Yellow Perch are schooling fish that spend most of their time in deep water. When spring water temperatures reach 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit huge schools, migrate to shallow bays and rivers to spawn with anglers soon to follow. Still fishing near bottom with worms or minnows is the most preferred method. Perch sometimes strike lightly and floats or bobbers will aid in detecting bites. Favorite areas are the Potagannissing River to Harbor Island as well as Whitney Bay to name a few. At this time, it is common to catch 15 to 30 fish per angler per day. Classified as pan fish perch are excellent eating. During the summer months check out deeper waters in the 30 to 70 foot range and expect early morning and dusk to be the best times to fish.
Again, in the fall (September/October) fish move shallow and are easier to find. This is a pre-winter movement. You will find perch feeding on minnows and crayfish, getting ready for winter. Again, expect to catch 15 to 30 per angler, some days limits are common.
Walleye (sander vitreus vitreus)
Common names - are golden walleye or marble eyes due to the pearlescent eye, which is caused by a reflective layer of pigment called the tapetum lucidum. This helps them to see and feed at night or in murky waters. Walleyes are mostly olive and gold in color, which is broke up by five darker saddles that extend to the upper sides. They are white on the belly and have a distinct white spot on the lower side of the Caudal Fin or tail.
Season is May 15 through March 15
Walleye is one of the most sought after game fish. Primarily because it grows large, up to 30 inches in length and 15 pounds in weight. Walleye are considered by most to have the best tasting flesh of any fresh water fish. The daily creel limit is 5 per angler per day.
Walleye are as a rule a deep-water fish, which migrates when spring water temperatures reach 43 to 50 degrees to spawn in rivers and shallow rocky bays. Remember walleyes are primarily fish eaters so they will be found wherever baitfish are present. In the springtime, walleye will take a wide variety of baits or lures, but can be a challenge to catch during summer months. Fall brings another peak of feeding activity. Casting or trolling with crawler harnesses, spinners or minnow imitating plugs are good ways to start. Live baits are often still-fished, drifted or trolled on slip-sinkers or bottom bouncers. Night crawlers, leeches and minnows are preferred live baits.
Heavy winds can improve walleye fishing by pushing warm water and plankton, which consists of any drifting microscopic animals, plants or bacteria, into the shallows with baitfish to follow. Walleye will then move in to feed on the smaller fish. So fish the windward side of submerged weed-beds, reefs, shoals and rocky points.
Northern Pike (esox lucius)
Northern pike have identifying characteristics of a single dorsal fin and light colored spots on a darker body. The upper half of the gill cover and entire cheek has scales. Common names - include northerns and water-wolves. Smaller fish have been referred to as hammer-handles.
Pike can grow to huge proportions. The current state record is 39 pounds.
The season is May 15 thru March 15. Minimum size is 24 inches in length with a daily limit of 2 per angler. Top months for catching pike are May, June, September and October
Pike are predators, which consume large numbers of smaller fish- about 90 percent of their diet, but seem willing to supplement their diet with any living creature that their huge jaws can surround. This includes frogs, crayfish, waterfowl and other small mammals
Pike are most active when the water temperature on the surface is less than 65 degrees although they can be caught throughout the day. The best fishing is usually early mornings and late afternoon. An overcast day seems more productive that a bright sunny one. Northern pike flesh excels in flavor, thus making them a doubly rewarding sport and food fish.
Some favorite lures include spoons- the daredevils in either red and white with chrome belly or the five of diamonds, also the chartreuse and orange with a bronze belly. Large minnow-imitating lures will work as well as in-line spinners. Still fishing with live minnows under a big float or bobber on deep breaks or weed edges is another great way to enjoy success. Try fishing Scotts Bay, Harbor Island and Whitney Bay, just to name a few places, which seem to have a good pike population.
Smallmouth Bass (micropterus Dolmieui)
Common names are - brown bass, brownies and bronze bass. They are dark olive to brown on their backs with their sides being a greenish yellow with a bronze reflection. Mid-lateral bars form dark mottings. The mouth extends to the eye.
The season runs May 15 to March 15. Daily limits of 5 per angler with the minimum size of 14 inches. They prefer cool clear water with rock and gravel substrate. Small mouth bass are one of the most popular sport fishes.
This species takes a variety of live bait, minnows and crayfishes as well as artificial lures. Find a school of smallmouth and catching 20 to 30 fish per angler per day is common. We suggest using the select harvest method – release the bigger fish and keep the more numerous small fish to eat.
