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Hook & Hunting

Hook & Hunting: Where the fish are biting this week, plus a special DNR tip on how to catch bass

Here’s how fishing looks this week in the Northwest Lower Peninsula, Northeast Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula, according to the latest report from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Presque Isle: When the weather permitted, anglers were finding success on lake trout, salmon and walleye. Fish were scattered throughout the water column in depths of 70 to 150 feet of water. A wide variety of spoons, flasher/fly, and dodger/spin glows were the most productive. Those targeting walleye had best results with spoons between 30 to 40 feet over much deeper water. The occasional Atlantic salmon and steelhead were caught in the top half of the water column on bright colored spoons while trolled 2.9 to3 mph. Smallmouth bass were caught around Thompson Harbor while fishing various swimbaits.

Cheboygan River/Lake Huron: Smallmouth bass and freshwater drum were caught all along the river. Walleye fishing activity picked up, with the most successful anglers fishing at dawn and dusk. Some anglers reported catching large pike.


Rockport: Anglers targeting walleye reported hit or miss success. Deep diving crankbaits trolled over deep structure had the best results early and late in the day. The waters east of Middle Island and Stoneport were giving up a mixed bag of trout, salmon, steelhead and walleye. Spoons worked best in a variety of colors. Anglers reported a decent number of Chinook salmon in the area from 50 to 90 feet of water. Decent numbers of bass were caught around the reefs and close to the Rockport dock. Natural colored tube jigs and minnows worked best throughout the day.

Alpena: Anglers reported walleye were difficult to find. Best results came in deeper waters from Thunder Bay Island to Scarecrow Island in depths of 30 to 40 feet. Night anglers trolled crankbaits in 18 to 25 feet with moderate success. Anglers making the trip straight out to the humps reported good numbers of trout and salmon in 90 to 120 feet. Spin-N-Glos and spoons close to bottom took the majority of trout while spoons and flasher/flies worked well for Chinook salmon and coho in the middle of the water column. Pier anglers caught a few bass, pike and walleye early and late in the day. Crawlers and crankbaits took the majority of fish. A few catfish were caught while using crawlers and minnows at night near the mouth of the river.

Thunder Bay River: There was very little pressure on the river. Anglers trolling the river reported the occasional walleye and pike while trolling natural-colored crankbaits. Anglers targeting walleye from shore reported slow fishing.

Tawas: Water was rough this past week. When anglers were able to get out they caught their limits of walleye. Most seemed to be fishing down by Charity Islands. A couple anglers had luck catching walleye around the structure in the bay.


Oscoda/Au Sable: There were limited reports but there were two steelhead caught in 140 feet of water. Fishing was very slow. A couple anglers caught the occasional walleye at the mouth if the Au Sable in the early morning.

Rogers City: When the fish were active, a great mix of Chinook salmon, lake trout, and walleye were caught along with an occasional coho, Atlantic salmon and steelhead. Anglers were running lines all through the water column for best results. Anglers were mostly fishing south towards Swan Bay and Adams Point for the salmon. The best water depths were anywhere from 40 to 120 feet depending upon where the cold water was located. The salmon were coming on a variety of baits, spoons, flashers with flies or squids. Anglers were also using meat rigs with success as well. Good colors were blues, greens, black and white or glow stuff early and late. Anglers also reported that there was a good hatch of young of the year smelt. Anglers were also fishing straight out of the harbor and up north catching lake trout, Chinook salmon, walleye with an occasional Atlantic, coho and steelhead.

RELATED: Hook & Hunting: What to know before Bear Baiting Season

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Manistee: Anglers found Chinook salmon along the shelf, straight out and south of town, in 100 to 130 and 180 to 240 feet of water when fishing 45 to 60 feet down. Spoons, meat rigs and plugs did best but flasher fly combos also caught fish. In the mix came a few coho, steelhead, and a couple lake trout. Pier anglers reported catches of freshwater drum. Early morning bites were best with most hits before 7 a.m. The salmon action was hit or miss at times.


Ludington: Salmon fishing was hit or miss. Anglers that found Chinook salmon fished straight out and south, out from the projects in 130 to 200 feet of water while fishing 50 to 60 feet down. A few were also caught at Big Sauble Point in 100 to130, and 180 to 250 feet of water, 45 to 60 feet down. Spoons, J-Plugs and meat rigs worked along with flasher fly combos. Along with the Chinook salmon, coho, steelhead and lake trout were also brought in. Early morning bites were the best, getting lines set by 5:30 a.m. Chinook salmon were starting to show up in Pere Marquette Lake and near the harbor. Anglers both trolling and jigging picked up some fish in the mornings and evenings.

East Grand Traverse Bay: Surface temperatures were 72 to74 degrees, thermocline was 80 to 90 feet down. Lake trout were caught in 80 to 100 feet of water, trolling with cowbells and Spin-N-Glos performed the best but jigging produced a few fish as well. A few salmon were caught in 100 to 150 feet of water; white paddle with a fly and J-Plugs were working best, but spoons were also catching some salmon. The lake trout and salmon bite occurred very early or very late; 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. were the best bite windows. Bass fishing was best in 15 to 25 feet of water.

West Grand Traverse Bay: Surface temperatures were around 74 degrees; thermocline was down around 90 feet. A few lake trout were caught around Power Island and the red buoy to the south, both jigging and trolling in 80 to 100 feet of water. Salmon were caught in 80 to 120 feet of water by the whitewalls and along the bank on the west side of the bay down to the hole in front of the Boardman River. The lake trout and salmon bite occurred very early or very late; 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. were the best bite windows.

