Making summer pike fishing worthwhile

August 28, 2014

Weekly Fishing Tip: Catching big pike in the summer
Most anglers consider winter the best time to catch a trophy-sized pike, but following a few key pointers can make summer pike fishing worthwhile.

When it’s very warm out think about where pike will hide – places with cooler water. These spots include along the thermocline, where coldwater streams/rivers flow into lakes, or around springs.

Look for water bodies that aren’t densely populated with pike so those present may have a chance to grow fairly large. Also consider locations that have special regulations (size limits).

Lastly, focus on water bodies that have a good pike forage base – particularly other species that prefer cooler water.

Want to learn even more about fishing for northern pike? Check out their page on the Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them website.

This tip was adapted from Michigan Outdoor News.
Salmon movement into the rivers is still on the light side but it won’t be long. The inland lakes are producing panfish, bass and pike. The upcoming holiday weekend should have plenty of fishing opportunities for all.


Lake Erie: The walleye bite slowed but a few fish were caught early morning or at night in Brest Bay and near the Raisin River Buoys in water as shallow as 10 feet.  Try Hot-n-Tots or wiggle warts.  Those perch fishing caught the occasional walleye.  For perch, try straight off Stony Point and up to the Fermi Power Plant in 24 to 26 feet.  Lots of perch were caught at the E-buoy but many were small.  Try bigger minnows to avoid the small perch and fish near the bottom to avoid white bass and white perch.

Detroit River:  Was producing some nice perch about a mile south of Celeron Island.  Most are using minnows in 14 feet or so.  A few walleye were caught near the Trenton Power Plant on the Grosse Ile side.

Portage Chain-of-Lakes:  Fishing was slow.  Those fishing the river mouths and bends between the lakes did best.  The bass bite was slow so try slow presentations in 10 to 15 feet.  The bluegills moved to deeper water so try fishing near the bottom with a slip bobber and worm.

Lake St. Clair:  Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good in the Michigan waters.  Some of the best reports are from water over 17 feet deep along the shipping channel and off the mile roads.  Perch anglers say the bigger fish are scattered but decent catches came from the Dumping Grounds and along the shipping channel.

St. Clair River:  Walleye fishing has been very good in the upper river for wire-liners.
Fish were also caught by those trolling crawler harnesses near Algonac and Marine City.  Sturgeon fishing picked up with good reports from the North Channel near Algonac and Pearl Beach.
Muskie fishing was very good along the weedy edges of the North and Middle Channels.  Perch fishing was productive along the weed edges in the channels.

Lexington and Port Sanilac:  Those trolling caught steelhead, lake trout and pink salmon in 100 feet or more.  Some steelhead and the odd walleye were caught in 60 to 80 feet.  Pier fishing was slow with a few small pike caught at Lexington.

Harbor Beach:  Salmon and steelhead were caught in 80 to 130 feet straight out or north of the harbor.  Run spoons off downriggers and also on 2, 3 and 5 color lead lines and offshore boards.  Bright orange and black, copper, green or black and white were good colors.   For lake trout, head straight out and fish 90 to 120 feet down in 120 to 130 feet with spoons or dodgers with spin-glows.  A few walleye were caught on crawler harnesses, small spoons or Hot-n-Tots in 80 to 90 feet.  Good colors were lime green, copper, black and orange, black and white or mixed veggie.  A few perch were caught on minnows near the gap in the breakwall.

Grindstone City:  A few walleye were caught in 40 to 50 feet here and at Port Austin.  Catch rates have slowed.  Those trolling found steelhead, lake trout, pink salmon and a couple Chinook in 135 feet.

Saginaw Bay:  Fishing was a little better however the action is clearly in “August Mode”.  Walleye fishing has slowed substantially, but persistent anglers can still find a few fish west of the Spark Plug (Buoys 11 & 12), in the southern end of the Slot from Quanicassee to Fish Point, over the Bar and out near Buoys 1 & 2.   The average was 3 to 5 fish per boat.  Fall perch fishing has yet to begin, and pier fishing is slow.  Smallmouth bass were caught off the Charity Islands.  Channel cats were taken from the Hot Pond and shore anglers at Essexville continue to catch a mix of bass, catfish and freshwater drum.

