Activity for lake trout, walleye starting to improve

EVART — The DNR expects a busy fishing weekend even though catch rates have slowed. But there are opportunities out there, including the fact lake trout is holding fairly strong and walleye is just starting to pick up.

Josh Johnson keeps busy in the spring and summer coaching Evart baseball. But he’s among the area residents who will have the fishing pole handy as often as possible.

“My boys and I just got back from Canada,” Johnson said. “We had a blast.”

His recent family fishing trip was in the Wawa area three hours north of Sault Ste. Marie.

“We were fishing for walleye and pike and whatever’s biting,” he said. “We had a ball.”

One of his sons who was on the trip, Garrett Johnson, also plays for Evart’s baseball program.

“The blackflies were so bad up there, you had to wear the head nets,” Johnson said. “I try to make that trip every summer and take my boys. I haven’t done much fishing around here since bluegills got off their beds. I did a lot early. I’d say they’re pretty much done on all the smaller lakes. You get in the bigger lake like Missaukee or Rose you can still get them.”

Johnson indicated bass fishing remains strong in the area.

“There’s a lot of good bass fishing around here,” he said.

“They’re catching fish, it’s starting to pick up again,” Craig Walters, of The Eyes Have it in LeRoy, said. “They’re catching crappies on Sunrise with gulp minnows.”

Evart’s Paul Higgins has also been active.

“I was doing quite a bit of fishing the end of May and into the first couple weeks of June,” he said. “I was doing pretty good on walleye. I went up north into Benzie County a couple of times and at Eight Point Lake quite a bit. (Recently), I camped up by Wellston and fished Manistee Lake and by Tippy Dam. We did all right on Manistee lake for perch and walleye. There was a lot of fish being caught. I think we’re in a normal summer pattern now. We’ll see what happens when it gets later in the year.”

Vic Havens, of Frank’s Sporting Goods in Morley, agrees fishing potential is high, but activity has been slow in recent days.

“At the inland lakes, it’s been really slow, the hot weather is pushing them in deeper water,” he said. “In the Muskegon River, they’re starting to pick up on a few bluegills and some perch. Smallmouth (bass) are hitting very well.”

“It’s pretty slow right now,” Greg Clark, of Schafer’s Sporting Goods in Weidman, said. “They’re still catching some bluegills at Chippewa Lake, Six Lakes and the Martiny Chain. Bass fishing is slow, but they’re getting a few.”

In northwest Michigan, bass fishermen have been successful on the Elk River below the dam, the DNR said, adding plenty of fish have been caught on both crawlers and leeches and artificial tubes and grubs. Many are too small to be legal.

“They’re doing pretty decent on bluegills,” Terry Riley, of Riley’s Tackle & Gun Shop in Manistee, said. “They’re on beds in Manistee Lake at least. I don’t know about Portage. I haven’t heard anything good up there. They’re catching a lot of smallmouth in Manistee Lake.”