Monthly Archives: July 2016

What Are Invasive Carp

Know the difference: Invasive Carversus Common Carp

Michigan DNR Staff
from The Fishing Wire

There’s a lot of talk around the Great Lakes these days about carp, especially invasive or Asian carp. What about common carp, those monsters of Michigan waters anglers love to battle with fly rods? Are these fish one and the same and what’s the big deal about carp anyway?

The issue can be confusing.

To better understand the important differences, it’s best to start with a definition of what an “invasive” species is.

“Invasive species are those species which are not native to a particular area – in this case Michigan – and whose introduction causes harm or would be likely to cause harm to the state’s economy, human health or environment,” said Joanne Foreman, communications coordinator for the Michigan Invasive Species Program.

Just because a species is not native does not make it invasive.

“Whether fruits, vegetables, livestock or field crops, most non-native species are not harmful and many provide benefits to Michigan, from boosting the economy to beautifying landscapes,” said Nick Popoff, head of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Unit. “When it comes to fish, some non-native species beneficial to Michigan through sportfishing enjoyment have included coho and Chinook salmon and brown and rainbow trout.”

Invasive species are those particular non-natives that pose potential harm.

As the name “invasive” suggests, these species can out-compete native species by reproducing and spreading quickly in areas where they have no natural predators, thereby changing the balance of the ecosystems Michigan relies on for recreation, commerce, food and jobs.

Means of introduction

From the emerald ash borer and sea lamprey to rusty crayfish and Eurasian watermilfoil, numerous invasive species have found their way to Michigan, often by interesting means.

Some traveled here in the ballast water of ships. Others escaped from pet stores or were household pets let go into the wild where they adapted to local conditions. Still others hitched rides on planes, trains and automobiles.

In the case of all carp species, they intentionally were introduced to North America.

Common carp

Common carp were brought to the United States during the late 1800s as an esteemed food of European and Asian markets. Native to Eurasia, common carp are found today in the Great Lakes, large inland lakes and reservoirs, small and large rivers, swamps, canals and drains. Many frequent places where water quality is less than ideal.

An increasing number of sport anglers enjoy battling these fish and some charter operators now offer carp excursions.

Common carp average 15 to 32 inches and 4 to 31 pounds. They have triangular heads, blunt snouts and small barbels (fleshy, whisker-like filaments) at the corners of their mouths.

Because they have been widely distributed and their demand as a food source has diminished, common carp sometimes are referred to as a nuisance species. However, they are not considered invasive in Michigan.

Invasive carp

There are four carp species that are described as invasive – bighead, silver, grass and black.

In the 1970s, invasive carp were brought to the U.S. from Asia, primarily to eat algae in the ponds of aquaculture operations located in the South. During flooding events, these fish escaped into the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and have been migrating north toward Lake Michigan.

Because the invasive carp problem is a binational and multistate issue, U.S. federal and state governments are working together with Canada on a resolution.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in a partnership with state and federal agencies, has erected electric barriers in the Chicago Area Waterway System and a berm in Indiana to try to keep the carp from reaching the Great Lakes.

The Michigan DNR is among the leading agencies advocating for additional efforts to stop the spread of these fish.

The watch list

Michigan maintains a “watch list” for invasive species. Species on the watch list have never been confirmed in the wild in the state or have very limited distribution. If they are encountered, they should be reported as soon as possible.Silver carp, one species of invasive carp, are pictured leaping out of the water after being disturbed by a passing boat.

“Early detection and timely reporting of these species are crucial for increasing the chances of preventing establishment and limiting potential ecological, social and economic impacts,” Foreman said.

Bighead, silver, grass and black carp are on the watch list. They also are “prohibited” invasive species in Michigan.

Prohibited and restricted species

Some invasive species are legally designated by the state of Michigan as either “prohibited” or “restricted,” making them unlawful to possess, introduce, import, sell or offer for sale as live organisms, except under certain circumstances.

• The term “prohibited” is used for invasive species that are not widely distributed in the state. Often, management or control techniques for prohibited species are not available.

• The term “restricted” is applied to invasive species that are established in the state. Management and control practices usually are available for restricted species.

Michigan’s Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act (Part 413 of Act 451) established the list of prohibited and restricted species, which is regularly amended by Invasive Species Orders.

Bighead and silver carp

Of the four invasive carp species on the watch list, bighead and silver carp pose the most concern.

