Top 10 Michigan Walleye Lakes
Top Ten Walleye Lakes in Michigan
The lake holds a healthy population of non-stocked walleye that maintains itself.
Walleye in this lake characteristically hold close to weedbeds, dropoffs, and especially in areas with both features. They are usually in shallow water during the post-spawn period and move towards the edge of deep holes as the water warms. The hungry post-spawn walleye respond to a variety of baits and methods, while jigging along edges becomes one of the most popular techniques later in the season. Try ¼ oz jigs with minnows early in the year, and leeches later in the year.
Portage Lake is a consistent producer of big walleyes that remain active throughout the summer, partially because it can be tricky to pull fish out of the dense vegetation and structure of this shallow lake. This lake provides enough protection from anglers and other fish, as well as a plentiful food source, to allow many of them to reach trophy size.
Jigging (¼ oz jigs, 1/8 oz jigs, 1/16 oz jigs) is the just about the only way to get a hook in front of Portage Lake walleye once the vegetation comes in. The best setup is a long rod, sensitive, but with a strong backbone to jerk those wall hangers above any weeds and brush they could use to snap your line.
Pitching a jig tipped with a worm or leech into a weed pocket and twitching it until it settles to the bottom is one effective technique. Keep twitching it, on and off, for a few minutes before moving on.
This lake holds a lot of walleyes, and they don’t tend to be on the small side, with 6-10 pounders being fairly common. This, combined with structures well-suited for trolling, make it easy to locate and catch big walleye.
The depth and variety of terrain make downriggers and planers invaluable on this lake.
At the beginning of season, target gravel bottoms near drop offs. The warmer the water gets, the deeper the fish go, holding to reef areas across the lake. Several good reefs are on the west end of the lake, averaging about 12 feet deep and surrounded by areas that drop to 40-60 feet.
Casting or trolling crankbaits across the reefs is a good way to hone in on active fish, starting close to the bottom and working towards the surface.
If the walleye are not aggressive, a worm or leech on a split shot rig, placed in the reef, can draw a strike.
Single blade spinners are often effective as well.
During the summer months, fish suspend in the water, making them difficult to locate.
This is Michigan’s largest inland lake and despite fishing pressure and recreational boating, it still provides the opportunity to catch a lot of walleye.
Weeds and small drop offs are the only structure this lake has to offer, causing walleye to collect in dense pockets.
In the spring, before there are many weeds, trolling the shallows with crankbaits provides the most bang for your buck. The shallows on the east side of the lake, around the Cut River, are supposed to be good this time of year.
After the weeds get thick, pitching a jig (¼ oz jigs, 1/8 oz jigs, 1/16 oz jigs) orslip bobber tipped with a leech into weed pockets is your best bet. Try the weed pockets close to M-18 and M-55 in Prudenville at this point in the year.
Even though this isn’t a lake that is known for big walleye, it is still a good place to fill your livewell.
Jigs (¼ oz jigs, 1/8 oz jigs, 1/16 oz jigs) with livebait are good in the post-spawn, particularly around Churchill Point and Doctor’s Point.
During the summer, trolling with crankbaits is productive, especially when using planers to avoid spooking the fish.
At night, drifting with a slip bobber and leeches can be effective.
Experts suspect that the flowing waters of Holloway Reservoir hold more walleye per surface acre than anywhere else in Michigan.
The best time to fish Holloway is at the beginning of season, trolling withcrankbaits and inline planer boards. Working light jigs (¼ oz jigs, 1/8 oz jigs,1/16 oz jigs) along the flats has also been known to be productive early in the season. Vertical jigging the river channel that runs the length of the lake can also provide steady action.
Other hot spots include places with circulating water, like the Mt. Morris RoadBridge. Baitfish are attracted to the water movement, which draws large, aggressive walleye.
Despite being one of Michigan’s most heavily fished lakes, it continues to produce considerable numbers of walleye, partially because a speed limit for boats helps keep walleye calm and relaxed.
This lake also has a natural river channel, which holds a lot of walleye. Use a depth finder to locate outside bends in the current, and drop a minnow-tipped jig (¼ oz jigs, 1/8 oz jigs, 1/16 oz jigs).
Later in the season, worms and spinning rigs, with a split shot about 18 inches up, are very successful when drifting. Use metallic spinners early on, and experiment with bright colored blades as the water warms.
Although it’s known as a recreational lake, it’s still possible to catch a lot of walleye if you adjust for the activity of non-anglers.
Beat the boaters out in the morning and hit big dropoffs, like those around Murphy’s and Hasting’s Points, near the middle of the lake. A deep hole inRobbins Bay, in the southwest portion of the lake, holds walleye throughout the middle of the day.
Night fishing is another good way to find relaxed walleye feeding. They are likely to be in the shallows, making them vulnerable to casting and trolling with shallow running crankbaits and spinners.
North Lake Leelanau
This lake has a surplus of protein rich forage, allowing walleye to grow big quickly.
One popular place on this lake is the slopping flats on the south side of the lake. Trolling with spinners and worms behind 1 to 2 oz. bottom bouncers is usually productive, but vertical jigging (¼ oz jigs, 1/8 oz jigs, 1/16 oz jigs) with minnows can be effective once you find a pocket of walleye.
