A Pure Michigan Spring Fishing Preview

Today, Elyse Walter from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources previews the spring fishing season ahead in Pure Michigan.

It’s been a long, hard winter this year – there’s no denying that! But in just a few short weeks we’ll hopefully start to see glimpses of spring. As the snow and ice start to melt, many anglers will be readying their boats, rods and tackle as they itch to get out on the water. Here’s what they’ll be looking for this coming April and May.

Panfish (Bluegill/Crappie/Yellow Perch)
Inland lakes will provide ideal locations to target these species. For lakes that have a darker stained color (from dissolved organic material) they’ll warm up quicker and see earlier fish feeding activity. When on these waters anglers should pay attention to areas of the lake where the sun is beating the most as these areas will warm more quickly. At this time of year fish will gravitate to these warmer areas.

Muskellunge/Northern Pike/Walleye
These predatory species can’t be fished until the season opens on Saturday, April 26. Both muskie and pike can be tough to catch when temperatures are very cool, anglers should use smaller baits and fish with a slower retrieve until things warm up.

Photo by Celeste Thompson near Grand Haven, MI

Photo by Celeste Thompson near Grand Haven, MI

For predatory fish, pay close attention to drop offs in inland lakes. Often times these species will hang out in deeper water and come in to feed on the bait fish swimming in shallower areas.

Anglers will flock to the Detroit River starting in mid-April to target walleye. They’ll make a run through this body of water as they head upstream from Lake Erie looking for a place to spawn. Lake Erie walleye will travel throughout the Lake St. Clair and St. Clair River system with some traveling as far as Saginaw Bay.

Trout/Salmon
In April, steelhead will start to move through the lower tributaries of Lake Michigan. Visit any pier (such as the St. Joseph River) and you’ll have a good chance of landing one of these popular sport fish!

DSK1132009

Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Coho salmon will be one of the first to arrive on the scene as the temperatures warm up as well. Anglers will often troll near shore or high in the water column off shore to find these salmon.

Keep in mind the excessive snow and ice experienced this year could cause high or cloudy water in many parts of the state this spring – particularly if the thaw comes fast. Stream fishing is not very productive when flows are fast, water levels are high and waters are cloudy.

Don’t forget to purchase your license before you head out! The 2014 Michigan Fishing License went on sale March 1, 2014. You can buy your 2014 Fishing License here.

Don’t miss your chance to experience the endless spring fishing opportunities in Michigan.

The next Free Fishing Weekend is June 7th-8th! Start planning your next fishing trip at www.michigan.gov/fishing  or visit michigan.org for mor information.

Do you plan to do some fishing in Michigan this spring? Where are you headed? 

Elyse-Walter-150x150Elyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She specifically works with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources.

Winter Fishing in Michigan: Tips from a 17 Year Old Angler

Today, seventeen year-old angler and founder of XXL Chrome Chasing, Kyle McClelland, gives us some tried and tested tips for steelheading and ice fishing in Pure Michigan this winter. 

Photo courtesy of XXL Chrome Chasing

Michigan is a prime destination for fishermen all year round. From the Great Lakes to inland lakes, there are countless fishing opportunities to be had across the state. Although the weather can be harsh during the deep winter months, don’t be discouraged from venturing out on the water!

During the winter season, my favorite style of fishing is steelheading on the Great Lakes tributaries. With colors akin to autumn in Northern Michigan and a hint of chrome, steelhead can be found throughout many of the Great Lakes tributaries across Michigan. Known for their acrobatic jumps and bruising battles, steelhead are a very popular fish targeted by many anglers in the Great Lakes region.

The elusive fish enters the Great Lakes tributaries during the fall months to feed on the spawning salmon eggs. In the early winter months, steelhead will generally hold in the bigger river systems throughout the winter, such as the Big Manistee, Betsie, Muskegon, and the Grand.

Photo courtesy of XXL Chrome Chasing

Along with steelheading, ice fishing is another great and very popular style of winter fishing across Michigan. One thing us Michigan anglers can be thankful for is the number of species that can be targeted through the ice! Whether you like to set tip ups for walleye, spear northern pike, or jig for panfish, the opportunities are endless. There is bound to be one that will fit your desire.

