Northwest Area Fishing Report: October 2014


Lake trout is now closed in the Traverse City and Frankfort areas, but the fishing can still be excellent for species like whitefish and perch.  As fall rolls in, these tasty fish become more readily available as they begin to move shallower.

Those who enjoy trolling should still be able to find some coho salmon near West Bay’s Boardman River mouth.  The area known as ‘The Hole” is a common spot for anglers preferring to troll, and coho salmon often congregate in this deep water before they run up the Boardman to the weir.  Cohos are feisty fighters and can be aggressive feeders.  They can also be vertically jigged, for those that would prefer a more hands-on experience rather than trolling.  Cohos, while often feeding near the upper portion of the water column, are subject to vertical jigging techniques when they are not in an active feeding mode.

Platte Bay Lake trout are off-season now, but steelhead and brown trout are still available.  East Platte Bay’s deeper water is a good starting place for many who like to troll, but many anglers find surf fishing to be excellent right around the mouth of the Platte River.  Spawn bags presented with a pyramid sinker a long cast from the beach is the way to target both brown trout and steelhead.  Most surf anglers wade out from the beach, make a long cast and then set the rod in a rod holder set on a spike, specifically designed for this style of beach fishing.  Casting techniques can also work, using body baits like Rapalas and Husky Jerks.  Anglers would do best by trying the waters adjacent to the river’s flow, where steelhead and brown trout will cruise.  A late coho salmon or two may also be lurking, so Platte Bay can be a mixed bag!

The northern Michigan rivers are winding up the salmon spawn for the most part, and steelhead are now the prime target.  While the numbers of fall running fish aren’t as high as the spring runs, there are still great numbers, and fall steelhead tend to be awesome fighters.  With warmer river waters, fall steelhead hit hard, run fast, all the while making an impressive aerial display with its jumps.  Some northern Michigan rivers have gear restrictions on certain stretches, so please be sure to check the Michigan DNR for the current regulations on hook size, number of hooks, and whatever other restrictions there may be in place.

Fall fishing in northern Michigan can be spectacular, with the fall colors being vibrant and the air crisp.  Despite the outstanding fishing, nasty weather can roll in on a moment’s notice, so take care when heading out onto the water.