North Manistique Lake
This location is not to be confused with Big Manstique Lake. Due to minimal pressure, this lake has become a great place for walleye fishing.
The lake’s formerly barren featureless bottom is now populated with manmade cover and structure like brush and logs the locals have sank to give the walleye and anglers someplace to go.
Locate depressions and manmade structure and experiment with crankbaitsand jigs (¼ oz jigs, 1/8 oz jigs, 1/16 oz jigs) depending on the time of day and season.
The effects of hurricane Sandy shut fishing down around the state. Action this week was found in the rivers or smaller inland lakes. Waters around the state are turbid and murky so it will take a few days to clear up. Catch rates should resume once the waters settle. Anglers are reminded that catch rates increase during the month of November because perch, pike, whitefish, walleye, bass and steelhead go on a feeding frenzy before winter comes.
There has been very few out but report steelhead are moving into the rivers. Perch fishing has been slow as high winds have kept people off the lake
Northwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Petoskey: When the weather allows, those surfcasting have caught coho, pink salmon and the occasional chinook. Most were using spawn or small spoons.
Bear River: Coho and pink salmon were caught on spawn, skein or yarn. More steelhead were moving up into the river.
Elk River: Is producing coho and steelhead. Try floating spawn and skein or casting small spoons and spinners.
Bear Lake: In Kalkaska County produces brown trout and rainbow trout. Try fly fishing in the southeast corner or along the west shore.
Starvation Lake: Located in northern Kalkaska County is another good spot for inland trout fishing. The lake is up to 47 feet deep and sustains a population of brown trout and rainbow trout. The lake offers year-round fishing with a minimum size limit of 8 inches for rainbow and brown trout.
Boardman River: Is producing coho and steelhead. Fresh steelhead should be moving up into the river as they search for salmon eggs. Anglers will want to use skein, spawn bags or a single egg on a hook.
Betsie River: Is producing steelhead.
Manistee: Pier and surf anglers are catching steelhead when the winds allow. They are using spawn or casting orange spoons. Anglers are reminded that the piers can be very dangerous this time of year.
Manistee River: The steelhead action is underway. Water levels were low and clear so rain should help push more fish up into the river. Some are fly fishing with eggs while others may try casting small spoons or spinners. Good colors to try would be orange, pink, chartreuse, blue and silver along with orange and silver.
Ludington: Is producing steelhead for shore and pier anglers. Most were caught on spawn however a few were also taken on orange spoons.
Pere Marquette River: Water levels were low and clear. The remaining salmon are dark. Fresh steelhead continue to enter the river. Some nice steelhead and brown trout have been caught.
Pentwater: Pier anglers were floating spawn but no steelhead were caught. Those surfcasting had better luck with spawn or small orange spoons.
Northeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Inland lakes are producing catches of perch and walleye.
Cheboygan River: Still has a few chinook salmon up at the dam. Look for the number of steelhead to increase by the weekend. Try spawn, yarn or small spinners in orange, pink or chartreuse.
Weber Lake: In Cheboygan County is a good bet for inland trout fishing for brook trout and brown trout.
Black Lake: Should be good for walleye as this is the time of year the fish tend to get aggressive as they prepare for winter.
Rogers City: No anglers have been out on the lake. Brown trout are showing up in and around the marina and those fishing off the wall before the storm caught fish on a regular basis. They were casting cleos, bombers and spoons in the early morning or late evening.
McCormick Lake: In Montmorency County is a good inland lake for trout fishing. If offers brown trout, brook trout and rainbow trout.
Heart Lake: In Otsego County is a good lake for inland trout fishing.
Long Lake: Should be good for walleye.
Hubbard Lake: Should also be good for walleye. Try the south end of the lake when trolling or drifting.
Thunder Bay River: Has salmon and steelhead being caught near the 9th Street Dam. Try floating spawn or casting rapalas and small spoons.
Harrisville: Salmon are still in the harbor, but they are few and far between. Walleye are just outside the harbor wall. Early morning and late evening were the best time to fish with body baits and crawler harnesses.
Au Sable River: Salmon are slowing down but a fair to good number of steelhead are in the river and on the beds. Fish can be found from the mouth all the way up to the dam. Most are using spawn of small spoons. A few walleye are making their way into the river. The fish caught appear to be bigger than those caught in the spring and summer. Anglers are floating crawlers under a slip bobber or casting body baits.
Tawas River: A few salmon were caught by those drifting spawn. Look for more steelhead to move up in the next week.
Au Gres River: Had reports of anglers catching Atlantic salmon, brown trout, steelhead and the occasional dark king salmon. Anglers are surfcasting near the Singing Bridge or fishing in the lower end of Whitney Drain. Some nice Atlantic salmon have been caught on assorted spoons or plugs. The fish were aggressive.
Upper Peninsula Fishing Report
Lake Gogebic: Was producing some limit catches of walleye.
Keweenaw Bay: When they can get out, boat anglers managed to catch a couple lake trout, chinook and coho.
Fall’s River: Is producing coho and steelhead for those casting spoons and spinners or drifting crawlers and spawn bags. Try orange, pink or chartreuse.
Huron River: In Baraga County is producing coho.
Menominee River: The few out fishing were targeting trout and salmon near the Hattie Street Dam. They are drifting yarn and spawn or casting small spoons, spinners or twister tails.
