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

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.