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Head north for cool fishing

By DICK MARTIN • Updated Jul 14, 2019 at 11:49 PM

It's been a generally hot summer in Ohio so far, and there are likely to be more days in the 90s throughout August and into September.

If you like it hot, fine, but if you prefer cool, your best bet is to head north into Michigan. You might find temperatures high up there too, but the further north you go, the more likely you'll find cooler days and even cooler nights. You should find good fishing too, good enough that I've made over 30 trips up there. It's a great place for outdoor activities of all kinds.

I really can't say much for the southern half of the state. It's much like Ohio, but above that the country becomes cloaked in lovely white birch trees and evergreens, and clear water holding pike, bass, trout, walleye, and other species. I've fished it from side to side and north to the Upper Peninsula, and caught fish everywhere, but if I had to pick a favorite spot it would be Houghton Lake. Houghton lies in the middle of the Lower Peninsula, a huge, shallow lake filled with weeds and shaped almost like a bowl.

I've caught many a northern pike (my favorite fish) there, mostly on the west end and north side, and caught them usually via a rental boat trolling black and grey Raplas or big, ugly spinnerbaits in blue, green, and orange which they seem to favor best. The lake also holds lots of largemouth bass to five pounds and more, plenty of panfish, and a good supply of walleyes.

There are plenty of accommodations around the lake, restaurants, etc., and Higgins Lake is just a few miles away. Higgins is a deep, clear water lake that holds lake trout, rainbow trout and browns, and yellow perch, which gives visiting angles plenty of options for multiple species. You can catch the trout by either jigging or trolling.

Elsewhere in the state you can find more possibilities like Cadillac and Mitchell lakes a little further north. They produce northern pike of up to 15 pounds, and again have plenty of accommodations and amenities. Largemouth bass are found in most of Michigan's lakes, but you might zero in on Portage Lake and Lake Missauked near Lake City. Portage also has an excellent smallmouth fishery. Or Hamlin Lake, an all around hotspot for multiple species including muskies. It lies near Ludington.

One of my favorite fishing holes up there is Fletcher's Floodwaters, a very shallow, weed filled lake that seems to have lots of everything present in Michigan. It's just west of Alpena, and over the four to five times I've fished it, I caught some dandy pike and lunker bass, and when action slowed I often dropped a little white doll fly with a twister tail over the side and filled a stringer with bluegill, crappie and perch. If you base in Alpena you might try your luck on Lake Huron, taking a charter out onto big waters for Atlantic salmon, lake trout, and maybe an occasional coho salmon.

There's good action on streams, too. I love the AuSable River near Grayling, a place where I've caught brown trout and brookies in plenty, and even lake run salmon in fall. Or the Pigeon River and Sturgeon River. To find information on anything, Google the Michigan DNR or call them at 517-284-6367 or 517-284-6057, It's a wise move, since it can be a long trip and things might change on a given water from year to year You might also call (Google again) the Chamber of Commerce at the various towns and cities. It might not be cold, but surely cooler than here, and the fishing is usually good.


Dick Martin, a free-lance writer from Shelby, is a retired biology teacher who has been writing outdoor columns for more than 30 years. Reach him at richmart@neo.rr.com. You also can visit his blog at outdoorswithmartin.com.



• The Sixth Annual Ohio Women's Outdoor Adventures weekend will kick off on Friday, Sept. 13 and run through Sunday, Sept. 15 at Mohican State Park. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources event blends boating, fishing and outdoor skills with numerous nature and conservation activities. Up to 120 participants will have an opportunity to improve their skills with a complete listing of sessions and registration details at http://watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/owoa.. The event is open to women aged 16 and older and cost is $320 per person which includes lodging, five meals, transportation between venues and evening activities.

• Both Charles Mill Lake and Pleasant Hill Lake have been closed to boaters recently due to high water, but both now have their boating advisory lifted as water receded. Public boat launch ramps are open and boating activities can resume as usual. Although the advisory has been lifted, boaters should always use caution and wear a life jacket.

• Fishing continues very good along Lake Erie whenever weather permits with many quick walleye limits reported from Port Clinton to Lorain, especially around the islands and the Marblehead Peninsula. Fish have been mostly caught by trolling spoons and worm harnesses, but many anglers are finding success casting and drifting with weight forward spinners. A wide range of depths from 15 to 45 feet have been productive with those working near Locust and Toussaint reefs reporting depths of 15 to 25 feet. Best colors seem to be gold, green, and purple.

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