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Hook & Hunting

Where the fish are biting this week, May 23 report

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

Oscoda/Au Sable River: Anglers still had some success walleye fishing the lower river and off the pier. Casting crank baits and drifting crawlers produced the best results. A few Atlantic salmon were caught off the pier using minnows or casting spoons, with the best colors being orange/gold and blue/silver. Lake trout and a few coho salmon were caught when trolling spoons in 50 to 70 feet of water. Steelhead fishing below Foote Dam began to die down. Fish that were still around were mostly caught while bottom-bouncing flies.

Grayling/Au Sable River: Sulphurs were reported to be emerging, and after the Hendrickson hatch, fish were reported to be looking up. It appears that the river had a productive winter, with trout of various sizes being caught, indicating good survival across multiple year classes.


Cheboygan: Both shore and boat anglers had success catching walleye at the Cheboygan River. Shore walleye anglers using red, soft plastics were successful under both the pedestrian walkway and the drawbridge by the DNR field office. Boat anglers were drifting nightcrawler harnesses, with orange and red nightcrawler harnesses being the best colors.

Harrisville: Lake trout fishing remained strong when using spoons and Spin-n-Glos in 30 to 50 feet of water. Spoons with vibrant colors and a silver back seemed to produce the best results. Mixed in with the lake trout were a few Atlantic salmon and a steelhead caught when targeting the middle to upper section of the water column.

Alpena/Thunder Bay River: In the Thunder Bay River, the steelhead were reported to be done for the year. Anglers targeting northern pike, smallmouth bass and walleye had success throughout the river when using spinner baits, crank baits and drifting crawlers. A number of bullhead and rock bass were also caught. Those fishing closer to the pierhead had good success on northern pike, as well as smallmouth bass and the occasional Atlantic salmon. Boat anglers targeting walleye had hit-or-miss success when fishing waters 14 to 20 feet deep. A few fish were caught on crank baits near Sulphur Island in the evenings and early mornings. Boat anglers trolling the shipping lanes and toward Northpoint caught a few walleye, freshwater drum, lake trout and Atlantic salmon. Bright-colored spoons worked well for trout and salmon in depths of 25 to 40 feet deep. Crawler harnesses were starting to be effective for walleye and catfish throughout the bay. The waters around Thunder Bay Island gave up decent numbers of lake trout and Atlantic salmon, with some Chinook salmon mixed in. The most targeted depths were 50 to 80 feet of water, with fish scattered throughout the water column. Orange, green and watermelon spoons worked well for trout and salmon, along with dodgers and Spin-n-Glos.

Rockport: Lake trout were abundant from Middle Island all the way to Stoneport in depths of 20 to 80 feet of water. Bright-colored spoons fished high on planer boards worked well for both trout and salmon. Gold/green, chartreuse and orange were good colors for Atlantic salmon and steelhead, while dodgers and Spin-n-Glos in white and chartreuse fished close to bottom worked well on trout. With cold water temperatures, fish were still scattered throughout the water column.


Rogers City: Lake trout were reported to be abundant, and anglers did well once they were able to locate the fish. Good places to fish were reported to be up the lake toward the state park and 40 Mile Point or south toward Adams Point and Swan Bay. The best depths were around 30 to 70 feet of water. Anglers were deploying a variety of techniques, such as lead core, dipseys and downriggers, and were running lines all through the water column for the best results. Anglers also reported using dodgers with Spin-n-Glos and spoons. Good colors were greens, oranges, blue, yellow and other bright colors.

Ocqueoc River: The steelhead were reported to be gone. Anglers reported doing well on smallmouth bass when casting small spinners and body baits.

Hammond Bay: Lake trout were reported to be around in 30 to 60 feet of water. Running lines throughout the water and fishing dodgers with Spin-n-Glos or spoons was reported to work well.

Tawas: Walleye anglers reported having a hard time getting the fish to bite. A few caught fish off the point in about 50 feet of water, but most boats came back with no fish. Largemouth bass were being caught by shore anglers at Gateway Park in the Tawas River. Singing Bridge was reported to be pretty slow for fishing activity during the day, but some anglers were fishing the surf during the late evening.


