Temperatures have been all over the map, which is not making the fish happy and we need rain. We’ve also been spending some time exploring new water for trout. Here’s the latest from the front lines.Continue reading
Spring has definitely arrived in West Michigan and it almost feels like summer. With said, the steelhead fishing is quickly subsiding on the Grand and the other rivers we fish.
We find ourselves quickly transitioning to smallmouth and northern pike. For me, this is the best time of year to fish, no crowds, warmer temps and a lot of actively feeding fish.
Water temps are in the upper 50’s to low 60’s on the Grand. This means that whatever steelhead are left the system, they’ll quickly spawn and beeline it back out to Lake Michigan. Both Max and I would like to thank all those that booked with us for the spring run. Here are just a few highlights.
With the current water temps, we are starting the see both the smallmouth and pike activity picking up. Many of the fish we have brought to net have been found on the shallower flats, where they are actively feeding. Try using inline spinners in #4 and #5 blades in the colors of resident baitfish. It’s a little too early for creature baits, although you can’t rule out a bite or two.
From here on out, the warm water bite will only continue to get better. The pre-spawn smallmouth bite will soon be in full force so give us a call to get on our spring, summer and early fall calendar.
Captain Tom Werkman
We’re a little behind with our reports as we’ve been busy on the water. While Michigan is under a limited stay-at-home order, we are not affected by it and continue to run trips.
We’ve said goodbye, until April, to the smallmouth and pike and hello to the steelhead. The first part of the month started out slow and has now picked up. Just like the salmon were this year, the steelhead run is somewhat behind. We still need rain and colder weather to get more fish in from Lake Michigan and up into the river system but we are finding fish on a consistent basis.
Right now we finding steelhead, brown trout and rainbow trout in both fall and winter water. Target them in and just outside the seams, cover the pocket water, slack water and transition water. In other words, cover lot of water. Much of the action has been on 8mm beads using 8 lbs leaders as the water is really clear.
The near-term forecast calls for above average temperatures. So if you find yourself getting cabin fever from staying at home, give us a call and come spend a day on the river. We have open dates in December, which can be some of the best steelhead fishing of the year.
Grand River Update:
Here’s the latest from the frontlines as of November 11, 2019 for steelhead on the Grand River and the 2019 / 2020 ice fishing season. The Grand River is slowly becoming fishable again after the heavy rains form a couple of weeks ago. Right now, the Grand us running at 8,620 cfs., down from a high of 16,000 a week ago. Clarity is improving and the water temp is in the upper 30’s to low 40’s.
Even though the Grand was “blow out” we continued to run guide trips on other river systems and continued to find find steelhead. With the early winter and the cold temps we’ve been finding steelhead in their normal winter spots. Try fishing the slower dark water. When you find seams, fish both the inside and outside for the best results.
For us, beads continue to produce and we’ve picked up a few on the swing as well. If you’re going to use beads, try using non-straight colors such as MottledBeads and Blooddot Eggs. Most of the steelhead have come on 8 mm with some browns taking 10 mm. Try everything from chartreuse as the top bead to Glow Roe, Mango Egg, Peachy King Roe or Oregon Cheese on the dropper bead. If a pair isn’t working, remember to mix the combinations up.
On the spin gear we’re using 12 lbs. mono mainline to either 10 lbs. leader or 8 lbs leader with a Raven 8 gram or 11 gram bobber and #6 hooks with the 8 mm beads and #4 hooks with the 10mm beads.
Right now the winter forecast is calling for a cold and snowy winter for Michigan. Ideal for ice fishing. As a reminder and as safe ice dictates, we offer guided ice trips. We provide all the ice gear, heated shanties, electronics and tips ups you’ll need for a successful day on the hardwater. If you book a full day, we even cook you a hot lunch in the shanty.
Just because it’s cold out, doesn’t mean you need to stop fishing. Ice fishing can be a ton of fun with your family and / or your friends. Whether it’s on a river or on the hardwater book your trip with us an get in on all the angling action that Michigan and Grand Rapids have to offer.
Captain Tom Werkman
For me the best part of fishing is when you hook a fish and lose it. Probably all of you reading this think, “that’s a stupid thing to say.” I have been fishing for the better part of 40 years and here’s why, for me, I believe that to be true.
It’s All Very Public
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy catching fish as much the next person. There is nothing like bringing a fish to the net, holding it for the quick hero shot, releasing it, then posting the pictures to social media. If it’s big enough, you’ll get all kinds of likes and comments and feel like a rockstar. Over time, you’ll show the pictures on your social media pages to friends. They’ll all be like “Wow, that’s big fish”. It’s all very public and people respond instantly to pictures.
Until It’s Not Public
Last spring I was fishing on a mid-Michigan river during the steelhead run. It had been a tough day with one fish brought to net and a few pictures taken.
We drifted downstream to about one river mile from the takeout when we came across a log jam pushed up against a high bank where we stopped. The person I was fishing with asked “have you fished this before.” My reply was “No, but it just looks fishy.” “No it doesn’t” he said and proceeded to walk a little further back up river to fish.
I took my rod, walked down to just above the log jam and cast my bobber into the seam that would run it next to the log jam. I waited. The bobber started it’s drift right next to the first log, went past it to the second log, and was about to enter the take out zone when it went down……
I lifted the rod and set the hook knowing that the steelhead would run, with all it was, right into the logs. For about five hot seconds it was on…..and then off. I quickly re-rigged. Cast and sent the bobber down the same seam, with the outcome being the same as the first drift. This repeated itself about seven drifts with various lengths of times the fish was on. I sent a few more dirts down the seam and nothing, so we got back in the drift boat and head to the takeout.
