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Hook & Hunting

Where the fish are biting this week, May 2 report

Plus, tips for catching trout

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: Pier anglers and those fishing the lower river did well on Atlantic salmon. Good numbers of fish were caught on minnows and spoons in blue/silver, orange/gold and green/silver. Walleye were reported to have been caught with plastic swim baits and crank baits in low light conditions. Green, purple and black/gold baits had the most success. Boat anglers did well on lake trout, Atlantic salmon and the occasional coho salmon. Standard to medium-size spoons in watermelon, orange and green produced fish. Fish were reported to have been scattered in 20 to 50 feet of water. Below the Foote Dam, a few steelhead were still being caught when drifting beads, spawn and plugs. Northern pike were caught throughout the mid and lower stretches of river on large spinnerbaits as well as large body baits, with red/white, chartreuse and pink baits having the most success.

Cheboygan River: Steelhead were reported to have slowed down, but some anglers were successful with either bottom-bouncing spawn bags or using nymphs near the bottom. Suckers were reported to have been dense in the river, with anglers having success anywhere downstream of the dam. A few anglers reported catching smallmouth bass, and walleye were caught when jigging the river.


Harrisville: Anglers were still finding a few Atlantic salmon and steelhead inside the harbor. Green/silver and blue/silver spoons were both productive. Boat anglers did well on lake trout in 30 to 50 feet of water. Flashers and Spin-n-Glows as well as chartreuse, white and orange spoons worked well. A few Atlantic and coho salmon were found south of the harbor in 50 to 60 feet of water.

Alpena/Thunder Bay River: Steelhead fishing slowed in the Thunder Bay River. A few were caught while drifting beads and floating spawn near the Ninth Street Dam. A good number of walleye were caught using swim baits and crank baits, with natural colors yielding the best results. Anglers using large spinnerbaits and crank baits had success on pike, with white and chartreuse colors working best. A decent number of walleye were caught from shore around the yacht club and near the break wall. White, green and black plastic swim baits were productive, as well as crank baits in blue and silver, black and silver, and fire tiger. Weather permitting, boat anglers had success on walleye when trolling shallow-running crankbaits from the cement plant to Grass Island. Lake trout fishing remained good in 40 to 60 feet of water. The waters near Thunder Bay Island were the most productive with flashers and Spin-n-Glows, as well as a wide variety of spoons. A few Atlantic salmon, Chinook salmon and coho salmon were caught in the outer bay in 50 to 90 feet of water on watermelon, orange and green spoons.

Rockport: Anglers found good numbers of lake trout in 30 to 60 feet of water. The areas straight out and around the middle island were productive while trolling flashers and Spin-n-Glows mixed with spoons throughout the water column. A few Atlantic salmon were caught when running bright-colored spoons 10 to 15 feet below the surface.

Tawas: Few boats made it out due to weather, but those that did were able to get their limit of walleye. Shore anglers fishing the Tawas River mouth caught smallmouth bass and an occasional northern pike. Anglers also reported catching northern pike and some walleye off the pier.


Au Gres: Wind and rain kept many anglers off the water. However, some boats did manage to get out from the Au Gres launch and were able to bring home some walleye. There was little activity reported at the Pine River other than a couple anglers catching a few walleye and northern pike.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Frankfort: Anglers trolling out front and between the pier heads reported better brown trout bites in the early mornings on body baits. Steelhead anglers did not have great luck off the piers, as the weather was rough. Lake trout and northern pike were also reported to be in these areas.

Petoskey: Steelhead anglers fishing the Bear River found success during and after steady rains. The recent warm weather also contributed to steady fishing. Bottom-bouncing flies, beads and spawn were found to be most successful. Fresh fish had pushed into the river; however, darker fish have increased over the last few days. Those fishing the break wall found some success fishing spawn on the bottom near the marina.

Charlevoix: Fishing pressure continued to be extremely low due to the dredging going on in the channel. Those who made it out found an occasional lake trout while trolling or jigging spoons.


Upper Peninsula

Little Bay de Noc: Perch fishing began to slow down, although anglers who were able to find and stay over schools of fish reported limited success. Minnows, worms and small jigs were hit on the bottom of drop-offs near the narrows.

Manistique: Steelhead and trout were reported to have been caught in the river, along the bank and in boats.

St. Ignace: Anglers reported catching lake trout in 110 to 140 feet of water off of Mackinaw Island, when trolling with flashers and Spin-N-Glos as well as jigging with cut bait. The best colors were reported to be whites, silvers, pinks and greens.

Ontonagon River: Very few boats made it out on the river due to reoccurring inclement weather. Reports suggest that few to no fish were caught.


Ontonagon/Silver City/Union Bay: Harsh weather conditions kept fishing efforts from these ports low. Reports show that coho salmon and brown trout were caught in low numbers as weather permitted. Overall, anglers reported a slow bite.

Black River Harbor: Some anglers had luck in finding coho salmon in low numbers while fishing from shore. Strong winds and rain greatly limited boat access to the lake.

Marquette: Boat anglers reported that numbers of coho salmon in the lower harbor were declining; however, some anglers were able to catch a few. Very few boats made their way into the upper harbor, and they found no success. Anglers also reported catching a few Chinook salmon and lake trout in the lower harbor. Trolling orange moonshine glow lures was good for Chinook salmon. Most fish were caught in 8 to 20 feet of water and closer to shore.

Au Train: The smelt were reported to have started moving up the rivers, with the coho right behind them in the lake. Anglers reported that there were good numbers of coho salmon and steelhead being caught while trolling or casting. Most fish were caught in 8 to 20 feet of water and closer to shore. Blue and silver spoons seemed to do 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.

Fishing tip: Trout season has arrived!

Trout season officially opened this past weekend on Michigan’s inland waters, and early season fishing can be quite good. Many anglers successfully swear by dead drifting worms this time of year due to the cold spring water temperatures, but those heading out should not overlook spinners or small, shallow-diving crankbaits either.

Worms are deadly in the early season, but lure fishing can also be very effective at bringing up big fish from their hiding spots under logs or undercut banks. To learn more about fishing for trout in Michigan, check out these links highlighting the specific species:

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