Sport Fish Michigan Year in Review 2016

2016 Year in Review and Looking Forward to 2017

We here at Sport Fish Michigan would like to thank all the wonderful customers who graced us with their patronage this past year. We were very fortunate to have had a wonderful year catering to lots of customers across the state fishing for a large variety of species.

We had another fantastic season fishing for walleyes down on the Detroit River, and once the weather began to cooperate, experienced some tremendous fishing-boating limits for our customers almost every trip. We will be down guiding on this world-class walleye fishery again in April and early May. Our two-Captain system paid dividends again this past spring, allowing for a much smoother experience for our customers. Not only did it help to facilitate anglers’ lines in the water longer, it also meant that we could net fish for our customers-something that other guides often cannot do when the conditions are tricky. We would much rather net our customers fish for them than to have our customers net their own fish. Another benefit of having two Captains is that we were able to pattern the fish that much more quickly-two heads are often better than one!

Our steelhead trips went well this past spring, and again in the fall, with some nicer than expected numbers. It seems that the extreme weather that had hurt our steelhead runs the last 2 seasons did not affect this year’s run, and our customers enjoyed some spectacular days on the rivers. The Big Manistee, Muskegon, White, and the Betsie Rivers are where our guides spent the bulk of our Sport Fish Michigan trips. With the much higher numbers of fish that we saw this year, we are excited for 2017, and hope that we will see another great year on the western Michigan rivers. Captains Chad Dilts, Jeff Mallory, Ben Wolfe, Kyle Buck and Guide Scott Kubit are all experienced river guides, and we were thrilled to host not only many new customers, but lots of repeat customers as well! Whether fly fishing or conventional tackle fishing from our drift boats or a custom jet sleds, customers enjoyed great days on the water. Many of our customers got to experience fishing out of Capt. Jeff Mallory’s new Stealthcraft All Terrain boat, and we are excited to also announce that Capt. Jeff is also a Stealthcraft Boats Ambassador.

Smallmouth bass trips are a huge mainstay of Sport Fish Michigan’s offerings, and we had a record number of customers plying our world-class Michigan waters. This year saw the inclusion of Capt. Chad Dilts to the full-time roster of bass guides, and Capt. Ron Dohm Jr., as well. These Captains allowed Capt. Ben Wolfe and Traverse City Bass Guide Service to offer even more trips than ever before, and customers were thrilled with the having these Captains to fish with. Ranging from Lake St. Clair to the southeast of Michigan, to Burt and Mullet Lakes to the north, and stretching west to East and West Grand Traverse Bays and the area’s inland lakes, the bass fishing was superb almost all year long. Not only did we have excellent numbers of fish caught, but we also saw a tremendous average size. The fishery here in Michigan for big smallmouths is healthy, and with continued catch and release tactics, we are hopeful to see another banner year in 2017. We are seeing more pressure on our Michigan bass, and it is imperative for the long-term health of the fishery to adhere to safe catch and release practices. These are very slow growing fish, unlike bass in southern waters, and for those seeking a trophy to mount, we ask anglers to please consider a graphite replica. Not only are graphite replicas just as good looking as the real thing, in many instances they are also more practical. The additional huge benefit is the ability to release those trophy smallmouths to swim and thrill another angler another day.

Our lake trout season was nothing short of stunning, and we couldn’t have been more excited to see not only the high numbers of lake trout coming aboard, but also the quality. Capt. Adam Collett and Capt. Ron Dohm Jr. worked together as a team aboard the Mega-Bite to clobber not only big numbers of lake trout, but also salmon. The Mega-Bite is what we consider to be the premier charter boat plying the waters of Grand Traverse Bays. Capt. Adam specializes in trolling, and he and Ron put countless customers on some truly awesome fishing. For those that vertical jigged with Sport Fish Michigan, Capt. Chad Dilts and Capt. Ben Wolfe had some equally spectacular fishing. This hands-on technique is a great way to experience these feisty fish for those anglers who prefer to have a rod and reel in-hand. Lots of fish over 10 pounds were boated during these jigging trips, and these Captains knew right where to find the fish. With excellent numbers of lake trout in Grand Traverse Bays and out of the port of Frankfort and Platte Bay, the outlook is looking like we will have another spectacular year in 2017.

