The Bays De Noc - A Fisherman's Paradise!
Michigan's Little Bay de Noc, with it's thirty some thousand acres of water, and Big Bay de Noc, with it's ninety some thousand acres of water, offer a fisherman's dream come true. Add to this an aggressive fish management program and you have some of the best fishing in the MIDWEST!
Although the Bays De Noc are probably best known for their trophy walleyes in the fall they do provide excellent fishing for a number of different species throughout the year. Spring, summer, fall or winter are all fun and productive.
WALLEYES, SMALLMOUTH BASS, PERCH, NORTHERN PIKE AND SALMON ARE THE NAME OF THE GAME ON THE BAY DE NOC WATERS!
Whatever you are fishing for or whenever you are planning to fish you'll come back often to visit the beautiful Bay De Noc area of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
2010 Fishing License Information
To purchase your fishing license online - CLICK HERE
You may also purchase MI fishing licenses at Holiday Gas Stations in Michigan - they are open 24 hrs. There is also local MI DNR office located just before the Escanba River on left side of road on Hy 41 & 2.
Also you have area bait and tackle shops too getting licenses; Bayview Bait & Tackle, Bayshore Bait & Tackle along with the Garden Sports Shop.
Current Walleye Regulations for Big & Little Bay de Noc, Michigan
Walleye season opens May 15th. Walleye Little Bay de Noc (Delta Co.): No more than 1 walleye 23"or larger may be possessed north of a line drawn from Peninsula Point lighthouse to the mouth of the Ford River.
Fishing Little Bay de Noc
Little Bay de Noc is divided into two basic areas: the upper bay and the lower bay. Generally, the upper bay is that water north of Gladstone and the lower bay which is south of Gladstone to the Ford River which is approximately 5 miles south of Escanaba.
The Upper Bay: If you chose to fish the upper bay, you will be using one of four launches:
- The Rapid River launch is located at the end of Main Street in Rapid River.
- The launch at Kipling is located just north of Gladstone on the old road going to Rapid River. Next to this launch ramp is the Bayshore Bait and Tackle store.
- Little Bay de Noc Recreation Area on the Stonington Peninsula has a launch.
- The Gladstone launch is at the yacht harbor. There is a fee for launching in the Gladstone Harbor. The current rate is $3.00 per launch per day. This site is well protected from heavy weather and high winds. Powering-on is forbidden at all sites.
When using these launch ramps, pay special attention to lake charts as shallow water and reefs lie all around these sites.
The Lower Bay: If you chose to fish the lower bay, launch ramps include Gladstone Harbor, Escanaba River, the Escanaba Yacht Harbor and the Ford River.
- There is also a fee for launching out of the Escanaba Harbor. The current price is $4.00 per launch per day.
- If you are going to fish the very southern waters of Little Bay de Noc, the Ford River ramp can be very tricky going out into the bay. The water is quite shallow. This is a sand bottom. It cannot be emphasized enough to know the waters around these launch sites. Lake charts are available at local sporting good stores and the Chamber for a nominal fee. Believe in them!
Early Fishing Season
Fishing the upper bay offers many different types of fishing. Early in the season, (starting May 15) walleyes can be caught around the mouths of the rivers emptying into Little Bay de Noc. These rivers are the Whitefish, the Tacoosh, the Escanaba and the Days. The best baits include crawler harnesses, jigs, floating jig heads, casting jigs tipped with minnows, crawlers and leeches along with casting diving crankbaits.
Most walleye are caught in the shallower waters during this early season. Deeper waters in the center of the bay can also hold large fish. (18-25 feet of water) Deeper water fish can be caught around the first reef, second reef, and the center reef. These areas are located just north of the Kipling site. (These waters are also outstanding during the fall fishing season.)
In the past few years, outstanding fishing is had during night time hours. One thing to to remember is MAKE SURE YOUR LIGHTS WORK before you go out. By law, you must have working navigational lights on your boat and use them after dusk.