Herring (coregonus artedi) and Lake Whitefish (coregonus clupea formis)
The latter part of June thru July brings the Mayfly (hexagina sp.) hatch. With the mayfly comes the herring and Lake Whitefish. Both are members of the trout/salmon families. They both are slender and silvery, with two flaps on the septum dividing the nostril. However, the lake whitefish has a rounded blunt snout while the lake herring has a pointed snout with a longer lower jaw.
Common names - include cisco or tullibee. The season is open all year. Lake whitefish grow large and can reach 6 to 7 pounds. The herring average ½ to 2 pounds. Daily limits are 12 per angler in any combination.
These are schooling fish that feed frenzy style, which attributes to their willingness to bite. All sizes forage in packs, sometimes in “huge” schools. Both fishes are known to fight hard. They have great eyesight and will eagerly chase baits up or down in the water column. Both fish are tremendous when smoked and the whitefish are even great on the grill, fryer or in the oven.
Salmon – Trout
Lake trout, - also called lakers or mackinaw, are the largest of all trout. The current Michigan State record is 61.8 lbs. Lake trout have a raised tooth crest on the head, the tail is forked, and the body is blue-gray or bronze-green, with spots on its side and back. During fall spawning season, fins near the tail become a light pale orange.
The season is May 1 – September 30. Minimum length is 22 inches. Daily limit is 3 of any one species. Editor’s note ( The waters around Drummond Island including the St. Marys River are listed as MH-1 Lake Trout Management and Refuge in the 2008-2009 Michigan Fishing Guide. For a complete description of unit boundaries, see FO-200 online at www.michigan.gov/dnr
or any DNR Operations Service Centers).
Lake Trout require cold, clear water. In the spring and fall, they can be found at depths of 20 feet or less because they prefer 40 to 52 degree water temperatures. In summer when the colder water sinks toward the bottom, lake trout follow it down; young trout feed on plankton and other aquatic invertebrates. Larger trout feed on smaller fish like smelt, herring and whitefish.
Lake trout can be caught by trolling minnow-like plugs or large shiny spoons using down riggers, dipsy divers or bottom bouncing jigs.
When we talk about “Salmon”, we are referring to either Atlantic or Pacific Salmon. There is only one species of Atlantic salmon (salmo salar). The three other species discussed here, the Pink (oncorhynchus gorbuscha) the Chinook (O. tschawytscha) and the Coho (O. kisutch) are Pacific Salmon. In the waters around Drummond Island, Lake Huron and the St. Marys Fiver, the season is open all year.
The daily limit is 5 in any combination, but no more than 3 of any one species (Exception – up to 5 pink salmon allowed, with 5 additional pink salmon from the last Saturday in April – September 30).
Atlantic salmon ( Salmo Salar) is know as the “king of fish” These fish when hooked pull hard, for there size. They average 6 to 7 pounds. The current Michigan State record is respectably 32 pounds 10 ounces. The atlantic has a torpedo shaped body, upper jaw extends to rear of eye, with black X marks on upper body. This is an excellent sport and food fish.
Chinook salmon (oncorhynchus tshawytscha)
Common names include king salmon, tyee, black, and hook bill salmon. Color is blue-green on the back and top of the head with silvery sides and white bellies; black spots on the upper half of its body and tail with gray-black mouth coloration. The Chinook grows huge up to 30 pounds. Smoked, canned (salmon patties) or on the gill, Chinook are great subsistence fish and a valuable recreational resource.
Coho salmon (oncorhynchus kisutch)
Identifying characteristics – two dorsal fins including an adipose fin, inside of mouth is black and gums between teeth are gray, small spots on upper tail with 13 to 15 rays in anal fin.
Introduced into the Great Lakes in the late 1800’s but successful plantings weren’t’ until 1966. Young Coho feed aggressively and grow rapidly; adult Great Lakes Coho average around 8 pounds with the State Record at 30 pounds 9 ounces. Smelt and alewives are their primary diet.
Pink salmon (oncorhynchus gorbuscha)
Common names include – humpy salmon, dog salmon, hone salmon and humpback salmon. Description – the pink salmon is metallic blue–green in the water from above and silvery from below; black spots on back and on the caudal fin. When spawning, males develop humped backs, hooked jaws and reddish-yellow sides. The females tend to be more greenish. Adult pinks average 2 – 7 pounds and range 17 – 19 inches in length. The life span is short, 2 years with some reaching 3 years. They feed on a variety of fish and other aquatic animals. Pink salmon are rarely caught in open water; most are caught while ascending streams and rivers like the St. Marys River. In summer, huge schools enter to spawn and angler success is excellent. Trolling or casting spoons like Little Cleo’s, ect. Excellent eating.