Salmon, trout fishing remain strong

Is fall fishing winding down?

BIG RAPIDS —  The cool wet weather has helped bring salmon and trout close to shore, the DNR reports, and up into the rivers, but the bite has been a bit slow.

“The perch is good and from what I’ve been hearing over the weekend, they’ve been doing good on walleyes,” Tanner Havens of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “It sounds like bluegills (and crappies) have been picking up over by Brower’s Park. The perch they’re getting from 4 to 8 feet deep. Guys using wigglers and minnows say they’re excited at the size of fish they’re getting. It sounds like the fishing has been good, even with the nasty weather.”

“With all the rain we’ve had and the water, it’s been kind of slow,” Warren Elka, of Triggertime Outfitters in Big Rapids, said.

In northwest Michigan, at the Platte River, the DNR said there’s good numbers of fish below the Lower Weir which has provided some good fishing in the lower river. Fish are being found down near the mouth when casting.

Those trolling and jigging in Betsie Bay or fishing at the tubes are getting a few Chinook salmon in the Frankfort area. Coho were stacked in Platte Bay, the DNR said, and ready to run but the bite was slow.

Anglers from the Homestead Dam are reporting lower numbers of Chinook and the fish are darker at the Betsie River.

“They’re starting to catch steelhead at Frankfort and off the pier, and a few silver salmon,” Christine Murphy at Frankfort Tackle Box, said. “We did have a push of salmon a few nights ago in the Betsie River. They’re starting to catch perch at Crystal Lake. Platte River is full of coho.”

At Portage Lake, anglers got some good size perch in 18 to 22 feet in front of the city launch and at the mouth of the channel. Minnows were being used to have success.

“We have steelhead in the big river starting to move in,” Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangle Tackle Co. in Manistee said. “A few coho are being caught off the pier. It’s kind of a good time to be here.”

Surface temperature readings at Manistee were about 56 degrees, the DNR said, and the fish cleaning station is now closed. Anglers were able to catch a few coho when trolling artificial lures in the harbor.

“We are starting to see more steelhead in the river,” Chelsea Pete of Dloop Outfitters, in Wellston, said. “You can still find trout. The salmon bite is starting to die down. There’s still a couple hanging around.”

Manistee River had a good run of coho at Tippy Dam and fishermen are getting a few brown trout, some walleye and the occasional pike.

“Salmon fish at Tippy Dam, the Big Manistee, is approaching its peak,” Rob Eckerson of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston, said. “Water temps is below 60. The flow is up, but we’re not high. They’ve taken eggs on the Little Manistee, another indication salmon fishing is approaching its peak. There’s still some pan fishing around. Most people are focusing on salmon.”

The Big Sable River had a good run of coho salmon.

Surface temperature readings were about 58 degrees at Ludington, the DNR said. Fishing had been slow with only a small number of Chinook and coho taken by those trolling in the harbor and around the pierheads, the DNR added.

Pere Marquette River still has decent salmon fishing, the DNR said, and anglers are also catching steelhead.

At Pentwater, salmon anglers casting spoons from the pierheads say fishing is slow.

In eastern Michigan, “panfish activity is starting to pick up,” D.J. Powell of Jay’s Sporting Goods, in Clare, said. “Pike fishing is doing pretty good. Salmon are moving toward the Lake Michigan port. On the Muskegon River, it’s good for walleye pike and bass.”

“I don’t suppose it’s doing that good because the lakes are down,” a spokesman at Sanford Sport Shop said.

The DNR offered the following information on key area spots:

Lexington to Port Sanilac: “The thermocline was all over the place and the fish were scattered. Minnows are just starting to come into the harbors. Atlantic salmon have shown up in the Lexington Harbor and one or two have been caught each day on small spoons. Night anglers caught walleye off the breakwall at Port Sanilac when casting small spoons and body baits.”

Port Austin: “Fishing was almost non-existent and the few boats that did go out got skunked. Windy conditions had the thermocline all over the place. Minnows are just starting to come into the harbor.”

Harbor Beach: “Had few anglers. A couple walleye were taken by those casting small spoons or body baits at night.”

Saginaw Bay: “Another windy and rainy week so few anglers were out. A couple perch were caught off the Saganing and Pinconning Bars as well as off the mouth of the Pine River in 10 to 15 feet. Off Linwood, perch were taken out in 17 feet. The fish were running 10-12 inches but no big numbers. Perch were also found near Sailboat Buoy F, northeast of Spoils Island in 15 feet and along the old shipping channel in 17 feet. The old shipping channel produced the best catches when boats could get out there. On the east side, a couple largemouth bass were caught close to shore. Shore anglers between Quanicassee and Bay Port caught some bluegills. One walleye was taken in the marina at Sebewaing.”



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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