Anglers set for memorable Memorial Day weekend

Anglers are ready for plenty of action this weekend. (Pioneer file photo)

BIG RAPIDS — The DNR notes this Saturday is the large and smallmouth bass opener on the Great Lakes and inland waters. Catch-and-release anglers have caught a fair number, but the late spring has slowed the spawning activity, the DNR said.

In Mecosta County, “it’s slower right now,” Dustin Hammer, of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, said. “But bass season opens (on Saturday). The bass aren’t spawning yet. The walleyes are biting over by 131. They’re getting some crappies on Hardy and some trout below Croton.”

In Osceola County, “we’ve been busy, it’s Memorial Day weekend,” Zach Nicklas, of Buck Country Bait store in LeRoy said. “Everyone is coming in and getting crawlers and everything. We should be busy. We’ve been steady. Rose Lake campground is already booked up and full. The bass and gills are doing a lot right now, especially up in the shallows.”

The DNR reports lake trout were caught in Onekama by those trolling body baits in 20 to 25 feet in the early morning.

“They’re getting a few salmon and stuff out in the big lake,” Dewey Buchner, of Don’s Sporting Goods, in Manistee, said. “There haven’t been a lot of people going out because of the weather. Pike has been all right on Manistee Lake. That’s about all I’ve heard.”

At Portage Lake, the DNR said perch anglers reported nice catches around the barge and the mouth by using minnows, wigglers and worms. Bass anglers said there were cooler water temperatures, but a few fish were on the beds.

Lakes Cadillac and Mitchell had no signs of bass spawning yet since the water is still too cold, the DNR said. Walleyes have been biting on both sides. Walleye and large bullhead were found in the canal between the two lakes.

“The water is continuing to warm up but they’re still catching steelhead below Tippy Dam,” Rob Eckerson, of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston said. “That’s probably been our main thing going on still. He inland lakes have been warming up. The bluegills are moving in shallow. They’re starting to catch some perch and crappies. There’s not much yet for pike hatches for fly fishermen but the nights have been warmer so we are making progress.z’

The DNR said, in Manistee, surface temperature readings were about 42 degrees. Not many Chinook salmon were caught but the lake trout fishing was still good. Both salmon and lake trout were caught in 30 to 60 feet. The wind was challenging for anglers.

“The salmon are starting to show up but not a lot,” Larry Scharich, of Shipwatch Marina of Manistee, said. “They’re catching quite a few lake trout.”

Crappie were caught at Hamlin Lake by those drifting minnows in front of Indian Pete’s Bayou and the scout camp, the DNR said, adding the bluegill and sunfish bite was slow but a few were caught near Tamarac Village and in front of the scout camp with crawlers or wax worms.

Anglers at Frankfort caught several Chinook salmon and lake trout, but the weather has limited fishing, the DNR said.

“The smallmouth are on their beds,” Christine Murphy, of the Frankfort Tackle Box, said. “It started last weekend. There’s lake trout in Lake Michigan. Crystal Lake has some perch going on it, some lake trout and rainbow. There’s plenty of rock bass. Lower and Upper Herring Lake have crappies and bluegills.

Surface temperature readings at Ludington were up near 45 degrees and pier fishing was slow. Lake trout fishing was hot, the DNR said, as those out trolling reported limit catches taken in 30 to 60 feet in just a few hours. A couple Chinook salmon were also caught.

Fishing Tip: Fishing for the holiday weekend

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Hoping to get outdoors to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend? Why not go fishing? Whether you’re new to the sport or an experienced angler – there’s plenty of fun to be had on the water this weekend! Here’s what you can do:

•Decide where you want to fish.

Want to fish the Great Lakes? Check out our Roadmaps to Fishing the Great Lakes to see what might be porting at ports located on lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.

Want to fish inland lakes? Our management units have lists of great places to visit and what you might catch there. Or heading out as a family? Check out our Family Friendly Fishing Waters web application to find the perfect spot.

•Decide what you want to fish for.

Have a particular species you want to target? Check out our species pages found at Knowing specific techniques to use when targeting certain species can be very helpful.

•Know the rules and regulations.

Make sure you download the electronic version of the 2019 Michigan Fishing Guideor pick up a hard copy wherever fishing licenses are sold. Having a copy means you’ll have information regarding seasons, size limits, possession limits and other items.

•Buy your license.

Save time and buy it online! Anyone age 17 or older must have a valid Michigan fishing license when heading out.


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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