Little Bay de Noc: Walleye anglers did well all night long when trolling stick baits in 8 to 20 feet of water off the reefs. Fair catches were reported off the lighthouse in Escanaba in 25 to 35 feet and off the north end of Butler Island when still-fishing crawlers or minnows in 10 to 20 feet. Day anglers caught fish near the Second and Third Reefs as well as the Black Bottom.
Escanaba River: A few salmon were seen but none were caught.
Big Bay de Noc: A few walleye were caught on crawler harnesses in 20 to 30 feet of water near Ansell’s Point. Perch anglers in Garden Bay reported good catches of small fish over by the “Fish House”, out to the middle of the bay and over to Ansell’s Point. Try 8 to 12 feet of water with crawlers. Good smallmouth action between Garden Bluff and Snail Shell Harbor for those drifting crawlers or minnows 35 to 50 feet down in the deeper water.
Southeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Shore and boat anglers fishing the inland lakes were catching bluegill and crappie.
Lake Erie: Strong wind and high waves have kept anglers off the lake.
Huron River: Is producing steelhead downstream of Flat Rock towards Labo Park. Crappie were caught near the Belleville Dam.
Detroit River: Perch are still being caught near Sugar Island. Smallmouth bass were caught in the Trenton Channel, Livingston Channel and the cross-dike near Sugar Island. Walleye were caught by those trolling crawlers and minnow type baits.
Lake St. Clair: Those fishing inside the Metro Park reported limit catches of bluegill from Black Creek. Yellow perch were caught off the 400 Club.
Lexington: Those casting spoons, rapalas or spawn caught the occasional brown trout, steelhead or chinook salmon. A few perch were caught on minnows.
Harbor Beach: When the wind and wave action permitted, walleye were caught off the north wall by those casting at night.
Saginaw River: Had perch anglers in the lower river.
Kawkawlin River: Had anglers fishing but no reports came in.
Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
St. Joseph River: Has a good number of steelhead. When they can get out, boat anglers caught fish when casting small spoons or plugs. Shore anglers were drifting spawn bags. Panfish were caught near the Mottville Dam.
Kalamazoo River: Is producing steelhead for those drifting spawn bags.
Duck Lake: In Calhoun County was producing bluegill, bass and crappie.
Prairie Lake: In Calhoun County was good for bass and panfish.
Grand Haven: No anglers were out.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Is producing steelhead and the occasional brown trout. Fish have been caught from the mouth to the Sixth Street Dam. Try spawn, small spoons and spinners or a jig with a wax worm. A few walleye were caught.
Grand River at Lansing: Anglers may still find a few leftover coho. A few nice pike were caught on sucker minnows. Steelhead are not here yet but a good number of fish were spotted in Prairie Creek near Ionia. A couple walleye were caught near the Moore’s Park Dam. Catfish and suckers were caught on skein near Portland and Eaton Rapids.
Looking Glass River: Continues to produce northern pike for those using sucker minnows.
Muskegon River: Is producing steelhead along with the occasional brown trout for those floating spawn.
Whitehall: When conditions allow, pier anglers are targeting steelhead. They are floating spawn or casting small spoons.
While fishing Lake Bellaire for smallmouth bass last Saturday, these Michigan fishermen landed a 58-pound Great Lakes muskellunge. / MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
By Bob Campbell
A boatful of Michigan fishermen matched wits, technology and brute strength to hook, fight and finally lasso and drag into their 17-foot boat a 58-pound Great Lakes muskellunge last Saturday — 8 pounds heavier than the previous Michigan record.
What’s more, Joseph Seeberger’s 59-inch fish — subdued after breaking two small nets in the first effort to land it — could be certified as a world record for a muskie caught on such light line, 8-pound test fluorocarbon.
Seeberger, 41, who lives in Portage near Kalamazoo, was fishing last Saturday morning in Antrim County’s Lake Bellaire forsmallmouth bass with his brother Chuck and friend Jason Orbeck, both of Battle Creek. Despite the hail and rain that began their fishing day, they had caught three fat smallmouths before the muskie, a female, grabbed the 7-inch minnow Joseph Seeberger was using as bait.
“At first, I thought it was another smallie. I told them, ‘It’s a good one,’ ” Seeberger said. “Then I said, ‘Oh, it’s not a smallie.'”
He said the muskie came easily to the boat just five minutes after he hooked it.
“Then she spooked and jumped out of the water and was gone,” he said. “The only thing I can compare it to is that scene in ‘Jaws’ when the shark swims by the boat and comes out of the water.”
But the trophy was still at the end of his line.
Off and on over the next two hours, the fight raged with the muskie taking out more line when it wanted and the three men following it around the lake using an electric trolling motor.
Seeberger, knowing he had a potential record on his hook, asked one of his buddies to Google what was the size of a potential record book muskie in Michigan. They found it was about 50 inches, he said, so they marked off 50 inches along the side of the boat. If the fish was shorter than that, Seeberger said he intended to release it.
About 90 minutes into the fight, Seeberger had the fish beside the boat.
“Where the 50 inches ended, the head began,” he said, knowing he had a true monster.
As the fish tired, the group was confounded how to land it. From friends in a nearby boat, they borrowed another bass-sized net, like the one they already had in the boat. They decided to put the fish into both nets — one at its head, the other at its tail.
