Captain Chad Dilts of Sport Fish Michigan – AnglingBuzz TV fishing report for early May. Opening weekend for trout and walleye, with continuing opportunities for steelhead fishing in northern Michigan. Walleye fishing on the Detroit River and Saginaw Bay.
The past two weeks have been filled with awesome fishing for SFM and clients. The walleye fishing has been on fire throughout the state! Fishing on the Detroit River continues to be red hot, both on the US and Canadian side. 35-48ft of water has held the more active fish. Larger fish are being found on the cleaner side of the mud line in US waters. Lime and antifreeze-colored heads with a black worm are most effective at this time.
Inland lake fishing for walleye in Benzie, Leelanau, and Grand Traverse Counties has been very good. Anglers trolling after dark with floating Rapalas on lighter fluorocarbon line have had great success. Anglers targeting 5-12ft of water trolling at a speed of 1.3-1.9 are yielding good catches.
The lake trout fishing off Frankfort and East-West Grand Traverse Bay has been very red hot. Anglers have also had frequent encounters with salmon in both locations. The most active salmon and trout have been found in 30-70ft of water, feeding on gobies and alewife in warmer temperatures. Finding the warmer water can be critical at this time of the year. Sometimes a 5-degree temperature variation can make all the difference in your catch.
Cisco fishing on Grand Traverse Bays is really starting to heat up as well. Lots of fish are being found in 50-70ft of water close to steep drop-offs. Blade baits, jigging spoons, and trolling lead core have been working very well. Anglers trolling smaller spoons have had good action. The cisco fishing should only continue to get better through the month of May! Get out and catch some of these awesome, hard-fighting fish!
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!
Captain Ben Wolfe with Sport Fish Michigan gives his report for the Michigan area waters for the end of July, 2016.
Michigan River Fishing
Steelhead fishing has been pretty good lately with some nice-sized chrome fish coming boatside. Anglers finding the most success have been using cured salmon eggs tied into spawn bags. With all of the recent rains, larger bags have been the key to getting steelhead to bite. Spawn fished under a float, or back bounced through deep holes and the tailout runs have been the most consistent.
Capt. Kyle Buck
Big Manistee River (Lower)
Anglers fishing near Tippy Dam have seen the best action on the lower stretches of the Manistee River. Along with the steelhead bite, lots of trout are still being caught. Anglers are still catching fish on beads pegged a couple of inches above the hook, so those that don’t want to mess with spawn are still getting bites. This has been the best option for fly anglers. Those that are inclined to use spawn are seeing slightly better fishing, as the added attraction of scent tips the odds in their favor. Colder water temperatures have fish holding a little deeper and less willing to travel to take offerings. This is where spawn or small steelhead jigs tipped with wax worms have been paying off–both for steelhead, and for the resident brown and rainbow trout. Float fishing behind spawning gravel has been the best option, although bottom bouncing has produced good results as well. Lots of rain, and even quite a bit of snow, lately has water levels higher than normal, which means that caution should be taken when venturing out. Anglers wading near Tippy Dam should take extra precaution as there can be slippery conditions with the snow. Water temperatures were 41-42 degrees right up at the dam.
Capt. Ben Wolfe
The Betsie River near Frankfort has had some nice steelhead come into the system with the recent rains and snow. While there haven’t been a ton of fish in the system to target, the fish that are there are big. Covering lots of water has been key to locating them. A recent trip saw fish over 12 pounds come to net, with a couple of other bites from what appeared to be large fish. The best options right now are below Homestead Dam. Lake run brown trout should be coming into the river system any day now. Spawn bags that are larger than normal have been the ticket to getting bites, as the water is off-colored due to the rain and snow. In fact, the water is high enough that getting under the bridges in a boat has been impossible.
Capt. Ben Wolfe
Salmon and Lake Trout Trolling:
Catching Steelhead 10-15 miles off shore. Summer Steelhead on the big lake are typically caught in the top part of the water column. When they are hooked, these fish put on a spectacular aerial show. The salmon fishing is starting to pick up along the bank at first light with fish running 40-70 feet down. As the salmon bite slows in the morning, big lake trout are being caught off of West Platte Bay.
Capt. Andy Odette
Salmon catches out of Leland have been spotty lately. A couple of recent hard north winds have brought in a few more fish. The lake trout fishing remains constant with the best actions being around 100 feet.
Capt. Brady Anderson
West Grand Traverse Bay
Lake trout fishing remains hot most days, with a couple of salmon bites per trip. 60-80 feet has seen the most consistent action, but dropping down to 100-120 feet has also produced good results, especially in the afternoons.
Capt. Brady Anderson
East Grand Traverse Bays
Lake trout fishing has been exceptional all season, and still remains outstanding. Most of the fish have been coming from 60-90 feet of water, close to the bottom. First light has seen some salmon bites the past few trips, and hopefully salmon action will continue to pick up as August rolls in.
Capt. Adam Collett
Lake Trout Jigging
West & East Grand Traverse Bay
Jigging has been very good lately, with many bites per outing. Larger jigging spoons have produced better recently, with most bites coming from 70-85 feet of water. Depending upon the current in the bays, fish have been caught as shallow as 50 feet, and as deep as 125 feet. Lots of fish right around the 20" minimum are coming boat-side, as well as plenty of fish above the 25" slot limit, providing steady action. Anglers are allowed to keep 1 fish over 25" on the Bays, and we have seen quite a few fish over 10 pounds. Anglers may have to hunt around a bit to find the bigger fish but the time can be well worth it when the bigger fish are found in 65-85 feet of water.
