Fly Fishing in Grand Traverse Bay
Just recently myself and two of my new guides, Steve Pels and Tim Gibs all had the same day off from the dry fly hunt. We decided to take a break from drift and river boats and go Fly Fishing in Grand Traverse Bay. We were on the hunt for smallmouth bass and carp!
First I checked the status with a friend that lives at the base of East Grand Traverse Bay. Tom said “no carp yet but smallies in five feet of water and getting close to hitting the beds”. Second get the proper equipment, a 7wt rod loaded with a 250 grain sink tip. I like the Scientific Angler Cold 250 grain. Also, an 8 wt. loaded with a floating line with or without a clear tip. Third a box full of Carp Crayfish Flies, Clousers and buggers in different colors and maybe a Lapdancer or two. Finally, we are ready to go.
Mid-June to early July is the easiest and best time to fly fish Grand Traverse Bay. The smallmouth and carp move into the shallows to spawn. They are in skinny enough water that we can get a fly in front of their noses. All up down both side of East and West Grand Traverse Bay and at the tip of the peninsula you can drive or walk looking for both species. Preferred places are parks or turnouts where you can park your car and get out and look.
These fish can be pursued both wading or from a boat. Both have their advantages. Wading you can get closer and the fish will be less spooky. In boat, you can cover more ground to locate fish.
Smallmouth are aggressive eaters and usually take a fly very well. Fish to any structure you see and also hit the spawning beds. The males protecting them will smash your fly.
Carp can be moodier. They don’t have great eye sight so the fly needs to be close, think a paper plate from their nose. Laid up fish need the fly placed in the paper plate and moving fish need to be led enough that the fly will be on the bottom as the fish goes by. Either way when the carp get close enough to see it give the fly a little strip and then let it sit. If the fish looks at it give another strip. Watch the fishes body, they suck the fly in so they will react to it. When something looks different, set!
Fly fishing Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City Michigan is great fun and a good, inexpensive way to experience what flats fishing is all about.
Hawkins Outfitters has a few openings in the next few weeks if you’d like to try the Bay! Contact us via the web or give Cherie a call 231-228-7135.
Captain Chuck Hawkins