Adding New Fishing Techniques

boone bassFishing with soft plastics is probably the most widely used method for bass fishing. There are many different styles, colors and brands to choose from and multiple rigging options. This makes it very confusing and intimidating for the beginner fisherman, but adding soft plastics is imperative to catching more bass.

I grew up fishing rivers in Mid-Michigan armed with a bait-holder hook, split shot and a tub of night crawlers. When I was older and wanted to add more options the obvious and easiest was the crank bait or in-line spinner. These are easiest because the beginner can just cast it out and reel it in. There are many different techniques that can be added to this like reeling speed and jerking/twitching the lure, but it’s easy to cover a lot of water with them and start catching fish.

The thing is, a largemouth’s favorite food is night crawlers. Of course they eat minnows and flies and many other things, but they love a fat juicy crawler. So without using live bait the only option for me was to learn to fish with soft plastics. I had tried them many times, but had no luck catching fish. I quickly lost confidence in using them and once that happened I would quickly change back to a swim bait. Confidence in your presentation is probably the most important factor in catching fish. Without it you won’t allow enough time to catch fish.

So, to gain confidence, the first thing to do is go to a place you know how to catch fish. Go somewhere that you always catch fish. For me it was a line of docks along a weedy shore line. I knew whenever I trolled past the docks I could cast close to them and catch a bass or two every time. Next, I asked Google. There are so many different rigs to use, but the first I found and the easiest to start with is the Texas Rigged Senko. The Senko itself was so heavy that I didn’t need any weight for where I was fishing. What I learned first was how to be patient again. It’s not like casting a lure and reeling it in. I let it set almost like I would when I first started fishing. Then basically would twitch and retrieve the line to keep it tight. The first three docks were a success. Obviously, I still didn’t really know how to fish them perfectly, but I could at least catch fish when I knew there were fish there. That whole summer I alternated between places I hadn’t fished much and the line of docks. I’d try new rigs and different ways to fish them in my comfort zone at the docks and then take the same thing out to different places.

I’m still no expert on fishing plastics, but if you’re looking to expand your fishing experience to new levels with any kind of lure, you can use these tips. Remember that confidence in your presentation is key and always build that confidence where you know the fish are.

Go to www.FishMich.com for more Michigan Fishing information.

Fishing Lake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell

adam pikeLake Cadillac and Lake Mitchell are equally impressive with their fishing opportunities. But oh wait, there is a canal connecting the two, so you can fish them both on the same day. At 2,648 acres for Lake Mitchell and 1,172 acres for Cadillac there is plenty of water to fish.

I’ve spent many weekends on both lakes staying at close friends’ cabins during the summer and winter. There hasn’t been one time that we got skunked fishing either one of these lakes. Of course they had their go-to spot, but whenever the fishing slowed we could always go to many other places. Whether we were fishing for pike in Big Cove or Little Cove  or for monster crappie off Blind Island , we seemed to always catch fish.

The fish of choice in this area is northern pike. Both lakes are known for massive pike and plenty of them. Mitchell has so many weed beds that it can be hard not to find these toothy fish. If you’re looking for something else, how about walleye? Both lakes offer top notch walleye fishing in different areas. Largemouth, smallmouth, crappie, bluegill, rock bass, perch and bullheads are other abundant fish. With a maximum depth of 27 feet and about 65% of their bottom covered with weeds, this is a fisherman’s home.

adamBoth lakes are almost completely surrounded by private cabins, except for a few spots. The William Mitchell State Park lies between the two lakes and is split by the connecting quarter mile long canal. There is a beach and a boat launch at the park. There is also a sidewalk all the way along the canal for shore fishing access. Fishing pressure is pretty heavy during the summer months along the canal, but it stills produces fish and is a great place for kids to cast a line.

During the spring walleye spawn, fisherman can be found in waders walking in from the State Park after dark targeting the big females. Mid summer you’ll see boat lights at night out trolling or jigging during the day for walleye and big crappie. If you see a boat moving hole to hole casting big spinners into the cabbage weed, they are most likely going after the big pike and bass in the area.

Winter time brings shanties galore. Both lakes bring ice fisherman from all over the state. You’ll see tip-ups spread out, guys hunkered over a hole jigging or even fisherman spearing pike inside a hut. There’s plenty of walk on access for both lakes during the winter and the fishing holes aren’t too far from shore for walking.

With plenty of access, lots of big fish and tons of water to explore, Lake Cadillac and Mitchell will always be in my top fishing lakes list. You’re able to fill a dinner table with delicious walleye or crappie or just go out and fight a massive pike or bass. In the huge expanse of weed beds you never know what you’ll catch next.

For more info on Lake Cadillac or Lake Mitchell or to share some fishing input visit www.FishMich.com

 

 

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 www.FishMich.com

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.

If you have any more information on Fishing the Black River or Black Lake please submit it to www.FishMich.com

 

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 FishMich.com 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.”