One of the most fun things we at Sport Fish Michigan began doing this year was to specifically target cisco (lake herring or tulibee). These fish are a relative of the whitefish, and are an outstanding gamefish on rod and reel, are aggressive biters, and are truly awesome to eat. Spring and fall are the prime times to target these fish and that’s exactly when Sport Fish Michigan targeted them. In fact, with such high numbers in Grand Traverse Bays, these may be the perfect fish to target for anglers looking for a fish that pulls hard and doesn’t know when to quit, as well as anglers who just want to boat high numbers of fish. Capt. Ben Wolfe calls them “velociraptors with fins” because they are so aggressive.

Sport Fish Michigan’s salmon season was exceptional both on the big waters and on the rivers. Grand Traverse Bays, Platte Bays, and Betsie Bays all produced outstanding fishing for king salmon and coho salmon. The area rivers also had equally fantastic fishing, and we are super excited for what next year’s run already. Trolling on the Grand Traverse Bays was great, with high numbers of fish present. Mega-Bite, with Capt. Adam Collett at the helm, was the hot boat on the Bays. Vertical jigging had its share of phenomenal fishing as well on Grand Traverse Bay, Platte Bay, and on Betsie Bay. Both species of Chinook salmon and Coho salmon ran larger than last year, and with much higher numbers-our customers were thrilled with full coolers on many days. Capt. Chad Dilts and Capt. Ben Wolfe were lucky enough to put its customers on fantastic numbers of salmon using this highly effective jigging technique. While some old-school anglers consider this to be a snagging technique, these two Sport Fish Michigan Captains will not only attest to its effectiveness at getting bites, but they take affront to it. They would love nothing more than to show everybody just how potent this technique can be at getting king and coho salmon to bite. Next year’s run is promising to be just as good, although it is an unknown how things will be beyond then.

River trips for salmon went extremely well in large part to Capt. Jeff Mallory doing his thing as a premier river guide. He is well versed in not only fly-fishing techniques, but also in conventional tackle. Capt. Jeff is an accomplished fly tyer, and many of his own patterns are on display when he guides. Captains Chad Dilts and Kyle Buck also did a lot of river trips this past fall for salmon, and we are thrilled with the results.

Ice fishing has become a large part of the Sport Fish Michigan business, and there is no slowdown in growth in sight. With customers coming from as far away as Florida, California, Puerto Rico, and even Brazil, we have quickly grown into the largest guided ice fishing operation in Michigan. We are very proud to not just be able to take customers out onto the ice, but to set them up with some of the best equipment in the ice fishing market. Each customer fished from within a heated Otter Outdoors thermal shanty outfitted with Marcum electronics. All the tackle and bait was also provided, meaning that customers had everything necessary for a fun day on the ice. With transportation provided for them as well, we prided ourselves on a top-notch service. For 2017, we are proud and excited to announce that we have partnered with Humminbird, and will be offering our ice customers use of the brand new Humminbird Ice Helix 7 sonar units. These are truly awesome electronics, and we are excited to showcase this to our customers on the ice. These are the best units on the market, and we at Sport Fish Michigan are proud to offer use of these units to our customers. Last winter was warmer than the previous two, and we had to travel quite a lot to stay on the good ice. Fishing for a variety of species, we guided trips for walleye, yellow perch, northern pike, bluegill, crappie, lake trout, and even burbot!

