Free fishing weekend is almost here; Check out where the fish are biting

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

It’s here!  Michigan’s annual Summer Free Fishing Weekend will be observed this Saturday and Sunday. Both residents and non-residents can fish without a license, however, all regulations still apply. This is a great opportunity for novice anglers to introduce someone new to the sport of fishing.


SOUTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
Holland: 
 Is producing salmon 40 to 80 feet down in 180 to 220 feet of water. A few Chinook were caught 100 feet down. Use green and blue regular size spoons and paddles and flies in white, blue and green. Pier anglers caught freshwater drum.   Grand Haven:  Pier anglers are getting alewife with cast nets but the only thing they are catching is freshwater drum. Boat anglers are catching salmon 40 to 80 feet down in 160 to 300 feet of water. Many fish were caught in the 180 to 220 range. Blue and green spoons along with blue, green and white paddles and flies were the ticket. Steelhead are higher in the water and hitting on orange and green spoons.

Grand River at Grand Rapids:  Smallmouth bass are hitting on crawlers, leeches, soft shell crabs and top water baits. Channel cats are hitting on chicken liver crawlers, leeches and cut bait. Flatheads prefer live bluegill or suckers. Those using leaf worms or wax worms caught bluegill. Crappie and bluegill have been caught at Millennium Park and Riverside Park. Pike are hitting on big spinners, body baits or live suckers.

Grand River at Lansing:  When anglers can find them, some decent bluegill and crappie were caught above and below the Moore’s Park Dam. Smallmouth bass were caught below the North Lansing Dam. Crank baits worked better than live bait. For catfish, try cut bait, small bluegills, leeches, crawlers or chicken liver.

Lake Ovid:  Was producing a few crappie and some small bluegills. If you find fish on the beds, try rubber spiders.

Reeds Lake:   Bass fishing was good and some nice perch were caught in 15 to 25 feet of water near the sunken island.

Muskegon River:  Has good trout fishing especially for those fly fishing. A drake hatch is currently underway.
Whitehall:  Pier anglers casting blue and silver spoons caught coho, brown trout and some large pike. Boat anglers did best south of Duck Lake in 150 to 200 feet. Try fishing all depths as the fish were scattered.

White Lake:  Was still producing bluegill, perch, bass and pike close to the shoreline. Catfish are still hitting in the channel. Anglers are casting crawlers or spoons and running them very close to the bottom. 

 

NORTHWEST LOWER PENINSULA
There were reports of panfish starting to stage for spawning, but that will probably be set back now because of the cold front. The trout streams are running a bit high but fishing can be good on the higher water, especially for those using bait. Along Lake Michigan, rumor has it there are fewer Chinook salmon compared to last year however the average size is bigger.

Harbor Springs:  Boat anglers might want to try for lake trout near Harbor Point. Look for smallmouth bass around the docks.

Petoskey:  Anglers fishing off the pier with crank baits and crawlers caught smallmouth bass. Look for pike, carp or rock bass as well.

Bear River:  Has been high and fast. A couple steelhead can still be found up near the dam but most of the fish have spawned. Try spawn bags above the dam.

Charlevoix:  Anglers continue to do well for walleye in the channel after dark. The bite usually starts between 10-11 p.m.Anglers are fishing on the Lake Michigan end of the channel when the current is going out or the Round Lake end when the current comes in. Use deep diving crank baits or a ¾ to one ounce jig with a rubber minnow or rubber worm with a twisty tail. The fish were not interested in crawlers or leeches. A couple smallmouth bass were also caught. Boat anglers caught lake trout 80 to 100 feet down in 100 to 220 feet off North Point. Try green and orange spin glows with dodgers or cowbells. A few fish were caught near the can at St. Mary’s Cement.

Traverse City:  Lake trout catches were decent for those trolling or jigging in the East Bay. Ciscoes were caught on jigging spoons in 20 to 70 feet of water. Smallmouth action slowed with the cooler weather. The West Bay had fair lake trout fishing.  Depths were variable. Those jigging caught lake trout and the occasional whitefish.

Elk River:  Smallmouth bass were hitting on crawlers and artificial baits. Catch rates will improve with warmer weather. Steelhead can still be found but most anglers were targeting bass.

Boardman River:  Is producing pike, smallmouth bass, rock bass, perch, carp and suckers. Try crawlers, leeches or plastic baits for smallmouth.

Frankfort:  Brown trout are still hitting between the piers and outside to the elbows. Early morning was best starting about 5 a.m. There is a large number of alewife around the piers. With the cooler than average temperatures, the Chinooks are slow to arrive this year.

Portage Lake:  Bass anglers are having a great time working the beds and along the drop-offs. Anglers reported good catches of bluegill, crappie, sunfish and pumpkinseed. Crawlers worked best. Walleye have slowed but the pike are becoming more active.

Manistee:  Salmon have been caught 50 to 120 feet down in 100 to 200 feet of water. Anglers are using green and blue dolphins or green and blue meat rigs. Pier anglers casting spoons caught a few brown trout.   Lake Cadillac:  Bluegills were on the beds. Anglers are using a piece of crawler or leaf worms. Only a few crappie were caught. The pike action was good however the fish are running small. For walleye, anglers are trolling crawler harnesses in 12 to 16 feet of water.

Lake Mitchell:   Is producing a few crappie for those using minnows. Bluegills were on the beds. Pike are still hitting but the fish are small. Large bowfin were caught.

Ludington:  Salmon action has been hit-or-miss. Fish were caught 60 to 120 feet down in 120 to 140 feet of water with meat rigs or green and orange spoons.

Pentwater:  Anglers caught a mixed bag of Chinook, coho and steelhead 45 to 70 feet down in 90 to 150 feet of water across from the Silver Lake sand dunes. Blue and green were the hot colors.  

 

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