St. Joseph:  
Perch fishing is very inconsistent as the fish seem to be scattered in 30 to 70 feet.  Salmon fishing was decent with most fish taken in the early morning in 90 to 120 feet.  Pier fishing was slow.   

St. Joseph River:  Continues to provide good smallmouth bass fishing.   

Dowagiac River:  Skamania steelhead are hitting in the lower river below the Pucker Street Dam. 

South Haven:  Perch anglers are fishing as shallow as 20 feet or as deep as 60 feet but catch rates were not consistent.  Salmon fishing was good when using spoons in 80 to 90 feet in the early morning.  Pier fishing was slow.  

Kalamazoo River:  Has good smallmouth bass fishing when the water clears.  There is still some dredging going on so stay upstream of Marshall or downstream of Kalamazoo for the best water conditions. 

Gun Lake:  Was producing largemouth bass in Robins Bay and Pickerel Cove. 

Port Sheldon:  Was producing a mix of Chinook, coho and steelhead in 165 feet. 

Grand Haven:  The water warmed up.  Salmon anglers were fishing 70 to 105 feet down in 80 to 160 feet and setting wire divers out 220 to 240 feet.  The better bite was on white paddles and spinnies with green, blue, UV or green and blue flies but some were also using meat rigs in UV greens and yellows.  A few fish were taken on J-plugs, “Atomics” and glow spoons.  No perch with the warm water.  

Grand River at Grand Rapids:  Anglers are finding steelhead and the occasional salmon.  Pike have been caught throughout the river.  Those drifting crawlers with a #7 split shot have caught a few walleye.  Panfish were caught at Millennium Park. 

Grand River near Lansing:  Had good largemouth bass action for boat anglers fishing between Moore’s Park and Dimondale.  Most are using golden shiners or artificial minnows.  The smallmouth and catfish bite has slowed.  Those looking for bluegills and crappie might want to try fishing the deeper water.  

Reeds Lake:  Continues to produce bluegills and crappie.  Most are using leaf worms and wax worms.  

Muskegon:   Is fishing the same as Grand Haven because of the warm water.  Put white paddles and spinnies with blue and green flies 70 to 100 feet down in 80 to 160 feet.  Those using meat rigs and J-plugs have also caught fish.  Green and yellow were good colors.  

Muskegon Lake:  Had some Chinook salmon near the old paper mill and near the Sand Docks were anglers were jigging.    

Muskegon River:   Those targeting smallmouth bass continue to do well when using plastics, spinners or flies.  

Whitehall:   Salmon were caught right on the bottom in shallow waters 50 to 80 feet or about 70 feet down in waters 200 feet or deeper.  Meat rigs were the ticket including a new copper and meat rig combination. 

Rogers City:  
Foggy conditions have hampered fishing.  The lake has rolled over.  Surface water temperatures were barely 60 degrees and 20 feet down was in the upper 40’s.  Anglers are catching a mixed bag of trout, salmon and walleye.  Swan Bay has started to heat up.  Not a lot of fish but some decent salmon were caught by those trolling J-plugs or bombers with planer boards in 20 feet.  Those fishing deeper are running downriggers, lead core, copper and dipseys.  The water is cold so run your baits higher in the water column.  Good colors were green, blue, orange and silver, black and white or anything that glows.  J-plugs with flashers and flies, squid or cut bait have also caught fish.  

Alpena:  Anglers caught a few walleye in 30 feet along North Point, Sulphur Island or Grass Island.  Good lake trout action along the “Humps”.  Anglers also caught the occasional steelhead, pink salmon or stray Chinook.  Most are still going to Rockport or Presque Isle so they don’t have to run so far out to catch salmon and trout.  

Thunder Bay River:  Anglers are using live bait when targeting catfish, smallmouth bass and panfish.  Success was limited but a few were caught.  