“Bighead and silver carp are spreading to lakes, rivers and streams in the Mississippi River and Great Lakes region. They have been moving steadily north, but are not yet established in the Great Lakes,” said Seth Herbst, a fisheries A bighead carp, bottom, and a silver carp are pictured. These two invasive carp species are of the biggest concern.biologist and the DNR Fisheries Division’s aquatic invasive species coordinator. “These two species like large lakes and connecting rivers, and if introduced would have the ability to adapt to Michigan’s cold winters.”

Biologists expect that if these invasive carp make it to Michigan waters, the fish will disrupt the food chain that supports native fish of the Great Lakes, such as walleye, yellow perch and lake whitefish – which could diminish fishing opportunities for sport and commercial anglers.

“Due to their large size and rapid rate of reproduction, bighead and silver carp pose a significant threat to the ecosystem of the Great Lakes Basin,” said Tammy Newcomb, DNR senior water policy advisor and fisheries research biologist. “Silver carp leap high out of the water when disturbed by watercraft. Boaters can be and have been injured by these leaping fish. Fear of injury could diminish the desire for recreational boating activities in areas inhabited by these fish.”

Bighead and silver carp have eyes situated below their toothless mouths. Silver carp may grow to longer than 3 feet and weigh up to 60 pounds, while bighead carp are even larger – up to 5 feet long, weighing up to 90 pounds.

Adult bighead carp are dark gray, with dark blotches. As the name implies, silver carp are silver colored with white bellies.

Black carp

Black carp are the largest of the four invasive carp species, able to grow to over 6 feet long and weigh more than 150 pounds.

Black carp are the largest of the four invasive carp species. They can be over 6 feet long and weigh more than 150 pounds. These fish have blackish-brown-bluish scales and an almost white belly.

So far, bighead, silver and black carp have not been found in Michigan waters. There is no evidence that these three carp species have colonized or are present in any numbers in the Great Lakes.

Grass carp

“Grass carp have been detected in low numbers in all the Great Lakes, except Lake Superior, since the early 1980s (Lake Erie in particular) and have historically been introduced into waterways for aquatic nuisance vegetation control in some Great Lakes states,” Popoff said.

Grass carp can grow to more than 5 feet long and weigh more than 80 pounds. They have eyes that sit in line with their mouths, or slightly above, and scales that look to be crosshatched.

“In the mid-1980s, a grass carp sterilization program was put in place to reduce the risk of introduced fish reproducing and reaching nuisance levels that would result in detrimental impacts,” Herbst said. “The sterilization program has worked to some extent, but fertile fish are still being captured in locations where only sterile fish introduction is authorized.”

Despite the reduced threat of grass carp, Michigan is still taking a proactive approach with regulations, enforcement, and using a scientific approach to increase the effectiveness of control efforts.

Knowing the difference between common and invasive carp is not as difficult as it might seem at first, once you know the facts.

“Educating ourselves and others on these species can go a long way in the fight against the proliferation of these non-native, invasive species of carp – fish that have the potential to dramatically damage or destroy Great Lakes ecosystems, causing untold losses to Michigan’s economy and world-class natural resources,” Foreman said.

Watch Michigan DNR staff training to catch invasive carp in Illinois.

Report invasive (Asian) carp and get more information on invasive species. Find out more about the history of common carp in North America.

Summer Fishing Tips for Walleye

Summer Fishing Tips for Walleye from Champ Scott Glorvigen
from The Fishing Wire

Forget the bank for summer fishing success

A variety of gamefish gravitate to offshore feeding grounds in the summer, giving savvy anglers ample reason to abandon the bank in favor of deep-water hotspots.

“This time of year, many walleyes, bass and other types of fish move away from shoreline areas that held fish in the spring,” says noted fishing expert and tournament champion Scott Glorvigen. “The good news is, they don’t scatter aimlessly. More often than not, the fish relocate to main-lake cover and structure that offers reliable feeding opportunities.”

While more than a few anglers are intimidated at the prospect of searching for fish in the blue-water abyss, Glorvigen says finding and catching your favorite quarry is a simple process, provided you follow an easy yet effective plan of attack.

“The first step is using your electronics to find likely areas and scan them for fish,” he begins. “The sport’s pioneers used simple flashers to quickly sweep structure as they hunted for walleyes on massive bodies of water like Lake Oahe. They had the discipline not to fish until they saw them on their electronics.