Au Gres: Anglers fishing for walleye reported better numbers out in the shipping channel compared to shallower water. Crawler harnesses seemed to work best. Out from the Pine River, some anglers reported catching walleye, northern pike, freshwater drum, largemouth bass, a few smallmouth bass and an occasional perch. Anglers at Eagle Bay Marina were bowfishing for carp and gar. Shore anglers were able to bring in some crappie from here as well.

Inland Lakes: Inland lakes are warming up, signaling the beginning of the prespawn period for bass and bluegill. These fish are starting to mill around in the shallows as they prepare to spawn. Look for smaller lakes or lakes with a larger nearshore shallow areas (littoral zone) that might be warmer than large and deep lakes.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Frankfort: Chinook salmon were reported to be remaining out front, with good morning and evening bites. Alewives moved in closer to the harbors as they begin their spawning. Green and blue magnum spoons worked best from 40 to 80 feet down, and lake trout were reported to be in the same areas, making for a mixed catch.

Charlevoix: Anglers found steady success fishing for cisco off the piers and throughout the channel into Round Lake. Casting various spoons and giving a short jig seemed to be most successful while targeting cisco. Those fishing from boats found good numbers of cisco, as well as lake trout, while jigging and trolling in 50 to 100 feet of water. Trolling green and silver spoons, flasher flies and Spin-n-Glos produced the best results.


Little Traverse Bay: Anglers fishing the Bear River in Petoskey reported very limited success targeting steelhead. Those fishing the river and river mouth reported an occasional steelhead, rock bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Boat anglers targeting bass found steady success fishing shallow on the north side of the bay near Harbor Springs. Casting soft plastics, small jigs and crank baits produced the best results. Those targeting lake trout found success trolling west of Harbor Springs in 70 to 100 feet of water near bottom.

Manistee: Chinook salmon continued to be caught; however, a majority of the fish were small. They were caught along the shelf and south of town toward Big Sable Point in 140 to 240 feet of water when fishing 40 to 90 feet down. Green and blue spoons worked well along with flasher-fly combinations. In the mix came a few lake trout as well. The piers were slow, but bait fish were reported to be around. Early-morning and late-night bites were reported to be the best.

Onekama: Anglers did not make it out on the big water; however, pier anglers reported a slowdown in walleye fishing, with only a few nice ones caught.

Ludington: Chinook salmon were still being caught, but there were many releases of small fish. Locations included northwest of town and at Big Sable Point in 100 to 190 feet of water when fishing 40 to 100 feet down and just outside the pier heads in 40 to 45 feet of water. Green, UV and bloody nose pattern worked well, along with some flasher-fly combinations. The piers were reported to be slow. Early-morning and late-night bites have been best. Head out early and stay out late for the best action.

Upper Peninsula

Little Bay de Noc: Walleye anglers reported mixed results. Those fishing the head of the bay had limited success, with most anglers catching undersized fish, as well as some eater-sized fish. Anglers fishing in the Escanaba River and by the mouth reported fair fishing, with anglers catching a few, generally in the 15- to 18-inch range. The bite window was short, often right at first and last light. Successful tactics anglers reported included trolling crawler harnesses or small crank baits as well as jigging with worms. Smallmouth anglers reported good fishing and were contacting fish near spawning areas.

Manistique: Some steelhead remained in the river, with anglers able to catch a few each trip. Anglers were getting bites when drifting beads and nymphs.

St. Ignace: Since opening day of walleye and pike season, boat anglers were reported to be actively fishing at the Pine River. Pike anglers were successful when using crankbaits just outside the river’s mouth in the lake. Walleye anglers were either trolling orange/red nightcrawler harnesses or drifting slip bobber setups with leeches. Perch were also caught with these setups. At the Carp River, anglers using slip bobbers with leeches in the early morning were bringing walleye home. A steelhead was caught while fly fishing at the Carp, and there may still be a few roaming around further upstream from the concrete footing by the mouth.