Harrisville:  Still has some on-going dredging in the harbor.  The launch is still open and boats are able to make it out to the lake.  Trout and salmon were caught in shallow waters 60 to 80 feet.  Fish the entire water column with dark colored baits including large spoons.  A good number of walleye seem to be in the area between the Black River and Greenbush.  Try 12 to 40 feet early evening until midnight and early morning until just after day break with crawler harnesses, stick baits or small spoons.  

Oscoda: Pier fishing has started to pick up and should not be long before the early salmon start to show up.  Boat anglers are catching steelhead, lake trout and salmon in 60 to 80 feet and are moving in closer.  Those fishing in the evening reported fish close to shore and around the piers.  Try dark spoons, body baits and cut bait when trolling.  Pier anglers are using spoons such as Little Cleo’s, glow spoons, body baits and twister tails.   

Au Sable River:  Walleye are in the river and the numbers seem to be increasing. 

Higgins Lake:  Has lots of rock bass being caught and perch are there for the taking when anglers can find a school of fish.  Try around the Sunken Island and Treasure Island.  Lake trout ranging 18 to 24 inches were caught just off the bottom in 85 to 100 feet when trolling cowbells, rapalas and bombers or when jigging Swedish pimples and castmasters.  Some nice rainbow trout were caught 20 to 40 feet down in waters 100 feet or deeper.  

Houghton Lake:  Is producing walleye, bass, pike, bluegills, crappie and sunfish.  For walleye, target eight to 10 feet along the edge of the weed beds with leeches.  Smallmouth bass were hitting on leeches and crawlers. 

Tawas:  Pier angling is slow with a few smallmouth bass, rock bass and small perch taken.  Those out trolling caught a few walleye out near Buoy #2 and near Alabaster in 25 to 35 feet.  

Au Gres:  Those trolling for walleye were averaging two to three fish per boat and pressure has dropped considerably.  The few out for perch did not have much luck.  

Au Gres River:  Dredging continues to hamper fishing efforts.  

Harbor Springs:  
Most boats have been fishing the Petoskey side of the bay. There are still lake trout at multiple depths in Harbor Springs and some have also picked up a couple salmon that were 75 feet down in 130 to 140 feet.  Boats running up the coast toward Seven Mile Point or staying close to harbor have caught fish.   

Petoskey:  Still had a thermocline about 50 feet down.  A few salmon were caught on spoons 50 to 75 feet down.  A good number of lake trout were caught, with many in the Slot.  The fish were scattered but caught 50 to 90 feet down when trolling over multiple depths.  Not many pier anglers.  A few casting spoons or crank baits in the early morning caught the occasional salmon but no big numbers yet. 

Bear River:  A couple salmon are starting to show up at the dam.  Some have caught the occasional steelhead on spawn.  

Charlevoix:  Salmon fishing seemed to be slightly better in the evening.  Boat anglers could be found near the cement plant and towards Fisherman’s Island. Many are catching a lot of lake trout which are further up in the water column as compared to a typical year.  Fish were caught anywhere from 35 to 90 feet down in 120 to 170 feet and salmon were more shallow about 50 feet down. Try spoons, hootchies with flies or meat rigs.  Those running sliders have done well.  Sub-legal smallmouth were caught on crawlers or leeches along the bottom in the channel.   

Traverse City:  Salmon fishing has been sporadic in the East Bay with most taking zero to three Chinook per outing.  Depths were variable, but most were fishing 30 to 70 feet down.  Lake trout fishing was good in 100 feet.  Smallmouth bass fishing has been good in shallow water or along the first drops.  In the West Bay, salmon are beginning to stack up in “The Hole” but catch rates were still hit-or-miss.  Most are using flies or spoons.  Lake trout fishing was good for those jigging or trolling north of Traverse City in 100 feet.  Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be good.  

Elk River:  Smallmouth bass have been caught below the dam, as well as small panfish when using live bait.  Most of the bass were sub-legal.  

Boardman River:  Fishing continues to be slow except for a few smallmouth and rock bass hitting on live baits.  There have been rumors of salmon entering the river.

Platte River:  Catch rates were still slow except for a few rainbow trout taken up near the hatchery.  Water temperatures were 74 degrees which is keeping the fish out.  A few were seen jumping near the mouth but did not want to bite.  

