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Wednesday July 2, 2008

First of all…


My apology for being tardy with June’s fishing reports here on It happens every year about this same time; I go like mad, working every day and loosing track of the moment. Heck, most of the time I don’t even know what day it is! But things are, slowly but surly, getting back to normal for me.


But enough of that already… Let’s talk fishing around Northern Michigan!


How ’bout I mention bugs right off the bat. This is the time of year when the big hex (Michigan Mayfly) can either cause turmoil to lake anglers or be one of the most exciting things to happen to a waterway, such as our rivers. The cold start to summer has these big bugs hatching in small batches instead of mass quantities. On both the inland lakes and rivers, this has meant that the bite, although slow, is still doable.


On lakes such as Leelanau County’s South Lake Leelanau, which sees HUGH quantities of mayflies, the bite has slowed dramatically; down to two or three walleye per day verses the 30 per day we were getting a month ago. That’s quite a difference. On lakes like Grand Traverse County’s Long Lake and Antrim County’s Lake Bellaire, the walleye bite’s been good (depending on the weather and any impending cold fronts). My clients and I have had some really nice catches on both lakes while trolling crankbaits in the top 10 to 20 feet of water over depths of 35 to 80 feet. We’ve been trolling with lures such as Storm Deep ThunderStick Jr’s, Reef Runner Deep Little Rippers, Rapala Tail Dancers, and Cotton Cordell Grappler Shads. If you try this, just make sure to use in-line planer boards and troll at 1.5 to 1.8 mph. We’ve had our lures back 100 to 140 feet back behind the boards.


I did a little fishing last week (June 23 and 24) in Mullet Lake and Walloon Lake. In both I found smallmouth bass holding to any kind of structure (be it weeds, rock, or wood) in 6 to 10 feet of water. Spinnerbaits, suspending bodybaits, and floating bodybaits seemed to be the best baits going at the time. Walleye in Mullet, on the other hand, were being taken in 26 to 28 feet of water while pulling crawler harnesses behind bottom bouncers. We landed two in a short amount of time out front of the Aloha State Park area. We were using Berkley Gulp! Night Crawlers instead of the real deal because the pesky perch would rip up a real work in about a minute.  


If you’re looking for lake trout, then look no further than both East and West Grand Traverse Bays. The waters here are still cool and the lake trout still shallow. Trolling with Dodgers and small P-Nuts while on downriggers is taking most of the fish. Look for these “deep-water trout” to instead be shallow, in water only 25 to 55 feet deep. Get those cannon balls down at (not on) bottom and hang on; you’ll catch fish.


The smallmouth bass are thinking spawning in both bays despite the cooler-than-normal water temperatures. The client of a buddy of mine (Captain Chris Noffsinger, Northern Adventures Fishing Charters, landed a 26-inch 6-pound 12-ounce monster out of East Bay just this last week. There’s been plenty of big ol’ bass to be had out there and it looks like there will be for weeks to come.


As for the river scene, the hex hatch has been on everyone’s mind. Just as on the inland lakes, however, the hatch has been spotty. It’s been quite hit and miss. Hit it, make a great cast with a giant hex bug, and you’ll have the chance to catch your largest fly-caught brown trout, ever! The Big Manistee and the Boardman Rivers have been giving up a few giants as of late, with a few fish over the 24-inch mark caught and released.


So what’s all this mean? Hit a lake where the bugs haven’t been hatching in huge numbers and, although few and farther in-between, you’ll be able to catch walleye and bass. Hit a river where the bugs are hatching in numbers and you’ll stand the chance at a giant brown trout. Hit the bays and there’ll be plenty of lake trout for the dinner table and bass for the fight.




Dave ~ WildFishing

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