The waters off the Ford River also present excellent fishing excitement early in the season. The same baits work well here. In the lower bay, fishing seems to be better in the middle of the summer and into the fall. Generally, the fish are a little deeper, however, shallows can be very productive. These areas include Black Bottom east of the Terrace Bay Inn and in the Escanaba River.
During the summer months, trolling can be extremely productive. Crawler harnesses, bottom bouncers and planer boards are good methods of locating and catching good numbers of walleye. Some of the best crawler harnesses are made by the Walleye Choice® Company http://www.walleyeschoice.com which is also located in the area. These companies specialize in baits that work well in this area for walleye and pike. These baits can be purchased at any bait shop in this area. Colors vary throughout the year so ask bait store operators what’s hot and what’s not. Casting crankbaits, working weed bed edges and fishing live bait rigs can take walleye in summer time conditions also.
Don't overlook the excellent Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike fishing in the summer months. The weed beds, breakline edges including sand flats and rocky areas hold good numbers of fish at this time. Casting tubes, spinnerbaits and crankbaits are good bait selections.
For those of you who have downriggers, set your lines up just as you would if you were fishing for salmon and use small salmon spoons about 30 feet behind your downrigger weight. A good speed is about 1.5 miles an hour. This has proven to be an excellent pattern over the years. Best Salmon fishing is found south of Escanaba, Manistque and Fairport, Michigan.
Some of the best spoons have included North Port Nailers® http://www.northportnailer.com , The Laker Takers® are made by The Swedish Pimple® Company, http://www.baydenoclure.com located right in Gladstone.
Fall walleye fishing marks a time of year when many anglers venture out looking for those biggest fish of the system. Proven methods include live-bait rigging, jigging using live baits like redtail chubs and nightcrawlers and trolling using varied crankbaits and using in-line planer boards.
Again fall time shows some excellent catches of both Smallmouth Bass and Northern Pike as these fish are getting ready for the long winter ahead and upcoming spawning season in the spring!
Little Bay de Noc also proposes some of the greatest in Ice Fishing in the Midwest. A "full circle" and winter ice angling is unique indeed. Walleye, Perch, Northern Pike as well Whitefish are sought after fish this time of year!
Ice Anglers now having the advantage of much of the high tech products on the ice as on the waters. Electronics, rods and reels along with tackle assortments as well the comforts of portable shanties too enclosed permanent shanties.
"Early season," safe ice would begin fishing the upper Bay areas off the Days River DNR winter launch sites along with areas off the Kipling Launch region around and off Butler's Island. This time of year and remember fishing shallow early morning times working deeper during daytime hours and again moving shallow for that even "bite" window!
"Mid- Ice Season," meaning thicker ice, more travelable ice and areas of deeper water can be fished. For example areas off the breaklines of Center Reef, 1st. 2nd. and 3rd. Reefs can now be fished as well working the waters south of Gladstone including the "narrows" separating the upper/lower part of the Bays. Waters south of the Gladstone Yacht Club/Launch area concentrating on mid-lake structures as well the steep breaklines and weed edges.
A "starter-kit" for the beginner or the avid Ice fisherman begins with a good map showing underwater structures and understanding how these fish relate to these areas in the winter season.
Starting with several jigging rods; Walleye and Perch like Frabill's Sensive XL's and Fin-S Walleye and Perch Combo rods http://www.frabill.com , spooling good quality ice line and a selection of tackle consisting of jigging Rapala's (#2,3,5 and 7's, color choices of perch, gold, silver, clown and glow patterns) assortment of spoons including Bay de Noc Lures company of Swedish Pimples and smaller tear-drop jigs. Frabill's Bait Station filled with jigging and perch shiner minnows, container of wax worms and wigglers your jigging kit is completed.
Frabill's Pro-Thermal tip-ups for both Northern Pike and Walleye. Leaders, #8, #10 and #12 trebles a bucket of 4 to 6 inch shiner or sucker minnows should catch these Bay species.