They lifted. Both nets broke and the record fish was still free.
Amazingly, it didn’t break the light line. That when another buddy, Derek Barnes of Battle Creek, who had been videotaping the battle, climbed onto their boat to help. Their first idea was to try to slip life jackets under the muskie as a cradle and then bring her in, but the jackets were too buoyant to push underwater and hope the fish wouldn’t take another dive. Almost out of possibilities, they agreed to take a dock line off the boat and lasso the muskie around its head then quickly cinch the loop.
It worked. With the rope around it, all four men reached into the water and wrestled the muskie aboard.
“It looked like a big log coming out of the water when I first saw the fish. I think we all were all just waiting for the line to break at anytime,” Barnes said. “Once the fish was in the boat, many high fives, some Holy Cows, and I am sure a swear word or two.”
They headed for shore, trailered the boat and drove straight for the local bait shop to get it weighed. A police officer was driving by and they flagged him down, asking for help to reach the Department of Natural Resources, because the fish and its weight had to be certified by a DNR biologist to qualify as a record.
One bystander admiring the fish just happened to have the cell phone number of a DNR biologist. Patrick Hanchin, a DNR fisheries biologist at the Charlevoix Fisheries Research Station and Conservation Officer Steve Speigl confirmed the weight and length of the fish as a new record.
Seeberger’s fish breaks the previous state record Great Lakes muskie caught three years ago of Kyle Anderson of Rapid City by about 8 pounds and 3 inches. The fish was caught on Torch Lake, which is part of the same chain of lakes as Lake Bellaire. It also was bigger than the state’s record Tiger Muskellunge — a 53-pound fish caught in the western Upper Peninsula in 1919.
Seeberger said he plans to enter the fish as a possible new world record for 8-pound test with the International Gamefish Association.
“This fish shows that Michigan waters are capable of producing huge fish,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “Great waters coupled with appropriate management strategies can result in even more record fish.” Seeberger’s fish is one of several record book muskies to come from the same chain of lakes that drains downstream through the Grass River to Clam Lake to Torch Lake and River and into Skegemog and Elk lakes.
The muskie is now at a taxidermy shop in northern Michigan being preserved to mount on Seeberger’s wall.
As the fall salmon run winds down, steelhead activity picks up. In the rivers, water levels are up a bit after all the rain. Those with a good current should have a fair to good number of steelhead moving in. This is the time of year to catch muskie and pike because they go on a feeding frenzy. Inland lakes are usually good for panfish this time of year.
I’m hearing of a good perch bite on Elk and Skegemog Lake for perch this week with wigglers and minnows working best. Also smallies have been on the bite. Manistee Lake by Kalkaska has a good walleye bite also
Northwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Indian River Perch fishing has been pretty good on Burt and Mullett Lake. Fish up to 15 inches have been caught. A few walleyes are hitting, too. Waterfowl hunting has been pretty good, and the archery deer season is off to a good start. Deer numbers are up a little.
Petoskey: Anglers harvested some fish past the mouth of the river, but many were thrown back because they were in pretty bad shape. Waders and anglers fishing off the rocks near the “bobber hole” were using spoons, flies, spawn bags, and skein. Most were fishing in the river, but some are fishing off the beach near the breakwall and off the piers with spoons or spawn. They have caught chinook, a couple pink salmon and coho.
Bear River: The number of anglers as well as the number of salmon has declined. Water levels were up and the current was fast after the rain. Anglers using spawn, skein, artificial eggs or yarn have caught coho and pink salmon. A couple steelhead were taken but anglers are still waiting for that run to get started. Pink salmon were caught near the mouth and a 27 inch lake trout was caught on pink yarn at the dam.
Charlevoix: Fishing was slow but steelhead and menominee whitefish were caught on a single egg just off the bottom near the Cement Plant. A few boats just off the pier may have been targeting perch. The area near Medusa Creek has slowed down quite a bit. The few anglers out there were using spoons, spawn bags, and single eggs.
Traverse City: Anglers were mostly targeting perch, smallmouth bass, whitefish and cisco. Perch anglers were still-fishing with minnows, wigglers or shrimp. Most of the fish caught were small but those willing to sort out the small ones can still get enough fish to take home. Cisco were caught by those jigging 50 to 100 feet down in 80 to 120 feet of water. Perch fishing has been good on South Lake Leelanau, Long Lake, Big Glenn Lake, and East and West Bays.
Elk River: Chinook, coho, steelhead, and lake trout have been caught near the power dam by those using spawn bags. Many of the coho are fresh but most of the chinook are deteriorating. More steelhead are starting to show up. The fish are averaging 6 to 8 pounds.
Boardman River: The weir has been lifted. Anglers were targeting salmon, steelhead, and lake trout. Most of the remaining chinook salmon are in poor condition. The coho are in good shape and anglers should see more steelhead coming into the river very soon. Skein and spawn bags are producing the best.
Frankfort: Both the Elberta and Frankfort breakwalls have been producing good catches of steelhead ranging 8 to 10 pounds. Most are using chartreuse and pink spawn bags with glow floats. The early morning bite was best as the action was hit-or-miss throughout the day. Those able to get out to the Bank did find three year old chinook, coho and steelhead 40 to 100 feet down in 150 to 200 feet of water.