“The concept still applies,” he continues. “And today we’re blessed with cutting edge sonar and GPS chartplotters with built-in mapping that make our searches far easier and more efficient.”

For his part, Glorvigen rigs his boat with Lowrance HDS Gen3 units stationed at the bow, helm and stern, networked together for seamless shifts between presentations including trolling, backtrolling and live bait rigging. “I can share waypoints and maps, and even select multiple transducer locations, all without missing a beat,” he explains.

And no matter how promising a spot may appear, Glorvigen doesn’t linger if no fish are marked. “Too many times, anglers are guilty of fishing areas that look good, even if fish aren’t present,” he says. “That’s a waste of precious fishing time.”

If you’re tempted to try a fishless spot based on memories or how it looks, he encourages you to reconsider. “Think of it in hunting terms,” he says. “If you were spotting and stalking whitetails, and glassed every inch of a field or valley without seeing anything, would you still sneak out there on your hands and knees just because it looks so good?”

Watch this video to see more of Scott’s finesse fishing tactics.
When fish are marked, Glorvigen uses sonar to gauge their mood, or activity level, so he can select a presentation to match it. “For example, walleyes suspended a foot off bottom on the top or crown of a breakline are most likely active and will respond to more aggressive tactics like crankbaits or spinners,” he explains. “Bottom huggers lying on the side or base of a break usually need more finesse with a Roach Rig, Lindy Rig or some sort of snell and live bait.”

Fish that move around also dictate different presentations than those content to hunker in one area. “Spinners and cranks help you keep up with cruisers,” he says. “Jigging or slowly dragging a crawler on a live-bait rig is better for fish that stay in one spot.”

He also advocates a more vertical approach when fish are concentrated in a small area. “People have a tendency to make long drifts or trolling passes, even when all their bites come from one spot,” he says. “You’ll catch more fish by staying on top of them.”

Deep water or stained conditions such as algae blooms allow anglers to position themselves over a school of fish without spooking them. “Use your sonar to watch the bait and how fish react to it, similar to ice fishing,” Glorvigen says.

If you have trouble holding the boat over a sweet spot, he suggests throwing a marker buoy for reference or dropping a waypoint on your GPS plotter. “Hands-free options like the Spot-Lock feature on Minn Kota’s Ulterra bowmount trolling motor are a big help, too,” he says. “They allow you to focus on fishing, not boat control, and keep the boat in place even when you’re tending to a fish or otherwise preoccupied.”

As he formulates a fishing strategy, Glorvigen also considers mitigating factors like the prevailing wind. “Fish are usually more active where the wind or a wind-driven current meets cover or structure,” he says. Places where migratory baitfish such as smelt, shiners or ciscoes bump into a piece of structure when moving in from open water can also be hotspots, he notes.

While fishing an area, Glorvigen also pays close attention to which trolling passes and casts trigger the most strikes. “Predators are often conditioned to baitfish, wind-blown insects or other forage coming at them from a certain direction, such as deep to shallow,” he says.

By piecing together such pertinent clues after locating fish on main-lake structure or cover, Glorvigen guarantees you’re well on your way to enjoying successful offshore adventures all summer long.

Watermelons and Pocket Knives

Cutting a watermelon last week brought back great summertime memories. Since we had a commercial egg farm there was a big walk in cooler at my house. It stored eggs year round but during the summer there were always some watermelons in it, getting icy cold and ready to eat.

It was always a festive time when everyone gathered, usually in the middle of the hot afternoons, under the big pecan tree beside our house. There was an old outbuilding roof there on the ground. It sat on concrete blocks about two feet off the ground and its plywood cover was perfect for cutting and eating watermelon.

I spent many happy afternoons sitting on that old roof, a crescent of watermelon in my hands and cold juice running down my chin. It was the perfect way to cool off and tasted so good!

I usually ate the red flesh from the rind by biting off chunks of it. The adults were more decorous, using a knife to cut off bites size chunks, not wanting juice running off their chins onto clothes. Since I usually had on a pair of shorts and no shoes or shirt I didn’t care.

When I was eight we were eating watermelon and the big butcher knife used to cut it was lying near me. I decided to be a big boy and used it to cut off bite size chunks. When I finished, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to stab the rind laying on the plywood.

I will never forget seeing my hand slip off the wood handle and slide down the blade. There was no hand guard on the knife and my fist went all the way to the end of the knife. It didn’t really hurt for a second and I opened my hand to see a gash across my palm that instantly filled with blood.

