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Hook & Hunting

Where the fish are biting this week, July 12 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

Cheboygan: Anglers reported trolling their lines in 25 to 40 feet of water around Reynold’s Reef and Lafayette Point for mixed bags of pink salmon, coho salmon, Chinook salmon, Atlantic salmon, steelhead and lake trout. Anglers were using a variety of setups, including dipsy divers with dodgers and flies/spoons, downriggers with spoons, and lead core with spoons/flies. Good colors to use were reported to be blues, whites, silvers, yellows and chartreuse. Anglers fishing off the pier were catching northern pike using soft plastic swim baits and spinner baits. River anglers were primarily using nightcrawlers to catch smallmouth bass, rock bass, freshwater drum, catfish and walleye. Walleye were hanging out upstream of the pedestrian walkway. Drifting nightcrawlers on slip bobbers was found to be the most successful.

Alpena: Walleye were reported to have been scattered throughout Thunder Bay. They were caught from North Shore to Grass Island and as far south as South Point on crawlers and crank baits. Anglers had success in depths of 16 to 24 feet of water. Those targeting 30 to 50 feet of water found walleye suspended 10 to 20 feet down. Deep-diving body baits and short lead cores were all productive. Catfish, freshwater drum and northern pike were also caught in the same waters.


Thunder Bay River: The Thunder Bay River was giving up freshwater drum, catfish, walleye and smallmouth bass. Crawlers and leaches were the most popular baits for all species. Anglers found success throughout the river from the 9th Street Bridge to the pier head. Those trolling the river had some success for walleye while trolling deep-diving crank baits and crawler harnesses. Walleye were also caught by those casting crank baits and drifting crawlers from the pier.

Rockport: Rockport saw good catches of trout and salmon. Near Stoneport, anglers were targeting lake trout in 80 to 130 feet of water, with flashers and spindles being most productive. Those targeting Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead and Atlantic salmon trolled the waters from Stoneport south to Middle Island in depths of 90 to 140 feet of water. Some bonus walleye and pink salmon were caught on lines set high in the water column. Watermelon, chartreuse and orange spoons worked best on lead cores covering 15 to 40 feet of water. A few walleye were caught by those trolling 30 to 40 feet of water near Middle Island. Natural colors as well as chartreuse and pink crankbaits were productive throughout the day.

Rogers City: Anglers were coming in with lake trout, steelhead, Chinook salmon and walleye daily, with an occasional coho, Atlantic and pink salmon as well. Anglers were deploying lines throughout the water column and were focusing on getting these lines out and away from the boat for best results. Lead cores, coppers and dipseys were all very effective. Downriggers worked well, especially for lake trout. Anglers were using a variety of baits, spoons, flasher/fly combinations and cut bait rigs. Good colors were greens, blues, oranges, white and black, purple, chartreuse, and glow stuff both early and late. The steelhead were reported to have been running high in the water column, and orange and/or bright colors worked well for them. The Chinook salmon bite was reported to have been either super early or super late. Many anglers were focusing their efforts straight out of the harbor south toward Swan Bay and Adams Point or up the lake toward 40-Mile Point and the state park.

Hammond Bay: Very low angler pressure was seen at this port. Anglers who went out were fishing straight out of the harbor, the trench, Nine-Mile Point or south toward the biological station. The best depths were reported to have been 60 to 120 feet of water, and deploying lines throughout the water column worked well. Spoons were a good choice, with good colors being greens, blues, yellow, orange, black and white, and glow stuff early and late.


Oscoda/Au Sable River: Walleye fishing in the lower Au Sable River remained decent. Anglers were catching walleye when trolling crawler harnesses upriver and downriver with 1-ounce bottom bouncers. Purple and chartreuse harnesses seemed to produce the most fish. Anglers who walked the pier with slip bobbers and crawlers/leeches were also catching walleye. There were reports of large walleye being caught at dusk and into the night near Foote Dam when bottom-bouncing crawlers. Offshore from Oscoda, steelhead, Atlantic salmon and pink salmon were caught in 90 to 120 feet of water, with anglers targeting 20 to 30 feet down using five-seven-color lead core, dipsy divers and riggers to target the upper water column. Lake trout were caught when targeting the lower water column.

