Friday, May 27, 2011

Houghton Lake Area Fishing Report: May 27, 2011

Backus Creek Flooding
Ken Stephenson

Weather this Memorial Day weekend is looking good with temps in the high 70's and occasional showers. The Walleye are biting at Houghton Lake, on leeches and nightcrawlers trolling in about 8-9 feet of water along the edge of the weed bed, south side. There's good fishing all day with peaks after sunrise and before sunset. Large Walleye are being taken during the night. Mostly due to their light sensitive eyes. When the weed beds grow up you can find them there.

Reedsburg Dam Spring 2011
K. Stephenson

The water levels are still high at Reedsburg causing the Muskegon River to run fast south of the dam. Also the fishing area is still flooded and inaccessible. This makes fishing by the dam poor. But many anglers are dropping boats and fishing not far off the boat launch. With underwater tree stumps and debris, it's a great area for Bass fishing. There are also Northern Pike, Bluegill and Perch. I haven't heard how the fishing has been but there are plenty of people dropping their boats in and wetting a line. Worth a try.  I have been told the cove south off the boat launch is a great place for Crappie. You can't go wrong with crawlers or leeches.

Backus Lake Spring 2011
K Stephenson

Bass Raider at Backus Lake
K. Stephenson

The Bluegills are biting at Backus Lake. The key is small hooks and worms or small pieces of nightcrawler. A couple of weeks ago I was catching Big and small Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Bluegill and Perch. All within 2 hours before sunset. Never had a night like that before or since. If you have never caught Bluegill before, you will be surprised so much fight can come in such a small package. And when they jump you'll swear you have a Bass on the hook. Great eating, too.

The last I heard the Bluegill fishing was good on Lake St Helen, with the best being off Artesia beach. Check in at Malcomb's Tackle Box on your way into town. They'll let you know what you'll need for a fun day of Bluegill fishing.

This saturday is the beginning of Largemouth and Smallmouth season (saturday before Memorial Day).

If your going out remember to bring mosquito repellent because the fish aren't the only thing biting right now.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend and remember those who died for this great nation, so that we might enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

Ken S

Friday, May 20, 2011

Camping at Backus Lake

Boat Launch at Backus Lake
K Stephenson

For anyone who follows my blog you know I enjoy fishing at Backus Lake. This is due to the tranquility and the good fishing (most days). What I have not previously mentioned is that being this is state land there are campsites by the lake. These sites are purely rustic with NO facilities. And the cost is zero dollars. You just need to fill out a permit at a local DNR station and post it next to your site.

I went out to Backus Lake to do some fishing like I do most every evening. And I was surprised (albeit mildly) that all of the sites by the lake were taken. Not too surprising since next weekend is Memorial Day weekend. What really surprised me was the number of campers on each site. There were no less than two campers per site and some had three.

I have mixed feelings about this since I like to drop my Bass Raider in the water there for some Bluegill and Perch fishing. One it takes away the tranquility since my favorite two spots are just off two camp sites (lots of vegetation and cattails). On the other hand the economic crunch has affected area businesses and several long standing ones have closed recently.

I'm no fan of high gas prices. But the silver lining to this black crowd is more people vacationing closer to home. For Houghton and other area lakes this equates to more exposure a place to go this summer. And maybe for summers to come. Not due to high gas prices but because of great experiences and fond memories of time spent with family and friends in a tranquil setting. Like many of the current residents here I am a transplant from the Detroit suburbs so I know first hand the hectic lifestyle of city living. And I know the relaxing benefits of camping.

There are many excellent state and privately owned campgrounds in the Houghton-Higgins lakes area. Sites at most state campgrounds can be reserved online at the DNR website (click here). Other state area sites include: Reedsburg, North Houghton Lake, North and South Higgins Lake. These are NOT free sites. They have varying fees starting at $16 per night for rustic tent camping. Check DNR website for fees.

As always enjoy what nature has to offer and show her respect by leaving the area better than you found it. Help out by picking up any trash someone may have left behind. I carry a trash bag with me when ever I go out.

Have a great summer filled with memories you'll be talking about for years to come.

Ken S

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Houghton Lake Fishing Report-Backus Lake-Fish On-May 2011

It was Friday afternoon and the weather was sunny then overcast then sunny again. I had been out two track riding with my brother, checking on a new fishing spot I had heard of on the Denton Creek Flooding. It didn't pan out but I will have another look. Always looking for another secluded spot to catch a few fish.

I was sitting at home again and trying to decide if the wind was too high to keep a bobber in place long enough to attract some fish. I decided to at least go out so I didn't watch anymore TV. It turned out to be one of my best fishing experiences.

Since the ice-out this spring, I haven't had much luck in any of my favorite fishing holes. The high waterline have kept the fish in the deeper water unreachable from the shore. The DNR put the docks in at the boat launches last weekend, but the high winds prevented most anglers from attempting a day on the lake.

So far I've been on both Backus Lake and the Dead Stream Flooding in my Bass Tracker (no dock required). I didn't even get a bite. It was those times when I would rather have them steal my bait just so I know they are there. The water is receding toward normal and over the past few days the fish have started biting. Finally.

I just returned home from Backus Lake. Of course I didn't bring my camera but my catch was; 1 Northern Pike, 2 Largemouth Bass, 1 Perch, and 9 Bluegill, in about 2 hours of fishing. Thursday I caught 12+ Bluegills in about 1 hour fishing from the shore. All were released. Primarily I used pieces of nightcrawler and a couple were caught on Gulp 3"minnows. I'm still not sold on the Gulp and I only thought to try them when I ran out of crawlers.

I only use a piece of a nightcrawler because I expect to catch Bluegills and they have small mouths and probably won't attempt to swallow a whole crawler. But the two Largemouth Bass (both were legal size) were also caught with a small piece of worm on a 1/16th oz orange/yellow jighead. Again a small hook for Bluegill. And the Northern Pike was on the Gulp minnow on the 1/8th oz black jighead. I switched to the larger hook because of the Bass. Also, I was using an orange, round weighted bobber for extra distance on my cast with the light weight jighead.

All in all a very enjoyable evening of fishing.

Best fishing times are 1/2 hour after sunrise to midmorning and after 6pm in the evening until sundown.

Until next time,

Ken S

Monday, May 2, 2011

DNR Boat Lauches Are Open: Docks in water for 2011 Season

DNR Boat Launch Westside
K Stephenson
Oh Happy Day! The DNR has put the boat launch docks back in the water for the 2011 season. Over the weekend the docks were placed back in the water. A few boaters braved the high winds and waves seldom seen on Houghton Lake to either attempt fishing (Walleye season opened Saturday) or to launch their pontoon boats for docking at a marina.

The canals were busy, not with boats though. The canals were lined with fisherman either just getting out in the summer like temperatures (72 degrees) or in anticipation of the spring Crappie run that normally occurs around mid May. I can tell you that a of Sunday the 1st of May the run had not yet begun as many a frustrated fisherman grumbled on the way back to their vehicles. I had tried my luck behind Whiteheads but in the 2 hours I was there I saw one small fish caught (not by me). The angler next to me was fortunate enough to recapture his cap after the winds blew it into the canal. Possibly the "catch of the day".

So the docks are in and the Crappie should be running in a couple of weeks and I'll have to take a number to get a spot along a canal.

With the high gas prices again this summer, vacation trips to state campgrounds are predicted to be higher than usual so reserve your favorite spot online at the Michigan DNR website. And don't forget to get your Michigan Parks & Recreation Areas Passport when you renew your vehicle license tabs. It's only $10 for annual access to state parks and rec areas. Lets keep our parks and rec areas open and in good condition for generations to come.