Of course my mom freaked out and they rushed me to the emergency room eight miles away. I remember lying on the table with my right arm stretched out and my hand open while the doctor worked on it. My mom stood on my left holding that hand and keeping my face turned toward here. I wanted to watch what the doctor was doing but she would not let me.

Just as he finished up my mom asked why I was staring into her eyes, then she realized I was watching the reflection of the procedure in her glasses. It took eight stitches to close it up and I still have a faint white line across my palm from the scar.

I should have known better than be careless with a knife since I always had one in my pocket from the time I was about six years old. Back in the 1950s and 60s boys would rather go without pants than leave their knives at home.

We used our pocket knives for everything from playing games to cleaning game. We took them to school every day with no problems, and at recess we often carved or played games with them.

Almost all of us had “jack” knives with two folding blades that came out of the same end. One was longer than the other. That was good for what we called mumbly peg – a game where we used a piece of wood between two of us. You would open your knife with the long blade straight with the handle and the short blade at a 45 degree angle to it.

With the point of the short blade on the wood and the handle resting on your fingertip, with the handle and long blade parallel to the wood, you would flip the knife into the air. The trick with to flip it up high enough and spin it just right so the long blade point stuck into the wood.

You had to flip the knife high enough to come down with enough force to stick without flipping it off the board. Points were given based on which blade stuck. There was some skill to it and we could do it for hours.

Another game was split. Two of us would stand facing each other about two feet apart. You took turns throwing your knife, trying to stick it in the ground out from your opponent’s foot. When it stuck he had to move that foot out to it. When one of you could not get your foot out far enough, you lost. One twist in the game was if you stuck the knife between you opponents feet, usually after they had been spread apart some, they had to turn around backwards for the rest of the game.

To go full circle today, cutting the watermelon last week also reminded me of using my pocket knife to cut open citrons while dove or quail hunting. Citrons grew wild in many of the fields we hunted and after a hot afternoon of walking in the fall anything to drink sounded real good.

Citrons look like small watermelons but everyone considered the noting but hog food at best. The flesh when cut open is white and tougher than a watermelon, and dryer. And it tastes more like rind than the flesh. But on a hot afternoon with a parched throat even that bad tasting, tough flesh that was almost boiling hot from sitting in the sun, was a welcome treat!

Without my trusty pocket knife I could not quench my thirst very easily.

What Is the Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project?

BTT Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project
from The Fishing Wire

BTT is pleased to announce that our new tarpon acoustic tagging project is beginning shortly. The purpose of this study is to obtain scientific data necessary for tarpon conservation that will be used exclusively to protect tarpon and enhance their habitat through improvements in fishery management. BTT will not distribute specific data to the public and will only describe tarpon movements and habitats in a general way in order to build public support for greater protections. This project will help answer the following questions:

Is the tarpon population large and robust or small and vulnerable? If anglers in a particular location are fishing for the same fish every year, then the tarpon population is probably smaller than we think, and issues like shark predation will become a bigger concern. If fish move among regions every year, and anglers are fishing for different fish each year, the tarpon population is probably large.
Do tarpon use the same spawning site each year or move among spawning sites? On average, ocean currents will carry the larvae from a spawning site to juvenile habitats in a specific geographic region. If it’s the same adults at the spawning site every year, then local adult losses will cause declines in juveniles. If tarpon move among spawning sites, then the population will be more resilient.
How do changes in freshwater flows into coastal waters influence tarpon movements? Do the problems with Lake Okeechobee and Everglades restoration impact tarpon? Are the water issues in Apalachicola causing changes in tarpon movements?
What are the movement patterns and habitat use of mid-size tarpon (20-50 pounds)? How will these tarpon be impacted by coastal water quality issues? This size class, which is the future of the fishery, is very vulnerable to changes in coastal habitats and water quality.

Why Acoustic Tracking?

Although satellite tagging previously funded by BTT provided valuable data, the tags typically only stayed on the tarpon for a few months at a time, which prevented long-term tracking. In addition, because of the large size of the satellite tags, their use is limited to tarpon over 80 pounds.

The new Tarpon Program will use acoustic telemetry to track tarpon movements.

acoustic tags come in many sizes
Advantages of acoustic tags are that they are smaller and less invasive and can remain with the fish and active for up to five years rather than a few months. In addition, because acoustic tags come in a range of sizes, they can be used on tarpon from 20 pounds and larger, not just the extra-large adults. They also cost significantly less than satellite tags.

