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

 

 

Shiawassee River Fishing

Shiawassee River

When somebody from Shiawassee County says “let’s go fishing”, 9 out of 10 times they’re heading to the Shiawassee River. That could be because of the lack of choices in the area, but more likely, because of the great fishing this river provides. It’s better known to residents as “The Shi”. I grew up in the small farm town of Corunna right on The Shi. It is where I fished exclusively until about 14 years old and I still know of many self named holes like “the horseshoe” or “the pike hole”. There are several long stretches with treed banks that feel somewhat remote like from Shiatown to Vernon or Goodall Rd. to Lytle Rd. or several stretches where the river flows through towns.

Now it’s not the cleanest river by any means, but most residents can tell you one time or another that they swam in it as a kid. I can also tell you stories of digging up green worms along it’s banks. With all that said, it’s not a river for somebody looking for a meal, but if you’re looking for an action packed fishing adventure, this river is for you. It’s not really well known around the state, but any local will claim it’s the best river they’ve ever fished. I recently talked to Captain Chris Noffsinger of Northern Adventures Fishing, www.northernadventuresfishing.com, who has gained notoriety as a great smallmouth bass guide and tournament angler. Chris said he started off fishing the Shiawassee as a kid and commented on the great smallmouth bass fishery it provides.

From catching big carp on a hook and night crawler to a nice pike on a Rat L Trap to a fighting smallmouth on a tube jig or spinner, this river has it all. It’s not uncommon to take a 2 hour float trip and hook into 20+ fish. It is easily accessed in many places by shore or easily floated in a canoe or row boat. The most common fish species targeted are Smallmouth Bass, Pike, Carp, Suckers, Panfish, Catfish, Largemouth Bass  and walleye. There are many parks and dams that allow fishing including Shiatown, downtown Vernon, downtown Corunna and several in downtown Owosso.

The best part is, The Shi just keeps getting better. With several dam removals the spring walleye run continues farther and farther upstream. The river has been getting cleaner over the years and with better management will continue to clean up.

If you have fished this river in the past, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t yet, give it a try next time you’re in the area. Check out www.fishmich.com/counties/shiawassee-lakes/shiawassee-river.php for more information on Shiawassee River Fishing or leave a comment there to help out new fisherman visiting the river.

Fishing, Fire and Seclusion

Every summer Michigan residents pack their vehicle to the gills and head to their favorite campground. Some, in their deluxe R.V. equipped with satellite television and air conditioning and others in ginormous tents the size of their master bedroom with king size air mattresses. Most campers, I’ve noticed, have everything possible to make the woods as much like their homes and to keep themselves as clean as they can. I’ve camped every summer for as long as I can remember and in just about every situation. I have no problems with anyone’s idea of camping, but would like to remind people of the traditional sense of camping.

Life in today’s world has become so fast. With cell phones ringing constantly, internet everywhere we look and the kids glued to the television, a camping trip is the last place I want technology. Most people go camping in an area with a lot of attractions. I go camping to be outside and get the family back to nature. We all need to slow down once in a while and be reminded of the peacefulness of the outdoors. You can sit by a campfire for hours doing nothing without getting bored like while watching T.V. or playing video games.

Here’s my family’s idea of a great camping trip.

First and foremost is location, location, location. If you can’t see another person, there is no electricity or running water and staying there is absolutely free, you’ve got a great camping site. The only thing that would make me sacrifice any one of those features is water. It doesn’t have to be great water frontage, but it does need to be close. Whether it’s a trout stream, a sandy beach or a frog pond, water can keep anybody occupied for hours and hours.

Next is camping equipment or lack there of. With a propane camping grill and a cast iron skillet supplemented with a good camp fire, you can cook practically anything. We take one cooler filled with enough food to last two days unless it’s more remote. Then we add another cooler with dry ice for a deep freeze. We sleep in a tent on the ground with blankets, but I truly miss a sleeping bag next to the fire. That’s how I grew up camping with my dad. If it started to rain, I would get the truck cab and he would sleep underneath the truck. Just make sure you’re parked at the top of a hill.