Harrisville: The salmon and trout fishing offshore from Harrisville was reported to have been good. Decent numbers of Atlantic salmon and steelhead were caught in 70 to 100 feet of water while targeting the upper 20 to 30 feet using mostly spoons. Vibrant colors seemed to work well for silver fish. A couple large Chinook salmon were caught using spoons and targeting deeper water. Lake trout fishing remained great, with anglers landing good numbers of fish using spoons and Spin-n-Glos near the bottom in 80 to 110 feet of water. Anglers fishing out of Black River had some success with lake trout and a few walleye.

Tawas: Anglers were finding walleye near Big Charity and were using crawler harnesses and a variety of artificial baits to try their luck at catching them. Few limits were caught, but the fish were reported to be out there. Anglers were also fishing the reef for walleye and were able to pick up a couple. Shore anglers at Gateway Park were catching catfish, freshwater drum and small perch. Bowfin and some small perch were caught off the pier.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Manistee: Salmon, lake trout and steelhead were caught along the shelf in 150 to 200 feet of water when fishing 50 to 80 feet down straight out and south of the port. Spoons, flasher/fly combinations and meat rigs all worked well. A few smallmouth bass were caught from the piers. Green, blue and bloody nose colors worked well, along with some magnum spoons. Steelhead were reported to have been higher in the water column.


Ludington: Chinook salmon, coho salmon, steelhead and lake trout were caught to the northwest and at Big Sable Point in 120 to 180 feet of water when fishing 40 to 80 feet down. They were also caught straight out and south in 75 to 130 feet of water when fishing 40 to 60 feet down. Fishing was reported to have been hit or miss. Spoons, flasher/fly combinations and meat rigs all worked. A few panfish and suckers were caught on the piers using live bait. Green, blue and bloody nose colors worked well, along with some magnum spoons. Steelhead were reported to have been higher in the water column.

Frankfort: Anglers were reporting moderate catches of Chinook salmon and lake trout with an occasional steelhead mixed in. Trolling in 160 to 200 feet of water and setting lines in the top 80 feet seemed to produce the best results. Spoons, flies and flashers, and meat rigs all landed fish. Water temperature breaks were not set up, and bait fish were slow to find.

Onekama: Anglers were reporting catches off the golf course and when running the outer edge of the barrel. Trolling in 90 to 160 feet of water and bottom-bouncing for lake trout and running spoons and flies in the top 50 feet of water for Chinook salmon were reported to have caught fish.

Charlevoix: Anglers targeting salmon found slow but steady numbers when trolling anywhere from Fisherman’s Island to North Point. Anglers fishing in 100 to 175 feet of water anywhere from 60 to 130 feet down reported decent-sized Chinook salmon. Finding any sort of temperature break was proven to be most successful; however, those fishing higher in the water column also reported the occasional steelhead. Those targeting lake trout found limited success fishing south of Point Medusa, but they were still finding fish anywhere from 100 to 125 feet down. The occasional pink salmon was caught.


Little Traverse Bay: Boat anglers targeting lake trout reported consistent numbers west of Harbor Springs, fishing near the refuge. Anywhere from 60 to 100 feet of water, fishing on the bottom using green, silver and blue spoons, was proven to be the best. Those targeting salmon in the bay reported decent numbers of Chinook salmon while trolling along the drop-off farther west of Petoskey and/or Harbor Springs. Fishing right at sunrise or right at sunset produced the best numbers. Anglers fishing from shore in the Bear River, as well as those trolling higher in the water column in the bay, reported slow but consistent numbers of steelhead throughout the week.

Leland: Anglers who headed out to the islands found luck trolling around North Manitou Island. Chinook salmon were reported to be steadily caught in around 75 to 100 feet of water. Few lake trout were caught. Anglers found stomachs of fish to be empty and had luck catching fish on all gear types.

West Grand Traverse Bay: Lake trout fishing has been slower than normal, especially trolling, but jigging south of Power Island in deep water produced a few lake trout, lake whitefish and cisco. One angler reported catching Chinook salmon in the hole, along with a few summer steelhead in the Boardman.

