The Boatless Fisherman

The Boatless Fisherman has more options than ever to find fishing spots in Michigan. From trout fishing streams to bass fishing a big lake, the opportunities across the state are endless. First off, kayaks, canoes, floating tubes and even small john boats are becoming so inexpensive and made out of plastic that they are hard to pass up. Besides buying a new or used rig, many places offer day rentals to get on the water.

If you still don’t want or feel the need for a boat, the access points keep growing. With Google street maps and satellite imagery it is easy to find a place to access bodies of water. For rivers I usually just pick the area closest to my home and then start tracking the river closely. Look for public lands or bridges. You should also pay attention to the water contours. Follow the curves and watch the vegetation on the shoreline. In many rivers you can actually tell the difference between riffles, deep pools or sand bars right from Google Maps. I typically will find an area of river that looks like it has potential, then start tracking it both ways until I find the closest access. From that point you have to decide if it’s close enough to wade or if you would prefer some floating craft to get there.

Lakes present a different problem. During the spring many fish come into the shallows near shore to spawn on beds. This is the best time for shore fisherman. Almost any access from fishing docks, boat ramps, parks or beaches can be utilized to catch big bass, walleye, pike and bluegills. Again, I will search Google Maps Imagery to first look for public land around the lake. Next, start looking for shallow areas that are typical in spawning grounds. I have found the spring time to produce the most fish from shore. Other times of year it really depends on the lake. You have to be creative and be ready and willing to get wet. One of the best lakes I’ve fished from shore was one that was completely private. I actually got permission to enter through shared beach access. From there I discovered that I could wade through chest deep water carrying my gear above my head until I hit an island. On the back side of the island was some of the best bass and pike fishing I’ve ever found from shore.

Shore fishing can be just as much fun and productive as from a boat, as long as you spend as much time researching as boaters do with their sonar. In a boat you can explore the lake when you get there. By foot, you need to explore before arrival and you will have more luck.

For more Michigan Fishing information and access points near you check out

Brookies on the Black River

It’s pretty well known around northern Michigan of all the places Ernest Hemingway liked to fly fish. Well the Black River was his favorite. The Upper Black was very hard to get  to in Hemingway’s time. Even now it can seem very remote as it flows through the cedar swamps of the Pigeon River State Forest.

Because the river winds through so much state forest land, there are many access points. Either at bridges where you may see multiple fisherman or accessing the river by walking in remote areas, you will find some of the best brook trout fishing in Michigan. The Black actually has the largest population of wild brook trout in the state. I would describe the river as a shallow, fast, constant riffle with bottom completely covered in fist to head sized rocks and banks that are completely lined with downed trees and brush. By shallow I don’t mean there are no deep spots. There are several holes that could be 10 feet + deep. This section is a designated trout stream and has several tributaries that offer more trout fishing like Canada Creek and Milligan Creek.

Downstream at the Tower Dam the river becomes about a 60 acre pond that is mostly 5 feet deep. There aren’t many brookies in the Tower Dam Pond, but it is still a designated trout stream. The only exception is for a pike spearing season during the winter. With very little chance of catching trout the Pond has little fishing pressure except for the occasional pike fisherman.

Below this the river flows into Black Lake, the 9th largest lake in Michigan. This section from Tower to Black Lake is where the largest fish in the Great Lakes State comes to spawn. Check for river closings through this section because some areas are closed between April and May for spawning Lake Sturgeon. These pre-historic fish swim upstream to the many riffles to lay their eggs. The many walleye in Black Lake also swim up this section to spawn, but again sections are closed during these times.

The Black River again flows out of Black Lake and joins with the Cheboygan River before hitting Lake Huron. This river section has just about every type of fish that is in the lake. Panfish, Pike, Smallmouth Bass and walleye are just a few. It is a much larger river at this point and not the trout fishery of the upper.

The Black is a big river with many different fishing opportunities. It’s watershed is about 550 square miles with many tributaries and a 10,000 acre lake. Whether you like fishing the walleye spawn or brook trout on a fly, you can find it here.

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The Love of Fishing

The Love of Fishing

The Love of Fishing

I’m an addict, a junkie, a fiend. I can’t get enough of it. When I don’t go fishing for an extended time period, I start to get irritable. I start pacing, thinking about it day and night. I read everything I can about it and stare at pictures for hours at end. Then when I finally get out to a lake or river, it all slips away. It puts me in a better mood within minutes. It’s hard to describe and sometimes I don’t even notice, but it just does something to my all around being.

Fishing is truly a way of life. Whether you do it daily or just a couple times a year, you know the feeling. Getting out on the water alone or with family or friends just slows down life a bit. Listening to the waves against the boat or the hum of a finely tuned outboard, hearing the river flow over a rocky bottom stops the constant noise of everyday life.

