Fishing dirty water can be a challenge. Use these techniques and you’ll find success. I’m not going to lie. So far, this spring on the Grand we have seen below normal temps with above normal precipitation. The Grand River watershed is the second largest in the state of Michigan and when it rains that means higher flows and dirty water. Don’t fear it but rather embrace it for the challenge. Just because the river is high and dirty doesn’t mean the fish stop eating. The smallmouth bass and northern pike that call the Grand home are use to living in these river conditions.
High and dirty water means targeting the feeder creeks and fishing tight to the bank and structure. We have been using size 10 X-Rap’s in white, orange and perch color. When retrieving, jerk them slowly while keeping slack in your line. Once the you have jerked the X-Rap 2, 3, or 4 times reel the slack and repeat. This way the smallmouth bass and northern pike can hear the rattle, have time to hone in on it and right before they strike, see it.
Once you pick up a smallmouth on the search bait, switch to dredging with a 1/2 oz bullet weight and 3/O hook with a creature bait. We have been having success on black. The bigger the creature and the slower the bounce along the bottom the easier it is for them to see it. With a 1/2 oz bullet weight bouncing off the bottom that will create enough noise for the fish to hear it coming in these high and dirty water conditions. Remember to cast up river at a 45 degree angle and then let it bounce off the bottom down until the line is parallel with the current. Reel it in and repeat. Be patient and pick the area apart using a grid as a template.
Don’t let high and dirty water keep you off the river. Embrace your fear of it and you’ll be rewarded.
X Raps are the name of the game in the Spring Lake bayous right now. This time of yearmthese lures have the best chance to elicit a strike from a largemouth bass or northern pike. Here is our fishing report for May 2019.
With the high water in the Grand River right now, we have switched to fishing the shelter of the Spring Lake Bayous. The gauge in Ada peaked at 14.5 feet on May 5 and has been slowly coming done. As of today, May 8, it’s at 12.9 feet. The river should be in decent shape this coming weekend, assuming no more rain. Remember, the Grand River is the second largest drainage system in Michigan next to the Saginaw Valley and it takes time for all that water to move through the system.
Water temps in the Spring Lake bayous have been ranging from 53 degrees to 57 degrees depending in the time of day. Water clarity is nicely stained and the weeds have yet to hit the surface. The water temp is near ideal for the northern pike. They are coming off the spawn and some look pretty beat up, so if you land one handle them with care.
We have primarily been using X Raps in size 10 on a medium heave rod with fast action tips with 20 lbs mono to create the best movement for lures. When retrieving, remember to jerk the bait as much as you can in an irradict way. The key is to keep some slack in your line as you jerk and reel. The more irradict the retrieve, the better the lure will elicit a strike. Use colors that are more natural with added orange in them such a Perch or Tennessee Olive Shad. This time of year the northerns will be in the weeds, between 3 to 10 feet deep. If you find weeds in this range, work the line.
The bass are in their pre-spawn mode and are in the 6 to 10 feet range. Normally this time of year you can count on starting to see some bass on beds. However, with the colder than normal temps this has pushed the spawn back. Once we start to get water temps consistently in the mid 60’s, bass will start showing up in the shallower areas.
The majority of the action we have been being with largemouth bass has come, again, on X Raps in size 10. When fishing for the Green Trout, use the same techniques as you would for northern pike. Use colors that are more natural with added orange in them such a Perch, or Tennessee Olive Shad as well.
Targeting bass with finesse fishing should improve as water temps rise, but right now it’s not producing the results we are looking for.
The northern pike action has been good and the bass action will only get better as the water temps rise. If you want catch these bayou bruisers then give us a call. They easily cork over an 8 wt or medium heavy rod and give the angler a nice fight.
The good news is spring is here on the Grand River and so are the smallmouth. The bad news is, so is a proposal to the dredge the Grand River. which has nothing to do with the Grand River Restoration project. I’ll get to the dredging in a minute. The Grand right now is high, dirty and moving fast. The crowds at the dam in Grand Rapids are gone and we have the river back to ourselves. It’s finally nice to enjoy the quiet solitude of this river. There are still some steelhead in the system but for the most part they are far and few in-between. We have been seeing steelhead roll back over the dam, moving as fast as they can out to the big lake.
We have been transitioning over to smallmouth and northern pike and it feels good to be back in the warmwater game. Water temps are running between 48 and 50 degrees depending on the day and the fish are hungry. The river is high and dirty. However, with that said there is about a foot and half of clarity, not to bad for the Grand.