Onekama: The North Pier is still showing activity for coho and steelhead. They are hitting on spawn bags in the early morning. Those casting glow spoons in the pre-dawn have caught a couple steelhead.
Portage Lake: Water levels are very low so the fish are in much deeper water. Bass and panfish were caught in 18 to 22 feet.
Manistee: Pier anglers and those surfcasting are catching steelhead when conditions are right. They are fishing off the piers and the beaches.
Manistee River: Salmon are on the definite downslide. Fish are still there but most are actively spawning and therefore not biting. Recent rain did bring some nice chrome steelhead into the river.
Ludington: Pier and surf anglers are catching steelhead when using salmon spawn.
Pere Marquette River: Rain did push steelhead up into the river. Most fish were caught on spawn. Those looking for salmon will still find a few fish however they are almost done spawning so they are not hitting anything.
Pentwater: Pier anglers still-fishing with spawn are targeting steelhead however catch rates were very slow. Those surfcasting with spawn seem to be doing better.
Northeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Cheboygan River: Anglers are still catching some fresh chinook salmon at the Cheboygan Dam. A couple steelhead were also caught by those using spawn. The run could go for two more weeks.
Rogers City: Brown trout are in the harbor in good numbers and anglers are just starting to catch them. There should be some excellent brown trout fishing in and around the marina and Calcite Harbor for the next few weeks. Try casting spoons, rapalas or rattle traps. Lures that agitate the fish seem to be working best early to mid-morning or late afternoon into the evening. Windy and nasty days were also a good time to fish. The few boats that are still going out have caught smaller chinook, steelhead and Atlantic salmon in 50 to 90 feet of water. Lake trout are numerous but the season is closed. Good colors are green, blue, orange and silver, black and white or purple. Use anything that glow early and late.
Alpena: Yellow perch have been caught in the marina when using leaf worms and minnows. Early or mid-morning was best. Very few boats have been out.
Thunder Bay River: Salmon are being caught near the 9th Street Dam and the bridge. Rapalas and spawn worked best. Some steelhead were taken on spawn. Yellow perch were caught near the 2nd Street Bridge.
Harrisville: Salmon are still trickling into the harbor as well as the occasional steelhead. Small boats are still launching. They have caught a couple steelhead and walleye when long lining with spoons, body baits or J-plugs. Shore anglers are floating spawn or casting spoons.
Au Sable River: Salmon continue to make their way up to the dam. Most anglers are drifting spawn or casting spoons. Recent rain has caused the water levels to come up and the current is moving swiftly. This will encourage more fish to come in. Look for the number of steelhead to increase as fall progresses.
Tawas: Had a large crowd of perch anglers fishing off the pier. Some limit catches of 7 to 10 inch perch were taken. A few salmon and brown trout were caught at night.
Tawas River: A few salmon were caught by those drifting spawn.
Au Gres: When boats can get out, they caught some perch in the shipping channel, south of Pt. Au Gres and near the Rifle Bar in 25 feet of water.
Au Gres River: Is producing some small perch. A few salmon are still being caught near the Singing Bridge.
Upper Peninsula Fishing Report
Keweenaw Bay: Those trolling have caught a mix of coho, chinook, steelhead and lake trout. The bite was slow but those putting in the time have caught a few fish 25 to 60 feet down in 30 to 70 feet of water up from the Falls River, Sand Point and north to Carla’s. Anglers fishing from the pier in L’Anse have done very well at times. Near the South Portage Entry, lake trout were caught on the southwest side of Big Reef. In Traverse Bay, lake trout were taken in 25 to 50 feet of water near Buffalo Reef.
Fall’s River: Is producing coho and steelhead for those casting spoons and spinners or drifting crawlers and spawn bags.
Marquette: Surface water temperatures were at 52 degrees. Boat anglers were averaging two to four lake trout with the occasional coho or steelhead mixed in. They are fishing primarily east of the White Rocks and from the Carp River to the Chocolay River in 60 to 150 feet of water. The lake trout had not yet moved in for spawning. Shore anglers caught a few coho. A couple steelhead were taken on spoons.
Dead River: Angler activity was low. A few chinook salmon could be seen. Try drifting flies. Water levels are currently low.
Menominee: Pier anglers at the marina and the lighthouse are still catching a few salmon but the fish are turning dark. Brown trout and steelhead have also been caught. Anglers are casting spoons and twister tails or jigging and still-fishing with spawn bags. Walleye fishing seems to be done. Those targeting them near the Cedar River caught smallmouth bass instead.
Menominee River: Walleye fishing was very slow for the few boats going out. Night anglers fishing off the Cat Walk near the Hattie Street Dam caught a few walleye and smallmouth bass but not without putting in their time. Most were drifting rapalas in the current. During the day, those fishing off the rocks near the first dam at Hattie Street caught a few brown trout, steelhead, chinook and pink salmon. Some are drifting yarn or spawn while others are casting spoons, rapalas or twister tails.
Little Bay de Noc: Walleye reports were mixed with most anglers fishing the northern bay and going as far south as the Black Bottom. The best reports came from those trolling stick baits in the evening between the Second and Third Reefs in 14 to 23 feet of water. Day anglers did best from the Black Bottom to the lighthouse when trolling or drifting crawler harnesses in 20 to 35 feet. Perch fishing was fair north of Butler Island in 14 to 25 feet. Good perch fishing in the Escanaba Yacht Harbor when still-fishing crawlers around the boat slips. Those fishing east and south of Butler Island caught northern pike on spinners or crank baits in 10 to 15 feet of water. Water clarity has been very good but water temperatures are still warm.
