Fishing in Lake Michigan
Seasons of Fun
Early Fishing Season
• Fishing the upper bay offers many different types of fishing. Early in the season, (starting mid-May) walleyes can be caught around the mouths of the rivers emptying into Little Bay de Noc. These rivers are the Whitefish River, the Tacoosh River, the Escanaba River, and the Days River. The waters off the Ford River also present excellent fishing excitement early in the season.
• This early season offers the fisherman casting opportunities. Some of the best fishing takes place in very shallow water, 5 feet or less. The early season usually lasts about a month or until the alewives enter the bay. Northern pike can also be caught in these same areas. If you are crappie anglers, large fish can be caught around the shallow water around the Rapid River site.
• In the past few years, night time hours serve as a time for outstanding fishing. One thing to remember is MAKE SURE YOUR LIGHTS WORK before you go out. By law, you must have working navigational lights on your boat and use them after dusk.
• If you fish the Escanaba River, a small launch ramp is located about a half mile up river from the mouth. Great care should be taken if you launch here. Logs and pilings lie just under the surface of the water. Ask someone where the channel is.
• During the summer months and into the fall, trolling can be extremely productive. You’ll have to see the depth the fish are holding and fish down to them. If you lures will not go down deep enough, try using lead core line, snap weights, bottom bouncers, or downriggers. At any rate, fish at the depth the fish are located.
• For those of you who have downriggers, set your lines up just as you would if you were fishing for salmon and use small salmon spoons about 30 feet behind your downrigger weight. A good speed is about 1.5 miles an hour. This has proven to be an excellent pattern over the years.
• Some of the best spoons have included North Port Nailers®, Silver Streaks®, and Laker Takers®. The Laker Takers® are made by the Swedish Pimple® Company located right in Gladstone, Michigan.
• Some of the best crawler harnesses are made by the Walleye Choice® Company which is also located in this area. These companies specialize in baits that work well in this area for walleye and pike. These baits can be purchased at any bait shop in this area. Colors vary throughout the year so ask bait store operators what’s hot and what’s not.
• Salmon fishing is also quite good in the waters south of Escanaba. Approximately six miles south of Escanaba is a navigational buoy known as the Ford River Can. This buoy marks the west side of the shipping channel. Trolling along this bank with spoons offers some exciting times. This fishery usually takes off during the middle of July and will last for about 6-8 weeks. Salmon can also be caught from the bank along the Escanaba Harbor entrance in late September and October.
• Ice fishing on Little Bay de Noc also poses some great North Shore times. First ice is usually the best for walleye, but be sure to check out ice conditions before venturing out. Both the upper and lower bays are excellent during this time of the year. Try fishing close to the bottom. Fish tend to travel very close to the bottom.
• Another great sportfish is the Splake ( a cross between a lake and brook trout, planted in the bay by the DNR) Splake fishing is excellent during the winter months. Fish these the same way as you would a walleye, jigging is best. Generally, splake can be found across from Escanaba on the Stonington side of the Bay. Water depth varies from 28 to 45 feet. Having a depth sounder really helps a great deal when trying to locate these fish.
• A number of exotic species have been found in waters surrounding Michigan which compete with native species and disrupt the balance of nature. Please take precautions to prevent the transport and introduction of these from one lake or stream to another by draining water from live wells, bilge, and transom BEFORE leaving any water body. Empty your bail bucket as well. Before going to another water body let your boat and trailer dry at least 5 days. If you can’t wait, wash everything down with hot (at least 140 degrees) water thoroughly before entering new waters.
• Whether you have your own boat or you would like to book a charter on a charter boat, Delta County and Little Bay de Noc have much to offer. It is a fisherman’s paradise, but remember just take what you can use. Help us maintain our fishery for future generations. Practice catch and release and consult the Michigan Fishing Guide published by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for rules and regulations concerning fishing limits and sizes.
Visit the travelbaysdenoc web site to learn all of what you can do in Michigan including fishing, golfing, scuba diving, historic lighthouses, theatre, and much more!