Southeast Michigan fishing report and tips for hot-weather pike fishing
The storms and cooler temperatures have changed fishing dynamics during the past week or two. Shifting winds and colder water temps along shorelines have moved trout and salmon closer inshore, within range of smaller boats and people fishing off of pierheads.
Southeastern Michigan fishing report
Lake Erie: Still producing walleye off Fermi and in Brest Bay in 16 to 18 feet of water (FOW). Perch are being taken at various depths and locations, with most in shallow waters around Stony Point, Brest Bay and Raisin River Buoys 1 & 2. Anglers launching from Bolles Harbor found good numbers of perch in 18 FOW around the E Buoy and 16 FOW off Toledo Beach.
Huron River: Water levels are low from Huroc Park to the mouth. Most anglers are shore fishing for smallmouth bass and catfish, with carp and gar crusing shallow backwaters.
Detroit River: A few walleye are being caught below Sugar Island. Anglers are jigging or bottom bouncing with crawler harnesses. Perch were reported around Rat Island. Good smallmouth bass action near Sugar Island and the Cross Dike.
Lake St. Clair: Significant walleye activity in the south end near the Dumping Grounds. Most are drifting crawler harnesses.
Lexington: Perch are hitting five to six miles south in 18 FOW. Pier anglers have caught northern pike and white bass.
Port Sanilac: Perch fishing is spotty but it can be very good if you happen to be in the right spot. Chinook, coho and steelhead were caught in 60 to 90 FOW.
Harbor Beach: Salmon fishing is good in 60 to 100 FOW with spoons, dipeys, downrigger and 5 or 10 colors of leadcore with offshore boards. Green, orange with glow ladder back or watermelon were good colors. Fair lake trout fishing in 80 to 120 FOW with spin-glows, squid or flies near the bottom. Green, orange and black or yellow were good colors. Steelhead were caught on color lines in 50 to 100 FOW with the same colors. For downriggers, set spoons 25 to 60 feet down. Brown trout were north and south of the harbor. For walleye, fish north of the harbor at first light in 50 to 70 FOW with crawler harnesses, small spoons or body baits. For perch, try inside the harbor or south of the port. Pike and bass were taking spoons or body baits inside the harbor walls.
Grindstone City: Lake trout and a couple steelhead were caught just off the bottom in 80 to 100 FOW. Trolling crank baits in 35 FOW produced decent numbers of smallmouth bass.
Saginaw Bay: Walleye fishing is pretty much confined to the area north and west of Buoys 1 & 2. Perch are starting to bite around the Spark Plug and the Black Hole. Quanicassee, Sebewaing and Bay Port had few anglers. At Caseville, smallmouth bass were caught off the end of the pier on worms or minnows under a slip bobber.
Flint River: Is producing bluegill and catfish below the Holloway Reservoir Dam.
Mott Lake: Anglers have caught a few small bluegills and the occasional bass.
Lake Fenton: Some large crappie were caught by those fishing in deeper water when boat traffic was light. Some nice catfish were also caught.
Weekly Fishing Tip: Fishing for Northern Pike in the Summer Heat
Northern pike are another species that can be especially difficult to catch during the hot summer months. A common (and totally false) oldtimers’ tale says that pike stop biting in the summer because their teeth fall out during periods of hot weather. Pike seek respite in deep, cool water when summer weather turns torpid. Don’t mistake this lack of shallow water action for pike being inactive. These aggressive fish are opportunistic feeders that will take full advantage of any chance to inhale a smaller fish. You can use this to your advantage, just consider your presentation and the areas you want to fish.
A few easy things you can do to increase your success at catching northern pike this August:
1. Understand northern pike habitat. Pike prefer cool water, spring beds, inlets and deep water so be on the lookout for these when you hit the water. A bathymetric (bottom contour) map of your chosen water body can help you determine which areas have sharp drop-offs. Concentrate your fishing efforts on these areas.
2. Remember that northern pike are visual feeders. Choose your fly or lure wisely. Large, flashy streamers that push water when stripped work well in shallow water, or pulled through deep areas and drop-offs. Dropshot rigs with amnesia and a quarter or third-ounce weight can allow you to fish a streamer or minnow pattern to suspended pike. Northern pike can also be caught on live bait (such as suckers or large shiners).
3. Watch for flashes or follows when fishing in areas where you’ve caught pike before. Like other large predatory fish species, pike strikes can be triggered by a lure or bait’s speed over distance. If you hook a bass or large panfish, that first run can get a pike off the bottom and chasing your catch. I’ve hooked bass and watched as they ran and got intercepted by a pike that were laying in wait. Pay attention to where this happens – the pike may be laying over a bottom spring or other source of cold, oxygenated water. There’s a good chance that if the hot weather continues, Mr. Esox will be hanging around that spot next time you’re out to wet a line.
4. ALWAYS fish above the pike. Pike are built for short, explosive ambushes from below and behind their prey. The long, undershot jaw and eyes positioned on top of the head make it easy for the pike to lay low among weeds and bottom structure, looking up and waiting for their next meal to swim by overhead. For this reason, it is possible to fish below pike, especially those that are cruising. Be sure to fish so that you’re not picking up weeds on every cast – it’s better to have your fly or lure above the pike rather than dragging bottom near or below it.
If you choose to harvest a few pike, remember that the hens (females) tend to be larger on average and less numerous than the jacks (males). Keeping a few smaller males (while obeying any size/possession limits) frees up space and food for other predators in the lake. Take special care to avoid overhandling any pike that you are going to release. Not only does this protect the pike from injury, it protects your hands and fingers from the pike’s large teeth. Tight lines!