Escanaba River: Shore anglers caught salmon up near the First Dam. Even though the run seems to be winding down, anglers reported the best catches of the season so far when using spoons, crank baits and J-plugs up near the active turbans.
Big Bay de Noc: Reports have been few but some were still targeting smallmouth bass in Snail Shell Harbor. They are fishing 25 to 30 feet down off the drop or in shallow waters 8 to 10 feet deep. Most are using crawlers or minnows. The perch action in Garden Bay should start to pick up soon.
Munising: Small boats were staying near the mouth of the Anna River and targeting coho, splake and whitefish. Catch rates were slow and most of the splake were sub-legal. Pier fishing decreased as catch rates were slow. The fish averaged 2 to 3 pounds and some were turning dark. A couple steelhead were caught but splake fishing continues to be unusually slow and the fish are running small.
Grand Marais: Few anglers were out. Mild weather allowed a couple boats to go out trolling in the bay and near the Sucker River. Steelhead was the main catch along with the occasional coho. Light winds slowed the shore fishing for steelhead. No limit catches to report and most were lucky to leave with one or two fish. Boat and shore fishing around the bay have been impacted by the construction of the new breakwall. The water between the end of the new wall and shore is very shallow.
St. Mary’s River: Smallmouth bass have been caught off Rocky Pointe and Birch Pointe by those jigging tube baits with skirts. Walleye are starting to bite on the north end of Munuscong Bay. Use planer boards with crank baits in 8 to 14 feet of water off the rock piles around Moon Island. This is also a good area for smallmouth bass when using minnows. A few muskie in the 38 and 40 inch range were caught east of Kemps Point near Tea Cup Island and the shipping channel. Anglers did best when trolling large crank baits or black rubber bodied shad.
Detour: Walleye have been caught one mile north of Swedes Pointe by those trolling planer boards with crank baits in the early morning. As water temperatures drop and the light levels get lower, bigger fish are being harvested. Young salmon can still be found at the Detour Reef and Lighthouse. Yellow perch effort at the marina has not been good possibly because of the dredging and installation of the new docks. Off Drummond Island, yellow perch were caught in 10 to 12 feet of water on the south end of Ashman Island and Rutland Island. Some 9 to 11 inch fish were mixed in with the 7 to 8 inch fish.
Cedarville and Hessel: Have fair perch fishing. Bush Creek and Beaver Tail Creek have salmon thanks to the higher water levels.
Carp River: Still has a few chinook salmon and steelhead are also moving in and hitting on spawn. Water levels have come up so salmon are staging at Nunn’s Creek. Anglers have a great opportunity to cast out into Lake Huron for salmon when standing near the mouth.
Southeast Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
Lake Erie: Most anglers are targeting perch from Brest Bay to the E Buoy in 18 to 22 feet of water. A couple bigger perch were taken around the Raisin River buoys in 14 feet of water. Catch rates for walleye were slow but try straight out from Luna Pier in 16 feet of water. Those launching boats out of Sterling State Park need to watch for shallow water coming out of the channel as some of the buoys have been removed.
Detroit River: Walleye fishing in the upper river has been good. Catch and release sturgeon fishing has also been good. Not much on bass fishing but the action should still be good for smallmouth. Muskie fishing has been good.
Lake St. Clair: When boats can get out, fishing was very good. Perch fishing has been consistent with good catches off the Mile Roads, down to the Grosse Point Yacht Club and from Ontario waters. Muskie fishing has been very good.
St. Clair River: Port Huron seems to be the only place producing fish. Shore anglers caught steelhead and the occasional chinook when using red eye spoons. A few walleye are still being caught at night.
Lexington: Anglers are seeing more brown trout and salmon in the harbor but the bite was slow. Those casting spoons, rapalas or spawn have caught the occasional brown trout, steelhead or chinook salmon. A few perch were caught on minnows.
Port Sanilac: Had a few brown trout in the harbor but the fish were not biting.
Harbor Beach: Walleye were caught off the north wall by those casting at night.
Port Austin: A few perch were caught on minnows. Those casting did catch a couple chinook salmon.
Saginaw Bay: Perch anglers have done well out near Spoils Island, in the old shipping channel and out near Buoy 18. A few are going out to the Spark Plug. Catch rates were slow from Quanicassee to Caseville except for a few small perch. Bluegill action in the marinas was hit-or-miss.
Saginaw River: Is producing some perch at the mouth and out from the Bay City Yacht Club. Most are using perch rigs with shiners. A few walleye were taken at the mouth by those using jigs and minnows.
Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report
St. Joseph: Pier anglers caught steelhead and whitefish on spawn.
St. Joseph River: A good number of steelhead passed through the fish ladder at Berrien Springs. Shore anglers caught fish when drifting spawn bags while boat anglers picked up a few when casting plugs. The fish cam is back on line.
Paw Paw River: Has more steelhead than salmon. Shore anglers are drifting or floating spawn bags.
South Haven: Pier and shore anglers are casting spawn or body baits for steelhead.
