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Northern Michigan fish report


Northeast Lower Peninsula

Salmon runs are nearly done in this area of the state. Though the rivers are receding, heavy rain and flooding last week did cause high water levels in northern Michigan. Fall steelhead should be entering the rivers in better numbers, particularly in the Sturgeon, Pigeon, Ocqueoc, Au Sable, Cheboygan and Thunder Bay rivers.

Alpena: Boats trolling around the cement plant had little luck and only caught a couple smallmouth bass, a whitefish and a steelhead. Those out targeting smallmouth bass reported very slow catch rates. 

Thunder Bay River: Had one gate open at the dam. The river was high with a fast current. Some older salmon in rough shape were still hanging around at the dam. Those casting spoons and plugs or drifting artificial egg patterns and natural spawn did catch some, but several were foul-hooked and released. Atlantic salmon and steelhead should start moving in soon. Try casting spoons or body baits for the Atlantic, while steelhead prefer fresh spawn bags or artificial egg patterns.   

Oscoda: Those out trolling had no success. Pier anglers caught the occasional lake trout, Atlantic salmon, steelhead, walleye and smallmouth bass when casting spoons and body baits. Those floating minnows also caught the odd walleye, bass or burbot. 

Au Sable River: Anglers caught a couple steelhead, Atlantic salmon and late-run Chinook when drifting and floating spawn bags or flies, swinging and stripping streamer flies, or casting spoons and spinners. Most of the salmon have died off. The odd lake trout has been caught as far up as Foote Dam when drifting spawn or trolling plugs.  Down near the mouth, anglers caught a couple walleye and small northern pike when casting jigs and body baits or floating minnows.    

Houghton Lake: Bass, walleye and even bullhead are chasing baitfish up into the shallows. A few boat anglers are starting to catch fish at night. The best bite was about midnight. Crappie are moving into the canals. 

Tawas: Had slow fishing, with only a couple walleye taken by those trolling body baits in 15 feet near Buoy #6. Pier anglers caught a few rock bass on wax worms.    

Tawas River: A couple walleye were caught at Gateway Park when casting body baits at night. 

Au Gres: Had some good catches of perch in 20 to 45 feet with minnows. There were mostly duck hunters down by the Pine River, although a few perch were caught in 15 to 20 feet.

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Northwest Lower Peninsula

Harbor Springs: Those targeting perch have found some fish.      

Petoskey: Had no boats out. The dock at the city boat launch has been pulled for the season. A couple anglers were casting or fishing spawn from the piers, but effort has really dropped. A couple lake trout were caught, but the season is closed. The Bear River had higher water levels. A few anglers fishing at the dam caught small Chinook, a few coho or lake trout. To clarify, the lower boundary of the Bear River is the last foot bridge. Above this foot bridge, lake trout season is open.   

Charlevoix: A couple boats fishing for perch just off the township launch near the cement plant caught a couple keepers when using minnows. Perch fishing should improve in the coming weeks. There was no activity in the channel. Medusa Creek has a few older salmon. The fence, which blocks the creek near the weir, was removed so it is open to fishing once again. 

Traverse City: Cisco fishing was good for those jigging or trolling. Bass fishing has been very slow, with most anglers maybe getting one or two per trip. On the Elk River, the occasional steelhead and lake trout were starting to show up. In the West Bay, the dock at the Clinch Park launch has been pulled for the season. Perch fishing was good out of Northport. In Suttons Bay, catch rates for perch were poor.       

Frankfort: This will be the last report for this area for the season. Steelhead fishing has been steady for pier and shore anglers. Those using spawn are reporting good days and slow days, as the waters were cloudy due to strong winds. Most say it is still worth the time to fish the area. 

Onekama: Those fishing the north shoreline with fresh spawn are getting a couple steelhead when the weather permits. 

Portage Lake: Had a few anglers venture out, and they did manage to catch a few perch on wigglers and worms. 

Manistee: Fishing was generally slower, but some days were still decent. When pier and surf anglers could get out, steelhead and small coho were caught on fresh spawn. Some also caught a couple lake trout or whitefish. 

Manistee River: As the salmon runs are winding down, steelhead fishing should pick up soon, especially with the increase in water levels.    

Ludington: A couple steelhead and coho were caught on spawn by pier anglers and those surfcasting. At the state park, fishing was slow on the Sable River.

Pere Marquette River: Salmon fishing is winding down. A few fish are still being hooked, but most are in bad shape. 

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Upper Peninsula

Keweenaw Bay: Mixed weather brought in mixed bags of fish, as those who got out were rewarded. No limits, but they did catch lake trout, steelhead, splake, coho and the occasional Chinook. A couple boats jigging for lake trout found fish on the bottom.    

Marquette: Has seen a major cold front bringing snow to the area over the last few days, including some areas receiving over a foot of snow. Access points were ice- and snow-covered, but a few boats were still out and caught a couple lake trout at the end of the Lower Harbor breakwall and trolling to the green can. Those out for Menominee reported spotty catch rates. Pier anglers are targeting lake trout that are closer to shore for spawning. While some are getting no fish and others managed to get their limit, they are putting in a lot of time to do so. This is the time of year that many anglers continue to fish the breakwalls as well as the Carp and Chocolay rivers as they target lake trout through deer season. Some also fish late into November, targeting Menominee. 

Little Bay de Noc: Angler participation has been low for several weeks. Most walleye anglers were targeting the reefs near Kipling when trolling a crawler harness or stick baits. Fish were found in and around 20 feet or deeper up to 35 feet. The “Black Bottom” was also producing fish when jigging crawlers or minnows along the weed beds by the east bank.  

Manistique River: The Chinook run should be just about done. Any remaining fish were quite dark and in rough shape. The steelhead are there, and anglers have reported an increase in catches. Most are casting beads or flies near the rapids. The area closest to the dam is closed and posted “no trespassing” so most anglers have only gone as far up as the ORV bridge. Walleye catches tapered off a little, but fish were still being caught when casting crawlers and drifting the current. 

Munising: The weather turned the past few days and was much colder, with highs in the 30s and snowfall. A few anglers fishing off the Anna River dock had no luck.

Raber Bay: Musky were caught along the north shore when trolling a large black and yellow bucktail spinner. Fish can also be found when trolling bucktail spinners from Point Aux Frenes west to the back corner of Raber Bay.   

Detour: No anglers were fishing near the lighthouse or reef. Fair walleye catches were reported north of Detour around Sweets Point. Most were trolling crankbaits behind planer boards in 8 to 12 feet with baits 2 to 4 feet off the bottom. Chrome and blue or black and white were good colors. Bass anglers reported good smallmouth action around Sweets Point when jigging an orange and brown speckled tube jig in 4 to 6 feet off the rock piles and points.

Cedarville and Hessel: There were no reports of yellow perch being caught in Cedarville Bay or in and around the Les Cheneaux Islands. There has not been any effort for pike or walleye throughout the islands. Hessel had no fishing effort at the finger docks in the marina. 

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