When targeting smallmouth your allies, in these conditions, are going to be lures that create vibration and noise. Success for us has been the 3/8 oz. double bladed willow leaf spinnerbait in both black and white. Use leaders with 15 lb fluorocarbon tied to 30 lbs hi-viz Power Pro braid. In these conditions, the best places to fish are going to be the feeder creeks and right up against the bank. Fortune favors the bold and you’ll need to cast as far up those feed creeks as you can. Don’t be afraid to lose a some hardware along the way.
Grand River Dredging Update:
For those you that don’t know, there is a developer, Dan Hibma, that would like to dredge the Grand River from Fulton Street in Grand Rapids to the Bass River Outlet in Eastmanville. That’s 23 miles. He feels that there are powerboaters that would like to take their boats from Lake Michigan all the way up to Grand Rapids. In addition, he wants to put a marina right by Johnson Park in Grandville. I wonder how they would get to the marina after last years flooding event when the Grand peaked at 42,000 cfs.
In the 12th hour, during the republican lame duck session last year, then Senator Arlen Meekhof slipped into legislation over $3.0 million for dredging. He thought that no-one would see it. There has been no public meetings on it, no citizen involvement and no input. Seems all shady to me. Oh and did I mention that the developer owns 200 acres of land on the Grand River. Oh, he has also offered up his property as a site to put the dredge spoils, so he can develop it.
Thankfully, there is a group called Friends of the Lower Grand River that has organized to stop this. Through their efforts, and the turnout of Ottawa County citizens, it appears that the Ottawa County Commissioner’s will vote to oppose the dredge. In addition, a number of local municipalities have also passed resolutions opposing it. However, like all things that are environmentally destructive, projects like this are like zombies, they never die. The only way this gets stopped is through the legislature. Mr. Meekhof, when he added the appropriation rider did it in a way that if the money is not used in a given year it rolls over into the next and so. Again, shady.
I don’t have to say, if the dredging goes through one of Michigan’s best steelhead runs will be destroyed. If the Grand River is dredged, 50 feet wide by 7 feet deep for 23 miles, all the riffles, runs, holes and pocket water gets ripped out. When you channelize a river it destroys habitat, biodiversity and water quality. If you feel compelled please follow the Friends group on Facebook. There you can get all the latest news and updates on this proposal.
This is the Grand River fishing report as of December 2018. Colder than normal temperatures were the story for the first half of December. As a result this has put the steelhead into their winter mode on the Grand River. The steelhead numbers are somewhat down from previous years but the fish seem bigger.
The water temperature has been cold, mid 30’s and somewhat stained. Slow things down to get the best response to your presentation. Remember, look for the slow water and the deeper runs and holes. You’ll need to float your drift numerous times through, as the fish are sluggish right now.
Currently, the only method we’ve been using right now is float. Our main line has been 12 lbs mono dropping to an 8 lbs leader and in some instances 6 lbs. The reel has been a Daiwa 4000 series with a 10’ 6” Okuma SST rod.
Try using beads in various orange colors along with chartreuse and mix it up between the 12 mills and the 10 mills. Remember, if your using 12 mills you should use a #4 hook. Use a Raven 11 gram bobber. If the steelhead feel any resistance when they grab, they’ll let it go.
However, if the runs are short try the chuck and duck method. This will get your rig down quicker to where the fish are than a float rig normally would.
If you’re going to use flies, use larger egg patters with some color along with larger stoneflies.
A warmer than normal weather pattern is setting up for the rest of the month, along with some rain this week. As a results, the water temp will warm up a bit and this should send some fresh fish up. With that said, keep using the same techniques.
Don’t be afraid of the cold, this is a great time of year to fish. Low pressure and if you put in your time you’ll be rewarded with big fish.
September has been an active month for us at Werkman Outfitters. This is our fishing report for September 24, 2018 for the Grand Rapids to Lowell section.
The annual migration of the salmon has started on the Grand River and the steelhead will be close behind. In addition, with the cooler air, lower water temps and shorter days, the smallmouth bass and northern pike bite has increased as they start to fatten up for the long winter.
The Salmon & Steelhead Front:
One my way to a guide trip this past week, I drove over the I-196 bridge in Grand Rapids and saw what looked like 100 fisherman at the Sixth Street Dam. Clearly, they were after Chinook and Coho.
I am not sure on whether or not they’re having success but I can tell you that we are seeing small numbers of salmon showing up in the Ada to Lowell section. If you up there, try fishing wiggle warts, thundersticks, spinners and skein in the deeper holes and feeder creeks, especially the cold water feeder creeks. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times. I got to say it is tough up there right now, just with the low numbers we are seeing. The near-term weather shows rain and temperature drops, perfect for sending more up. The water temp was still pretty warm with mid-day temps in the low 70’s.