How Acoustic Tagging Works

Tags are surgically implanted in the abdomen. Each tag emits an ultrasonic ping that has a unique code for each tag. These pings are detected by underwater receivers when a tagged fish swims in range. When receivers are placed at strategic locations like inlets, bridges, and schooling locations, they can be very efficient.

As part of this four-year study, BTT will place 20 new receivers in waters around Florida, to add to the 60 receivers we already have in the water. In addition, colleagues at universities and state and federal agencies are using this technology to study movements of other fish species. Their receivers will also detect BTT tarpon tags. With more than 1,300 receivers in the water in the Gulf of Mexico, and more than 3,000 along the southeastern US coast, this project will be able to examine both local and long-distance movements for many years. BTT will tag 50 fish in each year of the study.

How You Can Help

Sponsor a Tarpon: Sponsor an acoustic tag for $2,500. You can name your tarpon, and will receive a certificate with its name, photo and initial capture info (very general location and measurements). Each time BTT downloads data from the receivers (approximately every 6 months), a summary of the general data on your fish will be sent to you.

Sponsor a Receiver: Sponsor and name an acoustic receiver (listening station) for $3,000. Each time BTT downloads data from your listening station, you will receive a summary of the fish that have been detected by that station.

Help us tag tarpon. Prior to a tagging trip, our scientists will put out a notice about when and where they will be, along with contact information. If you are fishing in that area when we are tagging, all you need to do is call us when you catch a tarpon. We’ll come to your boat, transfer the tarpon over, and take care of the rest. Remember to always keep the tarpon in the water!

Contact Us Today!

For more information and to sponsor a tag or receiver, please contact Alex Woodsum, Director of Development and Communications at 617-872-4807 or

The purpose of this study is to obtain data necessary for conservation. Data from this study will only be shared with the public in a very general sense to explain how the data is contributing to conservation. Specific data on tarpon movements, habitat use, etc. will not be shared. Our goal is to use these data for conservation, not to help anglers catch more tarpon. So rest assured, the data is highly confidential.

Deep cover keys summer crappie success

Deep cover keys summer crappie success–why not make your own?

Editor’s Note: Here’s a nice little story on summer crappie fishing and building your own fish attractors from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission that could apply pretty much anywhere the fish are found.
from the Fishing Wire

Each spring, anglers comb the shallows at DeGray Lake in Hot Spring and Clark counties, probing tiny jigs and minnows at any likely looking spot in search of crappie. Rarely do anglers leave empty-handed when the dogwoods are blooming and the fish are spawning. But once summer’s heat sets in and the fish move out of the shallows, most anglers hang up the jigging poles or use the same tactics as spring, leaving the lake with hungry stomachs and a bare live well.

John Duncan, owner of, says catching crappie once the spawn has ended can be just as good as when they’re on the beds. Anglers just have to switch to deep-thinking mode. Once the water’s surface temperature begins to creep into the 80s, crappie seek the comfort of cooler water found a little deeper.

“If you just look across the surface, there doesn’t seem to be hardly anything to hold fish, but it’s a different world under the water,” Duncan said. “The Corps [of Engineers], the Game and Fish and some local anglers have sunk a bunch of brush piles throughout the lake, you just have to look for them.”

The latest electronics can be extremely helpful in finding brush piles made of branches and woody cover, but can be tricky to read when searching for brush made of bamboo or river cane, materials extremely popular with crappie anglers.

“If you’re using a side-imaging depth finder, wood will show up easily, but bamboo brush piles may only look like a shadow on the bottom,” Duncan said. “Sometimes you have to go right over it before you can really see what it looks like.”

Anglers who can’t afford high-dollar electronics still can find plenty of offshore options for crappie, it just takes a little more effort and elbow grease. A five-gallon bucket, some hand-cut bamboo and some fast-setting concrete is all it takes to create your own brush piles and place them wherever you want. Channel edges, points, drops and mid-lake humps are all good spots to set up as your personal crappie hole.

July 4 Holiday

Happy birthday USA!

The July 4 holiday should always put the birth of our nation first. The freedoms and rights that exist nowhere else in the world should be on our mind and we should remember the sacrifices made to get them. And we should be determined to keep them.