I’ve loved fishing since I was a small kid. Whether I was digging worms or chasing big night crawlers in my backyard after dark, it all has a part in the fishing experience. I grew up on the rivers edge out in the country. Back then our parents would let us go out and explore all day long. I remember digging and finding one worm, running to the river and fishing with it until it was taken then running back to the shovel to get another. I couldn’t stand to stay away from the water and collect many worms. It would be get one and go fishing.

Now a days, I enjoy fishing for just about anything. As long as I’m out there, I’m happy. There’s something I love about picking the right lure, choosing the correct color pattern or just making a piece of plastic mimic a wounded bait fish. Casting that perfect cast  or over throwing into a snag, it doesn’t make much difference. It’s still making me feel productive.

I now have a wife and two young kids that are getting into it. There is nothing more satisfying to a father as his son and daughter asking to go fishing. I don’t mind baiting hooks or taking off hooked fish. I don’t mind losing precious fishing time, so they can learn the art of fishing. This is one addiction I hope my kids possess. It can be torture sitting at work on a hot sunny day or a cool fall day when you know the salmon are flooding your favorite riffle, but without those days you will never know the true happiness of being on the water chasing fish.

Fishing The Grand River

42 pound Flathead

42 pound Flathead caught on the Grand by Matthew Stephens.

If you live in Mid Michigan you are certain to have heard of the Grand River. It is Michigan’s longest river at 252 miles. The Grand starts down in northern Hillsdale County and travels mostly North through Jackson and up to Lansing. Not far out of Lansing it turns and heads west to Grand Rapids and Grand Haven as it empties into Lake Michigan. From trophy smallmouth bass to running king salmon or steelhead to 40 pound catfish, the Grand is a hotspot for many fisherman.From Jackson to just south of Eaton Rapids the fishing access is mostly

at bridges. The river is slow moving and has a soft bottom that isn’t easy to wade. Pike, large and smallmouth bass, walleye and carp are the most predominately fished species through this section. Depending on water levels each year this stretch can produce large fish, but on dry years they can be hard to locate.

As the river approaches Eaton Rapids it gains a firm bottom with some larger boulders that provide better coverage for smallmouth bass. “The

Grand at this point is easiest split into two rivers”, according to Ingham County Pro Staff Matthew Stephens, “above the dam at Moore’s Park and below it. Above the dam”, he says, “has great access for bank, wading or canoeing. Species include pretty much everything except trout. Below – Moore’s Park to Brenke fish ladder has easy access from the shore via the Lansing River Trail.  The current is slow enough to paddle a canoe or kayak upstream, but there are also boat launches downtown.  Species include smallmouth, largemouth,

walleye, pike, catfish, and panfish.  Salmon and Steelhead come up to Moore’s Park, but below Weber Dam is far more productive.” Ionia Pro Staff Scott Neeb says, “Between Portland and Saranac there are plenty of opportunities to access the Grand River.  Public boat launches in Saranac, Portland, above the Weber Dam in Lyons, Ionia, and above the Lyons Dam give boat anglers every opportunity to fish miles of river normally inaccessible to those bank

fishing.  Bank fishers also have opportunities at each launch to wet a line as well as hidden gems throughout.  Just follow the river and look for turnoffs.  The most popular places to shore fish include the Lyons and Weber Dams (as there is access to both sides of the river). Look to Portland state game area for less used shore access.  Species include large and smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, crappie, gar, carp, sucker (multiple species), catfish (multiple species), and runs of steelhead, coho,

and king salmon as well as any other fish that you can find in the great lakes.  There have even been reports of sturgeon seen as far up as Lyons on multiple occasions.”

A Grand Addiction Guide Service

A Grand Addiction Guide Service

“With many access points from Lyons to Ada this stretch of the Grand River offers some of the finest fishing in the state of Michigan”, Nick Godwin of  A Grand Addiction Guide Service adds. He says, “Channel catfish, walleye and smallmouth bass are abundant around the Saranac and Ionia access points. Around Lowell where the Flat Rivers joins the Grand River you’ll find lots of smallmouth and around Ada where the Thornapple River joins the Grand River you’ll find smallmouth, channel catfish and plenty of walleye’s to catch.”

In Grand Rapids the river hits the 6th Street Dam. This dam is one of the most popular steelhead, salmon, brown trout and walleye fisheries in the state. It’s filled with fisherman every spring and fall going after the fresh lake run fish. The rest of the year fish of all species can be caught in this urban setting.

The Grand earns it’s name from it’s enormous length, but there is something grand about it’s enormous fishery. Residents in Mid Michigan know that they don’t need a fancy boat in their garage or a Great Lake at their back door. They have all the fishing opportunities in a river that flows through their hometowns. From deep, slow moving holes to shallow riffles, to boulders popping above the water line, the Grand River provides every fisherman with opportunity to catch a trophy and build life long memories.

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