Grand Lake Promises a Grand Finish

2014 General Tire Summit Cup, Alpena, Mich., Aug. 31, 2013: Championship

Grand Lake Promises a Grand Finish
Grand Lake Promises a Grand Finish

Permitted use provided by: MajorLeagueFishing.com

ALPENA, Mich. – When Jack Link's Major League Fishing officials brought the 2014 General Tire Summit Cup to the Thunder Bay region of northeastern Michigan, they did so planning on fishing not one, not two, but three lakes.

In the Elimination Round on 8,850-acre Hubbard Lake - a deeper water body whose bottom literally crawls with gazillions of crawfish - anglers like Kevin VanDam, Greg Hackney, and Brent Ehrler showed the nation just how good the trophy smallmouth bass fishing can be in the area.

During the Sudden Death Round of competition on the shallower and more varied Long Lake, anglers like Aaron Martens, Shaw Grigsby and Timmy Horton showed the world that the fishing could be just as good - if not better - for numbers of fish and the occasional trophy bronzeback.


But as the Summit Cup grand finale takes place, MLF Commissioner Don Rucks and company may have saved the event's very best for last as the Championship Round heads to 5,660-acre Grand Lake.


What will the MLF pros find on Grand?

Well, in an event full of superlative fishing performances, the quantity and quality of fish being caught before Outdoor Channel's television cameras should cause this final day in Alpena, Mich., to end in grand fashion.

"Grand Lake is a good fishery," said Jere Johnston, a 51-year old angler who grew up fishing the various waters of northeastern Michigan. "But so is Hubbard and so is Long. Really, there aren't any bad fisheries up here. They're why I come back (home) to go fishing every chance I get."

Long Lake: 5,625 acres, 7.5 miles long, 1.5 miles wide, 23 miles of shoreline
Long Lake: 5,625 acres, 7.5 miles long, 1.5 miles wide, 23 miles of shoreline


Johnston, who now lives in the southern half of the state, loves to come home because there are many different options in his old stomping grounds including Grand, Hubbard, and Long.

As previously mentioned, the fishing is good on all of them.

And this is to say nothing of the epic bronzeback bass action that can be found on Lake Huron, a water body that the MLF pros haven't even touched at this event.


For Commissioner Rucks, all of this is part and parcel to why MLF came north to Pure Michigan for this Summit Cup competition.

"We really like the set-up here in Alpena," said Rucks when discussing how MLF came to the area that features multiple world-class smallmouth fisheries.

He then added, "I think people are really going to enjoy watching these shows. And I think they are probably going to want to come to Alpena."

Part of the excitement has been due to the fact that anglers have faced the challenge of figuring out a new lake each round with no previous intelligence, scouting or practice time on the water.

With those parameters in place, one might have expected a bit of tough fishing for the MLF pros.

But then again, these guys are the best in the business and the angling action in Alpena has been anything but tough.

In fact, it has been nothing short of world-class.

“There's a lot more backwaters, a lot more pockets, there could be some largemouths in here.”
–Tim Horton

For the bronzeback smallmouth bass, that is. But this day of championship competition, finalist Timmy Horton wonders if the green fish might come into play.

"This place looks a little different from where we've been," said Horton after getting his first look at a map of Grand Lake before the morning launch.

"There's a lot more backwaters, a lot more pockets, there could be some largemouths in here. They have not played a factor (this week), yet (anyway)."

Horton is correct on his assessment about Grand Lake; it is a bit different from the other two waters fished in the other rounds.

Like Long, the lakebed is littered with rock piles, boulders, wood, grass and other forms of vegetation on the lake's shallow flats.

But like Hubbard, there also are a few deeper spots - relatively speaking, at least - that could come into play. Those places include the passes and guts around a number of islands along with points and underwater humps that give the lake ample structural features to attract smallmouth bass.

With plenty of forage fish including yellow perch, bluegill, crappie, fingerling walleye, and shiners, the six finalists in the Championship Round should find no shortage of baits that Grand Lake's bass are willing to take.

As with his tackle choices for Long and Hubbard, local angler Johnston has several go-to baits on Grand. Specifically, he likes to throw a crawdad imitating plastic, a spinnerbait in several colors, a jerkbait or crankbait, a tube, a wacky rig and topwaters ranging from a spitting style to a walk-the-dog style bait.

