Links: Going fishing - some places to go nearby, what you might catch and getting a license
Mark Bialek | AnnArbor.com
The mighty Huron River goes right through the middle of Ann Arbor, which makes for plenty of good places to put a pole in the water and go fishing. Here's what to expect when you're out on the water.
Getting a license
If you have a valid Michigan driver's license, you can pay for a fishing license online and print it on your own printer through the Michigan DNR E-License system. An annual resident license for all species except trout and salmon is $15, or $28 for all species. A youth license is also available for only $2. Check the DNR site for the complete list of options available; out-of-state licenses cost more, and senior and veteran permits are less.
Fishing in the Huron River
The Huron River offers fishing opportunities all along its shores.
The Huron-Clinton Metroparks system has fishing opportunities at its parks up and down the Huron River. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are found upstream of Ann Arbor at Delhi, Dexter-Huron, and Hudson Mills. Skip's Canoe Livery at Delhi is scheduled to open May 1, when you'll be able to rent a canoe and float downstream to fish from the middle of the river.
At Argo Park, fish for carp along the earthen embankment that forms part of the Argo Dam. The water levels on the mill race are way down, leaving an extended shoreline to fish from. This is the closest fishing site to downtown Ann Arbor, and you can be on the water in less than a 10-minute walk from the center of town. Go upstream from the Broadway bridges behind the DTE Argo substation, or downstream along a boardwalk toward Riverside Park.
The ongoing Argo Dam dam-in vs. dam-out controversy centers in part on the potential for improved habitat along the river which could expand fishing opportunities beyond the bottom-feeders that inhabit still waters.
The Huron can sometimes be deep, but there are many areas that are shallow enough for "wet" wading with shorts and tennis shoes that will yield many smallmouth bass. Try below the Argo Pond dam or along the Arboretum near the University of Michigan Hospital. A correspondent on Arborwiki's fishing page suggests the use of spinners, and recommends fly rods with "woolly buggers." Tie your own woolly bugger with instructions from the Online Fly Tyer, the WestFly, or the Michigan Sportsman.
Further downstream at Gallup Park, where the Huron Parkway crosses the river across from Huron High School, there's also fishing benches waiting for you.
Ponds and parks
Abandoned gravel pits that have been converted to parks often have good fishing.
Olson Park is located at DhuVarren Road and Pontiac Trail south of M-14; it's visible from the freeway. The site’s main feature is a pond that was constructed to manage storm water for the Northeast area, and included in the landscaping is fishing benches.
Lillie Park is in Pittsfield Township, just south of Ellsworth Road and east of Platt Road. The gravel pit on that site has been remade into a pond, with fishing from the shore. The park is named after Pittsfield Supervisor Robert A. Lillie, who was in office from 1970 to 1983 and who advocated for acquisition of the land. Lillie Park continues south on Platt; it's divided in two by a railroad right of way visible on maps, the route of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern which once ran from Ypsilanti to Hillsdale via Pittsfield Junction, Saline, Bridgewater and Manchester.
Are the fish safe to eat?
The Michigan Family Fish Consumption Guide (PDF) from the Michigan Department of Community Health has a detailed guide on eating fish from Michigan waters. The Huron River is in the Lake Erie watershed; the guide warns of concerns of PCBs in fish from Barton Pond and Ford Lake, and of mercury in fish from all inland lakes, and recommends some restrictions especially for women and children and for larger fish.
Weekly fishing report
The Michigan DNR issues a Weekly Fishing Report with details from inland waters and the Great Lakes of what's being caught. It's your best first bet at keeping up with the season. Here's a sample of some nearby waters:
Lake Erie - Boat anglers fishing in Michigan waters have caught walleye off the reefs when jigging minnows or trolling with crank baits. Those fishing the cuts and canals around Point Mouillee and Erie Metro Park have caught crappie and bluegill.
Huron River - Has steelhead and check the backwaters for bluegill and crappie.
Detroit River - Walleye action continues to be good in the lower Trenton Channel. Anglers are jigging minnows or trolling rapalas. Stinger hooks are a must. A few northern pike were caught in the backwaters. Perch are spawning.
Good luck and good fishing!