Upper Peninsula

Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: Anglers reported successfully catching lake trout, lake whitefish and salmon in Keweenaw and Huron bays. Anglers found lake trout in the highest abundance, and they were caught mostly during trolling trips. Coho and Chinook salmon were caught while trolling during morning and afternoon fishing trips. These salmon were caught mostly below 50 feet of water but were still found in a wide range of total water depths. Lake trout and whitefish were caught while jigging in both bays.

Traverse Bay/South Portage Entry Canal: Anglers reported having a lot of luck coming off the water this last week. Those launching farther north from Big Traverse Harbor found plenty of lake trout while jigging in waters from 80 to 180 feet deep. Lake trout were found mostly through the lower half of the water column during these fishing trips. Early in the week, anglers reported large Chinook salmon caught south of Big Traverse Bay and north from South Portage Entry Canal. Salmon and lake trout anglers found consistent catches on both spoons and flies.

St. Ignace: Successful lake trout anglers trolled flies and spoons from the northeast side of Mackinac Island in 40 feet of water. Good colors were reported to be blues, whites, yellows, chartreuse and orange. The occasional northern pike was caught in St. Martin’s Bay when trolling spoons in reds, oranges, whites and chartreuse colors. At the Pine River, walleye anglers were successful using nightcrawler harnesses and slip bobbers with nightcrawlers. Good colors were chartreuse with silver, golds, reds and oranges.

Little Bay de Noc: Yellow perch anglers reported slow fishing and were having to work for only limited success. Anglers were using worms and minnows with slip bobbers or jigging on a perch rig. Walleye anglers reported some success during dawn and dusk. Anglers were casting snap jig-style lures, as well as trolling crawler harnesses. Smallmouth fishing was reported to have been good.

Manistique: Anglers reported fair to good fishing for Chinook salmon and steelhead. Anglers were trolling spoons, flasher/fly combinations and meat rigs, with success on all three presentations. Windy conditions limited the days anglers were able to get out. The sunrise and sunset time frames have been the best bite windows. Anglers were primarily targeting depths of 90 to 170 feet of water. A few Skamania catches were reported by river anglers.

Ontonagon River: Fishing efforts on the river increased amidst the holiday weekend. Walleye were reportedly being caught in fair numbers. Fish were most successfully caught when trolling in the early mornings.

Ontonagon/Silver City/Union Bay: Anglers reported catching lake trout in good numbers, with reports of the occasional Chinook salmon also being landed. Those trolling deeper waters seemingly had the best luck in finding fish.

Fishing tip: A simple method for summer lake fishing

Sometimes we want to go fishing and enjoy getting out on the water, but just don’t want to expend a lot of energy – especially if it’s too hot to work hard at it. Here’s a laid-back way to cover water and find fish you might otherwise miss, without needing complicated gear or a fancy boat. All you need is basic fishing tackle and a watercraft. Even a rented rowboat, paddle boat or canoe can work.

Rig your rod with light line (4- to 8-pound test), tie a small hook on the end of the line (No. 4 or smaller), and add a split shot or two about a foot above the hook. Favorite baits for this method include half a nightcrawler or a baby crawler, leeches or even some of the heavily scented artificial leeches or small, plastic worms. Hook the bait in the center of one end so it doesn’t spin when you gently pull it through the water.

Position your boat so the prevailing breeze will carry it along a drop-off or across any area with water depths of at least 12 to 20 feet. Let out enough line, or adjust the amount of weight on the line, so your bait will stay about 12 to 20 feet deep no matter how deep the water is. Then set your rod down against the side of the boat, relax and watch the tip of the rod for a bite. Drop the rod tip when you see a bite and count to three before reeling in and setting the hook with a firm pull. Not too hard!

Many fish such as bass, walleye, yellow perch, crappie and larger bluegill will move into deeper water and suspend at their preferred cooler temperature during the hot summer months. Slowly drifting a larger, natural bait at these deeper depths will often get you more than you bargained for.

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