Ontonagon River: Fishing efforts on the river greatly increased as expected. Recent rains kept some anglers off the water and caused increased turbidity and low water visibility. Reports show that respectable numbers of walleye were caught by those trolling and jigging alike.

Ontonagon/Silver City/Union Bay: These ports stayed relatively busy over the past week. Spotty rain showers slightly hindered sensible lake access on multiple days. Angler reports show that coho salmon, brown trout and lake trout were caught in shallow waters while trolling.

Black River Harbor: Fishing efforts from the harbor were reported to be average. Recent storms limited lake access on occasion. Anglers reported catching coho salmon, brown trout and lake trout, all in low numbers. The fish that were being caught were found in shallow waters while trolling. Anglers described the bite as slow and sporadic.

Lex Cheneaux/Detour: Anglers in Hessel were trying for Atlantic salmon but had no luck; however, the perch were slowly starting to come into the marina. There were a few smallmouth bass caught at the marina as well. Hill Island Bridge was producing a good number of small pike and bass, along with plenty of rock bass. In the Detour area, anglers reported catching a mixed bag of Atlantic salmon, coho salmon and Chinook salmon, as well as lake trout and walleye from Scott’s Bay.

Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: Anglers found success not only during trolling trips but with jigging trips as well. Jigging anglers caught lake trout and whitefish with both artificial and natural baits. Fish were caught mostly on bottom in depths ranging from 70 to 230 feet of water. Trolling anglers were able to catch lake trout, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout. During these trips, trout and salmon bit on a variety of presentations including spoons, flasher flies and stick baits, and most large salmon were caught during slightly windy days before noon!

Traverse Bay/South Portage Entry Canal: Anglers had successful fishing trips while both trolling and jigging, with the focus being on salmon. Most of these trips returned with healthy catches of lake trout. Fish were found in shallow and deep water and were filled with smelt regardless of depth. Jigging produced more fish when anglers were using cut bait; however, lake trout were biting on both natural and artificial presentations.

Marquette: Boats that made their way out in the lower harbor caught only a few coho salmon but found much better numbers of lake trout and Chinook salmon. Upper harbor anglers had good success when fishing for lake trout as long as the wind cooperated. Anglers fishing for salmon and brown trout did well in around 40 feet of water from the Chocolay River out to Shot Point. Cow bells with sucker bellies seemed to work well. Trolling chartreuse or hot pink crankbaits or green multicolor moonshine glow spoons was good for salmon at higher trolling speeds. Try around 2.8 to 3 mph for a while around bait balls if looking for salmon in 30 to 40 feet of water. Jigging white plugs did well for lake trout northeast of White Rocks as well as trolling between White Rocks and Granite at lower speeds, 1.8 to 2.2 mph, in around 80 to 120 feet of water.

Au Train: Very few coho salmon were being caught, and steelhead were reported to be done for the season. Anglers reported that Chinook salmon, brown trout and lake trout were now in full swing. Most fish were caught in around 40 feet of water on the coast of Scott Falls Honey Hole to 5-mile Point, or around 100 feet north to northwest of the Au Train Island trolling toward the Clay Banks. Hot pink and chartreuse crankbaits or spoons were good colors.

Munising: Fishing was reported to have picked up over the past week in the bay of Munising. Anglers had increased luck with Chinook salmon while trolling Rapalas and spoons. There were reports of Chinook salmon that weighed just over 8 pounds being caught. Coho salmon fishing was fair, but most anglers were targeting Chinook. The best fishing occurred in early mornings while trolling the bay.

Grand Marais: Fishing in Grand Marais continued to be hit or miss. There were anglers who caught their limits of whitefish off the lighthouse pier, with almost all these fish caught in the early hours of the morning. Anglers were still fishing spawn for the best luck with the whitefish. The coho salmon bite has been slow, with no large numbers being caught.

Fishing tip: Want to find fish? Use sonar!

Avid anglers are constantly looking for tips and tricks to have more successful fishing trips. Many turn to sonar technology to achieve this goal.

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