As we drove home, the adrenaline left my system and now I felt just plain defeated. Those fish I had hooked where a hot mess, dime bright and of decent size. I had no pictures to post and no hero shots. I would get no likes or comments. One my way back home I decided the call that hole the “Shit Hole” for how I felt.
It’s All About The Story
To this day I couldn’t tell you about that fish we landed that day. It’s just another picture on my Facebook and Instagram page. Over time that picture just gets lost in an endless river of hero shots.
For me, I tend to not have as much of a connect to pictures as I do to stories. Pictures make me see but stories make me feel and it’s this feeling that connects me to a place and time. Stories help me to remember. It seems the stories I remember the most are about the ones that got away.
I won’t forget that day at my named “Shit Hole.” I can still tell that story over and over again just like it happened. Ever time we go by it on the river the story gets told to clients, fishing buddies and even to myself when I’m alone. Yes, I lost a lot of steelhead that day but I also gain the ability to tell a story that I’ll remember for a very long time. Isn’t that what fishing is suppose to the about. Not the pictures but the stories we can tell.
Captain Tom Werkman
The port of Grand Haven is often known for it’s Lake Michigan charter fishing. These charter boats chase after salmon, steelhead and lake trout from spring through early fall and offer the angler the opportunity to catch the fish of a lifetime. However, this port also provides the angler with a different kind of opportunity. One that lies up river in the bayous and deltas of the Grand River.
The Bayous & Deltas
The Grand River reaches Lake Michigan at Grand Haven. However, just before that the river forms its bayous and deltas which offer the angler some of the best productive waters for northern pike, walleye, bass and the occasional muskie. Here is where much of the fish production happens. As the nutrients flow down the Grand they end up in the lower sections of the river. These nutrients feed plankton and zooplankton which further feed bait fish, which inturn feed the larger predator fish.
Northern Pike and Bass
Spring is the time of year we fish the bayous and deltas for northern pike, walleye and bass. As the water temps begin to rise from ice-out, these fish start to become more active in search of food. They begin moving more into the shallows, patrolling weed and break lines to find and ambush the forage fish.
During the spring the bass enter spawn mode. This is one of the best times to catch the “green trout” as they will aggressively defend their redd from anything that comes near it. The bite this time of year can be fantastic with many sight fishing opportunities. It’s important to remember that once they are hooked to quickly land and release them so they can go back to defend their redd from other predators looking for a quick meal off their eggs.
Because of the stained nature, deep holes and access to Lake Michigan the Grand has a fantastic walleye fishery. Many of these holes can be found between Indian Channel and near the gravel pits up by the Bass River Recreation Area. When targeting marble eyes there will be a lot of incidental catches as the Grand is a very diversified fishery. So just be prepared. Typical techniques include jigging and trolling for them using a variety of lures and rigs.
If you come to Grand Haven consider an alternative to a Lake Michigan fishing charter and try fishing for the Michigan natives that the Grand, its bayous and deltas call home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
– Captain Tom
I often get asked why do I run guide trips for bass. I’m mean come on….bass, really? Typically my response is, “You mean the Green Trout” They look at me with a bit of confusion, like when a steelhead is lost at the boat.
Let me start by saying that I enjoy fishing for all species of fish. Each species has its own set of unique challenges and enjoyments. It’s really hard to compare one species of fish to another. The best analogy I can used to express that statement is, as a father I am, I love all my children equally, not one over the other.
Many of our clients want to fish for the migratory species such as salmon and steelhead. These are excellent fish to target, they can put one hell of a bend in your rod, you can hear and feel the drag scream and they can challenge and frustrate even the most seasoned angler. They are the Floyd Mayweather’s of the Great Lakes and her tributaries. Lighting fast, they pack a punch, and they can be difficult to control.
With that said, here is why I run guide trips for bass:
While the salmon and the steelhead may be the Floyd Mayweather’s of the Great Lakes, bass are the Mike Tyson’s. They are the heavyweight gangsters of the bayous, inland lakes and rivers. Trust me when I say there is nothing like reeling in a 5 pound bucketmouth out of the Grand River or one of its bayous. To watch them go airborne and pull like a semi truck has its angling rewards.
Unlike their cold water cousins, their range is pretty much most lakes and rivers of North America and they can tolerate water temperatures up into the 80’s before they move into deeper sections. This make them ideal to target without having to worry too much about their stress levels when water temps are in the 70’s like a trout.
Whether on a fly rod or with light spin gear and tackle, they are just as challenging as trout and can test even the most seasoned angler through all the stages of bass season, the pre-spawn, spawn and post spawn.
Like trout, they have some cool ink. Depending on their environment their colors can range from light green to dark green and even some black with yellow and orange mixed in their fins.
Lastly, there is that gangster look. Their signature underbite where the lower jaw extends beyond their upper jaw, that says don’t mess with me.
I’m sure there are many more opinions why people pursue bass. In the end, however, it comes down to them being the most targeted species in the nation. There are professional bass tournaments through FLW and Bassmaster, not to mention local tournaments all with cash money to win.
Bass are the working man’s brown trout. They are both simple and complex. Easy and difficult to target. They are the green trout and are so popular in our culture that real trout should be green with envy.
What are the different techniques for fall fishing Michigan’s riversContinue reading