After a slow start to the spring smallmouth and pike season, fishing is improving on the Grand River and its tributaries.
Water temps are now consistently in the low to mid-sixties and should only get warmer with the near term forecast. The Grand is currently at it’s mid-summer level and is slightly stained. This can provide for some excellent fishing opportunities as the spawn winds down and the fish start to move into the deeper holes and stretches.
In order to get fish to net, we’ve been having to mix things up on a daily basis. It seems one day they want bait, while next day they want an in-line spinner and we are definitely maximizing the bite windows.
For those of you that follow our adventures, “The Old Man” dropped “The Kid” off at the airport last week for his annual pilgrimage to Alaska. Each year he guides on the Naknek River for Naknek River Camp and Katmai Trophy Lodge. Max will back November 1, just in time for the start of the fall steelhead season. If steelhead is your game, book early as we tend to fill up fast.
Hey, summer is a great time to get on all the smallie and northern pike action. Warm weather, no crowds and we have the river pretty much to ourselves. Give us a call, book a trip and get on our calendar. Come and enjoy all that a Michigan summer has to offer.
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.
The Grand River continues to be in fantastic shape for this time of year. Many of its sections are low and gin clear. The gage in Ada has been hovering at 7 feet and the water temps are in the mid to uppers 50’s. As the temps have dropped, so have our tactics as the fish are adding the pounds this time of year.
This time of year the smallmouth are transitioning from their summer water are on the move to their winter water. Along the way, they’re searching for the baitfish to gain weight. You’ll need to cover a lot of water to find them and once you do, you’ll usually find others. When you do, switch to jigs and tubes.
If you’re going to fly fish, use floating line as the river is really shallow and the fish are on the flats looking for bait. We’ve been finding success on articulated flies in natural colors and white. Again, fish the shallow flats, cover a lot of water and don’t over look bucket water, colored bottom and structure.
The pike bite continues to be strong strong on both conventional tackle and flies. As the water temps have dropped, their attitude has become even more nasty and it can go from silence to violence in a nano-second. Expect the unexpected. You can use the same search baits with the pike as you do the smallmouth. In my opinion, if you know how to fly fish, do that as I feel you get a better reaction strike from the pike with a streamer.
Some steelhead are starting to show up in the lower sections of the Grand but it is still early. We need more rain to get the stain and flow rates up to get these fish into the river from the big lake.
We still have some dates open for the end of October and the first part of November for steelhead, pike and smallmouth bass. Give us a shout and enjoy a great day of fishing on the Grand in all the color of fall.
The Grand River is low. The gage in Ada, for a brief period, dipped below 6.75 feet. Even with the recent rains the river didn’t pop all that much and is coming back down quickly. Clarity went from gin clear to slightly stained. With no rain in the near term forecast, it should remain that way for awhile. The river temps remain in the upper 70’s.
The near term forecast calls for below normal temps. Hopefully, that will drop the river temps below 70 degrees. Once that happens, the pike activity should begin to improve as we saw for a brief period a couple of weeks ago when a strong cold front moved through.
Fishing has been good. As the river has dropped the smallmouth start to hold more in the bucket water, near structure and just along the seams. If you find all three of these in one location fish it. Patience and persistence is being rewarded and will bring fish to net.
Salmon are not showing up yet in the middle section. It’s too early and the water is too warm. Steelhead season is just around the corner. The best time to fish for these on the Grand will be starting at the end of October right on through December. For those of you that fish with Max, he will be back from Alaska by November 1 so give us call and get a date booked with him.
I have to say, the last three months have been incredible for us as a business. Thank you! Thank you to all of our clients that have booked and rebooked with us. Yes, I enjoy getting people on fish and seeing the smiles and laughter that comes with a great day on the river. However, more importantly for me, I enjoy the relationships that are being built! Until next month…..
The Grand River continues to be in great shape and is fishing well. It’s low and water clarity is the best we’ve seen in quite sometime for this river. When we do get rain, the grasses are acting as filer to help keep the clarity in check.
With the recent cold front, water temps are in the low 70’s. The smallmouth continue to be in their summer patter and tight to structure. Lately it seems that the afternoon bite is the strongest, although we are getting fish through out the day.
If you’ve ever wanted to fish an urban river and feel like you’re 1,000 miles from nowhere, now’s the time. So come and Experience Grand Rapids and all the fishing opportunities the Grand River has to offer. Give us call today.
We’ve hit the summer fishing patterns. After a wet spring that postponed some of our fishing trips, as a result of high river flows, the Grand has dropped to around 8 feet in Ada. Clarity is great right now at around 3 feet. Remember, the Grand River is the second largest drainage system in Michigan so there will always be some stain to it.
Smallmouth are now in their summer mode, sitting tight to structure and in the deeper holes. We’ve been finding them in 5 to 8 feet. You’ll need to make a number of passes through the holes and against the structure to entice the larger ones to take your lure.
Dredging continues to produce. We’re using creature baits in black with blue and red flicking. 1/4 oz bullet weights and 4/0 hooks. Line is 20 lbs Power Pro High-Vis Yellow tied right to the hooks. This allows us to get right into the structure without fear of losing the fish after there take.
Pike action has been good, however, with water temps approaching near 80 please don’t play them very long, take a quick picture and return them back to the river quickly. At these temps, the pike are stressed and any prolonged play and extended picture taking will increase mortality.
Double willow bladed spinner baits and Mepps Muskey Killers are our goto’s. Fish the slack water and sloughs. Make several casts, keep your eye on the water and watch for the follow. Many times, pike will follow your lure to the boat. After the follow, if the take doesn’t happen, then cast right back out and be ready.
Summer time is one of the best times to be on the Grand and right now we have almost perfect conditions. If you want to catch smallmouth on Michigan’s largest river give us a call.
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.
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.
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.