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The Detroit River

The Detroit River continues our series of fly fishing near metropolitan areas. Like many metro fly fishing opportunities the Detroit River is an under utilized resource, waiting for that early afternoon escape from the office.

The Detroit River runs a short thirty-two miles from Lake St. Claire until melding into Lake Erie. While the two lakes are renowned for their warm water fisheries, the Detroit as we said is under utilized from the fly fisher point of view.

For a metro fishery to be useful it needs easy access and the Detroit has it. Lake Erie Metro Park has plenty of access, boat ramp, and marina. A simple outboard boat will suffice and at times a kayak will work just fine if not better. A veritable, indeterminable array of islands, flats, weed beds, channels, and canals lead to inexhaustible fishing opportunities. At first glance a parking lot full of gear slingers might be discouraging the exploring fly fisher can certainly find their kind of water not being worked.

As varied the water so are the species targeted. The list includes perch, carp, mass species of bass that you shake a popper at, including smallies and largemouth, rock bass and white bass. Throw in some northern pike and walleye just to make it interesting.

Beginning in March, Northern Pike move into spawning beds, pre-spawners can be found lying in the bottom at depths of about four feet. Perfect targets for your favorite clousersmarabou clousersbuggers, or other streamers.

Late April brings in the smallies, check regs for catch and release season when the crowds are light.

And if sight fishing on flats is your thing carp and freshwater drum show up when the temperature warms. These are two of the most wary species and offer a great tune up for tropical locales. Try hex nymphs and crayfish.

The crème d la crème on this river is the annual arrival of the white bass, from Mid-May to Mid-June. Look for feeding seagulls feasting on the emerald shiners that are trying to escape the white bass. And if the birds aren’t working the water, fish the tails and the bars off the points of the islands.

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