2016 also saw a great partnership with two television shows. Hook n’ Look was sponsored by Sport Fish Michigan again, and in this past year’s television show we fished with Kim Stricker out on Platte Bay for coho salmon. We had a great day on the water fishing for cohos with Kim, as he had the opportunity to experience the thrill of sight fishing for these amazing fish in the crystal-clear waters of Platte Bay. Sport Fish Michigan is once again sponsoring Kim’s show, and in the show that will be airing this coming winter on the Outdoor Channel, Capt. Ben Wolfe fishes alongside of Kim for smallmouth bass.

Angling Buzz television show was a new show produced by Lindner Media. The Lindners are icons in the industry, and it was a pleasure being on each of the 13 episodes, giving the state-wide fishing reports every week. While the weather forced us to abandon our hosting and filming with Al Lindner several times in 2016, but we are scheduled for filming two shows next year, in 2017. Sport Fish Michigan is set to sponsor this new and upcoming show again for the new year, and will once again be bringing weekly fishing reports covering the entire state of Michigan. Regular web-published video fishing reports are also going to be featured on the Angling Buzz web site. Anglers looking for an idea of what is biting can tune in or look up the Angling Buzz web site to learn more about what is happening state-wide in Michigan during these timely updates.

With so many species to target in the state of Michigan, there never seems to be enough time to be able to target them all. From smallmouth bass to salmon; yellow perch to walleye; lake trout to cisco; whitefish to panfish; steelhead to brown trout, not to mention our awesome musky and trout fishing. So many fish to chase, and so little time to do it-even for us! This is what Sport Fish Michigan is all about-staying on top of the various species of fish throughout the state to give customers the best experience we can. By taking the guesswork out of hiring a Captain or Guide, we aim to provide our customers with the best in the business using the best equipment possible. If our growing business is any indication, we think we are on the right track, and with so many customers coming back as repeat customers, we are confident that we are doing things right. From all of us at Sport Fish Michigan, we extend a very humble and heart-felt thank you. Thank you for a wonderful 2016 season. We look forward to hopefully having the opportunity to fish with all of you in the future.


Sport Fish Michigan – Sponsors and Partners

Sport Fish Michigan would love to thank our sponsors and the companies that we were fortunate to work with this past year. We look forward to working with each of them again in 2017, and encourage our customers who may be in the market for these products to check them out. We firmly believe in partnering with only the best companies and best products. We rely on these products and companies on a daily basis for each guide trip. These companies have proven themselves to us not only as being outstanding companies with the best products available, but also as companies with whom it is a pleasure to partner. We are proud to work with each of these companies, and are confident that they will surpass your expectations as they have ours.

Humminbird makes the best fishing electronics on the market, whether it’s on the open water or on the ice. With a wide variety of products to choose from spanning many different price points, Humminbird is a proven leader in easy-to-use electronics that are also the leader in technology. The new Helix series is a game-changer in sonar, both on the ice as well as on our Sport Fish Michigan boats. Sport Fish Michigan will be featuring the all-new Ice Helix 7 on its ice trips for 2017. Other Helix units, like the 9 and 10 series, will be on our Sport Fish Michigan boats.

Minn Kota makes the best trolling motors on the market without a doubt. The long-standing gold standard on bass boats has been a cable-driven Minn Kota trolling motor, but with the new Ultrex, the game is about to change. No longer will anglers have to make a choice between the ability to use the Minn Kota iPilot system or use a cable drive foot pedal like that on most bass boats. The Ultrex marries the two technologies together, and anglers can now have their cake and eat it too! With the immediate response of a foot controlled cable-drive coupled with the ability to spot lock with an iPilot system, anglers will have the best of both worlds. This brand new Ultrex will be on Sport Fish Michigan’s Ranger Bass boat for the upcoming 2017 season, and along with the Ulterra that is already on the custom center console, we will now be able to offer an even greater fishability to our customers.