That’s it food and shelter and the all important fishing gear. Our fishing gear will typically take up more room than the rest of the gear. This type of camping isn’t for everyone, but we are out there to get away from life and show our kids the true beauty Michigan has to offer. At 6 and 4 years old they have caught 100’s of frogs, turtles, lizards and snakes while camping and now have began asking if we can sell our house and live in the woods. When my kids ask if they can be homeless, it makes me proud. To me, camping in the woods is a great type of homelessness.

Thanks for reading and be sure to leave us a comment or check out www.FishMich.com for more Michigan Fishing information

Slamming Spring Walleyes

walleye

Walleye Fishing

Walleye can be an elusive fish many times of year, but spring time is definitely the easiest time to catch trophies. Many people flock to Michigan rivers as walleye enter to spawn for that chance at a big female. But, what about those walleye filled lakes that don’t connect to rivers. That’s one place that doesn’t get as much pressure.

As water temperature reaches 40 degrees walleye move to the shallows just like many other species. They typically spawn in 1-3 feet of water in sandy or gravelly areas of the lake. Submerged islands and feeder creeks are hot spots this time of year, but so are sandy beaches. During the warmth of daytime the large females typically head to deeper water and then return to beds at night, but the smaller males tend to stay in the shallows all day. Like bass, walleye will protect their beds aggressively and attack anything that comes close. After done spawning, they move to deep water and rest for about a week. Next is feeding time. Post spawn walleyes will move back to the shallows and feed constantly to replenish their lost energy.

Knowing all this will help come up with a plan to catch these tasty fish. I prefer to leave the boat at home this time of year. The docks typically aren’t in yet and you’re going to be fishing close to shore anyways. I’ve done well at public beaches that are shallow  and then have a sudden drop off to deep water. On the right day fish can be caught all day long, but the bigger ones are easiest at night. Put on your waders and head out, casting back towards shore. Spring time walleyes will hit a lot of bright colors. Try jigs with twister tails in many colors or live minnows or night crawlers. Small crank baits also work, but they have to be shallow divers. Whichever presentation you chose, make sure it is fished slowly. The fish are active this time of year, but the water is still cold, which slows down the fish.

This is a great time of year for Michigan Fishing. There are many fish available and choosing which to target can be hard, but I recommend you give Spring Walleyes a shot.

If you’re interested in spring walleyes leave us a comment below and get on www.FishMich.com for reports and tips in our Fishing Forum

 

Spinning Reel Vs. Baitcaster

Reels

Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel

The two most popular fishing reels are the Spinning and the Bait caster. A lot of fisherman learn on the spinning reel first and never try a bait caster. Everybody can identify the two by looking at them, but we’ll talk about the differences while fishing.

Spinning reels are easy to use and don’t take very much practice for beginners. The spool spins while being reeled and stays still while casting. Basically the line comes off the reel in hoops and when the lure hits the water, the line stops. One of the problems with these hoops is line rubs on the eyes of your pole and slows it down. Another is memory. Those hoops can remain after casting which leaves slack in the line. It allows casting into the wind and is very forgiving with tangles. The spool itself is larger than a bait caster which allows for more line. The bigger spool and more line creates a faster retrieval speed. Gears play a big part of this, but the spool size and amount of line is usually overlooked.

Bait casters function completely different. When casting, the spool actually spins releasing the fishing line in a straight line. This helps the line go evenly through the eyes of the pole. The line will release as fast as the weight on the end will pull it. This means a large weight can be thrown very far with little resistance. The problem is stopping that spool from turning. As anybody that has used a bait caster knows, when your lure hits the water or any other object the spool keeps turning and the line binds up. This is called a bird’s nest and can be very irritating. A lot of anglers become discouraged with it and stop using them completely, but learning the reel’s braking system is key to casting.

Now for the advantages and disadvantages of both. Bait casters are superior for pulling big fish out of thick cover. Spinning reels are better for light tackle and sensitivity. They are more accurate for long casts, but bait casters are more accurate in short flipping situations. Getting precise casts in heavy cover or under obstructions the bait caster wins. They also win for long casts with baits over 1/4 ounce. Newer spinning reels with one finger trigger systems have made them the easiest and most popular for all around fishing, but the newer braking systems on bait casters have helped anglers add them to their fishing arsenal. Whichever one you prefer, adding the other technique can help catch more fish in certain situations. I suggest practicing with both on land first and stick with it.

