Anglers facing colder weather


1:01 am EDT, Thursday, October 8, 2020

BIG RAPIDS — Fall fishing can be exceptional, but the weather can change quickly, the DNR said, especially on the Great Lakes.

Rain and windy conditions this week have slowed fishing and limited angler participation.

In Mecosta County, “they’re giving walleye one last shot but they haven’t had a ton of success lately,” Tanner Havens of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “It’s been slow. I know a few other guys are ready and anxious for the salmon to start running in the river, which we haven’t heard of yet. But it should be anytime now.”

“It’s going real good,” Tom Vernon of Big Rapids said. “There’s a lot of salmon in the river.”

In northwest Michigan, at Frankfort, a few coho were caught in Platte Bay when trolling or jigging, the DNR said. Chinook numbers have dropped, as most have made their way into the river.

Portage Lake anglers are starting to see a few more perch in some areas, but many were still on the small side, the DNR said.

“They’re getting some at Tippy and Rainbow Bend, but nothing down the river,” Dewey Buchner of Don’s Sporting Goods in Morley said. “The Betsie has a lot in it.”

Fishing was slow at Manistee for those trolling the harbor and outside the piers. Pier fishing is slow and those not targeting salmon did get smallmouth bass and panfish.

“There’s lot of fish in the river right now,” Bud Fitzgerald of Tangled Tackle Co., said. “A fresh push came in (Sept. 23). They’re starting to catch a few walleye back on Manistee Lake. Perch are back in around the grass.”

Anglers are finding a fair number of Chinook salmon all the way up to Tippy Dam at the Manistee River. Some fish have turned dark, but there is fresh fish with the rain and cooler temperatures.

“Salmon fishing is approaching its peak at the Big Manistee at Tippy Dam,” Rob Eckerson, of Pappy’s Bait Shop said. “They took salmon eggs at the Little Manistee weir on Thursday, so that’s significant. Small streams are closed as of Sept. 30. The cold front has negatively affected the inland lakes. Fishing has been (slow) for pan fishermen.

Ludington had slow catch rates at Lake Michigan. Those fishing at Ludington State Park had little luck, the DNR said, adding pier anglers did manage to catch a couple coho. Pere Marquette Lake was also slow.

Pere Marquette River anglers are catching salmon as more fish move into the river.

Fishing Tip: Go “hunting” for fish this fall

Courtesy of the DNR

Autumn can be one of the best times of year to seek out your favorite fish species for a day of fun angling. Several species to target this October and November include walleye, perch and trout.

Walleye are thought to be in their best condition in the fall and often can be found in the river mouth areas of larger, inland lakes. They’re gathering there to take advantage of baitfish that like to hang out as the weather cools off. Set your sights on 10-12 feet deep to find these guys.

Perch also populate around these same river mouths, but these fish likely will be much closer to the river than walleye. Check out depths as shallow as 4 feet to find them.

Trout, available in some of these larger lakes during this time as well, can be found in the same areas as walleye and perch.

Try your luck at some great fishing this fall. For more information on the numerous autumn opportunities, visit

If you’re headed out fishing, please do your part to keep yourself and others safe by following COVID-19 public health and safety guidelines. Go fishing only if you’re feeling well. Practice proper social distancing (at least 6 feet away from people who don’t live in your household) and keep a face covering handy for when social distancing cannot be maintained. Frequently wash your hands with soap and warm water, or use hand sanitizer.

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