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Great Lakes Fishing Reports

This report is for the months of March & April 2020.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior offers great splake fishing in March and into April in Munising Bay. Anglers can target areas just off the Anna River and Munising City dock for ease of access. Another popular spot can be just off Sand Point, when ice conditions allow.

In addition to the outstanding splake fishery here, Lake Superior offers sneaky good early spring fishing nearshore and at many river mouths for coho salmon. As the ice begins to break up and leave the nearshore areas, anglers can have great success trolling for coho salmon nearshore with crankbaits. Anglers should seek cohos in Marquette Harbor, mouth of the Chocolay River, Shelter Bay, Munising Bay, Grand Marais near the Sucker River, and off the mouth of the Two Hearted River.

Some anglers might seek steelhead early. These anglers need to keep in mind the snow load that accumulates in many of the shoreline areas off Lake Superior. Steelhead fishing in March and April can be good to excellent on many streams including, but not limited to, Chocolay River, Rock River, Au Train River, Anna River, Miner’s River, Sucker River, Two Hearted River, and the Whitefish Bay tributaries.

As a bonus, in some years the smelt runs off Lake Superior can provide great opportunities for dipping.

Lake Michigan

Spring can be a very productive time on Lake Michigan. Coho salmon fishing is usually great in March between the ports of New Buffalo and St. Joseph as soon as the ice goes out. Those coho salmon move north to Grand Haven and Muskegon usually in early April. Brown trout and lake trout can be productive from Ludington to Frankfort in April. Large spring chinook salmon also start to show up between New Buffalo and Muskegon. Some of these spring salmon have pushed 15 to 20 pounds in recent years. Steelhead also come nearshore and in rivers this time of year along the southern coast of the Upper Peninsula and all along the western coast of the Lower Peninsula. Try fishing along beaches, piers, and in rivers.

Lake Huron

Spring walleye fishing in Lake Huron will be heating up fast and so are the salmon and trout fishing opportunities. Expect steelhead fishing to pick up along the coast as these big silver bullets move into the streams and tributaries. Atlantic and coho salmon will also be caught in both shore and boat fisheries. Lake trout fishing should also be good and if you want to catch something even more unique, try for the colorful splake in the Les Cheneaux Islands.

Lake St. Clair (as part of Lake Erie)

Lake St. Clair continues to provide a world-class fishery for smallmouth bass, muskellunge, and walleye. Seasonal opportunities for Atlantic salmon are available in the nearby St. Clair River, as well as the unique opportunity to fish for lake sturgeon. The many canals around Lake St. Clair offer abundant angling opportunities for panfish, including bluegill, pumpkinseed, and black crappie, and don’t overlook nearshore areas which provide ample angling opportunities for largemouth bass.

Brought to you by the Michigan DNR.

To view Michigan DNR’s weekly fishing report, please visit www.michigan.gov/FishingReport.


Lake Erie

Lake Erie is essentially ice free but that isn’t stopping anglers from enjoying tremendous success in the western basin of Lake Erie. Trolling deep diving crankbaits and stick baits have been the most popular techniques at speeds 1.0 to 1.5 mph. Fisheries biologists said anglers have reported reeling in an average of four walleye per trip when fishing the waters between Cedar Point and Kelley’s Island.

By mid-March—or when the water temperature reaches 45 degrees—anglers would do well fishing the reef complex area located west of Catawba Island. Typically, a 1/2 ounce hair jig will get the job done. Hatch data gathered by the ODNR indicates 2020 could be a record season for walleye fishing. Considering the 2019 walleye population was estimated to be 45 million fish ages two and older, the projection exceeds 120 million fish for 2020. Keep in mind, the daily walleye limit in Ohio is six fish with a 15-inch minimum length. Additionally, effective January 1, 2020, it is legal to use three rods per angler in the Lake Erie Sportfishing District. Anglers are advised to use extreme caution with cold water temperatures, and to use life jackets or float coats at all times.

Brought to you by the ODNR.

Find updated Lake Erie fishing reports at www.wildohio.gov.


Niagara River

Anglers fishing the open harbors around the upper Niagara River report catching decent numbers of yellow perch. In some harbors, perch are feeding on schools of minnows, which may also be dipped and used for perch bait. Anglers are catching some lake trout and walleye between the head of the river and the islands.

Lower river conditions are looking good. Boaters continue to see decent to good action for steelhead with some brown trout, lake trout, and walleye mixed in. Controlled drifting with three-way rigs with live shiners, egg sacs, or trout beads has worked well for trout. Walleye are more apt to hit rigs with shiners. Shore anglers in the gorge are catching good numbers of steelhead.

NOTE: Lake trout season opened on the lower river on January 1. Also starting January 1, the walleye daily limit on the lower river decreased from three to one, with a minimum length of 18 inches through March 15. The walleye season will then close until May 2.

Brought to you by 1st Choice Charters.

For more information, visit www.1stchoicecharters.com.


Lake Ontario

Weather permitting, the perch fishing on Lake Ontario continues to be very good to excellent. The usual places such as Chaumont Bay and Henderson Harbor are still producing well. There have been a few reports of some daredevil diehards going out onto the lake trolling for browns and steelhead with some success, more so on the west end of the lake. The tributaries, such as the Oswego River and the Salmon River have been giving up some nice catches of brown trout and steelhead. If the milder weather persists, it should make for some exceptional early spring lake shore fishing for brown trout and spring kings.

Brought to you by Capt. Jimmy Samia

Find out more about fishing in Lake Ontario at www.acecharters.com.

 

This report was written for the Spring Issue (Mar/Apr) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.


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