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.