BY MATT DEYOUNG
Whether you like to tackle the rolling waves of Lake Michigan while trolling the depths for king-size salmon or sitting on a quiet pond with a worm and bobber chasing bluegills, the Tri-Cities has a place perfect for you.
With such an abundance and wide variety of lakes and rivers, fishermen have their pick of any number of freshwater species.
From late April to early September, salmon fishing on Lake Michigan is big business. Probing the depths for these trophy fish takes a worthy craft and a lot of specialized equipment, from electronics to downriggers, not to mention an endless supply of baits spanning every color of the rainbow.
That’s why many salmon fishermen choose to let others do the work for them, renting a charter boat for the day. A trip on a charter boat takes all of the headache out of fishing. Simply buy a license and show up with a cooler to bring home your catch, and the worthy crew does the rest, from piloting you to the best areas to fish to setting up the rods in an optimum configuration. Since salmon fishing changes drastically from week to week, trusting your luck to captains who are on the water every single day gives you quite an advantage.
If you’re equipped to go after salmon, steelhead and lake trout yourself, then be sure to check in with the local bait shops (see info box). Employees are happy to give you the latest updates on what’s biting, where, and on what.
In the spring and fall, when the water near shore is cool, salmon and steelhead can be caught by anglers fishing off the piers. Some cast artificial lures, most often spoons, while others use throw nets to catch alewives for bait. Another popular choice is spawn sacks (fish eggs put together in a small piece of mesh netting).
Another popular species on Lake Michigan is perch. At times, schools of perch venture near the piers, allowing anglers to catch them using minnows and other live baits. More often than not, a boat is needed to find perch, which school up in various spots in the lake. To find them, cruise slowly while watching your fish finder for schools of fish near the bottom. These are often perch. Other fish, such as alewives, often school up higher in the water column.
Pier anglers can catch a wide variety of fish, from catfish to sheepshead. Walleye can also be caught off the piers, especially early in the spring. Anglers typically fish for them after dark.
There are dozens of other public access spots on the Grand River, Spring Lake and surrounding bayous, where fishermen can try their luck at catching bluegills and crappies, bass, pike, walleye, catfish and many other species.
The bridges over various bayous on Spring Lake are hot spots for anglers fishing for bluegills, crappies and bass.
The bridges separating the Grand River from its bayous, especially Millhouse and Sterns, are other good bets for those hoping to fill a pail with panfish.
Several access points along the Grand offer chances for anglers to pull in sheepshead, catfish, bass and walleyes, as well as largemouth, smallmouth and white bass.
Local Bait Shops:Lakeview Marine & Tackle 24 S. Beechtree St., Grand Haven 616-842-2770 Fish On Bait & Tackle Co. 13664 Cleveland St., Nunica 616-935-6985