Platte Bay:  Coho are in the East Bay.  They are scattered however anglers did find them in the top 20 feet of waters 40 to 100 feet deep in the southwest corner near the commercial nets and along Otter Beach.  Anglers need to use caution near the commercial nets as the lines may extend several hundred feet in any direction from the floats.  Try blue or green spoons and blue J-plugs.  

Frankfort:  Catch rates were hit-or-miss.  The Chinook were right in front of the piers but moved out deeper.  Anglers are working hard to locate fish from 40 feet to 500 feet.  The morning bite was best out from the pier with fish hitting on meat rigs and J-plugs.  Pier anglers catching alewife caught a couple Chinook, coho and one very nice 44 inch pike.  Those jigging Swedish pimples and Jonah jigs caught Chinook.  Hot colors were green, pink and purple.  

Onekama:  The Barrel is producing nice catches in the early morning.  Anglers are working the top 60 feet with 2 and 3 colors of lead, 100 to 150 feet back on dipseys with meat rigs catching the bigger kings.  Coho were in the same area and hitting on blue or green spoons.   

Portage Lake:  Bass anglers continue to have a great season throughout the lake.  Cooler water temperatures had the bass in close and along the drops.  Walleye were hitting on crawler harnesses near Little Eden and the Inn.

Lakes Cadillac & Mitchell:  Are producing some nice largemouth bass.  Bluegills were hitting on leaf worms and wax worms.  Minnows caught crappie and perch.  Pike anglers have done well.   

Manistee:  Salmon fishing has not been easy as the fish were scattered.  Anglers did find fish 40 to 90 feet down in 80 to 180 feet when trolling green meat rigs or flies and orange spoons.  Use glow spoons or plugs in the early morning.  Pier fishing is slow.  Those trolling near shore early or late have caught a few kings.  

Manistee River:  Decent numbers of Skamania steelhead were present at Tippy Dam.  A few kings were mixed in but no big numbers yet.  

Ludington:   Catch rates for trout and salmon were hit-or-miss.  Boat anglers found fish 40 to 100 feet down in 80 to 200 feet when trolling yellow or green meat rigs along with orange or green spoons.  Pier fishing was slow.  

Pentwater:  Anglers are catching salmon out from the dunes at Silver Lake and a few miles north of the port.  Some were shallow in the 50 to 80 feet range and hitting right along the bottom while others were caught 70 to 80 feet down in 200 feet or more.  Meat rigs are still working the best.  

Black River Harbor:  
Is producing lake trout just outside the harbor in 40 to 100 feet.  Some nice catches were reported.  Some are trying for salmon in the early morning but had little success.   

Ontonagon:  Fishing has been good.  Lake trout were caught in 12 to 30 feet outside the breakwall.  Spin glows behind a dodger have produced as well as green and orange spoons. The lake trout are eating small smelt and stickleback minnows.  A few salmon and brown trout were taken but catch rates were not consistent.    

Keweenaw Bay:  All ports had few anglers because of the weather.  Those that did get out caught a few lake trout but overall, not a good week.  

Lake Antoine:  Boat and shore anglers are catching a lot of panfish such as bluegills, sunfish, yellow perch and rock bass.  Drifting crawlers with slip bobbers worked best during the rain and high winds.   

Marquette:  Had very little salmon action and varying degrees of success for lake trout.  Granite Island was pretty much the same but catch rates were fair north of White Rocks where anglers were fishing in 180 to 260 feet.  Most of the fish were caught along the bottom but a few were hitting at 50 to 70 feet.  Surface water temperatures were still around 60 degrees.  

Carp River:  A few anglers spotted some chinoook salmon activity upstream.  Shore angling remains slow with a few small rainbows caught at the mouth.  

