Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass

Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass

Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass

We have entered one of the best periods for Smallmouth Bass in Northern Michigan.  Pre Spawn is one of the top rated periods to hunt big smallmouth bass that are headed up shallow.  So far the season has gotten off to a great start as most inland lakes are 55 degrees or better.  We have been on Grand Traverse Bay a few times finding water temps ranging from 47-53 depending on where you go.

Inland Lake Fishing

Northern Michigan smallmouth bass have started to move shallow with a few of the lakes starting the spawning cycle.  Those lakes the small males are starting to nest up, but all the big females are still deep off the first break.

Inland Lakes will always fire up before the bay and are a great way to get dialed in again before the Big Water starts fishing. This week we saw some of the signs of the spawn cycle with nesting and behavior, as the baitfish bite slowed down this week we had to go finesse tactics both on fly rod and light spinning gear.

Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass

 

Booking a Smallmouth Trip

Interested in booking a Smallmouth Bass Trip or going for Lake Trout on light tackle, drop us a message via email, or text/call us directly 231-631-5701. We have open boats available this Summer if your want to fish for Northern Michigan Smallmouth Bass.

Jon Ray

Conditions Matter

Conditions Matter

Conditions Matter

Every spring we enter a transitional period between our annual spring steelhead run and our peak dry fly fishing for trout. In some years this period can be long and drawn out while others transition rapidly. This period is often overlooked and regarded as “hard fishing” as weather conditions can change rapidly and behave differently from year to year. However, if you use a conditions based decision making process to plan your outings, you can eliminate some of the frustrations often associated with transitional fishing. After all, you’re only as good as the conditions you’re fishing in. As a guide, dealing with changing conditions is a daily consideration and I am constantly looking for the best conditions based approach for my anglers.

April and early May can often be characterized by inconsistent weather patterns, but the angling opportunities available at this time are unique and often overlooked. Two of my personal favorites are 1) streamer fishing for trout while searching for the first hatches of the season and 2) the pre-spawn smallmouth bass fishing. Both of these angling opportunities offer different types of fishing, but more importantly they require different conditions for success. Having multiple opportunities to choose from allows us to cater to a conditions based approach to what, when, and where, we will fish on any given day. This is just one example of two overlapping fishing scenarios that have independent factors determining the outcome.

Trout Opener

The annual trout opener is always met with great anticipation, but more often than not we find ourselves fishing during a cold front during this weekend. Negative conditions will often make fishing tough, but understanding your target species and how it will respond to these changes is really what we should consider under these circumstances. Another scenario we often experience under stable conditions are weather patterns that impact the effectiveness of certain techniques making the fishing less productive. Understanding how certain weather parameters affect the behavior of the fish we target is important, but how do these same conditions also impact the food resources available to the fish during these same times?

One of the most common examples of this that I often have to consider is; how does a bright sunny day impact the trout fishing during early spring? Understanding that under low water conditions and bright sunny skies the streamer fishing for trout will often be tough. Another consideration I will make here is understanding how these same conditions will impact my dry fly fishing for trout. I know that under bright skies and colder conditions my hatching Hendrickson’s will be low in density. Even under bright skies and warmer conditions the Hendrickson’s tend to be lower in number, but more importantly the bugs have an easier time leaving the waters surface making them less visible to the trout. When these early hatches of insects are not drifting long distances on the waters surface, trout will often not key in on the surface to feed.

Smallmouth Bass

Under these same conditions smallmouth bass may be far more active and provide a much better alternative species to fish for especially on the bright sunny days. Cold fronts will often push bass into deeper and slower water, but I still feel that they will be more receptive and less neutral than trout under these same conditions. On the flip side, if conditions are calling for heavy cloud cover and moderate temperatures, I know the trout will be more receptive to streamers and the hatching Hendrickson’s will typically last longer and drift further on the waters surface. Not everything in nature is black and white, but if you consider the fishing conditions that are presented to you, often you will find your success improves even in the face of adversity.

Over my guiding career I have seen a lot of changes, weather patterns today are definitely less predictable and the timing of our seasons feels different as well. Being adaptable in my approach and considering the conditions I’m presented on a daily basis has definitely led to more success over time. I have always been passionate about the spring fishing for trout, but often it has been met with frustration as day to day conditions didn’t provide the opportunities I was looking for. Having a backup plan for those situations is a far less stressful strategy and it will often prevent you from getting stuck in a rut. So when planning your next trip consider choosing your target species based upon the fishing conditions you are presented, it may provide everyone with a better overall angling experience.

