SPRINGTIME FISHING - WEST BAY STYLE
When the ice leaves Lake Michigan, crystal blue waters are exposed on the lake and in its bays due to decreased turbidity (there are less suspended materials in the water column). These pristine waters make for excellent fishing opportunities along the breathtaking shorelines, and after the long winter, the fish are very active.
There are many great charter boats out there from Ludington to Petoskey, and Traverse City’s West Bay is smack in the middle of what is considered by many to be the best freshwater fishing region in the Midwest. Smallmouth bass, lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, walleye, salmon, drum and cisco are what we target in the waters of West Bay when trolling, while perch can be taken at anchor, and carp are commonly pursued by the fly-fishing enthusiast from the shore or in waders.
During the summer the trout and salmon congregate on the drop-offs and in the deeper water (usually 100 – 120 feet), but in May and June they frequent the shallows and flats - so dipsy divers, planers and long-lines on the downriggers are good springtime techniques.
Ultra-light tackle and small spoons make for fantastic fishing action, and the fish are active all day long at this time of year. Don’t be afraid to use light line, like 6 to 12 pound test. Most of the billfish tournaments we fish in the Florida Keys in the winter are limited to 12 or 20 pound test. We routinely take 60 lb sailfish – one of the faster fishes in the ocean – on 12 pound line, and blue marlin up to 250 lbs on 30 pound test, so don’t overkill line diameter.
I like to start with a little lighter drag on my reels when using light line, and tighten them up a bit when the fish begin to wear down. When they get closer to the boat, I lighten the drag a little again, just in case they make a big run when they get to the boat.
With waters this clear, lighter line can greatly increase your odds of a bite, and it will sharpen your angling skills!
Capt. Sammy Worden / Showtime Xtreme Charters
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