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Saginaw River Bass

Started by bronzeback, July 04, 2006, 10:23:26 PM

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Any advice on fishing for bass on the Saginaw River would be greatly appreciated.  Fishing a tournament there in August and traveling there from Benton Harbor.  I never fished there for bass, can anyone help.


Saginaw River used to be pretty good during the spawn and then get progressively tougher during the summer. The marinas attract a lot of bass, but some of the marinas are definitely not fond of bass anglers fishing around there boats. The one next door to Vets Park always requires that we not fish in there if we use their facilities in the past.

The ones out by the mouth have been good at times in the past. The deeper canals might hold some bass during the summer that stay after the spawn or live there all the time. It just gets squirrelly in there later, but there are some nice bass if you can find them.

Lots of junk outside the channel, so be careful. Some of the old walls, pilings, wrecks and flotsam hold some bass at times. If you are staying in the river during August, try the deeper marinas and canals. There's definitely some interesting canals from Bay City out to the mouth.

Make sure you learn all the no wake regs - you don't want a ticket. Boat traffic on weekends is pretty heavy.

You can go for smallies way up the Titabawasee River, but you better be really good on the channel running, especially once you leave the Saginaw River - some real shallow, treacherous stuff.

Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of The Bass Federation of Michigan.


 :)Thank you for the insight.I do have the option to fish the bay also,but i'm trying to get a plan "B", if you will, because i heard the bay can get rough quick.Also, are there many places in the bay to do well besides the Charities? That looks like one heck of a run from where i'm launching in Bay City.I have a 31 gal.gas tank on my 1850 Crestliner Fishhawk,w/ a 125Merc. Might not make it there and back.


For the charities from bay city your looking at roughly 60 miles round trip.  I'll be out at charity in an hour, it's flat as glass today.  It's not usually a fun run to make, the bay gets rough fast.  I only have 1 windshield now due to some 8 footers that came out of nowhere.  If theres not a lot at stake I would try and find closer fish. 


There's a whole lot of fish in between and sometimes, some pretty good fish. The Bay is NOT the place to be running around without a great set of the best navigation maps you can find, and at LEAST two methods for navigation - say a GPS and a compass - along with the maps.

There are many hazards especially within a half mile of many shorelines (farther in a few places). It is big water that can take everything you own and ever will own (stealing a line from a favorite movie) in a heartbeat.

Do not go out without an accurate marine weather forecast (I have links on my main Home page under Resources - scroll down). You should have also at least two means of communication (cell phone and VHS radio - radio is important because you can listen to constant weather updates - weathers changes fast and moves fast on the Bay) and all the required safety and emergency equipment.

The Bay is very dangerous, but mostly to people who venture out on it without the proper respect and preparations. Take a change of clothes (head to toe) and a towel. Take some extra drink and food. It isn't common, but more than enough have spent the night out there.

If you are in less than 10 feet of water, you better know where you are running through VERY well. Even deeper, you can be in trouble in a couple seconds if you don't know what you are running into. There are ways to cut corners on the Bay and make it out a ways in water that might be stopping others, but you must know them personally and intimately. Also realize that strong winds will drop the water on the lee side several feet at times, while raising it the same on the windy side. You may run through a boulder flat or over a bar one day without touching only to lose your skeg or lower unit the next.

Don't assume because one person makes it, you will too. That person may be just a lucky sucker, or may know a small cut in a bar that you have to hit dead on to make it through.

Now having said a long disclaimer, there are a lot of spots before the Charities including some winning spots. But without giving you GPS and then routes, and/or putting my finger on the map, I'll post some generalities - deeper canals may hold some bass all summer. Bass that spawn in canals don't always go far from those canals to live the rest of the summer. Bass us 'structure' on Saginaw Bay as they do everywhere else. Dropoffs with cover can hold a lot of bass at times. Structure can be natural or manmade (Ex: edges of cuts). It does not take much on flatter parts of the Bay to attract fish.

Areas that restrict water movement and/or current are always higher percentage anywhere you find them. Areas that attract minnows and other bait are also higher percentage. Sometimes, these are the same areas.

A lot of this is largemouth-oriented, but smallies are moving farther South in the Bay and mixing more with largemouth areas too. Just like so many places, if you can answer the three needs of a bass in a general area, you should be near a bunch of bass - that is 1) have some place to spawn, 2) have plenty of food to eat, and 3) have places to be to keep from being eaten. A simple example would be a larger canal with good depth and edges around walls to spawn on. A dredged channel going out with some weed cover leading to open water coverage not to far away near enough depth to have lots of bait using the area. If the canals have a creek involved with a little more current, that may attract more bait to come in at night and pull out during the day along with resident forage.

The fishing on the Bay can be great. Just be careful and smart. There is no tournament worth you life, limb and major property. I have done some things (and been with others who also did) out there that I now wonder what I was thinking, but you live and learn. A backup plan involving staying near never hurts, but you can do a lot with the proper homework and preparations.