Kalmazoo River: Steelhead fishing is on and those drifting spawn bags are catching fish.
Grand Haven: Is producing a couple steelhead and menominee whitefish off both piers. Still-fishing with spawn is the key. For whitefish try a single egg or spikes on a small hook. Catch rates were hit-or-miss.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Has steelhead and the occasional brown trout being caught all the up to the Sixth Street Dam. Some are using a pink or chartreuse spawn bags while others are trying a jig and wax worm. Hot-n-Tots seem to work well off the Fulton Street Bridge. Those fishing off the parks have caught crappie and bluegill on minnows, leaf worms or wax worms.
Grand River at Lansing: Coho are still being caught but the action was starting to slow. Some are using small spinners while others are using small spawn bags. Pink and chartreuse were the hot colors.
Muskegon: Anglers are steelhead fishing off the south pier however no fish were caught. One boat out trolling in 40 to 100 feet of water caught one steelhead on a gold and orange spoon.
Muskegon River: Is producing steelhead and the occasional salmon below Croton Dam. Try casting small spoons, crank baits and spinners or drifting spawn.
Whitehall: Anglers still-fishing with spawn have caught steelhead off the pier but the bite was slow. A few whitefish were also caught.
Walleye fishing has been red hot in Raber Bay. Crawler harnesses have produced the best results. Perch fishing has been fair in Lake Huron at Cedarville but should improve as the water begins to cool. Muskie fishing has been decent in Munuscong Bay. Duck hunting has been slow, but goose hunters report some success. Grouse and woodcock hunting has been pretty good and bird numbers are up.
Wilderness Treasures, (906) 647-4002.
Drummond Island Area
Perch fishing has been good on Scotts and Maxton bays. A few pike and smallmouth bass have been caught, too. Archery deer season is off to a slow start. Grouse and woodcock hunting has been good, but waterfowl hunting has been slow.
Johnson’s Sport Shop, (906) 493-6300.
Perch fishing has been impressive on Big Manistique Lake, but anglers are having to sort through their catch to find the keepers. Walleye action is improving on Big and North Manistique lakes. Minnows have produced the best results when fished with jigs or under slip bobbers. Grouse and woodcock hunting has been decent, but foliage is still thick and hunting has been tough. Bear hunting has been good, but the archery deer season has been slow.
J.R. Sport Shop, (906) 586-6040.
Smallmouth bass are keeping anglers busy on Lake Michigan’s Big Bay de Noc. Sucker minnows fished in 30 feet of water are producing good results. Perch fishing has been slow in Garden Bay but should improve as the water temperature drops. Grouse hunting has been pretty good. Archery deer season is off to a slow start, with warm weather hampering deer movement.
The Garden Sport Shop, (906) 644-2908.
Foxy’s Den, (906) 644-2817.
Fishing pressure has been light on Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc. Walleye fishing has been good south of Escanaba between the Ford and Cedar rivers. A few salmon are being caught on crankbaits in the Ford and Escanaba rivers. Perch fishing has been fair in the bay. Fish are still scattered, but action should improve when the water begins to cool.
Bay View Bait & Tackle, (906) 786-1488.
BayShore Resort Bait & Tackle (906) 428-2950.
L’Anse Area Anglers trolling near shore are catching decent numbers of cohos and a few kings around the river mouths. Grouse and woodcock hunters report high flush rates. Deer hunting has been very good and deer numbers appear to be up.
Indian Country Sports, (906) 524-6518.
Walleyes and smallmouth bass are hitting sucker minnows on Lake Gogebic. Rock points and sand points have been the hot spots for smallies, and walleyes are hitting along near-shore hard-bottom areas. Perch fishing has been good along the weedbeds. Grouse hunting has been good. Bird numbers are down a little, but hunters report up to 30 flushes a day. Deer numbers are up in the western Upper Peninsula.
Bear’s Nine Pines Resort, (906) 842-3361.
Grouse hunting has been pretty slow in Ontonagon County. Archery deer season has been slow. Lake trout fishing has been good on Lake Superior at Silver City. Anglers report a good bite in 140 feet of water, 70 feet down.
Grieg’s Taxidermy & Tackle, (906) 884-2770.
Northern Michigan Fishing Reports
Northern Lower Peninsula Fishing Report – October 12th, 2012
Posted on Thu, 11 Oct 2012
Perch fishing has been pretty good on Burt and Mullett lakes. Fish up to 15 inches have been caught. A few walleyes are hitting, too. Waterfowl hunting has been pretty good, and the archery deer season is off to a good start. Deer numbers are up a little.
Mullett Lake General Store & Pizza
6947 N Straits Hwy
Getting Ready for Ice Fishing
Author: Dale Helgeson
It’s that time of year again. When you wake up in the morning and have to scrape your windows before you drive to work in the dark and you are lucky to see daylight when you get home from work. But there is one good thing about this time of year. It is going to start forming ice. After the ice starts it is time to break out the ice fishing gear.
Before any ice fishing season you should go through all your equipment and test it at home before venturing out on any lake. This will save you many headaches and cold fingers out on the lake.