Smallmouth & Northern Pike:
If you want to get in on some of the best jaw fishing of the year, the fourth quarter is your best bet. These guys are fattening up for winter and are in their fall feeding frenzy mode. The water has dropped and cleared up nicely from the all the rain we had a couple of weeks ago. As a result, we have done some sight fishing along breakpoints and weed lines. Try fishing everything from streamers, to Mepps and crankbaits. If streamer fishing, go with 220 sink tip to keep from dredging bottom. Right now, it’s not unusual for us to land smallmouth in the 16 to 18 inch range with a few near 20. There is a reason why God made few of these over 21. They pack a punch.
Grand River Smallmouth
After a couple months on sabbatical, the pike are showing backup as the water temps cool. We have been finding them in their normal hunting grounds around the slack water, particularly around rock structure. Again, streamers, Mepps, deeper diving Rapalas and double bladed willow leaf spinner baits are your best bet.
We still have some October and November dates open so give us call or like us on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest updates. Fall is here, so no matter what you do, get outside and on a river.
Grand River Fishing Report from Grand Rapids to Lowell, Michigan:
This summer has been great for smallmouth bass and northern pike on the Grand River and the action only continues to be hot. With the lack rain, the river remains low and clear, perfect for bronze-bomber action. It seems the hotter the weather and the bluer the skies the better bite is on this river.
The name of the game has been “throw the kitchen sink” to keep the action moving. Just when you think you have the right lure or fly you’ll need to change it out. It seems the smallmouth pick up on your game right away. Try using bigger flies and double-bladed spinner baits. Remember, if that isn’t working or you have caught a few, switch up your streamer game or move to dredging a wacky worm off the bottom.
Cusey with Craig from England
Grand River 21 inch Smallmouth
Grand River Smallmouth
With the warmer temps the northern pike have gone deep but there are still some lingering around structure. If you happen to hook into one of these river gators, remember to not play the fish, land and release it as quick as possible. These warmer temps are not good for the fish as they prefer cooler water.
On the salmon front, they are slowly trickling in but not in any great numbers. Lake Michigan did turn over, couple that with the rain means a few kings have entered area systems. As the nights get cooler and we get more rain look for more to slowly come in. If you do go, go low, find the deeper holes and throw cranks up against the bank or drift skein through the hole to find success.
The summer action still remains strong and the smallmouth and pike action will continue to remain strong well into the fall as they start to go into their fall feeding mode for the winter.
The salmon action will also start to pick up and they will be big this year. Many charter boat captains have been catching 30 lbs. kings out in Lake Michigan and it’s a good bet some of those will show up in the rivers we fish this year.
There is nothing like fishing the Grand River during the day, then heading out into downtown Grand Rapids to grab dinner and beer after the trip. Fall is the best time year to get out and fish. We have availability so call, email or text us about your trip and let’s get on the river.
Fishing report for July 2018: With the lack of rain over the past month the Grand River is in great shape. From Grand Haven to Lowell it has been some of the best fishing we’ve seen so far this year.
Grand River Smallie near Grand Rapids
The river is low and clear and as a result the smallmouth have been stacked in the deeper holes and right up next to structure. Early morning is perfect for sight casting as they tend to hunt between the weed lines and subtle breaks in water depth. Temperatures have been running in the mid to upper seventies to near eighty degrees, perfect for those smallies. No worries on the stressing these guys, they prefer warmer water compared to the trout.
Grand River Smallmouth
We’ve been fishing conventional tackle lately as that has been producing the best action. Make sure you’re covering a lot of water as you’re casting to these bronze bombers to get the greatest success possible. Try using spinners and swimbaits.
If your going to fly fish use streamer patterns. Try the “Off the Shneid Fly” or anything with white in it. With the river being this low, make sure to use floating line either with or without a intermediate polyleader. Anything more and you’ll making sacrifices to the river gods.
Grand River Pike near Grand Rapids
As the water has warmed and become low the northern pike action has slowed. We are still getting some but just not in the numbers we saw in the late spring and early summer. If you want to target these guys, look to the deeper holes, rock gardens and slackwater. Same thing, use spinners and larger swimbaits to provoke a strike. Remember, that pike are ambush predators so you’ll need to cover a lot of water to find them.
We still have a lot of summer left so if you want to fish one of the best smallmouth fisheries in the state then give us a call or send us a message.