Anglers battling the elements

BIG RAPIDS — The DNR reports gale warnings have kept boat anglers off the Great Lakes. The DNR added strong wave action is making it dangerous on the piers keeping those anglers on shore. But fish are being caught.

Chinook runs are winding down and the remaining fish are deteriorating. Steelhead fishing is expected to improve.

“Salmon is pretty much done,” Warren Elka of Triggertime Outfitters in Big Rapids said. “Steelhead are starting to come up.”

“They’ve been doing pretty good on the river lately,” Tanner Havens of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “They just had a tournament last weekend and it sounds like the guys did pretty good. They were catching some good-sized perch up by Davis Bridge. Brower’s Park has been a good one for walleyes. I had a guy going to catch bluegills at Croton in deeper water.”

In northwest Michigan, the Platte River still had some coho and Chinook, the DNR said, adding the Chinook are mostly being released since they were in bad shape.

Steelhead at Frankfort have started to move in around the piers and along the shore line, the DNR said, adding the morning bite was good with anglers using fresh spawn. A few small coho were being caught off the piers.

“A Master Angler steelhead, huge, was caught from the pier,” Christine Murphy, of Frankfort Tackle Box said. “It’s been real windy.”

Chinook salmon at the Betsie River were reported at the Homestead Dam but they are spawned out and deteriorating.

Perch fishing was starting to pick up out in front of the city launch at Portage Lake, the DNR said. Minnows, red worms and wax worms were working well for anglers fishing in 18 to 22 feet.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot going on here lately,” Larry Scharich of Shipwatch Marina, in Manistee, said. “There’s too much wind. The wind blows every day. It’s been slow. I think they’re getting fish in the river. Lake fishing is at a standstill.”

Surface temperature readings were about 52 degrees at Manistee. Pier fishing was starting to heat up with steelhead taken on spawn. Some whitefish were taken by those using spawn off the north pier.

“Right now, people are going beach fishing and pier fishing for steelhead,” Kristen Loeffler of Don’s Sporting Goods said. “I’ve heard people are going to the Manistee for salmon. I’ve heard there’s some perch being caught at Manistee Lake and Portage.”

The Chinook salmon are on the downswing at the Manistee River, the DNR said. They are dark and actively spawning, the DNR said, adding the Atlantics appear to be waiting for their turn on the gravel.

“There’s good number of steelhead in the river,” Chelsea Pete, of DLoop Outfitters in Wellston said. “They’re using nymph and egg patterns. Water temperature will drop as the weather gets colder.”

A good number of coho at the Big Sable remain between the foot bridge and the dam, the DNR said, adding more anglers are starting to catch them using thunder sticks, Cleo’s and spinners.

When the weather allows, steelhead and a small number of coho were caught off both piers by those using spawn at Ludington, the DNR said.

The Chinook salmon run is just about done at the Pere Marquette River, the DNR said. The remaining fish are now spawning and will deteriorate quickly, but anglers will find some coho along with a fair to good number of steelhead.

Strong winds have limited fishing opportunities at Pentwater, the DNR said, but pier anglers still-fishing with spawn got the occasional steelhead or coho in the early morning.

In eastern Michigan, “salmon is slowing down,” Jeff Throop of Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare, said. “Steelhead is starting to pick up. The time to fish for big bass is now. That’s when they’re going to bite.”

“Guides aren’t getting out to the bay,” Woody Raymond of Sanford Sport Shop said. “We’ve had too much wind.”

The DNR provided the following statements on area waters:

Lexington to Port Sanilac: Atlantic salmon are in the harbor at Lexington however they were not biting for the most part. Only one or two fish were caught daily. Walleye were caught from the breakwalls after midnight when casting spoons or body baits. At Port Sanilac, walleye were caught when casting outside the breakwalls.

Harbor Beach: “Was also producing walleye off the breakwalls.

Port Austin: “Walleye were caught starting around 1 a.m. when casting spoons and body baits off the breakwalls.

Saginaw Bay: “Had another poor week of fishing. When the weather improved, the fish did not cooperate. A few perch were caught off Linwood in 12 feet, between the Saganing and Pinconning Bars in 15 to 20 feet, near Spoils Island, the old shipping channel and the Spark Plug. A couple lucky anglers got limit catches eight to 10 miles out from Quanicassee however most had single digits only.

Saginaw River: “A few perch were caught near the old cement plant in Essexville. One decent catch of walleye was taken right at the mouth.”





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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