First of all I check my ice fishing clothes and wash them before the season starts. I make sure my long underwear is in good condition as well as all my outer wear. Make sure to patch any holes or replace it before the season because there is nothing like a nice December wind blowing through you outerwear right onto your clothes to put a chill into you. Make sure you have a fishing towel. I prefer to use a golf type towel so I can hang it up in my ice shack so the heater keeps it nice and warm and dries it faster. This is actually a necessity on the ice so you can dry your hand after handling fish or minnows. This will keep your hands a whole lot warmer. Invest in some quality socks. My favorite socks are Black mountains from The Gene Edwards Company. They are fairly expensive but well worth the money. They stay up on your leg even after walking great distances and wick the sweat away from you while retaining the heating qualities. Good quality outwear is a must as well. Try to get something with at least a waterproof lower because of the constant kneeling in the snow and water near the holes. Boots and gloves are very critical too. I prefer Rocky and La Crosse boots. I have owned both and they are both warm and comfortable. Also pick up a pair of ice cleats especially for early ice when there isn’t any snow yet.
After you get your clothes ready and make sure everything is in working order including the zippers and any tie downs it is time for the fishing equipment.
I check all the assemblies of my rod and reel combos. Make sure the reel is securely attached to the rod. Then change all the line on the reels. I use Berkley’s Micro Ice line. Make sure the reels are lubed and ready for the season so you don’t get unwanted squeaks or reel hitches on the ice. The frozen air will accentuate the problems.
Tip-ups should have their braided line changed at least every other year. Use one that won’t freeze up or kink. Then tie some new monofilament leaders. I prefer a 2-4 foot leader. I also make my own steel leaders for northern fishing as well using braided wire. Make extra leaders up ahead of time so you don’t have to tie on hooks out on the ice and you can just unclip it and put a new one on. Make sure to use a good swivel for you tip-ups as well. Check the grease in the tip-ups to save it from freezing up on the ice too. Also check the condition of the flags. If the flags are torn or loose on the shaft replace them.
Now that your rods and tip-ups are ready to go it is time for the ice shack. If you have a portable shack set it up in the garage or your yards and make sure the sled is in good condition and patch any holes or trouble spots. Check the canvas thoroughly. Patch any holes in the canvas and spray it down with a water repellant spray to make sure that water doesn’t leak in as much as possible. Check all the pivot points and tubing as well.
On a permanent shack you will want to check the runners and make sure they are solid and not rotting or cracked. Check the walls and make sure they are not damaged as well as the windows. Check the floor to make sure there are no weak spots or rotten boards. Replace all broken or week parts of the shack.
Ice augers are one of the most important items in ice fishing. There are several types to choose from. I usually use a spud bar early in the year but mainly to check ice conditions every few feet. Ice can for very unevenly and safety is first priority. I like to use a hand Lazer auger early in the year or when fishing in large groups of pan fisherman because some are offended by power augers even though I don’t personally feel they affect the fish even in shallow water. I have drilled hundreds of holes in as shallow as 3 feet and seen fish under my hole right after drilling with my Jiffy power auger. I do use a power auger most of the year because I drill many holes per day to find and follow fish as they move. The main thing to check on the augers and spud bar is to make sure they are sharp. Any blades should be replaced or sharpened before the season start. Power augers should have new gas put in them and a new spark plug and then test to make sure it is running properly. If it is not running properly take it to a small engine repair shop for a tune-up to insure a year of good use. It is a lot better to know your auger will work before you drag it out on the ice and it doesn’t run. I always carry an extra spark plug with me too as they tend to foul out occasionally.
Once your augers are ready it is time for the rest of your ice fishing gear. Make sure to have your tackle ready to go. Untangle all you tackle and sharpen hooks or replace them with new ones. Also on new jigs punch the eyes out before putting them in you tackle box to save time and possible cold fingers having to do it on the ice.
Next up is your heater. Check all the connections and test your heater. Make sure the heater is in good working order. If it flames up get it serviced so it will run properly. Another useful tool on the ice is a lanyard. I put a jaw spreader, depth finder, clippers, jig eye cleaner, and forceps on them for easy use. Other useful tools a 5 gallon bucket for your fish which I line with a garbage bag so I can remove the fish easily after fishing and it doesn’t make a mess out of my bucket. Grocery bags work well for this. Check the condition of your bait bucket for leaks or cracks. Make sure your minnow scoop is in good order as well. They are very cheap to replace. I prefer the floating nets so I don’t have to stick my hands as far into the water. If you have a Vexilar or Aqua View make sure to charge the batteries and test them before taking them out to the lake. After you have everything ready to go and head out for the lake be extremely careful to be sure that the ice is safe. I don’t like to go onto ice thinner than 3 inches. Make sure to test the ice every few feet to insure safe travel especially if you are the first one out.
Remember think safety first, be considerate to others out on the ice, don’t leave any trash out on the ice even if it isn’t yours, and if you check all your equipment first you will have a safe successful season.
Man reels in record breaking fish in Antrim County.
Joseph Seeberger from Portage caught a Great Lakes muskellunge at 58 pounds, 59 inches long.
He caught the fish October 13th on Lake Bellaire in Antrim County, he was actually bass fishing with a minnow at the time. He said it took two hours and two friends to help reel in the fish.
The previous state-record Great Lakes muskellunge was caught on Torch Lake in Antrim County in 2009. That fish weighed 50.5 pounds and measured 56.13 inches.
A record breaking fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.