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EKYbasser

Nothern Michigan Smallmouth Trip

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Hello guys! I've always wanted to fish Northern Michigan for Smallmouth and I've finally  got a trip put together. My family and I have a house rented in Boyne City, MI on Lake Charlevoix for May 27 thru April 3rd. I'm so excited I can hardly wait. I chose Charlevoix because my research found that not only is it an excellent Smallmouth lake, there are many other great Smallmouth lakes nearby. My daughter loves to fish and hunt with me so she'll be in the boat with me while my wife and other daughter are shopping and relaxing. I've fished all my life (I'm 46) but have very little Smallmouth experience outside of New River, Virginia. I've got a few questions that I'm hoping to get some help with. First, I'm planning to get a copy of the fishing regulations and laws because above all I want to be legal in all aspects including boat requirements. We practice catch and release only so there's no issues with size limits. Anything in particular I should be aware of? Next, do you guys think my timing will be good (weather depending of course)? I figure that at that time some fish should be in all stages of the spawn as the full moon will on May 27 or 28 I believe. Next, is baits and techniques. I plan to start searching shallow with something like a crankbait or spinnerbait or maybe a jerkbait like a Vision 110. If I can find some fish, maybe then slow down and fish a tube or a drop shot. Does that sound like a good starting point? As I say, I'm certainly not an expert Smallmouth fisherman. Any other baits or techniques that you all would recommend? I dropshot a lot and use Roboworms and 4" Zoom lizards. Any other drop shot baits that you all would recommend? Next is weather/boating related. I want to be safe. I fish out of a 2005 Ranger 175 VS with a 115 Optimax. Love my boat but don't want to push it and get in a dangerous situation as far as water conditions go. Lastly (for now) is line/tackle. I fish G Loomis Rods and Shimano reels. I have three spinning outfits with various weights of Powerpro braid and Florocarbon leaders. I'm also going to go with all Flourocarbon on my baitcasters. What poundage would you recommend? I was thinking 10-12 as I'm anticipating very clear water. Thanks guys as I know these are a lot of questions but I'm honestly so excited that I can't get to sleep some nights!   

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So many questions. . .-Get the regs from the MI DNR website, no boat issues I can think of.  Pick your lake depending on the wind.  The really clear lakes can be tough because the bass see you so easily.  Long casts, sounds like you have the right idea on braid and FC.  No need for high pound tests as most water is pretty snag free.  Don't forget about lipless cranks.  For clear water I like chrome, lighter colors, ghost, transluscent colors.   You may find bass still spawning up there, so slow stuff for beds should be part of your plans, tubes good, even lizards.  One good search lure for me in clear Saginaw Bay is a 4 - 4.5 inch white swim bait on a 3/16 darter head jig, snapped off the bottom, vary the cadence until you get a good snap off the bottom, with a tight line drop after that.  Fish often hit on the drop.  Make sure you rig it so you keep good hook exposure/gap to the lure.  Hard jerks you have planned should be good.  Be sure to try long pauses.  If you don't fish Ned rigs, get some of various colors.  They sometimes are the only thing that works.  Fish very slowly. I would have a few silver buddie blades along in case you have to fish deeper for them.  In some of the lakes up there you will find different colored bottoms  (often dark) as you search.  Focus on them-they are often weeds which will have fish around the edges, or they will be rocks with fish anywhere near and on them.  Finally, have a few colors of super flukes (5 inch) fished weightless.  White, pink, and dark green.  Good luck.

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Thank you MickD!!! Hadn’t thought about the blade baits at all. I do fish a lot of Keitech swimbaits so I’ll definitely give those a try. I also appreciate your advice about the bottom differences. That’s something I’d never thought about. Thanks again!! 

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Lake Charlevoix is a big ass body of water.  (17,260 acres)  On a calm day, your boat should handle it.  If it gets angry, be careful. Very clear water as well.  Photo was taken last winter and he's standing on ice.  Lots of info. here.   https://www.michigan-sportsman.com/forum/search/58454791/?q=Charlevoix&o=date&c[node]=59

Charlevoix.jpg

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Thank you noway. That picture is crazy! I’m expecting clear water but that’s unreal. I think you’re exactly right about the weather. I plan to base where I fish based on the weather/wind. May start on the south arm or even hit some of the other lakes that are close by. I’ve been respooling all my baitcasters with Tatsu and InvizX and will use braid with leaders on my spinning rigs. I do appreciate your advice. 

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Only real reg that sticks out that might be different from other states is that you cant drop shot on rivers or drowned river mouths. On the lakes you are fishing you wont have to worry about it.  The only place you would get into trouble if you ventured into the channel that connects lake Charlevoix to lake Michigan.

 

  Any plastic that is green pumpkin ( I think they hammer it because it looks like a goby) or any thing that resembles a goby.  Some data has indicated that the increase in smallmouth size is due to the fact that they have been gorging on gobies.  Also, the bigger sizes could be due to the fact that the water has been clearing up due to various invasive mussles. 

