DNR Report

May 16, 2019

Walleye and pike season for the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters and the St. Marys River opened on May 15. Trout fishing was still slow in the northern regions due to the cold nights and cold river temperatures. The action should pick up in the next week or two.

All anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license.

Overall: The walleye and pike opener should be good as water temperatures move up to the low to mid 40’s. Water levels in the rivers was still high but starting to recede and clear up. Steelhead fishing was still slow.

Copper Harbor: Fishing has been somewhat slow at both Copper and Eagle Harbor. At the piers, anglers are getting a few splake on natural and artificial baits but getting them to bite was not easy. Morning or evening seem to produce a few more fish.

Keweenaw Bay: Smelt are running sporadically and those there at the right time are getting some fish. Trolling was hit-or-miss because of the large number of smelt in shallow waters. Those using medium stick baits did catch a few coho, brown trout or splake. Those targeting lake trout had limited success. The key was to hit the feeding window and stay on top of them when you find them. Trolling near the South Entry in six to 40 feet produced a few coho and trout on stick baits. A couple Chinook were also caught. Huron Bay was producing coho and trout when trolling stick baits in shallow water. Steelhead and suckers are in the rivers.

Marquette: Boat anglers are still doing well between the Lower Harbor and the mouth of the Chocolay River. Most averaged three to five fish with a mixed bag of Chinook, coho, brown trout and splake in 15 to 40 feet. The best bite was early morning.

Chocolay River: Water levels in the upstream sections were quite high. Most anglers are launching boats from the small marina near Harvey and heading out to the mouth of the river and trolling.

Little Bay De Noc: Perch anglers reported fair catches in the “Narrows” in 30 to 38 feet and around the Third Reef in 32 feet with crawlers or wigglers. Good smallmouth bass catches were reported off the mouth of the Ford River with plastics around the rocks and along the shoreline. The walleye opener should be good and much the same as last year. The mouth of the Whitefish River could have some of the better trolling options with crawlers in about 18 feet. The Escanaba River was good last year and probably will be again this year. Bass anglers reported good numbers of walleye around the mouth of the Ford River so this area should also be good. Very few walleye were caught over the winter because of the unfishable ice conditions so the opener should be good. The rivers are high and fast.

Manistique: A few boat anglers were targeting steelhead and brown trout just outside the mouth of the river, but few were caught.

Manistique River: All the gates are now closed at the dam and could be closed for two weeks due to the installation of lamprey traps by the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. Water levels are very low and accessible below the dam. Steelhead anglers reported excellent catches along the wall when casting spawn, beads or yarn. The fish are visible to anglers now and that can make it a little harder to catch them. Walleye fishing here is usually better mid to late June.

Detour: A few lake trout and Atlantic salmon were caught between Fry Pan Island and the lighthouse with chrome and blue crank bait 10 to 15 feet down in 60 to 80 feet. All the docks are in and the boat ramps are in great shape.

Drummond Island: Anglers were still reporting good catches of yellow perch in Scott Bay with worms or shiners in four to six feet. When still-fishing does not work, try drifting or trolling.

Cedarville and Hessel: No yellow perch were caught in Cedarville Bay, Musky Bay or Government Bay. There was not much fishing effort for perch west of the Cedarville launch off Meridian Road. Most perch anglers were fishing the Hessel Marina. Those fishing in and around the finger docks caught fish ranging seven to nine inches. They were hitting on worms, shiners or wax worms. The occasional Atlantic salmon, steelhead or walleye were also caught. A good number of splake were also caught from the fishing pier with both natural and artificial spawn, frozen smelt or minnows a foot or two off the bottom in eight feet. On May 17, the wooden connector bridge that goes to the marina finger docks will be put into place so anglers will have access.

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?

  1. Wet your hands before you handle the fish – that way you won’t remove any of the protective mucus (aka slime) the fish has coating their body.
  2. Remember a fish can not 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 close to the water, that way if it squirms out of your hands it will land in the water – not on a hard surface.
  4. While holding a fish do not pinch or squeeze it and do not 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.