Under Armour is the maker of a wide variety of outdoor gear and apparel for a huge array of sports. With season-specific wear as well as sport-specific designs, Under Armour makes a superior product from top to bottom. From hats and gloves to shoes and boots, and long underwear to outerwear and everything in-between, Under Armour has us covered. Literally. Sport Fish Michigan’s Captains are lucky enough to be able to wear this awesome apparel, staying cool in the summer and toasty warm in the winter during our ice fishing trips. After two full seasons of wearing Under Armour gear, we can say that—without a doubt— Under Armour is a great company with fantastic products.

Rapala is much more than a lure maker. Rapala brands together some of the industry’s best names. As a maker of lures, they make some amazing lures that catch boat-loads of fish for us here at Sport Fish Michigan. We use a variety of Rapala lures to target smallmouth bass, walleye, panfish, and even lake trout, brown trout, steelhead, and ciscos. In addition, Rapala makes some of the best jigging lure options for ice fishing, and along with their sister company, VMC, who manufactures some of the best hooks and jigs on the market, there are plentiful options for hard water anglers.

Shimano is the maker of the world’s best fishing reels, and makes the fishing reels that Sport Fish Michigan’s Captains rely on every day for every trip. Shimano produces a large variety of reels to suit a large variety of styles of fishing. For anglers preferring to cast, there are spinning reels and baitcasting reels for every budget. For our Traverse City Bass Guide Service company, customers use the Stradic Ci4 spinning reels, and the Curado baitcasting reels. These are true workhorse reels that have never let us down. For trolling lake trout, salmon, and walleye, Sport Fish Michigan Captains prefer the Shimano Tekota reels. The Tekota is a heavy-duty reel that is suited to the rigors of trolling, and its smooth, yet powerful, drag is second to none.

G.Loomis produces what has long been arguably the best bass fishing rod on the market. Known for its amazing bass rods, G.Loomis also has a stellar lineup of rods suited for many other species. Some of the G.Loomis rods that we at Sport Fish Michigan use are the salmon and steelhead e6x lineup, and the walleye e6x series of rods. Both are workhorses for our guide trips and charters, not to mention the sensitivity, which is unparalleled. From casting rods to walleye trolling rods, G.Loomis has the best and most versatile rods available.

Costa Del Mar’s tagline is #SeeWhatsOutThere for good reason. With the absolute clearest lenses available, Costa Del Mar produces the world’s best sunglasses. Available both in prescription and regular lenses, there are numerous lens options to choose from. The 580 lenses are what Sport Fish Michigan Captains use, allowing us to see just about everything. With a huge array of frame styles designed to fit a large variety of face sizes, there is something for everyone.

Simms Fishing Products makes the best waders. Period. Simms has been the benchmark in wader technology, quality, and innovation for years. Coupled with their varied superior wading boots, these are the go-to waders for Sport Fish Michigan’s Capt. Ben Wolfe and Capt. Chad Dilts. Capt. Ben is also a Simms Fishing Products Ambassador, using many of Simms’ products throughout the year. From tackle bags to waders, and just about everything in-between, Simms is an outstanding company that we are proud to work with.

Traverse City Tourism is the driving force behind much of the tourism in the Traverse City area. We have been blessed to have worked with the great people at the Traverse City Tourism for several years now, including a few photo shoots, article mentions, and now in 2017, our Traverse City Bass Guide Service has 5 great photos in its Visitor Guide publication. There is an accompanying article, and we were fortunate enough to have some fantastic centerfold photos taken by local photographer Dan Shepler.

Yeti Coolers are what is in many of our Sport Fish Michigan boats, not only because of their amazing ability to keep cold things cold, but also for their superior durability. These coolers are the workhorses that we rely on to keep our catches cold in the larger 125-175 sizes, and our snacks and drinks cold in the smaller Roadie-35 sizes.

Sage Fly Rods continues to make the best fly rods in the fly-fishing marketplace. Innovative designs in rod tapers and actions offer rods for every experience level. And with rod designs for a large variety of species ranging from fresh water to salt water, there is a rod for every angler’s desires. Sage fly rods, are the premiere fly rod for a reason, and we are proud to work with Far Bank Pros to bring these awesome rods to our customers’ hands during fly-fishing guide trips.

