Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reedsburg Dam Fishing Report

Reedsburg Dam with very low water levels
The hot and very dry summer has left many of the lakes around Michigan with low water levels. Reeds burg Dam and the Dead Stream Flooding are no exception. The low side of the dam is at the lowest it has been in many years. It has only rained a few times in the Houghton Lake area since spring.

Add that the winter was mild and below normal snow fall hindered the water levels after the initial runoff which came early in February/March. Water levels were very low last year due to lack of rain but this year is even worse.

What are normally good areas to fish in at this time of year have become so shallow that the vegetation has grown to the point that access is limited at best. One such area is directly across from the boat launch. The fishing there was very good in the spring but levels are so low you might be able to walk on it.

Sunset at Reedsburg Dam (Dead Stream Flooding)
With all that said, the fishing is still good, sometimes. The warm weather and low water levels are heating the water to the point of being like a heated pool. Great for swimmers and sunbathers but not so much for fishing. The very warm water keeps fish still and slows their feeding. So fishing is best in the morning after the water has had a chance to cool overnight. Also fishing in the late evening is usually good about an hour before sunset.

Small fish can usually be caught any time during the day mostly near Lilly pads or other vegetation that offers cover. Trolling can be very effective for larger fish. Since there is no real deep water at Reedsburg (especially now) try trolling near or over weed beds or reeds.

Two hook harness with plastic worm
Lately I've had success with a plastic worm on a two hook harness with a single spinner, I have two, one with a silver spinner and one with a single florescent green spinner blade and five beads. I troll with a 50 Minn Kota electric motor set at one or two if trolling into the wind. This allows me to troll for hours without draining the battery very much.

Best time: Mornings at sunrise

Best bait: A toss up but I do well with nightcrawlers, both real or plastic if trolling. The plastic stops the small ones from biting the tail and pulling the bait off the hooks.

So come on up and don't forget your bug spray and sun block. Oh yeah and a bathing suit because the water is fine.

Sunbathers taking a dip from the dam
Sunset over the Reedsburg Dam

Sunset over Dead Stream Flooding

Hope to see you up here. It's been a great summer so far...

Ken S

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bluegill Festival 2012

The  63rd Annual Bluegill Festival 2012 is coming to St Helen July 12-15. 

Bluegill by Reedsburg Dam
Summer kicks off with the festival celebrating one of the areas favorite indigenous species, the bluegill. Known primarily as a tasty treat, bluegill are also a whole lot of fun to catch. Their fan like body can give them a lot of kick when caught on a hook. I have often thought I had a good sized bass on the line only to discover it was a small bluegill.

These sometimes sizable fish are a member of the sunfish family and are so alike in appearance (especially during spawning), bluegill are often mistaken for sunfish. Either way they fight like heck and eat the same.

In celebration of these feisty fish St Helen will have a Grand parade, a kids parade, a talent show, a medallion hunt, arts and crafts, horseshoe contest, softball contest,bingo and a fishing contest. And much more.

So if your in Houghton Lake area the weekend of July 12-15. Stop by the Bluegill festival for some rides, contests, fishing and parades. Beverage tent and live entertainment.

For more festival info click here.

As always hope to see you there.

Ken S

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Houghton Lake Fishing Report: July 5,2012

Crappie while trolling at Reedsburg Dam
Fishing conditions have been less than optimal (to say the least) over the past few weeks. High winds have made the waters murky as well as making it difficult to stay in one spot even when using two anchors. The temperatures have been very high lately causing the fishing to be erratic especially during the day.

In these conditions I have one word "trolling". Trolling is simply moving your bait through the water behind a boat at a slow speed, using a specialized electric or small gas motor. This works two fold in that the fish tend to be agitated by the moving bait, much the same as casting and retrieving, and you can cover a large area increasing your chances of success.

Largemouth trolling at Reedsburg Dam
If you have never tried it or tried it unsuccessfully I would give it a try. I do not recommend using a   regular boat engine, at least not for an extended period of time. The engine uses a shaft driven water pump and at very slow speeds may not pump enough water to keep the engine cool and could cause engine damage. Possibly even seize the engine. Nothing can ruin a day on the lake like hoping for someone to give you a tow back to the boat launch or dock. I know this from personal experience.

Rock Bass at Backus lake
Best fishing: late evening (an hour before sunset) or, in the early morning after the water has had a chance to cool. If your set on fishing during the day try the deeper water off the south DNR boat launch (site of the Tip Up Town USA). The south weed bed runs along this area and usually produces walleye, perch, bluegill and northern pike.

Best bait: anything that works. I've caught bluegill, bass, crappie and perch on nightcrawlers and on plastics. I had a fellow next me on the Cut river catch a 16" largemouth using a chub (think very large minnow). Some swear by leeches for walleye especially trolling in the summer.

There's a new bait shop in town, Angelo's on old 27 (formerly Dead Stream Party Store). Actually they're a party store with bait. They have snacks and hope to have a beer license soon. Just a short ride from the Reedsburg Dam campground and boat launch. If you need some bait or some goodies  you don't have to drive into town.

That's all for now. Hope to see you on the lake.

Ken S