FishMich.com 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.

For more information on the Grand River or to submit your input to our site visit www.FishMich.com

Michigan’s Opening Day

Lakes starting to thaw.

Lakes starting to thaw.

For us Michiganders, the last Saturday in April is a day that rivals opening day of deer season or Tigers baseball opening day. The start of the Lower Peninsula’s bass catch and immediate release, musky, pike, walleye and trout on Type 1 and 2 streams draw fisherman to all bodies of water. This is the sign that summer is on it’s way.

Michigan residents are drawn to the water right from birth. We even flock to water during the winter and Michigan has some rough winters, especially this year with the most ice coverage on the Great Lakes since the 70’s and snowfall totals in many areas setting new records. So, when late March and early April come and the inland lakes become unsafe for travel and rivers swell past their banks, it’s time to start thinking about summer. There’s a short period in there when Steelhead flood the rivers to take our minds off summer, but for the many that don’t live near a Great Lakes tributary this isn’t an option.

At the beginning of April we start to get antsy. Every time you drive by a lake you’re checking the receding ice. Drive by a river and you’re observing the flow. As the ice melts along the shoreline and the rivers begin to withdraw back inside their banks we start to think about it while at work or just watching television at home. We think about summer time fishing constantly.

And so the preparation begins. You’ll start to see people hauling boats out of storage. We start going through, organizing our tackle boxes, buying new lures, tying every fly pattern that might work on our favorite stream. Planning where to go when that day finally comes. Do you go to your favorite bass spawning ground, trout stream, or walleye river? Is there a new spot that you’ve read about or seen recently just waiting to be fished? We start to think about that monster trout that followed a spinner out from behind that rock and if there is a chance that he’s still there. What about the numerous 30″+ pike you saw last year being caught on a fly rod while bluegill fishing? It’s all going to be available to you on that Saturday.

For the unprepared, there will be many line twists, snags, lost lures and boat problems. For the prepared maybe less frustration, but maybe more. You never can tell until you get out there. One thing is for sure, with all the thinking and waiting for this day to come, it will be the best day since the season closed. Now go get ’em and have fun.

For Michigan Fishing reports and tips check out www.FishMich.com

Fishing in the “D”

Detroit River Walleyes

Mike Martin with a two man limit of walleye on the Detroit River. https://www.facebook.com/MikeMartinOutdoors?fref=ts

Detroit, Michigan is known across the country for high crime rate, low real estate values and bankruptcy. For the sporting world, Detroit hosts the Red Wings who could trademark the word “WIN”, the Tigers who are a historically great team, the Pistons who have a good team for a couple seasons and then about 5 without, and finally the Lions who have been rebuilding as long as I’ve been alive. But, what most of the country overlooks is that Motown has some of the best freshwater fishing opportunities. Just about any fish can be found and in great size and abundance.

First let’s look at the Detroit River. From March 15th-April 26th, when most of Michigan is closed to walleye, pike and bass fishing, The Detroit is open for walleye and overflowing with monsters. This is the time of year when 10 pounders are easiest to find and 3 or 4 man limits are met within a couple hours some days. The river stays active until about mid-May, depending on the weather. The rest of the year perch, white bass, bluegill, rock bass, small and largemouth bass, pike, musky, crappie and channel cats can be found. Trophy sized fish of all of these are caught regularly. Being that it is easily accessed and the many fishing tournaments, the D can have heavy pressure, but this fishery can support it and still produce.

Next on our list is the crystal clear Lake St. Clair, which lies to the northeast of the Motor City. LSC is connected to Lake Huron to the north by the Saint Clair River and to Lake Erie on the south by the Detroit River. It is roughly 425 square miles and has an average depth of 11 feet. With the high water flow into and out of the lake it continually receives an abundance of fresh nutrients. This lake hosts all the main species of fish that were included in the Detroit River and not to mention one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the U.S. It is a place where small and largemouth average 2 lbs. and on some days 40-50 can be boated in a few hours. Beyond the bass fishing, it is said that Lake Saint Clair is one of the world’s best Musky fishing lakes. That’s right, in the world. Muskies over 30″ are everywhere and many in the 40″-50″ range are caught every year.

Jump to the south of Hockey Town and you’ll find Lake Erie. This Great Lake really needs no explanation. It’s well known as a world class walleye fishery. Erie produces large ‘eyes and perch all year long. It is lesser known for it’s salmon and steelhead, but produces many and has solid runs up the many tributaries around Detroit.

Combine these three fisheries with the many streams and rivers and over 400 inland lakes in the surrounding counties and you have an unbelievable fishing city. The economy of Detroit may have it’s ups and downs, but for the fisherman it will always be paradise.

For more information on fishing in Detroit or anywhere in Michigan visit www.FishMich.com

Purely Michigan Fishing

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Best places in Michigan to fish

Michigan is well known as the Great Lakes state, but a lot of “out of staters” don’t completely understand the amount of fishing opportunities Michigan has to offer. Fishing is deeply engrained in our culture. Even the unfortunate few that don’t fish have relatives, friends, co-workers or neighbors that are addicted to fishing.