Help stop invasive spcies. Don't move fish between unconnected bodies of water. Clean, drain and dry your boat before launching on another water body.
Unless clearly stated as such, opinions expressed by Dan Kimmel on this forum are not the opinions or policies of The Bass Federation of Michigan.


Thanks again for the good info.I agree you can never be too careful,especially on new water.I do have a Globlemap w/Hot Spot chip ,along with a VHS radio.Fished St. Clare River late summer last year and got into some dandy smallies,they seemed to like the cooler water.Could the shipping channel going into the bay produce,;mabey dragging tubes?


I wouldn't put a lot of faith in the Saginaw River this time of year.  Granted there are fish in the river, but not many.  Not like the spawn.  As Dan mentioned you may pick off a few here and there if your persistant in the marinas or fishing rip/rap, but chances are they are not going to be big.  I have caught a couple of decent smallies fishing the old wood pilings that are scattered throughout the course of the river.  If you can prefish see what shakes out, you may be able to put together a decent pattern and possibly get on some good fish, but it is unlikely.  If the bay is coorperative I wouldn't think twice about making a run to much more productive spots.  This is a very big body of water and there is a lot of void areas.  Anything rocky, humpy, or reefy should produce fish.  The Charities are a pretty good haul but have fish.  Anything by the charities west or east that has good depth and structure can be capable of producing very good fish.  You really need a few days to prefish the bay to figure out your approach, especially if you are planning on making a lot of different waters.  My last suggestion is taking a look at the few bars that are scattered along the shoreline of the west inner bay, namely the pinconning bar and saginag.  there can be a pretty good largemouth bite on the weedbeds that typically form around these areas.  these areas have been in the past exclusively green bass terrritoy but are seeing more brownies in the mix, which is a good thing because saginaw bay largemouth are cookie cutters.

You could write a book on bass fishing the bay, do some exploring and be careful.  if she gets wicked it is probably the most dangerous piece of water you'll ever be on. :'(
I am haunted by waters.


 keep talkin' guys...i also have a club tournament in august on the bay. NEVER been out there myself as i'm quessing most of our club.  taking only 2 days to pre-fish and scout around. trying to get as much info as i can right now. did purchase a hot spot map so i'm figuring everything marked on that might as well be communtity holes. if anyone would like to pass on any other helpful hints and can email me. most help will be especially appreciated.
if it feels good - SET THE HOOK!!

Michigan Bass Busters


You can catch plenty of bass in the river, but don't expect to win the tournament there unless the Bay is off limits.

When on the bay - be very careful around the bars.

If you are crossing the pinconning, stay out towards the end and definitely a long ways from shore.
For the Saganing, there is a deeper cut between shore and the bar to pass through or stay off the end of it.

If you don't have a contour map on your GPS, be sure to type in waypoints for the ends of the bars to help keep you off of them while running. 

On the east side, there are fewer shallow bars but there are many shallow humps to avoid.  From memory, I think Duck reef, middlegrounds and hogbacks all have rocks shallow enough to take out a lower unit without the help of rollers.  Sand point is about 10 inches deep for about 1.5miles off shore before it drops into the slot. 

Basically, anywhere on your map that is inside the 5' contour can be hazerdous.


Bronzeback, I have some advice for you.  Last year was my first time out on the Bay.  We had a club event and I pre-fished 3 or 4 times during the year before hand.  The mistake that I made was to try and learn too much water.  The thing that really struck me about the Bay was just how HUGE it was, and how far from land you can be and still only have 2 feet of water below the boat.  There is a TON, and I mean a TON of empty water out at the Charities, so unless you have some good solid advice about a starting point, think twice about making the trip out.  I was out there on the islands 3 times last year, for a total of 2 fish.  Just bad luck maybe, but I never did find them.  Took a pounding getting there, too. 

Anyway, if you can, pick a few spots and spend some time getting to know them.  If you only have a couple days or less to pre-fish, it will be hard to see more than a few spots.  So much water. . . .       

Having a couple of well defined areas is better than bobbing around blind on the Charities (if the weather cooperates and lets you) looking for some fish.  There's plenty of bass to be found, and lots of tournaments are won in spots other than out there.
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I agree that picking a couple of spots and learning them is the best approach.  I am going to try and head over there the end of July and then a couple of days before the tournament.  I do have the contours on my hotspot map on my gps.  Hopefully it's somewhat accurate.  If anyone's got a couple of strating points, and you can shoot a couple of coordinates at me -
Tight Lines


 i agree w/ finding a couple of good looking spots and working it over to find some fish. tain't worth us running to charities and not having a clue or anywhere else with some driving time. this is only a 1day club event. hoping in the 2days of pre-fishing we find a couple of those spots close and in around to where we launch.  you mention the river, on main lake canals, cuts, marinas - are they worth looking into?
if it feels good - SET THE HOOK!!

Michigan Bass Busters


 this was to dirty and stained. the weekend traffic is way to crazy out there. also we need to show these other boaters out there, it doesn't take 15-20 mins out there to unload/load a boat. another story, and don't want to diss anybody......
if it feels good - SET THE HOOK!!

Michigan Bass Busters

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