Little Bay De Noc:  Walleye anglers were fishing in the south Bay near Round Island, Fishery Point and 11-Mile Shoal.  Catch rates were fair.  Fish were caught off the east bank of the Center Reef in four to 10 feet with crawlers or stick baits at night.  The mouth of the Whitefish River produced a few fish for those trolling crawler harnesses in 12 to 14 feet but many were small.  Fair catches reported along the south end of the Black Bottom in 18 to 24 feet and near Kipling in eight to 14 feet.  Yellow perch were out deeper in 14 to 25 feet between the Second and Third Reefs.  Pike were action throughout the Bay for those trolling or casting crank baits, spoons or spinners in 10 to 14 feet.  The Escanaba Yacht Harbor had fair to good crappie action for shore anglers using minnows after dark and in the Escanaba River for those using minnows or small crank baits in the deep hole near the old steel bridge.  Smallmouth bass were quite active in shallow water.  Try casting plastics or crank baits in six to 10 feet near Garth Point or in the Ford River in five to 12 feet.  Some reported salmon 40 to 70 feet down in 80 to 120 feet south of the Ford River Can.  

Big Bay De Noc:  Walleye anglers reported slower catch rates.  The better fishing was around St. Vitals Island.  Perch fishing slowed but fair catches were reported in Garden Bay for those using crawlers 100 to 200 yards out from the Garden Launch in eight to 12 feet.  Fair to good smallmouth catches near Ogontz in eight to 12 feet, Popular Point in eight to 10, Kate’s Bay in 12 to 18 or Garden Bay in eight to 12 feet.  Anglers are using crawlers, plastics, crank bait or spinners. Good salmon fishing off Fairport.  Try 40 to 70 feet down in 80 to 120 feet with spoons near the “Gap” or meat rigs 60 to 80 feet down in 110 to 150 feet south of Poverty Island.  

Au Train:  Lake trout action was sporadic with most anglers using downriggers and spoons anywhere from 160 to 230 feet.  Some days were good with five to eight fish while other days produced few fish.  

Au Train River: Had few anglers and no salmon to report.  There is a new canoe/kayak launch which is handicap accessible at the bridge off M-28.  The parking lot is not complete but will have a nice restroom facility.

Had fewer boats but those heading out were exclusively targeting lake trout and catch rates were fair.  Most are still fishing Trout Bay and along the Wood Island Reefs.  The bite was slow at Big Reef.  Those trolling in the bay did catch a few splake.  Pier anglers reported slow fishing had no reports of keeper size splake.   

Grand Marais:  Had few anglers.  Boat anglers were heading three to seven miles north and west and fishing in the shipping channels for lake trout.  The fish range two to five pounds.  Good catches were reported off the southwest bank near Caribou Island in 100 to 250 feet.  Those trolling outside the bay caught a couple coho in 50 to 60 feet.  Perch anglers were trying offshore at the marina but only a few small ones were caught.  Pier angling effort was very limited with no catch reports. 

Detour:  Anglers are fishing from Frying Pan Island to the #3 Green Can, around the lighthouse and to the #2 Red Can near Drummond Island.  Some are heading further south and targeting lake trout along the “Flats”.  Chinook and lake trout were hitting on spoons.  Hot colors were watermelon, hammered silver with orange, green and white or yellow.  

Cedarville and Hessel:  Still has very good pike fishing in Hessel Bay, Middle Entrance and the north shore of Government Bay.  Mackinaw Bay and Shepard Bay are excellent for bass and pike when casting in the shallows.  Those using minnows or casting spinners caught perch.  

Carp River:  Anglers are seeing fish but success was limited.  Pike have been caught near the mouth. 

St. Ignace:  Anglers fishing past the old fuel tanks and over to the southwest corner of Mackinac Island have caught Chinook and lake trout in 55 to 80 feet.  Try spoons in hammered silver and orange, green and white, yellow and orange.  

The Weekly Fishing Report is intended to give anglers an ”idea” of what is going on around the state. Updates for the report come from our DNR Fisheries Creel Clerks and field staff as well as DNR Conservation Officers working in in the field. General information when available can be found in the first paragraph for each section of the report. For those looking for specific information on a certain body of water or port, it is safe to say if a certain species is being caught in some waters in the area, more than likely they are being caught in all waters in that section of the state that have that species.  

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