I am afraid there won’t be many more Independence Days where those freedoms can be rejoiced. Right now many of the rights in the Bill of Rights are under siege. It is unreal to me that so many people are willing to completely ignore the 2nd Amendment and try to ban guns, and destroy the 4th Amendment by taking guns and magazines that were legal purchased away from citizens.

They are also willing to violate the 6th and 7th Amendments dealing with the idea of being innocent until proven guilty. They want to violate your rights because some government official put a name similar to yours on a list. Seems like none of our rights mean anything.

Some of those same folks want to destroy the 1st Amendment on free speech by locking up anyone disagreeing with their prejudices on things like climate change. It amazes me some want to lock me up for talking about the weather in a way they don’t like.

The people we elect are not our leaders, they are our servants. But they ignore their own rules, pass laws that violate the constitution and seem determined to change the US to a country unrecognizable by those living here.

My daddy always said don’t elect an honest man, he will become a crook. But even with that pessimistic opinion it is unreal that many politicians seem incapable of telling the truth. Even when confronted with solid evidence they lied, they just tell bigger lies.

And the claim about government being transparent is a joke now. One of the worst examples of our federal government lying to us by hiding information is with the radical Islamic mass murderer in Orlando. The so called Justice Department first released transcripts of his 911 call that had most of the words he used redacted, or blacked out.

That stirred up such an outcry that another release was done, with fewer words blacked out. But how many words in the transcript were what he really used? Even though the law requires release of the actual recording of the call the “in”justice Department, to this day, will not release it. What are they hiding from us?

According to Dr. Richard Beeman, professor of history and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, after the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.”

The US is the worst country on earth – except for every other one that exists or has ever existed. But how long will it last? We seem well on the way to losing it.

Fishing Lake St. Clair

What are you waiting for? Get out fishing Lake St. Clair

You’d be crazy to not think about fishing Lake St. Clair this summer – especially when you consider the plethora of opportunities available there and the fact you’re a short distance from modern-day amenities thanks to it being situated in a major metropolitan area. Renowned for its smallmouth bass and muskellunge, this waterbody (situated between lakes Huron and Erie) is billed as one of the most unique systems in the region.

And it should be noted that Lake St. Clair is part of something much bigger. Besides it being situated between two of the Great Lakes, the connection between the lake and the St. Clair River is a diverse habitat with multiple channels and is considered a delta – in fact, it’s the largest freshwater delta in North America.

“Lake St. Clair is a phenomenal fishery,” said Cleyo Harris, a fisheries biologist based in Waterford. “It doesn’t need stocking and provides numerous unique opportunities for anglers who pay it a visit.”

Now you might ask: exactly what are those opportunities?

How about spearing for northern pike or yellow perch during the winter months? Lake St. Clair is the only waterbody in the state open to yellow perch spearing. The season is January first through the end of February and anglers can use a hand-propelled spear, bow and arrow or crossbow.

Additionally the daily possession limits for northern pike was recently switched from two to five, with a 24-inch minimum size limit, on Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River.

“It should be noted that Michigan has about one-third of Lake St. Clair within our jurisdiction and the other two-thirds are under Ontario,” explained Harris. “Canada doesn’t allow spearing at all so it’s important to be aware of where you are on the waterbody when you engage in this type of activity.”

Muskellunge and yellow perch are ideal targets during the summer months on Lake St. Clair as well – along with walleye and smallmouth bass. According to Mike Thomas, a fisheries research biologist stationed on Lake St. Clair – what makes these populations unique here is you can actually target them all on a single day.

You probably have a good chance of catching your limit of walleye and smallmouth bass and also catch a 50-inch muskie and target yellow perch – all in the same day on the same waterbody,” he exclaimed.

Thomas is quick to point out other opportunities the average angler isn’t aware of on Lake St. Clair; including largemouth bass along the shoreline, panfish opportunities in canals and marshes, white bass during the summer, good northern pike presence in the delta, and his personal favorite – hook-and-line fishing for lake sturgeon in the delta.

The hook-and-line lake sturgeon season is open on Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River from July 16 to November 30 with the possession season being from July 16 through September 30.

“I think this is one of the only places in the state where you have a realistic chance of catching a lake sturgeon,” Thomas said. “Not enough people seem to realize that.”

Being in a major metropolitan area means Lake St. Clair is often quite busy during the summer months, as evidenced by the vast numbers of boats milling about on the water. This activity is facilitated by numerous state-managed access sites to allow all types of boaters an avenue for getting out. This year anglers visiting those sites will likely see one of two creel clerks collecting data on the lake – for the first time since 2005.