Charlevoix: Salmon anglers reported a late evening bite to be the most successful. Trolling artificials, flies and spoons produced the best results while fishing anywhere between 45 to 120 feet down in 150 feet of water. Several 20+ pound Chinook salmon were reported over the past several days. Lake trout anglers continued to find good sized fish north out of Charlevoix when fishing deep waters. Pier anglers reported steady numbers of smallmouth bass while fishing off the bottom of the channel with natural bait.


Petoskey/Harbor Springs: Salmon anglers reported lower numbers of total fish, however, the size was good. Fishing the drop offs around Little Traverse Bay produced the best results, while the north side was the most consistent. Chinook salmon, coho, and steelhead were reported over the past week. Lake trout fishing pressure northwest of Harbor Springs slowed due to higher winds. Anglers fishing in the Bear River reported slow numbers of Chinook salmon and the occasional brown trout.

Frankfort: The Chinook salmon bite picked up this week as water temperatures breaks moved up. The early morning and late evening bite was the best as anglers were trolling 30 to 50 down in 100 to 150 feet of water. Coho and steelhead were hitting in the same areas as there were good reports of bait in the area.

Onekama: Anglers were heading north to the Barrel and in front of the golf course to catch Chinook salmon in the early morning as the season was starting to kick off. Nice size Chinook salmon were reported trolling 40 to 70 feet down with spoons and meat riggs working best. After the sun was up, anglers were bouncing bottom with cow bells to land a few lake trout while working the edge of the barrel.

Portage Lake: Bass anglers were reporting slower catches while working the drops as water temperatures were up. Perch and bluegills were hitting in 18 to 20 feet of water.

Upper Peninsula

Little Bay de Noc: Walleye anglers were targeting the mouth of the Escanaba River and black bottom. Anglers reported fair to good fishing, with eater-sized walleye, in the 15-to-18-inch range were caught while trolling crawler harnesses and crankbaits.

Big Bay de Noc: Smallmouth bass anglers fishing Ogontz Bay and Garden Bay reported good fishing. Anglers were casting soft plastics around rock structures, targeting the bottom zone on the water column.

Fairport: Salmon fishing was good this week. Anglers reported bites while trolling with spoons, flies, and meat rigs. Steelhead were a common bycatch.

Marquette: The best places for anglers to catch fish was near the northwest side of the White Islands and trolling out towards Granite Island. Anglers trolling around 120 to 160 feet of water were harvesting the most lake trout and Chinook salmon near the White Islands. While anglers trolling for lake trout around Granite Rock were having the most luck trolling at around 120 to 150 feet of water. Silver and pearl multicolored spoons, cow bells, and green and blue flasher flies were good lures for lake trout and Chinook salmon near the White Rocks while mostly lake trout were harvested out by Granite Island.

Au Train: The best places for anglers to catch fish was near the northeast side of Au Train Island. Anglers trolling or jigging around 160 feet of water along the flats were harvesting the most lake trout. Also, trolling cowbells around 145 feet of water with sucker meat or smelt was good for some anglers. All anglers reported fish stuffed with herring or smelt when cleaned. Trolling or jigging bright green spoons, or cow bells with sucker, smelt, or white fish bellies were common baits.

Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: Anglers were mostly catching lake trout while trolling however some anglers caught a few large Chinook salmon in and around Keweenaw Bay in the last week while trolling for lake trout. Most fish were caught on artificial lures in around 150 feet while deep fishing lures in a range of depths.

Big Traverse Bay/South Portage Canal: Anglers were catching lake trout and some coho in Big Traverse Bay and around the Portage entry canal. Anglers were mostly trolling with flasher flies and spoons in waters down around 100 feet. Some anglers had more luck during mornings however catches didn’t seem to be connected to time of day. Anglers should try fishing further north or finding pockets of cold water.

Ontonagon River: Anglers had luck finding walleye and rock bass on a consistent basis. Morning hours were the most productive as reports suggested a significantly slower bite throughout the remainder of the day. Fish were caught using a combination of trolling and jigging, with each method appearing to yield similar levels of success.

Ontonagon/Silver City/Union Bay: Fishing was good as anglers had no issues catching a good mix of lake trout and coho salmon. It seemed that trolling artificial lures across a variety of depths was the key to success. Reports showed that throughout the day spurts of higher action occurred at random times with no apparent cause.

Black River Harbor: Anglers fishing from the harbor had good luck finding respectable numbers of lake trout with a few coho salmon thrown in the mix. Reports showed that fish were caught in a variety of depths and at all times of day. Successful trips were the result of long hours spent trolling artificial lures across large areas of water.

Carp and Pine Rivers: Fishing activity was low on both rivers. The locals typically stop fishing for walleye in August as their numbers seem to drop off very quickly. Some anglers were fishing for pike at the mouth of the Carp River, but they were not successful.

St. Ignace: Anglers brought back decent catches of lake trout and Chinook salmon, but results were mixed with many boat anglers returning without fish.

Fishing tip

Some of the best bass fishing this time of year occurs during the first hour or so after dark. You still can find fish at dusk and dawn, but that first hour or two after dark can be exceptional.

After dark, bass tend to move shallow in search of an easy meal. Target them near the same areas you would during other times of the day while also casting and targeting the shallows.

You’ll want to change your technique, though. Since after dark you can’t see the weed line or other underwater structures, fishing subsurface lures is not recommended. It is time for surface presentations. After the cast, work them aggressively with a jerking motion, making sure they pop and gurgle across the surface of the water during your retrieve. Pay close attention during the retrieve, watching and listening for the strike, which can be explosive.

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