Anglers transition into fall season

It’s time to think about fall fishing.

BIG RAPIDS — The DNR points out the transition from summer to fall is one of the best times of year to head out fishing. The large crowds are gone and the fish will soon start a feeding frenzy as they prepare for winter.

The DNR adds on the inland lakes, panfish were found deeper in 12 to 15 feet, and pike are in the shallows along the weed beds.

“I heard that the perch were doing pretty good over the weekend at the Hardy,” Tanner Havens, of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “It sounds like the bluegill guys are still trying to find them, using wax worms. I know guys are still waiting on the salmon.”

“I went out (Sept. 12) to Hillview Lake,” avid angler, Jeff Greene, of Rodney said. “I like to fish out there this time of year in deeper water. I could hardly entice them to bite. I wound up catching 10 bluegills. They were really fussy. They weren’t aggressive.”

In northwest Michigan, in Frankfort, Chinook were still being caught as the fish are moving into the Betsie River at night. Very good numbers of coho were caught in Platte Bay, the DNR said, and pier anglers caught Chinook and coho when casting glow spoons or black spinners early and late.  “The Platte Bay has a ton of coho in it,” Brian Murphy, of the Frankfort Tackle Box, said. “There’s fish being caught out in front (in Lake Michigan),”

Anglers were getting Chinook salmon at Betsie Bay, all the way up to the Homestead Dam, but the action was getting slow.    Portage Lake had cooler temperatures and was bringing on the perch bite. On the west side, fish were hitting on worms in 12 to 18 feet along the west side.  “They’re starting to get some nice salmon off the piers,” Dewey Buchner, of Don’s Sporting Goods in Manistee, said. “The Betsie and Platte Rivers are full of salmon. The Manistee River is starting to get full, all the way up to Tippy. They’re starting to get some nice panfish on Manistee Lake and some big pike.”

Surface water temperatures at Manistee dropped to 60 degrees. Fishing was slowing down, but coho and a few Chinook could still be found in 150 to 200 feet. Chinook were also picked up when trolling in the channel and by pier anglers.  “There’s still plenty of fish at Tippy Dam,” Gordon Park, of Andy’s Tackle Box in Brethren, said. “They’ve been there for weeks. The big word around the county and north, is that we’ve had some big runs. It’s not keeping up. We need a good rain to get the fish in. We don’t have the numbers we should.”

The DNR added at the Manistee River, Chinook and some coho have been caught up near Tippy Dam. The rain and cooler weather was bringing in some fresh fish. Most were using spawn, skein, flies or spoons.

“It’s still salmon in the river,” Chelsea Pete, of Dloop Outfitters in Wellston, said. “It looks like that will continue in the river. We’re looking forward to steelhead coming soon.”    Ludington’s surface water temperatures have cooled to the lower 60’s, the DNR reported, and a few coho, steelhead and lake trout were caught in 180 to 250 feet. Pier anglers were getting a few fish early or late.  Pere Marquette River continues to provide a fair to good number of Chinook salmon including some very large fish.   Chinook, coho and the odd steelhead or lake trout were caught 40 to 80 feet down in 160 to 200 feet at Pentwater.

In eastern Michigan, “It’s been hot weather,” Thomas Bouy from Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare said. “Fish don’t like the hot weather. Salmon fishing has been the big thing but some of that is slowing down. Some guys are chasing panfish. But with temperature decreasing this week, this should change.”

“It hasn’t been good,” Woody Raymond of Sanford’s Sport Shop said. “It’s been pretty slow.”

The DNR provided the following statements on area fishing spots:

Lexington to Port Sanilac:  “Had few reports. The odd pike was caught inside the harbor at Port Sanilac.”

Harbor Beach:  “Lake trout were caught straight out and north of the harbor in 80 to 150 feet. Try dodgers with spin-glo’s near the bottom or spoons off downriggers at various depths. For walleye, try 40 to 90 feet with small spoons or Hot-n-Tots off 3, 5 and 7 colored lines. For bass, try small spoons or body baits close to shore.” Saginaw Bay:  “Strong northeast winds had the bay all stirred up. A few perch were taken in 12 to 15 feet off the Saganing and the Pinconning Bars. Try floating or drifting minnows. The constant northeast winds raised the level of the Saginaw River nearly three feet. As a result, most boat launches along the inner bay were not usable as the docks were underwater. Conditions should improve this week.”

Au Sable River: “Fishing was still slow in the lower river. Smallmouth bass, rock bass, yellow perch and a few undersized walleye were caught by those drifting crawlers. Water temperature in the lower river was in the low 70s.”Houghton Lake: “Fishing is slow as water clarity has been low since the storms and strong winds. The bite should pick up once the lake settles down. The best bite was in the canals where bluegills were caught on leeches and wax worms or bass on tube baits and rubber worms. The odd pike was found in the weed beds.”Tawas: “Those trolling up in the armpit of Tawas Bay did manage to catch the odd walleye when trolling with planer boards.”




Posted by John Raffel

John is a sports reporter with the Pioneer as well as the Herald Review and The Lake County Star. He also coordinates the weekly Pioneer sports outdoors page. He can be reached at (231) 592-8356 or by email at

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