column. Both east and west bay have been blessed with a fairly high density of alewife over the course of the spring and summer. This has provided a fishable salmon population for anglers willing to troll. Most of the salmon being caught have been 2-3 years old with the occasional adult encounter. Flasher and fly combinations, lead core, spoons, and even cut bait rigs have been productive.

Platte Bay is setting up very nicely for this fall. With the warm temperatures in August, the thermocline will be found 80-100 feet depending on the wind direction. This provides an excellent depth range to target aggressive lake trout that have been biting very well all spring and summer. Larger dodgers, cowbells, and small spoons trolled at 1.9-2.4 mph have been best for most anglers. Pockets of baitfish have been found near and around the rocks and steep breaks.

Frankfort has offered some spectacular fishing all spring and summer. Warm August temperatures have brought heavy south winds forcing most of the fish deep with the thermocline ranging from 80-120 feet. Lake trout fishing has been very consistent with most schools of fish gathering along the steep breaks and under water points. Anglers that have fully committed to salmon fishing have been producing some nice fish. Salmon numbers have fluctuated with the wind direction; however most anglers are reporting a very fishable population.


Grand Traverse Bay Report


Summer time bass fishing in and around the Traverse City area is in full swing now that we are in August, and that means fishing deeper water. With the incredible amount of wind that we experienced in July, the water temperatures aren’t super hot, which is helpful in keeping oxygenated water and fish active.

For those fishing on Grand Traverse Bays, the smallmouth fishing has been excellent at times, and spotty at times. For the most part, anglers should target deep structure in 20 feet or more. A good sonar graph will help to pinpoint these structures. Deep weed beds will also hold fish, as this is where baitfish, crayfish and bugs will all congregate. Drop shots are a staple for us here at Sport Fish Michigan and Traverse City Bass Guide Service. When there is wind, a spinner bait fished on the shallower flats can lead to some thunderous bites! For the early-morning risers, a top water fished early in the day or late in the evening can be a great way to target fish orienting on the shallow side of deep drop-offs.

For inland waters, the bass are relating to deeper water that also have weed edges associated with them. Top waters are a great way to locate fish early in the day, or again later in the evening, although smallmouth will readily bite top waters all day if there are slick overcast conditions. A soft plastic jerk bait can be another fantastic option this time of year.

While the bass fishing may be in its summer patterns, the opportunities to have a great day on the water still abound. With lots of summer boating traffic to contend with, make sure to have the necessary safety equipment onboard. Have lots of fun, and just as important is to stay safe!


Michigan River Fishing Report 5.23.16

Memorial Day is almost upon us, and we have been experiencing an awesome stretch of weather this past week. To go with that great weather has been some spectacular days on the water fishing for a variety of species. Waters are warming, and the fishing is hot.

Grand Traverse Bays have been absolutely on fire for both lake trout and ciscos (otherwise known as lake herring or tullibees). The bay temperatures have been fluctuating between the high 40’s and the low 50’s the past week depending on location.

The lake trout are starting to move shallow, and are being caught by anglers casting in 20-50 feet of water. Long casts with a heavy blade bait and then retrieved with a hopping yo-yo action have been the ticket to getting the trout and ciscos to bite. Ciscos can also often be caught right below the boat! These little velociraptors with fins have been all over both East and West Grand Traverse Bays, and have been devouring anything in sight seemingly. The trout, while they have been venturing shallow, have for the most part, been in the 40-60 feet of water.

Trolling on the Bays has been the most productive for the trout, and 60 feet of water seems to be the magical depth at the moment. As the waters continue to warm and the baitfish and gobies head shallow, so too will the lake trout, which seem to be running large at the moment. Lots of really nice sized trout have been caught in the past week.

The inland lakes are seeing the first wave of smallmouth bass pushing up onto the beds to spawn. The full moon from a couple of nights ago is what triggered the move to the spawning beds. With many inland lake temperatures in the mid to upper 50’s, there are still bass that are in the pre-spawn mode, readily taking jerk baits and spinner baits as well as more subtle options like a curly-tailed grub.

For river fly anglers, the brown drake hatch is on, and both resident and stocked trout on northern Michigan rivers are feeding heavily on the surface. Streamers are still producing for bigger fish, although during bug hatches it may be best to match the hatch as big trout don’t like to pass up an easy protein meal like a bug!

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