Capt. Ben Wolfe
Lake trout jigging has been mostly good, with some very big trout being caught when they can be located. Fish here are a little more subject to fluctuating water temperatures, as Platte Bay is on the main portion of Lake Michigan, just north of Frankfort. When the lake trout are active and happy, they can be targeted in 65-85 feet of water. Jigging down to 100 or even 120 feet can produce when the fish get a little pickier. Jigging spoons in a variety of colors and sizes have all worked well as of late.
Capt. Ben Wolfe
Big Manistee River
The river temperature is still approx. 67 degrees. Trout at the Tippy Dam can still be taken on fly and gear presentations. Small streamers will do best for fly anglers preferring to fish during the middle of the day, while caddis flies are showing in the early evenings, providing great action on dry flies. Small mouth bass remain active in the river, readily chasing soft plastics and weighted flies like clousers. Summer steelhead are also showing themselves, with impressive aerial displays and runs when hooked.
Capt. Jeff Mallory
Au Sable River
Mousing has been very productive at night with savage strikes in key stretches. Tricos are going strong in early mornings. Browns have been active. Fishing for browns has been good, followed by blue winged olives aka BWOs.
Guide Bear Andrews
The streamer bite was good on the Boardman River several days ago, with the best action picking up after dusk.
Guide Bear Andrews
Upper Manistee River
There is some late hex activity on the upper Manistee, below 612 providing fly anglers a last few attempts at fishing the big mayfly patterns. Terrestrials are starting to play a role as well.
Guide Bear Andrews
Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass
Grand Traverse Bays
Fishing on GT Bays remains very good, even as fish are transitioning to deep water for summer. Drop shot rigs continue to be a key presentation as the fish drop into their deep water patterns. When there is wind, the fish may come shallow, providing anglers with a nice shallow-water bite. Shallow is a relative term here on the Bays, meaning water ranging from 4 feet to 14 feet or so. Spinnerbaits work well when it’s windy, and finesse presentations when it’s calm. Natural colors tend to work best in the super-clear waters of the bays, but there are times when a bright color can provoke a reaction strike from aggressive smallmouth bass.
Capt. Ben Wolfe
Bass fishing on the inland lakes, whether it is for largemouth or smallmouth, is always a bit slower during the summer. Deep weed edges are the ticket to finding summertime bass here in northern Michigan. Presentations like bladed jigs work well for largemouths, while double willow spinnerbaits work better for smallies when it’s windy. Dropshot rigs or jigs presented adjacent to the weed edge or ripped through the weeds can lead to some thunderous strikes. While summer bass fishing on the inland lakes can be tougher, big fish can still be caught, as evidenced by a 6.56 pound smallie caught on Lake Leelanau a couple of days ago.
Capt. Ben Wolfe
It’s an exciting time here in Michigan, and the fishing possibilities are now seemingly boundless. Last week saw the ice finally melt in northern Michigan, and with the recent inland lakes and river walleye opener, the bass catch & immediate release opener, as well as the trout opener, opportunities for anxious anglers are huge. With so much ice covering the water until several days ago, anglers have been chomping at the bit to get out, and now they finally have their chance.
The Big Manistee River is fishing well, despite the record high water levels from a couple of weeks ago. The water is still incredibly muddy, but the fish are there, and are biting. Many large steelhead are being caught, on beads as well as flies. Several fish in the mid- to upper-teens weight-wise have been landed, and many of these fish are still bright chrome, meaning they are fresh into the river. Trout in the Manistee are also feeding, and with steelhead fanning the gravel to make their spawning redds, bugs like stoneflies are being dislodged and the trout are gorging. It’s surprising that the fish can see anything in the dirty water, but even though the clarity doesn’t seem good to us, the steelhead and trout don’t seem to be too bothered. Brown trout, resident rainbow trout, and planter smolts have even been taking bugs off of the surface, so obviously they can see in the water better than we can!
Sturgeon showed up a couple of days ago on the Manistee, and one of our Wolfe Outfitters trips from this past weekend had the excitement of battling 2 of these prehistoric fish, despite not being able to land them. Bank anglers around Tippy Dam have also been hooking these behemoths, which are in the river for their annual spawn.
The Platte River got a small push of steelhead, but many of the anglers fishing its waters fished for walleye the day of the opener. Walleye spawning was delayed because of the slow, cold spring, and in conjunction with the walleye opener this past weekend, anglers were able to target and catch these awesome tasting fish. The Betsie River is still stained, and many of the fish are now above the Homestead dam.
Anglers fishing the big lake down by St. Joseph have been catching king and coho salmon, with hot action as the weather permits. Up by Frankfort, the brown trout are biting, and the fish are averaging a respectable 4-6 pounds. Trolling body baits has been the ticket of late, and early morning and evening seem to be the best times.
Grand Traverse Bays just had ice out and, in fact, there is still slush floating on the water. A few anglers have been getting out, trolling the deep breaks. The water is very cold, and with a few nice sunny days, the fishing should start to get better.
Waters are still extremely cold, and it has been windy. Despite that, boats have been getting out on the smaller inland lakes, fishing for walleyes and perch. It has been an incredibly long winter, and it’s almost May, so anglers are bound and determined to make the most of the now open water!
The smaller lakes in northern Michigan will warm faster with some sun than will the larger lakes like Torch, Elk, and Crystal Lake. Steep breaks, old weed lines and medium-depth flats are likely targets for a variety of species, including walleyes, bass, northern pike and panfish. Lake St. Clair in Southeast Michigan is now open for catch & immediate release bass fishing, and from the sounds of it, the fishing is getting better and better. This is the time to fish prespawn bass, and the big ones are feeding heavily.