FISHING REPORT: Bass, panfish biting just in time for Free Weekend

MANISTEE — The DNR reports fishing activity is heating up and most fish are following suit. Inland lakes are hot spots for panfish and bass right now while most rivers are offering walleye, northern pike and bass opportunities.

This also marks free fishing weekend across the state.

In northwest Michigan, good bass and bluegill fishing has been reported on most inland lakes.

“They’re getting panfish,” Ron Eckerson. of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston, said. “The bluegills are starting to bed in the smaller lakes. Alll species are open at this point. We’re waiting for summer steelhead with skamania to show up at Tippy Dam. That’s not been confirmed yet.

Anglers trolling north and south at Onekama were getting Chinook salmon 40 to 80 feet down in 120 to 150 feet with green flies and spoons, the DNR said, adding the early morning bite was yielding some big Chinook and good catches of lake trout in and around the “Barrel.”

“The rivers are down and clearing,” Nick Homan, of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston, said, “and looking good. We’re seeing hatches at night now. Everything is getting ready to start.”

As of June 4, at Arcadia, the mayflies had not shown up yet so the fish were hungry and the bite was good. Bass anglers were getting respectable sizes and numbers across the lake. Perch were reported out near the buoy in 18 to 25 feet while bluegills were on the beds along the west end.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell lakes were having good bass fishing with live and soft plastic baits doing the trick. Bluegills are in the shallows.  Boat anglers are still getting the occasional walleye when trolling a crawler harness or rapala.      

Surface temperatures dropped to 50 degrees at Manistee. Boat fishermen were still getting a fair number of Chinook on spoons in 130 to 250 feet. Lots of steelhead and lake trout were also caught. Pier fishing was very slow because of the large number of baitfish in the harbor. The south pier remains closed.

“Bluegills are still on beds in all surrounding lakes,” Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co., of Manistee said.

The Chinook at Frankfort seem to have moved to deeper water this week with anglers reporting good early morning catches, and there were also steelhead and lake trout in 120 to 150 feet. Steelhead were hitting on two color with orange crush, lake trout near the bottom with spin-n-glows, and Chinook were hitting blue and green spoons and flies 40 to 80 feet down.

“The big lake has been on fire the last couple of days,” Jason Ruterbusch, of Frankfort Tackle Box said. “It seems like every boat is getting some bites from kings, which is nice to see. Fishing (Friday morning) was pretty good.”

Arcadia Lake’s pike anglers were getting limit catches when trolling or casting body baits and were getting some very large bowfin. A few perch and some bluegills are also being caught.

Surface water temperate readings were at about 51 degrees at Ludington, but some anglers had success trolling in the harbor. Chinook, browns and steelhead were caught by trolling using spoons.

Boats at Pentwater were trolling 25 to 70 feet down in 120 to 180 feet and caught salmon and steelhead.

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