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Hook & Hunting

Where the fish are biting this week, April 18 report

Plus, a tip on where to find smallmouth bass this spring

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: Fishing was reported to be good. Pier anglers caught a mixed bag of steelhead, Atlantic salmon, lake trout, walleye and a few brown trout. Atlantic salmon were caught on blue/silver, green/silver and golden orange spoons as well as live bait. Lake trout and walleye were caught on medium to deep diving crankbaits as well as minnows. Fresh spawn remained the best option for steelhead. Weather permitting, boat anglers did well on lake trout and Atlantic salmon, with a few walleye mixed in. The best depths were reported to be in 15 to 40 feet of water while trolling bright-colored spoons on short lead cores and medium diving crankbaits.

Au Sable River: The Au Sable River was reported to have good numbers of steelhead throughout the system. Below the Foote Dam, anglers did well drifting beads and fresh spawn when fishing for steelhead. Boat anglers did well drifting spawn, beads and plugs through the deep holes. A few Atlantic salmon were found in the lower stretches of the river and were caught on spinners and small spoons.


Cheboygan: Steelhead were reported to have been slowly running up the Cheboygan River. Anglers fishing near bottom using fresh spawn bags had the best luck. Anglers also had success catching suckers as they were reported to be steadily running upriver. Boat anglers reported catching lake trout. Some were successful using jigs, while others trolled using Spin-n-Glos.

Rogers City: Anglers casting off the marina wall caught a couple Atlantic salmon and steelhead. Casting spoons and body baits in brighter colors, oranges, yellows and silver seemed to work well. Boat anglers reported catching lake trout. The best depths were reported to be from the shoreline out to 60 feet of water. Spoons or dodgers with Spin-n-Glos seemed to work well, with the best colors being greens, oranges, yellow, or blue and silver.

Ocqueoc River: Anglers targeted steelhead in the deeper holes with fresh spawn. A few were caught, but many of them had already spawned out. Many anglers were fishing up by the lamprey weir as well as the mouth access.

Harrisville: Anglers had good luck when fishing inside of the harbor and, weather permitting, trolling outside of the pier. Inside of the harbor, anglers caught Atlantic salmon and steelhead while casting spinners and small spoons and fishing with minnows under bobbers. Those trolling had mixed bags of Atlantic salmon, coho salmon, lake trout and steelhead. Anglers who trolled north of the harbor had better luck on lake trout, with a few coho salmon mixed in. Straight south out from the harbor had better numbers of Atlantic salmon and steelhead, with a few coho salmon caught as well. Bright-colored spoons behind short lead cores worked well for salmon early and late in the day. Lake trout were being caught on chartreuse, green and white deep diving body baits and spoons in 25 to 60 feet of water.


Alpena: High water caused steelhead to show up in large numbers below the 9th Avenue Dam. Good numbers of fish were caught while drifting spawn and beads and casting small spinners. Pier anglers who casted bright-colored spoons and crankbaits caught a few Atlantic salmon along with a few brown trout. Early morning and late evening hours yielded the best results. A few walleye were caught in low-light hours on crankbaits and plastics. Natural colors as well as chartreuse seemed to be most productive. Weather permitting, boat anglers found success on Atlantic salmon, brown trout, lake trout and a few walleye. Bright-colored spoons off lead cores were the top producer in waters 20 to 60 feet deep. Fish were reported to have been scattered from the surface to the bottom.

Rockport: Anglers found lake trout in 30 to 50 feet of water scattered throughout the water column. Green, chartreuse and watermelon were reported to be the most productive colors.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Frankfort: Anglers found the bite a little slow, likely due to winds earlier in the week. When trolling out in front with body baits for steelhead, brown trout and walleye, anglers reported some activity. Lake trout were reported to be out a little bit deeper and were caught on spoons.

Petoskey: Anglers fishing the Bear River reported decent numbers of steelhead following the warm weather this past week. Bottom-bouncing beads and flies seemed to work best, while floating spawn and beads near the mouth of the river also produced results. Anglers also reported steady numbers of suckers in the system, with the occasional brown trout.


