Lake Huron Fishing History
Lake Huron's bass fishery has seen some changes in the past five years, particularly in terms of conservation efforts and fishing regulations. In 2018, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) implemented new regulations for bass fishing in Lake Huron's waters, including Saginaw Bay. These new regulations included a catch-and-immediate-release season from May 26th to June 22nd, a daily possession limit of five fish per angler, and a minimum size limit of 14 inches for smallmouth bass and 15 inches for largemouth bass. The new regulations were put in place to help protect and sustain the bass population as well as provide anglers with more opportunities for trophy-sized fish. One of the most intriguing aspects of Lake Huron's bass fishery is the diversity of habitats and fishing opportunities available. Brandon Palaniuk, the Bassmaster Elite Series 2022 Angler of the Year, has described Lake Huron as the most unique and intriguing of the Great Lakes bass fisheries. He has specifically mentioned the area around Alpena, Michigan, as a prime location for pursuing trophy-sized bass. Palaniuk notes that these fish can be nomadic, but with visibility up to 30 feet on calm days, it's like big-game hunting.
In 2020, the Michigan DNR reported that the bass population in Lake Huron had remained stable, with an estimated 11 million smallmouth and 1.5 million largemouth bass in the lake.
However, the assessment also highlighted the need to continue monitoring and managing the fishery to ensure its long-term sustainability. One area that has received increased attention in recent years is the management of invasive species in the Great Lakes, including Lake Huron. Invasive species can have a significant impact on the ecosystem, including the bass fishery, by outcompeting native species, altering habitats, and disrupting food webs. One particularly problematic invasive species in Lake Huron is the round goby, a small, bottom-dwelling fish that was first discovered in the Great Lakes in the 1990s. The round goby has had a significant impact on the bass fishery, as it competes with smallmouth bass for food and habitat and can prey on their eggs and young. To combat the threat of invasive species like the round goby, conservation groups and government agencies have implemented a range of management strategies, including the use of barrier nets, trap-and-remove programs, and public education campaigns. These efforts have helped to slow the spread of invasive species and protect the health of the Lake Huron ecosystem.
The Manitoulin Islands: located on the far northern end of Lake Huron, is an area of the lake that offers excellent bass fishing opportunities. These islands stretch more than 50 miles parallel to the Canadian shoreline and form a labyrinth of bays, channels, points, and islands. The islands and surrounding shorelines set up more like inland lake fishing with weedbeds, flats, bays, and points than a big-water fishery. No matter the wind direction or strength, there's almost always protected water to fish.
Saginaw Bay: is also a popular spot for bass fishing, although anglers have historically focused more on the bay's booming walleye population. However, with the new regulations in place, more anglers are turning their attention to bass fishing in the bay. The southern portions of the bay, where the Saginaw River enters, are shallower and more stained, which makes them a prime spot for bass fishing in early spring. As the water gets deeper and clearer farther north, good vegetation scattered on the west and east shores and mid-bay rock reefs hold bass in summer. Working rattlebaits in deeper areas and fluke-style lures up shallow are productive much of the season.
Over the past five years, there have been significant advancements in sonar technology, specifically the introduction of CHIRP (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse) sonar, which provides clearer and more detailed images of underwater structures and fish.
Another significant advancement in bass fishing gear has been the introduction of electronic fishing reels that utilize Bluetooth technology to connect with smartphones and other devices. These reels allow anglers to monitor various parameters, such as line tension and drag settings, and even program specific casting distances and retrieve speeds. There have also been advancements in lure design and materials. Many manufacturers have introduced new designs and materials to improve the effectiveness of lures, including new shapes, colors, and scents. For example, some companies now produce lures with scent-infused plastics, which can attract fish and increase the likelihood of a strike.
These new developments have led bass tournaments to become increasingly popular in the Great Lakes region, and Lake Huron has hosted a number of high-profile events in recent years. These tournaments have provided an opportunity for anglers to showcase their skills and compete for significant cash prizes, while also raising awareness of the importance of conservation and sustainable fishing practices. However, they have also raised concerns about the potential impact of increased fishing pressure on the bass population, particularly during the spawning season. To address these concerns, tournament organizers and government agencies have implemented a range of measures, such as catch-and-release regulations, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the fishery. These efforts have helped to balance the economic benefits of tournament fishing with the need to protect the health of the bass population and the ecosystem as a whole.