Learn to Fish with the DNR’s Hook, Line and Sinker Program

Have you always wanted to learn how to fish? The Michigan Department of Natural Resources launched a new program this summer designed to help you get started! Today, Elyse Walter of the DNR’s Fisheries Division fills us in on what the Hook, Line and Sinker program entails.

“Hook, Line and Sinker” is a weekly fishing program now offered at more than 30 state parks, recreation areas and visitor centers. Instructors will teach you everything you need to know to get started, including setting up your fishing rod, knot tying, casting, selecting and using bait, and removing fish from the hook. After 20 to 30 minutes of instruction, you’ll be able to test your recently-acquired skills on the water.

Along with detailed instruction, you can borrow a fishing rod and reel if you don’t have your own. This program is being offered all summer long from mid-June through August.

Hook, Line and Sinker is a free program open to everyone, however you’ll need a Recreation Passport to enter many locations hosting this program. The Recreation Passport replaces the state park sticker and is required for entry to all Michigan state parks and recreation areas. If you haven’t already purchased yours when renewing your license plate at the Secretary of State, you can still purchase your Recreation Passport at a state park or recreation area. Michigan residents pay $11 for vehicles and $5 for motorcycles. Non Michigan residents pay $8.40 per vehicle for a daily pass.

Children under the age of 17 are not required to have a fishing license, but anyone age 17 or older planning to cast a line into the water during  the Hook, Line and Sinker program will need to buy one. A variety of licenses are available, ranging in price from $7 to $42.

If you are interested in joining a Hook, Line and Sinker program, visit michigan.org/hooklineandsinker for a complete list of participating locations and their schedules.

Don’t let the summer pass you by without getting the chance to become an excellent angler!

Will you be taking advantage of the Hook, Line and Sinker program? Share with us below, and learn more about fishing in Michigan at michigan.org.

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.

Go Behind-the-Scenes of Michigan’s Catch & Cook Program

With trout, walleyes, salmon, perch and bass ready to bite, Michigan is home to the best catches a fishing trip can offer! Today we’re excited to share the latest videos from our friends at Outdoor Hub, which provide an inside look at salmon fishing in Pure Michigan. The first video even takes us behind-the-scenes of Michigan’s Catch & Cook program, where anglers on Great Lakes charter fishing trips get their salmon catches prepared for them when they arrive back at port! 

Check out the videos below and let us know what you think! For more on fishing in Michigan, visit michigan.org.

Take to Michigan’s Lakes and Rivers this Summer

Fishing is a popular sport in Michigan year-round, especially in the spring and summer when the warmer weather makes it the perfect time to spend your days out on the water. And with Michigan’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend happening this weekend, June 8-9, there’s no better time to experience fishing in Pure Michigan.

For those heading out for the first time or if you’re just looking for tips on reeling in the best catch, we spoke with Captain Denny from Fish N’Grin Charter Service for his insight. Read from him below and learn more in the following video on fishing in Michigan from the Pure Michigan Summer Video Series.

Variables and information

Sky color, water color, surface temperature, thermocline, wave height, wind direction, current, time of season, time of day, moon phase and type of fish available are all variables that impact your ability to catch fish on any given day.

Besides the usual sources of information from local tackle shops, news media or someone that has been out recently, today’s technology can provide real time, useful information. Web sites such as GLOS, NOAA and Coastwatch can provide real time information on offshore temperature breaks, surface temperature, water column temperature, currents, wave height, wind and speed direction. Keep these sites in your favorites, learn how to use them and keep records for future reference.

You will never control all the variables, but sound information can make most of them work for you.

Troll angle and speed

Troll angle and speed may be the two most important things to pay attention to. I believe it’s more important than bait or gear selection.

A GPS and a downrigger speed and temp probe are a must. Changing troll angle (boats heading) by as little as 5 or 10 degrees may make all the difference in the world in your hook up rate.

A speed of about 2.5 to 2.8 MPH is a good starting reference using a variety of baits and gear, and pay attention to speed when you get a strike.

Also, try to match your GPS speed with the speed indicated at the cannon ball and see that all you lines run straight behind the boat. GPS speed is important in that you want to cover as much ground as possible in the shortest period of time.

Monkey see, monkey do

Ever go out early in the morning and see a group of boats all trolling a congested area? You may think that must be where the fish are. They may be or they might not.

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Imagine that the first couple boats go out and set up, and then several other boats coming out see them, soon everyone is fishing in a pack for no other reason than “this must be where they are”.

You can do just as well, and often times better, by avoiding the pack and trolling a path that no one has cut yet, with a lot less aggravation.

The first bite

Chinook salmon are notoriously veracious feeders just as the sun comes up, while running out look for suspended bait or bait near the bottom.

Set your gear just outside and slightly above the bait and troll along that edge, then prepare your crew for the upcoming frenzy.

Bites off!

Or is it? On a clear morning the bite slows or stops entirely, usually around 8 or 9 a.m.

This is a critical decision time. Do you stay where you had your bites, move in or head out?

If you time your out troll as the fish begin to move offshore you can stay right with them and continue to get bites.

Don’t leave fish to go fish

An old cliché, but it’s still true.

You are catching fish, you see them on your fishfinder, but your buddy is doing better (so he says) or you hear that other boats are doing well at a different location.

Moving away from your fish seldom works; you cannot be certain of what the other boats may be using or even if the information is accurate, their fish may turn off by the time you arrive.

Meat rigs

Using live bait or cut herring strips is not a new concept. It has gained wide popularity on the Great Lakes in recent years – and for good reason, it will catch fish when nothing else seems to work and usually catches bigger ones.

A variety of meat rigs are now commercially available, along with frozen herring. A sturdy roller guide rod, a line counter reel filled with braided wire and a magnum dipsy diver are essential. I use an 8 inch paddle ahead of the meat rig because it seems more speed friendly. Chose UV colors on both rig and paddle, set the diver at 1 for a two to one depth ratio. For example, if desired depth for your bait is 100 feet, let out 200 feet of wire.

Captain Denny Grinold is a Michigan native and accomplished fisherman who currently owns Denny’s Auto Diagnosis and Fish ‘N’ Grin Charter Service in Lansing, Michigan. Grinold is a United States Coast Guard Licensed 100 Ton Master Operator on all U.S. Waters, USPS Advanced Pilot, United States Advisor to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, chosen as Outdoor Life’s “Top 20 anglers on the Planet” and most recently was the recipient of the Michigan Steelhead Salmon & Fishermen’s Association’s annual Howard A. Tanner Award for dedication and contribution to Michigan’s sport fishery industry.

Are you heading out for Free Fishing Weekend? Share with us below and learn more at michigan.org.