For more advice on fishing reels check out our forum at www.FishMich.com

Spawning Bass-Michigan’s Forbidden Fish

Bass Fishing the spawn

Bass Fishing the spawn

For Michigan bass fishermen, spring time is unfair. Michigan is one of the best and most popular bass fishing destinations. Yet, it is one of the few states that doesn’t allow bass fishing during the spawn. All spring I watch videos and read fishing articles about the excitement of sight fishing monster bass on their beds and wonder why I can’t take part.

During spring, as the water temps reach 45 degrees, bass move into shallow structure preparing for the spawn. When temps reach 55 degrees they start making their beds. Bass spawning beds are typically 1-3 feet in diameter, in 1-5 feet of water and typically within 10 feet of shore. For a fish that is usually in heavy cover, this is a time when fisherman can troll or walk shoreline and locate them. But, as many anglers know, locating a bass and catching one are totally different stories. Bass are typically more actively feeding during pre and post spawn and don’t eat much while on their beds. Smaller males will be very aggressive, but the larger fish don’t strike. If a bedded fish is nervous enough about your presentation, they will suck it in and spit it out away from the bed. This is where the sight fishing comes in handy. Watch the bass and learn where you need to drag your soft plastic creature bait across the bed. If the bass feels the nest is threatened she will move the bait away. Set the hook!

So why can’t we fish during these times?

I don’t really know. Some believe catching bass during spawning will prevent it. Many studies across the nation have proven this isn’t true. Some fish have been collected from beds, driven 400 miles and transplanted and they still successfully spawned. If a bass is caught and released unharmed (which surveys show 92% of bass are), they will return to their original bed and spawn. Others say it will lower fish populations or populations of large fish. Again, this is easily disproved in the southern states where huge bass are produced year after year during the spawn.

Just one more point. How can we be worried about the population of a fish that is very rarely stocked in Michigan lakes. We stock almost every type of fish in our waters, yet the most fished species doesn’t require it. I think that alone explains what a strong and resilient species the bass is.

Michigan has changed their rules recently to have a catch-and-immediate release season starting April 27th in the Lower Peninsula and May 15th in the Upper, finally. It is a step in the right direction, but why not all year. Many fisherman are out fishing rivers and open water lakes before this. In 2012, with the early thaw, the DNR posted a newsletter warning people that they could not target bass. They had reported seeing a lot of anglers out targeting bass because of the warm weather. I say, with all this proof, Why not leave the possession season alone and have catch and release the rest of the year. Come on Michigan. Everyone else is doing it!

If you have any comments on Bass Fishing during the spawn, please leave them below. And as always check out the forums at www.FishMich.com for local fishing reports.

Michigan Fishing Fever

Michigan Fishing

Late Winter Ice

Michigan in late march can feel like Chinese water torture to anglers. Northern Michigan wakes up to a couple more inches of snow each morning and lower Michigan looks bare and frozen. All  winter, cabin fever can be cured by ice fishing the numerous in-land lakes, but come March 15th walleye and pike season ends, the ice is getting water logged and steelies are spotty at best.

It’s this time of year that I start itching to get on an open lake and pitch a worm into vegetation for a big bass or pull the planer boards alongside the boat trolling for walleyes. We all go through it at some point..

The most common way to avoid fishing depression is to start going through your gear. Get the tackle box all cleaned and sorted out. Check all your poles for imperfections. Oil your reels and tune crank baits. I like to start reading spring fishing articles, watching videos on youtube and checking out maps of lakes to plan summer fishing trips. Kind of like making a wish list of lakes that I want to fish this year.

The problem is, I already have all of this preparation done. I did all of this around Christmas when the lakes were just starting to freeze. I’ve been sporadically fishing for winter steelhead, so those rigs are all set to go. So I guess I’ll sit here and be tortured by every new snow flake that falls and keep wishing for that huge spring melt off.

Next blog we’ll be talking Steelhead Fishing in Northern Michigan so stayed tuned to Michigan Fishing Talk.

Thanks for reading if you have any comments please feel free to leave them below or check out FishMich forum to read member fishing reports.