Make sure you use extra caution before you head out on the ice. Always check ice conditions before you head out, bring a partner with you and make sure you have the proper safety gear. I generally like 3-4″ for walking, 6-8″ for driving an ATV and 12-14″ for driving a vehicle. Driving a vehicle on the ice isn’t recommend, but here in Michigan many ice fishing anglers do it.

With all these fishing opportunities here in Michigan, XXL Chrome Chasing is committed to getting the “next generation” more involved in the outdoors. If you have an interest in the outdoors, there are many ways to learn.  I suggest joining a fishing forum. There are many across Michigan, and they all consist of great information and members that are willing to help you learn and/or get started.

Some include upangler.com, glangler.com, Lake Michigan Angler and many more! You can also check out our XXL Chrome Chasing Facebook page. If you have any questions, you can message us at any time.

If you see a young outdoorsman on the water or in the woods, we encourage you to give them a helping hand. Growing up, countless people helped me to become a more successful angler and I’m very thankful for it, so I like to return the favor.

There really isn’t a better state to live in if you’re an angler! Make sure to dress appropriately and get out there and take advantage of the great fishing we’re blessed with here in Michigan.

If you have any questions related to fishing in Michigan, check out our Facebook page and get in contact with us. Feel free to post pictures and share stories about your fishing experiences in Michigan!

Kyle McClelland is a 17 year old fisherman from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Kyle and now lives in Fife Lake, MI outside of Traverse City. Kyle’s passion for fishing started during his earliest elementary school days. Now, his life revolves around fishing, on and off the water! 

Gear Up for Free Fishing Weekend in Pure Michigan

It’s the perfect weather for some ice fishing in Pure Michigan! Today, Elyse Walter from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us how to take advantage of winter fishing opportunities during Free Fishing Weekend February 15 – 16, 2014.

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources

There are many great things about Michigan, but one of the best is the fact that you can go fishing 12 months out of the year. With a vast amount of water and a multitude of species, there’s never a dull moment for this popular outdoor activity – even when the temperatures dip.

In fact, Michigan’s ice fishing is well known and often something many anglers look forward to each year. Many claim the state’s winter months produce even better fishing than spring and summer – just ask Dale Blakley from Niles who caught the new state record flathead catfish (52 pounds) on January 12 in Barron Lake in Cass County!

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources

So while many flock to the lakes once conditions are right, there are other anglers that have never set foot on the ice. It’s quite simple to go ice fishing, with a few pieces of appropriate equipment (including safety items) and lots of warm clothing you can soon be on your way. You’ll have lots of species you can target, including bluegill, crappie, smelt, walleye, yellow perch and northern pike, and lots of ways in doing so, including tip-ups, hook-and-line and spearing.

Need further incentive to drop a line this winter? Try it for free as part of the 2014 Winter Free Fishing Weekend, coming Saturday, February 15 and Sunday, February 16. This annual weekend provides two days where no fishing license is required for residents or non-residents – although all regulations still apply.

The Department of Natural Resources coordinates the Winter Free Fishing Weekend each year (and has since 1994) as an opportunity to showcase the great angling opportunities available in Michigan and allowing people to try the experience for free.

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources

While many individuals and families will flock to their favorite fishing hole as part of this weekend, others will join official events coordinated throughout the state that will provide hands-on ice fishing experience. An official 2014 Winter Free Fishing Weekend event list is available online highlighting activities (such as youth fishing tournaments) in many parts of the state, including the counties of Alpena, Arenac, Cheboygan, Clinton, Gogebic, Keweenaw, Macomb, Montcalm, Otsego, Roscommon, Tuscola, Washtenaw and Wayne.

Don’t miss your chance to experience the vast array of Michigan’s winter fishing opportunities. Start planning your next fishing trip at www.michigan.gov/fishing!

Have you been ice fishing in Michigan?  Where do you like to fish? 

Elyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She specifically works with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources.