People ask me all the time about good places to go fishing. There are so many to choose from, but some are definitely better than others.
Bassmaster Magazine must think so, too. In this month’s issue, they compiled a list of the top 100 fishing locations in the U.S. I really enjoyed reading this article and some of the results were interesting, especially if you are looking for great lakes within a day’s drive.
The No. 1 lake on the list is the infamous Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin. For some of you that is no surprise. If you have been so lucky as to drop a line in this famed fishery, even once, you would probably agree. Thank goodness I have been fortunate enough to spend some time there, and I would have to say the selection as the No. 1 spot is right on. It is unlike any other place I have been.
The opening line from the article about Sturgeon bay says, “When an 8.45-pound fish wins big bass – and that fish is a small mouth – heads turn.” You got that right. Normally the 6-pound mark is the standard for a truly remarkable small mouth. One more than eight pounds is enough to make any die-hard angler call in sick and head north.
Out of the top 10 locations, the Midwest is host to three of them. The No. 3 location from the list is Lake Erie. The portion of the lake that they talked about was the eastern basin, specifically the area around Buffalo, N.Y. The other location within a day’s drive in the top 10 was Grand Traverse Bay; also on Lake Michigan.
I have fished Lake Erie from Buffalo all the way to Lake St. Clair. It is awesome from one end to the other. It’s true, I had my biggest fish come from the far east side, but the western and central areas also abound are with fish and are not far from us.
The Grand Traverse Bay location is one that I have not fished. I do hope to rectify that mistake on my part sometime soon, but until then I will trust the magazine that it, too, is a great choice.
The fact that three of the top 10 locations are less than eight hours from us is a gift. In fact, all of them are only a half-day’s trip from Morris. You can hitch up the boat, pack a cooler with a few snacks and drinks and be fishing later that same day. These three locations are the kind that offer 50-plus fish days on a regular basis.
Northern lakes are gaining more respect among anglers from all over the country. The deep, crystal-clear waters are rich with all kinds of life and provide an excellent forage base for game fish. Tournaments on these lakes routinely take more than 25 pounds a day to win. Now remember, that is for a five-fish limit.
The exciting thing about fishing these waters is that you have the opportunity to watch the fight unfold in the water right in front of you. The water is so transparent you can see deep into the abyss below the boat. Often times a fighting small mouth will attract others, and they are all looking for a quick meal. Every angler in the boat can drop into one of these “wolf packs” and get bit almost instantly. It is an amazing thing to have every angler in the boat land a fish together. It’s truly a moment you won’t soon forget.
If you plan to hit one of these lakes this summer, make sure to do a little homework first. These bodies of water are huge. If you’ve never been out on a vast expanse like these lakes before, it can be a little intimidating. My advice: pick an area and break it down like you would any other lake.
The other thing to keep in mind is a healthy respect for the weather. Each of these waters can go from calm to completely torn up quickly when bad weather moves in. Just be mindful of the radar and keep an eye on the sky.
I know it might sound daunting and risky if you are new to big water fishing, but the rewards are plentiful. These fisheries are the kind that you will tell your grandkids about. Look at that calendar, pick a date and go have the trip of your life.