"Because of the forage base (up here), I tend to stay with the natural green and brown shades that match the crawdads and yellow perch," said Johnston. "But I also like to throw a white or a white/chartreuse spinnerbait with colored blades that mimic some of the other baitfish in the lake."

Johnston, a Shelbyville resident these days, thinks that spinnerbaits will again be a pretty important lure for the MLF pros to throw during the action at Grand.

"Spinnerbaits can be very important baits up here, especially when there is some wind," he said. "But you've got to figure out what retrieve speed they want. Some days, they want it fished slowly. On other days, you've got to burn it back to the boat.

As with the other two lakes, expect the "wolf-pack" phenomenon to play a role. Given the smallmouth's propensity to group up, once an angler finds a single brown bass on Grand, odds are that he also will have found several more lurking nearby.

"As with the other lakes, where there is one, there will often be several more," said Johnston. "If you hook a fish, it pays to fish that same area some more."

Johnston calls the technique "vacuuming" an area.

"If I've caught a smallmouth on a reaction bait, I'll most often go to a tube and work the area well," he said. "Then I'll work the area over again with a faster bait and then go back over it again with a slower bait."

Does this vacuuming technique work?

“ ... you can pull 10 to 15 fish sometimes from a stretch of water that is only 50 feet long. ”
–Jere Johnston, Michigan local

It did on Hubbard. And it also worked on Long. Just ask Michigan man VanDam, who put on a virtual fish-catching clinic on both water bodies.

Given the results of the previous two rounds, Johnston has no reason to believe that "vacuuming" an area will not work on Grand.

"Yeah, you can pull 10 to 15 fish sometimes from a stretch of water that is only 50 feet long," said Johnston. "And sometimes you can find a honey hole where you can catch even more because they are just stacked up on a structural feature like a trough."

The good news for the Championship Round finalists is that there are plenty of troughs on Grand. And islands. And rocks. And humps. And flats.

With a big population of smallmouths, that sounds like a recipe for a total smash fest for anglers like KVD, Hackney, Ehrler, Martens, Horton and Grigsby, some of the best competitors that the sport of bass fishing has ever seen.

In short, the final should bring good - if not great - fishing action to these six pros.

On a day that has the potential to end Major League Fishing's week in Alpena - perhaps the organization's best week of competition ever - in totally grand fashion.

Be sure to tune in for all of the televised angling action and see for yourself!

PLEASE NOTE: The Championship Round, that will air on Saturday, February 8, is a two-hour show and will start at 2 p.m. ET. One hour earlier than normal.

"Jack Link's Major League Fishing" Show Page

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Berkley

Berkley's Frittside Crankbaits

World Fishing Network show host Chad LaChance had a chance to visit with legendary crankbait master David Fritts about his new Frittside crankbaits from Berkley. LaChance, host of the Fishful Thinker on WFN, also got a few cranking tips from Fritts, the former Classic and Forrest Wood Cup champion.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

MLF Pros: What

MLF Pros: What's Your Go-To Lure?

When all else fails, here's what these pros tie on.

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance Enters Trolling-Motor Market with Ghost

Lowrance's Lucas Steward shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead what all of the fuss is about in the brand new Ghost trolling motor being brought to market by the Tulsa, Okla.-based fishing equipment manufacturer.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some strategies. Catfish

Understanding Catfish Spawning

Keith Sutton - June 06, 2006

Unlike many game fish, catfish can be harder to catch during the spawn. Here are some...

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river. Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Striper & Hybrid

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing. Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

Various companies show appreciation to frontline defense – healthcare professionals – against the pandemic with special giveaway. News

Outdoors Industry Honoring Healthcare Heroes: COVID-19

April 27, 2020

Various companies show appreciation to frontline defense – healthcare professionals – against...

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more trophies in these waters than just largemouths. Fishing

Chase a Mixed-Bag Bite at Lake Oconee

Larry Larsen - April 28, 2020

The The eastern Georgia lake may be best known for its bass, but anglers will find more...

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip. Other Freshwater

240 Pounds! Massive Alligator Gar Taken on Father's Day

Lynn Burkhead - June 22, 2020

Bow fisherman arrows fish of a lifetime on South Texas trip.

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now