Ed McCoy

Best Time to fish Grand Traverse Bay for Smallmouth Bass

Grand Traverse Bay Smallmouth Bass Fishing

Grand Traverse Bay

"Fishing

Throughout the year, the changing seasons play a significant role in smallmouth bass fishing.  Seasonal change affects both the behavior of the fish and the strategies employed by anglers. In particular, the optimal month for Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass fishing can vary depending on the season. Spring often boasts a period of heightened activity as smallmouth bass feed aggressively coming out of winter. As the waters warm up in late spring to early summer, smallmouth bass move shallower for the spawn. Therefore, anglers may find the months of May and June to be particularly ideal for targeting smallmouth bass.

Summer

During the summer fishing for Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass can be an exciting and rewarding experience for anglers of all skill levels. With the warming temps Smallmouth in Grand Traverse Bay will tend to go deeper than they do in the Spring.  However, this doesn’t mean they are too deep for topwater offerings, especially if you’re willing to get up early.  Fishing smallmouth bass on topwater is truely an exciting approach to fishing the Grand Traverse Bay.

When targeting Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass in the summer it is important to focus on areas with structure.  Rock structures such as rocky points, ledges, and rock piles, are all areas where these fish like to feed.  Goby and Crayfish patterns are a key food source for smallmouth bass.  The key to success here is to find the preferred bait which usually means you will find the smallmouth bass.  One thing about smallmouth bass that translates well universally is no food = no smallmouth bass.  These guys love to eat and will be found very close to their food source.

Goby

Invasive Gobies provide plenty of food for Smallmouth Bass

Fall Fishing

Fall is a prime season for smallmouth bass fishing in Northern Michigan. The Fall is particularly renowned for its abundance of trophy-sized smallmouth bass. As the temperatures begin to cool, these elusive and aggressive fish become more active.  They can often be found moving into shallow waters in search of food to prepare for the upcoming winter. The crisp autumn air and vibrant colors of the changing leaves provide a picturesque backdrop for anglers seeking the thrill of battling these hard-fighting Grand Traverse Bay smallmouth bass.

Whether casting along rocky shorelines with Umbrella rigs, targeting submerged structure with swimbaits, or working shallow flats with the fly rod, the opportunities for landing a trophy smallmouth are plentiful during the Fall in Northern Michigan. With the combination of ideal weather conditions and the smallmouth’s voracious feeding habits before Winter, Fall smallmouth bass fishing offers anglers an unparalleled experience on the water.

With more anglers focused on King Salmon and Steelhead fishing many of the best inland lakes and Grand Traverse Bay can be barren of other anglers.

Fishing Techniques

Fishing methods for smallmouth bass can range from using gurgle bugs on a fly rod to drop-shotting deep rock piles off a point. While we primarily enjoy using a fly rod with various patterns such as Goby, Crayfish, and Topwater flies, we also recognize the importance of having a spinning rod as a backup.  Windy conditions and the need to approach larger fish in clear water from a distance are conditions that at times are better managed with spin tackle.

In the clear waters of Grand Traverse Bay, smallmouth bass may not always be approachable with a fly rod thus prompting the need for spinning gear. Grand Traverse Bay is known for regularly yielding smallmouth bass weighing in excess of six pounds. These larger bass are old and wise and often require long casts to catch.  Additionally, many anglers appreciate the exhilarating challenge of catching and fighting a smallmouth bass on light spinning gear.

Conclusion

Want to experience the thrill of smallmouth fishing in the pristine waters of Grand Traverse Bay where the breathtaking natural beauty meets unparalleled angling opportunities. Northern Michigan is home to some of the finest smallmouth bass fishing in the country.  This picturesque bay offers the perfect setting for both seasoned anglers and beginners looking to hone their angling skills. Grand Traverse Bay promises a fishing experience like no other!  So come and immerse yourself in the tranquility of Grand Traverse Bay, feel the excitement of each bite, and savor the joy of reeling in a prized smallmouth bass.

smallmouth bass

Late Summer or Early Fall Smallmouth

Smallmouth fishing in Late Sumer or Early Fall can be one of the best times of the year.  Smallmouth bass are putting on the feed bag as they are starting to anticipate the winter months.  After a nice long summer of a diversified diet smallmouth want to put on as much weight as possible for the upcoming winter.  To do this their main focus is protein.  What gives them the best bang for their buck on the protein scale.  Baitfish!

Baitfish

As water temps start to drop baitfish start to congregate and form big balls of bait.  Some popular techniques to imitate these baitfish balls are umbrella rigs, spinnerbaits, and with the fly rods a two fly rig I like to call the Donkey Rig.  Covering water is key, as you have to locate the baitfish.  Using your electronics or understanding wind direction or current flow should help you and point you in the right direction.