A short drive from the Sleeping Bear Dunes and ranked No. 9 on Bassmaster’s 100 Best Bass Lakes of 2014, Grand Traverse Bay has long been a trophy smallmouth mecca. Every year it yields brown bass that weigh more than 7 pounds. The shoreline of Lake Michigan along the dunes, which stretch for 2,000 acres separating the lake from inland Silver Lake, provide more outdoor entertainment, from building sand castles to swimming.
Many smallmouth fanatics believe Grand Traverse Bay will produce a bass that exceeds the current 9-pound, 4-ounce state record smallmouth. While you’re casting for the bass of a lifetime here, don’t be surprised if you catch 50 bass a day. The extremely clear water in this pristine environment causes the bass to congregate 15 to 25 feet deep. The exception is when the smallmouth move shallow in springtime. Wherever you find the bass, they’ll snap up crawfish colored tubes rigged on ¼- to ½-ounce jigs crawled over the bottom. Other proven offerings include jerkbaits and drop shot rigs. Concentrate on any rocky bottom structure you can find and where a sandy bottom transitions into clay or rock.