Fishermen hoping for rain

Fishing is starting to draw more numbers at area lakes. (Star file photo)

Fishing is starting to draw more numbers at area lakes. (Star file photo)

BIG RAPIDS -- The DNR reports in northwest Michigan stream steelhead fishing remains tough, with all northwest Lower Peninsula rivers low and clear right now.

The forecasted rain, the DNR said, should bring the peak of the season. When the winds are down, some Lake Michigan pier anglers and trollers are catching brown trout off the ports of Ludington and Manistee.

In Mecosta County, “the panfish are on fire,” Tom Vernon of Frank’s Sporting Goods said. “Steelhead is definitely on the downslide. There will be a lot of walleye showing up in the system soon. The season reopens two weeks from Saturday.”

“I know they’re going out,” Billie Milligan at Paris Archery said. “They’re probably going on the lakes because the river is down so bad.”

In Manistee, “the steelhead run in the Big Manistee is pretty much at its peak. The water bumped up to 50 degrees on Thursday. So we’re pretty much at the peak,” Rob Eckerson of Pappy’s Bait Shop in Wellston said. “We’ve been suffering at a low flow, which has been our issue. The rain we’re getting will improve the situation.

“Manistee Lake has been doing well on perch. Wigglers and minnows has been the ticket. I have not heard much from Portage Lake but we’re expecting the perch to pick up at Portage Lake as well.”

Dewey Buchner of Don’s Sporting Goods said limits of perch are being caught.

“The white perch have come in, at Manistee Lake, using minnows and wax worms,” Buchner said. “They’re catching browns and some perch off the pier.”

“The river has been kind of slow,” active angler Fred Kaul, at Tangled Tackle Co. in Manistee, said. “There’s some browns and lake trout around the pierheads, heading south and even north. Guys are catching perch off Manistee Lake.”

The DNR reported in the Petoskey area, the docks are not in yet at the public launch in Petoskey. Water levels are noticeably lower near shore in Petoskey this year and the bobberhole water looks two feet down, the DNR said.

Anglers are going after steelhead on the break wall and in the bobberhole (mouth of Bear River) mainly. Success has varied, with the weekend being a bit slower. But there have been steelhead caught in both locations over the last week, mainly on spawn bags and beads, the DNR saiod. There are still a lot of planter brown trout hanging around at the bobberhole.

The Bear River level has been low, the DNR said, adding There were some nice steelhead caught late last week at the dam and downstream, but numbers fell over the weekend. There were a mix of males and females, with many males ripe and many females still in skein. Most anglers are using spawn bags, beads and flies.

Fishing Tip: Let’s catch some crappie

Courtesy of Michigan DNR

Crappie are among the most difficult pan fish to pattern because of their tendency to suspend in the water column, except in the spring. During this time, crappie move to shallow water – sometimes in water only a couple feet deep – to spawn, so there isn’t a lot of water column to suspend in.

Crappies like both minnows and jigs. The easiest way to fish for them is to suspend the bait under a bobber, halfway between the surface and the bottom, around any sort of cover – weeds, brush, dock pilings … whatever.

Anglers who prefer a more active approach can cast with jigs and swim them back or fly fish with minnow-imitating streamers. Just think shallow in spring.