In many states the only fishable lakes are man-made, dammed up rivers and the rivers are few and far between. They come to Michigan to fish the Great Lakes or one specific inland lake or river and think “Wow, this is a great place”. What they don’t understand is the numerous places and variety of fishing that Michigan has to offer. No matter the time of year, there are numerous species to target.

At the beginning of the year safe ice covers most inland lakes. This offers Michigan fisherman, who don’t own boats, an opportunity to fish the entire lake. It’s also a completely different style of fishing that most states don’t offer and just don’t understand. If you’re not into walking on water, Steelhead and many other species are plentiful in rivers all winter long. Spring and fall times when lakes are unsafe, look to the rivers for fish running upstream to spawn. Finally, come Summer, the variety of fish and techniques to catch them can’t be measured.

The world famous Great Lakes fishery offers Pier Fishing, Surf Fishing, Deep Water Trolling and Jigging and Shallow Water Casting. Michigan fisherman can target a huge variety of fish within minutes of the same port. Salmon, Steelhead, Lake Trout, Bass, Walleye, Perch, Whitefish, Pike, Musky and Panfish are some of the favorites and they are all plentiful. From any spot in Michigan you are no more than 83 miles from fishing one of the Great Lakes.

If searching for inland lakes, Michigan fisherman have over 11,ooo choices from 20,000 acres to less than an acre. Our great state offers weedy, lily pad covered bodies of water or crystal  clear, white sand bottomed paradises and they all offer plentiful fisheries.

Michigan offers over 36,000 miles of rivers and streams. Whether you enjoy trolling up river with a motor, floating in a canoe, wading or just walking the river bank, Michigan fishing offers it all. Salmon, Steelhead and Walleye have huge runs in Spring and Fall in many rivers. Others offer brook, brown and rainbow trout or bass, pike and panfish fishing all year.

There is no place in Michigan that is farther than 6 miles from a lake or stream. Whether you live in a remote area of the upper peninsula or in downtown Detroit, Michigan fishing opportunities are within minutes. To me, that makes Michigan the best place to be a fisherman.

Check out www.FishMich.com to view all of Michigan’s Fishing opportunities and leave us some reports on the Forum.

River Kayak Fishing

 

Sit on top or Sit in Kayaks

Kayaking has exploded over the last few years. Canoes and tubers used to be all you would see on a Michigan river, but now they are pretty rare compared to kayaks. Really I can see why. Tubes are fun, but hard to steer down winding rivers and can be hard on the butt. Canoeing can be hard to master without tipping several times and is much easier with two passengers. On the other hand, kayaks are great for only one person, they are easily maneuvered through tight spots, and are easily transported by yourself.

I just recently started kayak fishing in rivers. The first couple times I deemed it impossible to cast where I wanted, reel the lure back, get the fish off the hook and release it before needing to drop the pole and grab the paddle. Most Northern Michigan rivers are very winding and have a decent flow to them, so I just used the kayak to explore new holes and get out in shallow spots to fish. The only problem with this method was the amount of time it took to float a section of river. Pulling over, getting out and back in really slows up a trip and can be very loud which in turn spooks fish. Then, there are the places that look like great fishing spots, but you just can’t find a place to get out and stand. All of these problems were solved with experience.

I started out with a sit inside type of kayak. It had pole holders, which told me right away that it was meant for fishing. This summer we bought a sit on top. Wow what a difference. With this type you have everything right at your grasp and in site, instead of reaching inside, feeling around helplessly. It has weep holes so any water that comes in, goes right back out, but this does mean water is going to come in and you will get wet. Anyways, that was improvement number one.

It takes practice to be able to see a good fishing spot before you get to it. While floating down river, I am constantly looking ahead of me, scanning the river. When you see a spot you would like to cast to, you need to figure out where your kayak should be positioned. That is the most important part. I typically fish the outside bend of a curve in the river. This means I’m constantly paddling to the inside of the bend. Always paddle backwards right when you first see a place to cast. This slows you down and keeps you away from the hole while you get prepared. If you end up floating into the hole, don’t be disappointed. Just paddle on and realize what you did wrong so you don’t do the same thing at the next bend.

The other important thing to learn is when to give up on a cast. Every trip I have to decide between making a cast and dumping the kayak. It’s much better to lose a five dollar lure than get tipped over and lose all your gear. Sometimes I have to put my pole between my legs while fighting a fish so I can steer away from downed logs and rocks. This can allow the fish to get off, but still better than dumping most of the time.

It’s like everything else in fishing. With a little practice and patience it can be a great experience. Give it a try some time, but remember, I hated it my first couple times and now love it, so don’t give up.

Visit www.FishMich.com for more Michigan Fishing Information and Tips.