Upper Peninsula

Little Bay de Noc: Perch anglers reported fair to good fishing along the east shoreline, using minnows or worms on perch rigs. Smallmouth anglers reported slow fishing, although some were able to find a few fish.

Manistique: Anglers reported catching suckers and found some steelhead. Most anglers were drifting beads.

Marquette: Recent fishing for coho salmon on the break wall seemed to slow. Boat anglers found some luck when fishing for coho salmon in the lower harbor, with anglers averaging about two fish per outing. Trolling blue and silver spoons as well as fire tiger stripe-patterned Rapalas all seemed to work well. Most fish were caught in 8 to 20 feet of water and closer to shore. Anglers who were floating down the Chocolay River did well catching steelhead and brown trout. The Carp River remained steady for steelhead and at the mouth, whitefish were reported to have been caught off crawlers. Spawn bags and wax worms did well for steelhead in both the Carp and Chocolay rivers, along with champagne or orange beads.

Au Train: The smelt were reported to have started moving up the rivers, with the coho salmon right behind them in the lake. Good numbers of coho salmon and steelhead were caught when trolling or casting. Most fish were caught in 8 to 20 feet of water and closer to shore. Blue and silver spoons were reported to have done well for coho salmon. Fire tiger or bright orange and gold Rapalas worked well for brown trout and steelhead out by the northwest side of the island and close to shore by the river mouths.


Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: Anglers who trolled and jigged for lake trout found some success during morning and afternoon hours. Other successful fishing trips included trolling for coho salmon and splake. Most fish were caught during the morning hours; however, fish were reported to be caught all day. As the water warms up and continues pushing out of rivers, expect smelt to begin moving for spawning!

South Portage Entry Canal/Big Traverse Bay: Anglers had good success during trolling and jigging events when targeting lake trout. Lake trout were found both below and above 100 feet of water and throughout the water column. Anglers had less luck when trolling for salmon, brown trout and rainbow trout. As the water warms up and continues pushing out of rivers, expect smelt to begin moving for spawning!

St. Ignace: Boat anglers reported catching lake trout when using jigs with cut bait. The water level in the Carp River was reported to have declined, and smelt were yet to have run upriver.

Les Cheneaux/Detour: Anglers in the Hessel area reported catching a few splake off the pier. Several were also caught when trolling within Hessel and Wilderness bays.  There were reports of a few smallmouth bass and pike seen swimming around in the area as well.

Ontonagon River: Fishing activity was reported to have been slow. High turbidity and low visibility in the river waters limited anglers’ ability to fish. Anglers who were able to make it out reported catching very few fish.

Ontonagon/Silver City/Union Bay: Fishing efforts from these ports seemed to increase as a result of the warmer weather. Boats anglers had some luck finding coho salmon and brown trout in low numbers. Anglers reported a very slow bite.

Black River Harbor: Coho salmon and brown trout were reported to be the common catch by anglers, with coho salmon being caught in high numbers. Anglers reported an active bite when trolling artificial lures in shallow waters. Shore anglers also reported catches of coho salmon and brown trout.

Fishing tip of the week: Where to find smallmouth bass this spring

Since anglers can practice catch-and-immediate-release fishing on bass on all year in Michigan, many are having fun targeting this species.

There are plenty of locations throughout the state that offer exceptional smallmouth bass fishing, but check out the list below if you’re interested in finding trophy-sized fish.

1. Lake St. Clair: Cover lots of ground if you visit this body of water and cast to the edges of weed patches.

2. Lake Erie: The shallow areas of this lake are good places to start; after the water warms up, head to deeper water.

3. Saginaw Bay: Target around the Charity Islands which separate Lake Huron’s deep water from Saginaw Bay’s shallow depths.

4. Grand Traverse Bays: Look for structure such as drop-offs, sand points, rocks or weed beds at this spot.

Don’t forget! The catch-and-keep season on all waters, including the Great Lakes, doesn’t open until May 25, while the catch-and-keep season on Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River doesn’t open until June 15.

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