Fishing conditions continue to improve

Anglers are expecting a profitable weekend of fishing. (Star file photo)

Anglers are expecting a profitable weekend of fishing. (Star file photo)

BIG RAPIDS - The DNR reported fishing conditions improved last week for a variety of species for boat and shore anglers. Large and smallmouth bass fishing has been good statewide.

In Mecosta County, "walleyes are doing good, smallmouth are definitely on the bite, bluegills are slowing down a little bit and there are big mayfly hatches," Tom Vernon of Frankfort's Sporting Goods said. "The fishing is going to be a little slow for a week or so."

Warren Elka of Triggertime Outfitters, Big Rapids, said the warm weather "can sometimes hinder" fishing in certain spots "while in other spots, it will pick up. It's kind of a guessing game at that point."

Trout anglers should look for fly hatches at the Pere Marquette River to get started this week.

Bass fishing was fair at Lake Mecosta, while bluegill and perch fishing has leveled off, the DNR said.

In northwest Michigan, those trolling in 150 to 200 feet at Frankfort caught Chinook salmon, but water temperatures were on the cool side, the DNR said, adding lake trout were hitting 30 to 40 feet down in 50 to 80 feet and alewife were located around the pier heads.

"They've been catching lake trout and kings in 120 feet," Christine Murphy, of the Frankfort Tackle Box, said. "The majority of the good catches have been off the bank. Crystal Lake has been good for perch. It's panfish season."

Anglers heading straight out to 250 feet and working the top 60 to 80 feet picked up a few Chinook salmon on green spoons over at Onekama, the DNR said, adding Portage Lake had a mayfly hatch in the area, and the bite was slow.

At Manistee, fishing was hit or miss, and the Chinook salmon were scattered. A couple salmon and lake trout were found on the Shelf in 100 to 250 feet when trolling spoons and salmon were in the top 50 feet, the DNR said.

"Bluegills aren't done spawning yet," Bud Fitzgerald, of Tangled Tackle Co., in Manistee said. "There's a few perch being caught on Portage, and a few walleye on Portage and Bear Lake using worms and leeches."

Fly hatches on the Manistee River trout streams should start this week with the warmer temperatures, the DNR said, adding anglers should look for the Hexagenia mayflies to start hatching along the upper river. Some big brown trout were netted, the DNR added.

"There's some perch that came in on the pier and they're catching some nice salmon south of Manistee in about 120 feet, 60 feet down," Dewey Buchner, of Don's Sporting Goods in Manistee said. "Out on Manistee Lake, they're getting some bass and pike. They're getting bluegills too. At Portage, they're starting to get some perch, but not too many. They're getting a few walleyes."

"Out on the big lake, it's mostly salmon that are being caught, plus a few steelhead," Larry Scharich, of Shipwatch Marina, Manistee, said. "It's not real great."

At Ludington, chinook salmon were fished in 125 feet or deeper off Big Sable Point. A couple Chinook and lake trout were caught straight out or south of the harbor, the DNR said. Trolling spoons worked better than meat rigs.

At lakes Cadillac and Mitchell, anglers were finding crappie and bluegills.

Fishing Tip: Taking great catch-and-release photos

Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Are you an avid catch-and-release angler? Do you like to take photos of the fish you catch, prior to returning them to the water? Do you know the safest way to take these photos so you ensure the fish can live to be caught another day?

Here are some steps you can follow:

1. Wet your hands before you handle the fish; that way you won't remove any of the protective mucus (or slime) that coats the fish's body.

2. Remember fish can't breathe out of water, so they will become uncomfortable rather quickly. Keep the fish in the water until your camera is ready to take the shot.

3. Take the photo with the fish fairly close to the water, so if it squirms out of your hands it will land in the water and not on a hard surface.

4. While holding the fish, don't pinch or squeeze it and don't stick your fingers in its gills.

5. Be mindful of the different kinds of fish that have teeth and/or spines that could stick you.