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.

Tips for Family Friendly Fishing in Michigan

With fresh water fish including trout, walleyes, salmon, perch, bass ready to bite, Michigan is home to the best catches a fishing trip can offer. And now with the Family Friendly Fishing Waters guide from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it’s the perfect time to plan a family fishing trip in Pure Michigan.

Learn more about the new site from Elyse Walter of the DNR below, or visit michigan.org to plan your next trip.

How many times have you wanted to go fishing, but weren’t quite sure where to go? As a result, you never ended up taking that trip and missed out on Michigan’s outstanding freshwater fishing.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources understands one of the biggest barriers to getting folks to go fishing is finding suitable places to go. Preferably places an inexperienced angler can find easily, have a high likelihood of catching a fish, and offers simple amenities that enhance the trip. To overcome that barrier, we recently launched a new section of our website: Family Friendly Fishing Waters.

The Family Friendly Fishing Waters section of the website can be found at www.michigan.gov/fishing, and will connect interested individuals with local fishing opportunities. The page features a map of Michigan that’s quite simple for visitors to use – just click on the county you are interested in fishing and check out the list of family-friendly locations to fish. Every single county in Michigan has one or more locations featured.

Nearly all of the locations featured on the Family Friendly Fishing Waters website were submitted by the public and are considered easy for new anglers to access and use.

Each water body’s online profile includes its geographic location, driving directions, parking information, hours of operation, species of fish available, typical bait used, and much more.

Don’t see a water body in the county you love to fish? The DNR will continue to accept potential locations for future inclusion as well. The Family Friendly Fishing Waters online submission form can be found at www.michigan.gov/fishing.

So as you consider what to do for fun this upcoming Memorial Day weekend, perhaps you’ll finally have the tools necessary to plan that long-awaited fishing trip!

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.

Is your family planning a fishing trip in Michigan this summer? Share with us below!

Stocking Steelhead in the Red Cedar River (Part 2)

Last week, Elyse Walter of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources gave us a preview of what was in store for Michigan anglers in the East Lansing area in Part 1 of her post. Today, Elyse fills us in on details of the April 15th event where 3,000 steelhead were stocked in the Red Cedar River at Michigan State University.

On Monday, April 15, nearly 3,000 steelhead (a variety of rainbow trout raised in captivity) were stocked in the Red Cedar River on Michigan State University’s campus. This activity marked an ordinance change by the MSU Board of Trustees this past December that now allows fishing on campus for the first time since the 1960s.

Because of this ordinance change, hook-and-line fishing is now allowed on the north bank of the Red Cedar River between the western edge of Brody Complex and the Sparty bridge. Previously the river was off limits for more than 50 years due to the entire campus of MSU being considered a preserve and therefore, hunting, fishing and gathering were off limits.

The steelhead stocking was conducted in an effort to enhance future angling opportunities on the Red Cedar. Numerous dignitaries were on hand to assist in the effort by dumping buckets of the six- to eight-inch-long steelhead fish directly into the river.

These dignitaries included: Sparty, MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum, MSU Acting Provost June Youatt, DNR Commissioner Tim Nichols, DNR Director Keith Creagh, Michigan Trout Unlimited’s Bryan Burroughs, Michigan United Conservation Clubs’ Amy Trotter, former DNR directors Howard Tanner and Gordon Guyer, and various MSU students and faculty.

Monday’s stocking occurred at the bridge located off the southeast corner of the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center’s parking ramp. The 3,000 steelhead that were released were part of the nearly 19 million fish the DNR will stock throughout the state this spring. The DNR uses stocking to restore, enhance and create new fishing opportunities in Michigan’s inland lakes, streams and the Great Lakes.

The steelhead recently put into the Red Cedar will now make their way to Lake Michigan and potentially return to the river to spawn in one to three years.

For interested anglers, fishing the Red Cedar River’s designated area will now be allowed during a three-year test period. Please note a fishing license is required to fish the Red Cedar River. If anglers plan to target trout and/or salmon they will need to purchase an All-Species license.  

GO GREEN and pay MSU’s Red Cedar River a visit the next time you’re in town – you never know what you might catch!  

Learn more about fishing opportunities around the state 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.