Nine Things You Might Not Know About Bass Fishing in Michigan

Michigan_MuskegonIt’s time to throw in your line and catch the big one; the Bassmaster Elite Series Angler of the Year Championship is nearly here! With trout, walleye, salmon, perch, muskie and bass ready to bite, Michigan is home to some of the best freshwater fishing you can find.  The state’s world-class fisheries will be on display September 18-21, 2014 when the Bassmaster Elite Series Championship takes to the lakes surrounding Escanaba.

Consider yourself a master angler? See how many of these bass fishing tips you know!

Here’s an easy one – Morning or night is when the fish really bite. It’s no secret that when the sun is high in the sky, fish swim down to cooler, deeper water. Bass fishing in the morning or at night has become a favorite summer technique not only to escape the heat and recreational boat traffic; it is also the time for catching big bass!

Keep your eye on the line – Every so often, check the line right about the lure you’re using. If the line is tangled from coming in contact with debris (rocks, gravel, weeds) in the water, it could break easier, meaning your trophy bass gets away.

Study the map – Maps are easily available for every lake around the state of Michigan. These maps are a great way to identify drop-offs and weed beds, as well as any fish cribs that bass might like to use as shelter. You can also mark your own fishing hot-spots or areas that are duds.

Change up your lure – Sometimes, you might not catch a single fish for a whole day just because you’re set on a certain lure. While some bass fishers live and die by the Hula Popper, switching up your lure or even the size of the lure might land you a big one.

Know your seasons – The best time to bass fish is during the pre-spawn. The pre-spawn starts in spring around the time the water is around 60 degrees. Both male and female bass move to shallower waters to find the best place to nest and start aggressively feeding. Pre-spawn is a bass fisher’s goldmine.

Some lakes are better than others – Some Michigan lakes are actually known for being better fishing area for certain types of fish. While catching walleye or a mess of panfish makes for a great day on the water, you’ll find the most luck with bass on lakes or streams known best for bass fishing.

Know where bass like to hang out – Casting near shores and trees on the edge of the water may be the tried-and-true method of bass fishing, but try your luck in some different spots. Bass love bridges, rock piles and brush in the water as places to hide.

Know what to look for – There are countless types of water vegetation in Michigan’s lakes. Specifically for bass, hydrilla, lily pads, hyacinths and other greenery are great bass spots as they provide food, shade and higher level of oxygen in the water.

Don’t try to do too much – The key to any kind of fishing is getting out there and enjoying yourself. Different types of lures and equipment may look nice, but get what you need and hit the water. Catching a great bass is even better when your rival on the water is still in the bait shop trying on sunglasses.

Extra, extra! Read all about it!

The world’s top 50 professional anglers will compete in  Escanaba, Michigan for the 2014 Toyota Bassmaster Angler of the Year this September. While this elite tournament will be in Michigan for just four days, the state offers endless opportunities for the big catch, on four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes and hundreds of rivers and streams. As fall color starts to sweep across the state, there is no better time to be out on the sparkling blue wasters, casting a line.

Two days twice a year, families and friends can enjoy Michigan Fishing, for FREE! All fishing license fees will be waived for two days. Residents and outstate visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes’ waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations will still apply. Dates for the 2015 Free Fishing are February 14 and 15 and June 13 and 14, 2015.

So troll the waters, cast your line and experience the wealth of fishing opportunities in Pure Michigan. Learn more in the video below!

Get “Hooked” on Michigan’s World-Class Fishing this Spring and Summer

The fish are biting in Pure Michigan! Today, guest blogger Elyse Walter provides an overview of fishing opportunities to take advantage of this spring and summer, including the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Summer Free Fishing Weekend June 7 – 8, 2014.

michiganfishing-300x200Michigan is known for its outstanding freshwater fishing, particularly in spring and summer. Whether you get to the Great Lakes or stroll to your favorite inland water body, there is no shortage of opportunities to land a big one.

Although many fishing opportunities will be delayed due to the cold winter and spring Michigan experienced, there’s still plenty to be on the lookout for:

Panfish: In the coming weeks these species will be spawning and anxious to bite anything that’s offered. Focus on deeper, transitional waters if you want to find them. Fishing for yellow perch will be slow but will heat up as the temperatures warm, particularly in bigger water bodies such as Lake Michigan and Lake St. Clair.

Catfish: Although this species’ activity peaks in July and August, you will start to see them biting in smaller lakes and ponds.

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Photo by Celeste Thompson

Bass: Fishing for this popular species will be slow as their spawning has been delayed but as the waters in bigger lakes/streams start to heat up so will bass fishing. Please note, this species is catch-and-release fishing only until the catch-and-keep seasons open later this spring and early summer.

Walleye: Fishing for this species has cooled down on the Detroit River (a popular destination), but opportunities are starting to pick up right now on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.

Trout/Salmon: Anglers will be happy that cooler water temperatures will keep coho salmon around in the southern portions of Lake Michigan. But stream anglers targeting steelhead will find it tricky due to recent run-offs and high water levels.

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Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR

Want even more incentive to plan a fishing trip in the coming weeks – aside from those described above? How about going for FREE?

That’s the case this June as the 2014 Summer Free Fishing Weekend arrives Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8. During these two days anyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish all waters without purchasing a license, although all other regulations still apply.

The DNR coordinates a Summer Free Fishing Weekend each year (and has since 1986) to showcase the great angling opportunities available in Michigan, while easing some of the financial investment needed to get involved. It’s the perfect time to discover the state’s world-class resources.

Consider exploring Michigan’s expansive fishing opportunities this spring and summer. Start planning your next trip at www.michigan.gov/fishing!

Where do you like to go fishing in Michigan during the spring and summer?

 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. 

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!

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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.