Local fishing action is picking up

Fishing activity should be solid this weekend. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — Walleye and pike season for the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters and the St. Marys River opened on May 15, the DNR reported, adding trout fishing was still slow in the northern regions due to the cold nights and cold river temperatures. The action should pick up in the next week or two, the DNR indicated.

In Mecosta County, “they’re catching some walleyes on the river,” a spokesman at Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “Crappies and bluegills are starting to bite. The lakes around here, the bluegills are moving to the shallows.”

In Osceola County, “people are starting to make it out quite a bit now,” Brad Cox, of Big Buck Country Bait & Tackle said. “Guys are starting to get crappies that have spawned or are spawning.”

Frankfort had solid numbers of lake trout hitting on spoons and body baits in the harbor and along the shoreline, the DNR said. Brown trout and Chinook salmon were also reported now that water temperatures were in the low 40’s and climbing.

“There’s walleye in upper Herring Lake and lake trout on the big lake in 50 to 65 feet of water, north and south,” Christine Murphy of the Frankfort Tackle Box, said. “Crystal Lake has been producing perch. All the inland lakes have crappies and bass.”

Portage Lake had water levels which were a little higher at Portage Lake, the DNR said, but anglers caught a respectable number of perch near the channel. The bigger fish were hitting on minnows. Those targeting walleye reported some activity, but not many were found, the DNR said.

Surface water temperatures were holding near 40 degrees at Manistee, the DNR said. Lake trout fishing was very good in 30 to 60 feet. A small number of Chinook salmon were also coming in, the DNR said, adding pier fishing was slow but night fishermen got a decent number of walleye at night.

“Bass fishing is really starting to take off,” Chelsea Pete, of DLoop Outfitters of Wellston said. “Trout fishing below the dam has been phenomenal. You can expect hatches to be later afternoon and early.”

Steelhead are still being caught at the Manistee River, mainly on the gravel. Most are bottom bouncing with spawn or using beads and nymphs. Brown trout were caught.

“They’re still fishing for steelhead at Tippy Dam and Big Manistee,” Rob Eckerson, of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston, said. “Water temps have bumped up to 53. Conditions are very good. Inland lakes are starting to blossom with warm temperatures. Bluegills are in the shallows and they’re getting perch. The transition is starting to come.”

Surface water temperatures were near 40 degrees at Ludington, the DNR said. Lake trout fishing is on fire right now, with fish caught in 30 to 60 feet. Many were coming in with limit catches in a matter of hours, the DNR said, adding the best fishing was south of the port. A small number of Chinook salmon were also caught. Pier fishing was slow.

“They’re catching crappies at Manistee Lake,” Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co., said “The perch out on a Portage lake is getting started. They’re getting nice walleye out of the main river channel. There’s still lots of lake trout being caught on the big lake. A few kings are starting to show up. They’re getting some brown trout on the big lake.”

Fishing Tip: Taking great catch-and-release photos

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Are you an avid catch-and-release angler? Do you like to take photos of the fish you catch, prior to returning them to the water? Do you know the safest way to take these photos so you ensure the fish can live to be caught another day?

Wet your hands before you handle the fish – that way you won’t remove any of the protective mucus (aka slime) the fish has coating their body. Remember a fish can not breathe out of water, so they will become uncomfortable rather quickly. Keep the fish in the water until your camera is ready to take the shot.

Take the photo with the fish close to the water, that way if it squirms out of your hands it will land in the water – not on a hard surface.

While holding a fish do not pinch or squeeze it and do not stick your fingers in its gills. Be mindful of the different kinds of fish that have teeth and/or spines that could stick you.

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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 jraffel@pioneergroup.com.

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