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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

I was born and raised in Michigan, but now live in California. I am coming in tomorrow for an 8-day stay in Farmington Hills to visit family. Two days ago my teenage son decided last minute to join me on the trip. We started fishing lakes and ocean shore fishing last year in San Diego and I would love to take him fishing a couple of times during our stay. It has been almost 40 years since I last fished a lake in Michigan, and can really use some advice today. Sorry for the short notice, but I want to figure out what gear we should pack in our luggage as well as where we should go.

OUR GEAR:
In terms of rods and reels, here is a list of the freshwater gear I own:

Two identical setups with Ugly Stik GX2 6'6" medium action two-piece rods rated for 6-15 pound line, spinning reels with 8 pound mono line on them

Two other identical rod/reel bundles bought at Walmart with two-piece Medium-Light action rods that are 5' 6", rated for 6-10 pound line and weights 1/8 - 5/16 ounce. They have spinning reels with 4 pound mono on them.

We also have one Shimano Solstace 2500 reel with 10 pound mono we could bring.

Q1. Should we bring the two Ugly Stiks, two Walmart setups, or one of each? I can't bring all four, no room in the luggage!

LOCATION
We will be staying in Farmington Hills and West Bloomfield so we are close to Orchard, Cass, Walnut and Upper Straits Lakes. I have no idea which of these are open to the public for shore fishing. Can I rent a row boat at any of these? Which would you recommend, if any?

We are primarily looking for catch and release - unless my son lands a trophy fish. We do not have an easy way to fillet and cook a fish.

Are there other lakes or rivers within a 30-60 minute drive that you would recommend more than the above?

Any insights on locations, best times, as well as tackle/species would be greatly appreciated. Since we are almost definitely going to release, we do not care how edible the fish is. We just want to catch a lot of big ones!

Thanks again for any advice!!!
 

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You picked a decent area for some variety. I would suggest Cass, Union, Pontiac and Kent Lakes, all within proximity to where you will be staying. Are you boating? Shore fishing?

All four lakes have a good variety of game fish - panfish (bluegills, pumpkinseed) and your choice of small or large mouth bass.

Myself, I'd vote for the Ugly Stick and the medium light rods. If you are shore fishing, both will get you dialed in. You need to canvas the shore line to find open water next to significant weeds - a weed line. The water temperatures are up, so from shore you need to target the weed areas. Your line choices, or what is already spooled on the reels, should be fine for what you would be fishing for.

On the Ugly stick, I would suggest picking up a dual-hook rubber frog, from companies like Lunkerfrog or Booyah. These will let you fish the tops of heavy weeds or lilly pads and hunt for large mouth bass lurking below. You also can't go wrong with good old night crawlers for just about anything.

Kent and Pontiac have fishing piers, and you will find the occasional bass hiding under the pier docks. Also a lot of those pesky little pan fish, which are more nuisance because they tear up your worms real fast.

If you have access to a boat and/or trailer, check out the Michigan DNR (Dept of Natural Resources) web page to find topographical maps of the lakes. Inlets, points, and deep spots are where you will find fish in the hot summer sun. If you find taller weeds on a boat, still look for those edges of the weeds for targeting. Your Ugly stick will be your friend on open water, but dropping a line over the side on the medium light will still yield you some fish. Are you familiar with drop shotting? This is a hook and weight method to get your line to the bottom and present a hook and bait above weeds. The deeper you are, the better the chances. Just Google "drop shot rig" to see how to tie this up. Pretty simple, and works great with crawlers and other plastic worms.

If you still have time, shoot back any questions. Thanks for coming back to Michigan, albeit for vacation. Always happy to help here.

Tight Lines!
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi Frank,

Wow, I cannot thank you enough for all of the great advice!! I may have some follow-up questions, but I am behind on some work stuff that I must finish first. Will you be online anytime later today? If not, you have already given we a wealth of advice. I can have my son start to break down and pack the Ugly Stiks.

I can think of a few follow-up questions off the top of my head:

1. Unless we can rent a boat, we will be doing shore fishing. Do any of the lakes you mentioned offer boat rentals?

2. Someone mentioned Marsh Bank park for shore fishing. Any thoughts on this?

3. What are the best times of day to fish for bass? My son will be thrilled to catch anything, but he is partial to bass. Do we need to be up at the crack of dawn?

Thanks again!!!
 

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Hey, you're welcome!

Look up the DNR office for each of the lakes. They will have information on any boat rentals, commercial or otherwise. I know Kent Lake, which is actually a Metropark, has a marina where you can rent row boats, perhaps motors. Kent is one of my favorites, because I can shore fish in a few good spots. I think I have a map I laid out for a buddy of mine. If I can find it, I'll pass it along.

Marsh Bank park. Haven't been there in years, but it puts you in a good water territory. Last I remember, the pier in the park gets a lot of traffic but I recall some good size bass coming up on occasion.

Best time of day for bass? Depends on the lake, but the general rule is early and dusk. Ever used Solunar tables. Google them. Sort of like tide tables, has to do with sun and moon alignments and when fish tend to forage the most. I use them sometimes, just to convince myself to head to the water on days when the bite should be more aggressive. You won't know unless you put a hook and bait in the water. Perhaps the one exception is large mouths. They tend to settle in close to shore and hide in deep weeds. That's why the frog idea. They also like to lurk under overhanging trees (shade on the shore), but be warned that you will lose a lot of bait and bobbers trying to cast into those areas.

For those bass lurking under docks. Use your Ugly Stick, tie on a 1/2 ounce jig, and get yourself a bag of white twister tail grubs, about 3 inches or slightly smaller. Bounce the jig around the pylons of the pier, and the shorelines next to them. Simple, but tends to evoke some fast strikes right next to you.

All of these lakes, from shore, have catfish or bullheads. They are fast and aggressive fish with a fierce fight. Just watch for those weird pokers on their mouths ("whiskers"). When caught, they thrash back and forth and use those sharp barbs. No fun if you get jabbed.

I'm on here a lot, several times a day, sharing stories and pics and trolling for ideas. Also, if you click on my Pic/Avatar, there is a link to Start a Conversation, which is private and emails me your conversation. I live by those too, so feel free to Start a Conversation!
 

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It has been almost 40 years since I last fished a lake in Michigan,
And I've been fishing them the whole time while you were gone! :)
 

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As unclefrank wrote, look up the DNR office for datailed info., on rentals, fishing, etc.

Right btw Pontiac and Maceday Lakes is a good office:
DNR Waterford fisheries office,
7806 Gale Road in Waterford

Look the phone number up at the MI DNR website or Google Maps and call them... Great people there who are happy to give you great info. (Not sure if the office is open until 16:00 or 17:00 EDT, so you might miss them today before too long.)
 
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