September 20, 2016
A few years ago, legendary bass fishing pro Kevin VanDam put on a smallmouth bass catching clinic while fishing in – and winning – the Major League Fishing Summit Cup competition staged near Alpena, Mich.
In short, it was an epic smallmouth catching beat down as the Kalamazoo, Mich., resident VanDam showed the world just how good his home state's bronzeback bass fishing waters can be.
If the angling world didn't know that truth back then after VanDam's crushing performance in the northeastern corner of the state, then it sure ought to know so now.
That when it comes to small jaw's fishing in Pure Michigan, there may not be a better smallmouth bass catching state anywhere else in the land.
It does seem apparent today barely one year after the Michigan smallmouth state record bass was caught in October 2015 near Alpena. Because in hot-off-the-press fashion, news has come in the last few days of yet another record-breaking bronzeback behemoth being caught in the Wolverine State.
Except this time, instead of a resident Michigan man owning the coveted mark, the new smallmouth bass record has been claimed by a Florida man.
All of this transpired on Sunday, September 14, 2016, when Treasure Island, Fla., angler Robert Bruce Kraemer used a night crawler to pull a 9.98-pound smallmouth bass from the Indian River in Cheboygan County, Michigan.
Measuring 23.10 inches in length, the nearly 10-pound smallmouth was verified as a state record fish by Rim Cwalinski, a Gaylord-based fisheries biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Kraemer may hail from the big largemouth bass waters of Florida, but he is no stranger to fishing for big smallmouth in Michigan, owning a cabin near the river and fishing for smallmouth in the state since 1965.
"I usually spend June through the end of September up here at the cottage," said Kraemer in a Michigan DNR news release. “I’ve got some great fish stories and some nice fish, but nothing like this.”
After the Michigan state record smallmouth bass mark stood for more than 100 years, it has now been broken twice in the past 12-months. Above, Florida angler Robert Bruce Kraemer displays the 9.98-pound smallmouth he pulled from Michigan's Indian River on Sept. 14, 2016. (Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR)
Kramer's recent record-breaking smallie tops the previous state benchmark caught in October 2015 by Rhodes, Mich., angler Greg Gasiciel. His big bronzeback bass had weighed in at 9.33-pounds and measured 24.50 inches in length after being pulled from Hubbard Lake near Alpena.
While Michigan is known far and wide as one of the best smallmouth states in the country, the phenomenon of catching huge fish well over 9 pounds is actually somewhat new.
According to the state's DNR, prior to the 2015 record smallmouth catch by Gasiciel, the smallmouth bass state record in Michigan had stood for more than 100 years.
That long-ago catch came in 1906 when a 9.25-pound smallmouth bass measuring 27.25 inches in length was pulled from Long Lake in Cheboygan County.
Keep in mind it’s not just big smallmouth bass anglers are suddenly catching in Michigan since a number of other memorable fish have been caught in recent times.
"In just the last four years, anglers have caught a total of 16 state-record fish, a remarkable number of big fish in a relatively short time," said Jim Dexter, chief of the Michigan DNR Fisheries Division, in a news release.
"This is just more evidence that Michigan is home to a healthy, robust fishery – a resource and sporting opportunity that continues to draw people from all over."
Even from the largemouth bass fishing paradise of Florida it would seem.
"I keep coming back to Michigan for a lot of reasons," said Kraemer after his new smallmouth record catch. "The weather, the clear, cold water, good fishing … it’s just nice up here.”
Indeed it is, especially when one has a fishing rod in hand.
Just ask Bruce Kraemer and Kevin VanDam.
Editor's Note: For more information on fishing for smallmouth bass and other species in the waters of Pure Michigan, please visit the Michigan DNR Web site at michigan.gov/fishing.