“Creel is a big thing for us this year,” explained Harris. “We’ll be looking to collect catch information from anglers after their trips so we can continue to provide the best fisheries management possible for Lake St. Clair.”

Those new to the lake should heed this advice from Thomas in relation to the fact that despite being on average 12 feet deep, if the wind picks up it can get a tad treacherous.

“When you’re on the open waters you’ll just want to be mindful,” he explained. “On a calm day you can feel comfortable in a 14-foot boat, but if the wind comes up quick you could get uncomfortable pretty fast. The delta area of the St. Clair River is more protected and is a good place to fish on days when there’s too much wind.”

There’s still plenty of time this summer to explore Lake St. Clair. For more information, visit

Not Able To Go Fishing

A few years ago a popular song said “you don’t know what you got till its gone.” For years I have been complaining about being worn out after fishing a tournament but I managed to fish two to three a month, as well as fishing some other days.

I had neck surgery on May 26 and have been out of the house exactly four times as of July 1 since getting back from the hospital, and I should not have ridden into town one of those days. Spending 22 to 23 hours in a recliner, trying to find something on TV worth watching, has made me wish for aching muscles and tired body after a day fishing.

Some things stand out. After a rain last week I woke up around 3:00 am and looked out my office window where I have had to sleep. There are no curtains or blinds on those windows and I was amazed at the number of “lightening bugs” in my front yard. I have never seen so many fire flies in one small areas. The bushes and trees seem to glow with lights flashing everywhere, much like an over decorated Christmas display.

I think the rain made them more active, probably bringing them out to mate. That is what the flashing light is – a display of light to attract a mate. Seeing them brought back memories of growing up on a farm without air conditioning and spending evenings after dinner outside where it was a little cooler.

Fireflies were common around the house and I spent many nights catching them and putting some in pint Mason jars, after carefully punching holes in the lid with a ice pick. I wanted to keep them as pets but their lights always faded fast after being imprisoned, and they were always dead the next morning.

It was funny to catch toad frogs and put a lightening bug near them. I guess some would find it cruel but frogs eat bugs, and when one slurped in a lightening bug the light would continue to glow off and on inside the frog, lighting its stomach from inside.

I have also spend more time than usual at the computer. Even though five or ten minutes at the time are about all I can sit, I watched a good bit of the weigh-in at the BASSFest on Lake Texoma in Oklahoma last week. This Elite series event is live streamed during the day with cameras in several of the top pros boats, and weigh ins are streamed live. I could lay back in my chair and listen to weigh in without trying to see the angler holding up a bass.

I usually don’t sit at a computer or TV and watch someone else fish, I want to be out there in the boat myself. And I have been lucky enough to spend time in the boat with many of the top pros. The day the field at Texoma was been cut from 108 fishermen that started on Wednesday down to the final 12. Of those 12 I have spent the day in the boat with two of them, and with several more that made the top 50.

Lake Texoma was several feet above full pool due to flooding rains in the area. Several of the fishermen shared pictures of picnic tables, bathrooms and road signs almost completely underwater. Most of the fishermen were flipping or pitching jigs to bushes that were normally on dry ground but now in up to four feet of water.

Those guys are good but they fish the same way all of us do, they just do it better and more efficiently. It is amazing watching one of them flip a jig to a bush three times in the time it would take me to make one pitch to it. And they can make a one ounce jig enter the water by a bush 30 feet away without making a ripple in the water.

Watching them fish that way reminded me of the way I caught a lot of bass back in the 1970s at Clarks Hill. We would fish around coves, casting Texas rigged worms to button bushes and willow trees in the water.

I did that for hours this past April at Clarks Hill in the Sportsman Club tournament and practice and never caught a fish. How those Elite Bass Pros manage to catch five bass per day weighing 15 to 20 pounds each day in a four day tournament amazes me. They make it look easy, but those of us that do it know it is not.

Watching those guys fish is driving me crazy wanting to go fishing. But the doctor said at least six weeks, which means I will miss all three club tournaments this month. The Flint River Club is at Lanier today and I really want to be there trying to hook some of those three to four pound spotted bass like I caught the Sunday before my surgery.

I try to never miss a tournament in a club and have not missed many since starting to fish with the Sportsman Club in 1974. My goal each year is to win the point standings in the club and it is almost impossible to do that if you miss even one tournament during the year. I will be trying to catch up the rest of this year.