 

On the deep cold lake like the one you plan on fishing the small mouth may or may not have even spawned by the time you are up there.  This spring has been a very cold one even in mid-Michigan.  Crystal lake (a deep 7 mile long lake) has not even lost its ice cover yet.

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The water temperature will be your deciding factor.... With this super cold and late spring the fish could still be in prespawn.  There are a few lakes in the area that warm up much quicker and maybe easier to fish if the winds kick up.  I have done well this time of the year with sungill colored Keitech swim baits.  Kalin grubs in green with some orange or yellow markings.  If the wind kicks up a little, a Ayu jerkbait can be the ticket.  Tubes are also a great bait once the fish start locating and locking on to the beds.  If you find a GIANT on a bed, chartreuse salamanders will definitely get bit hard.

 

I would not hesitate to drag walleye sucker minnows around behind the boat, you never know what will take hold.  

 

Feel free to PM me a few days before you leave and I can let you know what I have been seeing.  I try and get up there a few times during the Spring shallow bite.  

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We will be leaving to head home from our annual (15 years straight) trip to St Clair and I can tell you the odds are very good they will be in prespawn up North.  I'll let the local guys give you specifics but here is what I throw on St Clair every year and "something" is always "the" bait of the trip, you just never know what it is going to be.

 

1/4oz Gamakatsu football head jig.....Senko with exposed hook or Yamamoto Twin Tailed Hula Grub.

Jerkbaits....Cover the whole water column.  Shallow/floating, suspending and deep divers

Crankbaits.....Little John by SPRO.  Cell mate, Shad colors

Fluke Style.......Yamamoto DShad in Pink/pearl white/Ice blue.  Weightless.  Can work the shallows or drag deep like a tube.  4.0 Gamakatsu EWG Hook.

Rattletraps....SPRO Aruku Shad size 75 

 

Tube of the day color of the week.  Have fun!!    

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Thank you guys, I really appreciate all of the replys and the advice. You all are exactly right about the late spring. I live in Kentucky and Spring is just now starting to arrive. Our turkey season comes in Saturday and the birds are just now starting to strut. Our lakes are also still very cool. Thanks again!! 

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Wow! An 11 month house rental? That must cost a fortune. (may 27 to april 3)

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2 hours ago, detroit1 said:

Wow! An 11 month house rental? That must cost a fortune. (may 27 to april 3)

Good catch!!!! I never even noticed that 😀 It should read May 27 thru June 3. 

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Sorry...sometimes I can't help it. Bring your snowmobile suit.

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36 minutes ago, detroit1 said:

Sorry...sometimes I can't help it. Bring your snowmobile suit.

Tell me about it !

:smiley:

A-Jay

5ad4d9b643edd_Springsnow16Apr2018BR.jpg.c505de1237b4cea165f1f5caec3ca43a.jpg

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Ajay- I have never seen a snowthrower that had tracks, must be available only up north...

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8 minutes ago, detroit1 said:

Ajay- I have never seen a snowthrower that had tracks, must be available only up north...

The HS1332 is available most anywhere Honda Power equipment is sold.

btw - the 'tracks' drastically improve the machines effectiveness.

A-Jay 

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I am certainly thankful I don't live in an area where I need a snowblower with tracks.

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Me too!!!! It’s has flurried here today. Pretty unusual for this time of year and during turkey season. 

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Just bumping to the top to see if anyone has any updates as to what the fishing has been like lately around Charlevoix or Wallon. Heading out Saturday and can’t hardly wait!!! 

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On 5/23/2018 at 10:58 PM, EKYbasser said:

Just bumping to the top to see if anyone has any updates as to what the fishing has been like lately around Charlevoix or Wallon. Heading out Saturday and can’t hardly wait!!! 

I was just up to Traverse City - fishing the bays. You could catch them in all depths. I was fishing in 10-15fow and I was talking to a guy who was fishing out in the bay in deeper water. 

 

However, looking at the Lake Charlevoix fishing report, it appears the surface temps are much colder than regular inland lakes for this time - probably due to its depth and later ice out.

 

I've never been there, but I'd imagine it's going to be a deeper type of fishing for you. Unless you hit the south side first which according to Noffsinger, turns on faster.

 

 

"Noffsinger said he relies more on spinnerbaits on Lake Charlevoix than other lakes. He favors spinnerbaits in white, chartreuse, double chartreuse, and a white/purple pattern that does a good job of imitating alewives.

 

The two arms of Lake Charlevoix represent two totally different fisheries. “The south arm is shallow whereas the main lake is deep. The fishing in the south arm picks up earlier, but it gets more fishing pressure,” he said.

 

Noffsinger said that bass in Lake Charlevoix run about the same size as Traverse Bay. “Your average fish are going to be 2 to 4 pounds, but fish up to 7 pounds are common."

 

 

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Thanks FTM. Will likely hit the south arm Monday. I’d say your exactly right about the other arms of Charlevoix. I’m guessing water temps are still low, but I’ve been monitoring the weather. It’s been pretty warm during the days and warm at night so maybe temps are trending upward. I’ll be hitting some of the other lakes as well so we’ll see. I very much appreciate your reply. 

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