Michigan anglers who like to troll can’t wait for summer. Things start to warm up then. Weather patterns are more stable and fishing more predictable. About the only hard part is deciding what kind of fish you want to catch. If you have a trailerable boat, you’ve got plenty of options.
June signals the beginning some of the best walleye fishing of the year. Walleyes begin schooling in shallow, open basins of the Great Lakes where trolling is the most practical and productive way to fish for them. Thermoclines begin to form, which help to concentrate Great Lakes salmon schools and kicks their metabolisms into high gear. Currents and upwellings in the northern part of Lake Michigan beckon steelhead from all over the lake in June.
Thermal barriers and scum lines cause lake-run rainbows to gather within a fathom of the surface over the deepest water found in the lake. Lake Superior’s best lake trout fishing takes place in June and into the summer months. Cool water has lakers still concentrated in relatively shallow water in June.
Anglers willing to trailer their boat to the northern parts of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan and Lake Superior will find great fishing for native trout and a hodgepodge of other species.
The hardest thing for June trollers to decide on is where to go. There are some tough choices to be made concerning the fishing for trout, salmon and/or walleyes. Here’s a list of destinations that might just help make that decision a little easier.
LAKE ERIE WALLEYES
Post-spawn walleyes dropping down out of the Raisin, Maumee, Detroit and Sandusky rivers begin to fan out in the shallows of Lake Erie in June. Spring run-off has ended, the lake is clearing and the tepid waters are filled with baitfish. Ravenous schools of walleyes can be found from LaPlaisance Bay and Woodtick Peninsula throughout Brest Bay and off Stony Point. There’s no need to go too far because you’ll find plenty of walleyes in the 12- to 18-foot depths well into July during a cool year.
“A really good spot is off Stony Point, the Bell Buoy and the Banana Dike,” offered Howell angler Jim Balzer. “You’ve got to watch the wind and set up your troll accordingly, but once you hit on a troll it’s pretty easy to take a limit in a couple of hours.”
Target 15 to 18 feet of water. Most of the walleyes in the Michigan waters of Lake Erie will range from 15 to 20 inches, but there are still some trophy fish to be had in June when the walleyes begin a steady migration to the east. Wise anglers have an Ohio fishing license in their pockets too, as some of the better fishing takes place just on the other side of the Ohio state line, and there’s no line on the water to delineate when you’re in one state or the other.
Walleyes can be caught in June by drifting, jigging or casting, but trolling allows anglers to cover more water, to cover more depths, and to stay on roaming schools. Crankbaits and spoons are popular with Lake Erie trollers with the walleyes preferring some gaudy, bizarre colors most days. It might be because of the water clarity or it might be that the gaudy-colored lures just look like something out of the ordinary.
Balzer advised anglers to bring along some crawlers, just in case. On days when the fish are fussy, Balzer said that real meat can be counted on to produce a limit. You’ll tend to catch more of the non-targeted species with nightcrawlers, but you’re also likely to catch some of the bigger walleyes on meat. Balzer runs brightly colored crawler harnesses off Church Tackle in-line boards and adds weight ahead of the harnesses to get them deep.
“Watch your graph for signs of suspended walleyes and then position your baits just above them,” he advised. “Once you catch a few fish, a pattern will become evident.”
Balzer added that a little spring rain that dirties the water slightly can produce great fishing.
Anglers have a variety of option for launching on Lake Erie. Launch sites are available at Luna Pier, Otter Creek, Bolles Harbor, Sterling State Park, at Detroit Beach and in the Raisin River. For bait, tackle and fishing reports contact Jeff’s Bait & Tackle at (734) 289-4901, or Bottomline Bait & Tackle, (734) 379-9762.
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