The dog days of summer have been here for the past few weeks, with predictable results on the fishing front.
The hot, humid weather of mid-summer alters fish behavior significantly. Anglers need to change tactics accordingly, or at least be willing to test different retrieves, depths and areas fished until fish start cooperating. Bass, pike, walleye, trout and salmon tend to seek deeper water when temperatures climb and stay high. Anglers fishing inland lakes or impoundments will want to concentrate on drop-offs, flooded river channels or locating the thermocline (defined on http://www.thefreedictionary.com as ‘the layer in a large body of water, such as a lake, that sharply separates regions differing in temperature, so that the temperature gradient across the layer is abrupt’). People fishing rivers may have better success when cooler weather returns, as gamefish are more susceptible to stress when they lack deep, cold areas for shelter.
Southeast Michigan Fishing Report – week ending July 27, 2012.
Inland lakes: Bass fishing has been hot and heavy. Try dropshotting along drop-offs and deeper areas during mid-day. Big poppers or divers fished on the surface, along seawalls and heavy cover frequently produce, especially at dawn and dusk. Bluegills and sunfish on their beds can be taken with small elkhair caddis, fished wet and drifted through bedding areas. For fast and furious action, fish two flies in this fashion on your favorite 4 weight stick.
Lake Erie: Fishing seems best following three or more days of consistent weather. Walleye action has been slow with most anglers heading out between the Banana Dike and Fermi and fishing 19-23 feet of water (FOW). Some walleye were found near Detroit Edison in 18-24 FOW. Decent catches of perch were had near the E-Buoy and Toledo Beach in 15-20 FOW. Hot colors were pink and purple.
Detroit River: Walleye were caught by hand-lining with rapalas in the lower river at night. Smallmouth bass have been taken casting around rocky points. Deep-diving lures, rubber worms and large Clouser minnnows fished on heavy sinktips accounted for the most fish.
Huron River: Smallmouth bass, channel catfish and freshwater drum are all being taken on worms, minnows, poppers and plugs. Crappie and panfish can be taken in the back channel of HuRoc Park in downtown Flat Rock. Some schools of longnose gar can also be seen skimming the surface in backwater or slack areas. Sparsely tied minnow patterns can sometimes fool the gar into biting – getting a hook into their bony jaws is another story entirely. Extra strands of Krystal Flash or polyester rope fibers (white or red) in the fly’s body can help entangle this prehistoric species teeth, allowing you to land and admire your prize. Be prepared for hard fast runs and cartwheeling jumps when you finally snare one.
Lake St. Clair: Walleye and yellow perch were caught on trolled crawler harnesses and bottom bouncers in the shipping channel from the St. Clair Light to Gull Island. Some bass were also caught. Many had great success for smallmouth bass in deeper water with a jig or tube baits. Anchor Bay has had musky activity in select spots, including heartstopping follows on large ugly streamers ripped through the water at arm-wrenching speed.
St. Clair River: Walleye activity is hit or miss with the better fishing in the early morning or late evening. Hand-liners working deep water did best. Activity on the Canadian side seems to be a little better.
Lexington: Trout and salmon are being taken in water up to 160 feet deep. Pier anglers caught walleye off the breakwall when casting crank baits at dawn and dusk.
Port Sanilac: Anglers are taking trout and salmon trolling in 80-160 FOW. Hot temperatures and strong winds move surface water around, with fish changing locations accordingly. Perch fishing was spotty; some days were good while others were not.
Harbor Beach: Trolling accounted for a mix of pink salmon, lake trout, steelhead and an occasional coho in 100-160 FOW.
Grindstone City: Walleye fishing has slowed, and will get better when the weather stabilizes. Some fish were caught in 20-50 FOW.
Saginaw Bay: Those trolling out of Linwood or the mouth of the Saginaw River were fishing north of Buoys 1 & 2. Buoy 8 produced some fish. Channel catfish are coming from the Hot Ponds, with a chance to take a cat on a big crayfish fly or baitfish imitation. This rare flyfishing opportunity should be taken advantage of. Anglers trolling from Quanicassee, Sunset Bay, Sebewaing and Bay Port are forsaking the Slot and crossing over the “Bar” to fish the deeper waters along the east side of the shipping channel. Walleye fishing has slowed with some anglers taking a few fish per trip.
Saginaw River: Shore anglers at Essexville are getting channel cats, freshwater drum and smallmouth bass.
Weekly Fishing Tip: Fish Kills can be caused by extreme heat and drought
After three weeks of extremely hot weather, numerous fish kills have been reported around the state. Michigan DNR Fisheries Division staff are tracking and monitoring these events.
The combination of high water temperatures and drought conditions can make conditions stressful for fish. High water temperatures result in low dissolved oxygen levels, particularly in areas with lots of vegetation. The overall effects of these events can be very localized and may not significantly change overall population numbers. However, effects on population numbers are not known at this time and will take time to fully evaluate.
Keep the following tips in mind when fishing, to avoid stressing fish
- Use circle hooks when fishing with live bait – reduce chances of deep-hooking a fish.
- Avoid light tackle that results in prolonged fights – low oxygen levels can make it impossible to revive a gamefish after a long battle.
- Be careful when handling fish prior to release. Cut the line if the fish is hooked deeply, hold fish upside down to unhook them, etc. This keeps stress to a minimum.
- Don’t keep fish out of the water longer than you can hold your breath.
- Do not keep fish in a bucket or livewell if you intend to release them.
- Avoid fishing during the hottest parts of the day. Fishing at dusk and dawn offers the coolest water temperatures.
- Take the 70 degree pledge when fishing for trout and other coldwater species. These species require cold water and the oxygen it provides. Many guides test water temps through the day, and stop fishing if the readings rise above 70 degrees. More details on this can be found at www.70degreepledge.org.
If you have information regarding a fish kill, please email DNR-FISH-Report-Fish-Kills@michigan.gov. If you suspect a fish kill is caused by non-natural causes, please call your nearest DNR office or Michigan’s Pollution Emergency Alert System at 1-800-292-4706.