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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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Purely Michigan Fishing


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 to view all of Michigan’s Fishing opportunities and leave us some reports on the Forum.

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.