HOUGHTON LAKE — The first thing I noticed when we set off from the launch ramp on the east side of Michigan’s largest inland lake were the waves.
There was a good chop on the water for this early evening outing. And, according to my host, Mike Mol, it was exactly what he wanted.
“You have to have some wind if you’re going to fish with slip bobbers,” said Mol, as he anchored his rig off a sandy point up the lake. “You have to have some water movement. That’s the conveyor belt of food to those fish. It’s like they’re at a feeding station; they set up right off a point or on a corner and they don’t have to do anything — the food comes to them.
“When you get a set-up like that, you don’t have to move all night.”
A retired conservation officer, Mol says slip bobber fishing is “probably the most effective way to fish on the lake,” but it’s a technique relatively few fishermen use here. All the other boats we saw were either trolling or drifting.
“I don’t know if people aren’t confident they can find a spot where that works well or they just like to move,” he continued. “Trolling is limited by your ability to get down to a really slow speed. You want to troll between 1.1 and 1.4 miles per hour. If you’re going slower, you’re down in the weeds. And if you’re going faster than that, the fish won’t chase it down.
“If you can’t troll in that sweet spot, you’re better off drifting and that’s what a lot of people do.”
We were fishing two rods apiece — each of us had one with a small hook and one with a small jig — baited with leeches. Because they’re much tougher than worms, leeches will generally hold up for a number of fish before you have to re-bait.