Northern Michigan Super Smallmouth


Michigan is full of diverse fisheries for all species of fish. But one thing that really stands out is the giant smallmouth bass of the Northern Lower Peninsula. Clean, clear water, and abundant forage make these excellent fisheries for not only the smallie of a lifetime but crazy numbers as well.

You can find action year round, but peak fishing typically occurs when the water is cold. Early spring or late fall can be the special times up there, and the best part is you’ll mostly have the lakes to yourself. The fishing is also phenomenal during the spawn but once that ends you’ll typically have to follow them out to deeper water in the summer.

Most of these lakes aren’t rocket science and the clear water really helps with the learning curve. Start on obvious pieces of structure, places where a lot of fish live and go from there. If the fish are shallow you’ll be able to see the dark spot up on the flats they will be hiding in. If they slide off the flats into deep water, they cannot hide from modern day electronics or a camera like the FishSens SondeCAM.

When they go deep in the summer it is hard to beat a simple dropshot rig. Nemesis Baits sniper and shad shape worms have been big producers for me. You can often see a fish on the fishfinder and drop straight down on them, or fan cast the deep water where the school is located.

During the spawning season spend your time looking for beds and keep in mind they spawn deep in places up there. Many of those lakes are big and they often spawn in different parts of the lakes at different times. Once again bottom bumping baits and precise casts into the bed are the key.

One neat thing about the colder water is it often opens the bite up for smallies to chase faster lures. This is when you can have some fun on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, swimbaits, and umbrella rigs. Leading up to the spawn and as the water is cooling in the fall are prime times for this sort of thing. Ultra cold water will call for slow moving bottom baits and blade baits once again, but the fish will often be tightly schooled.

Some of the destination lakes to check out up there are Grand Traverse Bay, Charlevoix, Leelanau, Torch Chain, and Burt/Mullett. But don’t limit yourself to that, there is fantastic fishing on many of the smaller lakes as well the Alpena area to the east. A handful of these lakes always make the Bassmaster Magazine top 100 lakes in the country list. So don’t miss out get “up north” and experience some of what Michigan has to offer!


Jeff Elliott

Team RNS Pro Staff Member