Hatch Premium Fly Reels makes the most amazing fly-fishing reels. From an aesthetic standpoint, they are second to none. Sleek, eye-catching reel designs stand apart from the rest, while top-notch performance makes them the choice for Capt. Ben Wolfe for all of his fly-fishing customers and personal use. With absolutely butter-smooth drags capable of stopping salmon, bonefish, tarpon, and everything in-between, these reels are American made works of art!

Cannon Downriggers are another product that Sport Fish Michigan Captains Ben Wolfe and Chad Dilts rely on for all their down-rigger trolling needs. With motors built to last year after year, Cannon builds a truly superior downrigger.

Otter Outdoors manufactures the best well-made portable ice shanties—hands-down. Otter has incredibly well thought-out designs for both their flip-over style shanties as well as their hub-style shanties. Sport Fish Michigan uses both styles, and we absolutely love the insulated 1,200-denier fabric that doesn’t drip condensation as so many other shanties do. Our customers are toasty warm, even on the coldest and windiest of days. Built to last, these are truly fantastic shanties, and every customer has been impressed with their roominess, comfort, and quality.

Angling Buzz was the creation of Lindner Media in 2016, with both a new website as well as a new television show. Sport Fish Michigan was proud to be a sponsor of the news-style Angling Buzz TV show in 2016, and is again for the 2017 season. As a new concept in fishing television, Angling Buzz TV hosts up-to-date information and fishing reports from a wide variety of guides and anglers around the Midwest. Sport Fish Michigan’s role was as Michigan’s only reporting source for the entire state. Sport Fish Michigan’s Capt. Ben Wolfe will be fishing and filming with Al Lindner during the 2017 season, putting together 2 different Lindner’s Angling Edge television shows.

Hook n’ Look is hosted by noted bass professional Kim Stricker. Primarily a bass fishing show, Kim showcases the underwater environment, educating anglers from a fish’s perspective. This is an incredible learning tool, and Sport Fish Michigan has ben a proud sponsor of Kim’s popular show for the past few seasons. Additionally, Sport Fish Michigan and Traverse City Bass Guide Service’s Capt. Ben Wolfe has also filmed a few shows with Kim, in the crystal-clear waters surrounding the Traverse City area of northern Michigan.


2014 Year in Review and a Look Ahead to 2015

Part 1: The Past

As 2014 draws to a close and we look forward to the New Year, I would like to share a few thoughts about this year, as well as express my extreme gratitude to our valued customers and friends for a truly wonderful year. All of our guide services were blessed with another very busy year guiding some really wonderful customers. We loved fishing with our old customers, and we relished the opportunity to fish with new customers as well.

Sport Fish Michigan’s Captains and Guides enjoyed fishing with their customers, as always. Traverse City Bass Guide Service had another incredibly busy year. Bassmaster Magazine ranked Grand Traverse Bays in the top 10 for best bass fisheries in the world. This brought additional attention to something many of us already knew—just how special this fishery really is.

Wolfe Outfitters and Manistee River Salmon Guide Service were both as busy as ever. With multiple Guides working, we enjoyed lots of guide trips fishing for everything from salmon and steelhead to brown trout, lake trout, smallmouth bass, and even panfish. Wolfe Outfitters became the only permitted guide service allowed to fish inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This opened up the door to giving customers access to world-class fishing for coho salmon near the Platte River—the birthplace of the entire Great Lakes multi-billion dollar salmon fishery.

We received quite a bit of great press as well, which is always appreciated. Traverse! Northern Michigan’s Magazine was nice enough to include our ice fishing in its newsletters, as well as sending out a writer and photographer to do an upcoming feature story on wintertime river fishing. Conde Nast Traveler released a terrific mention and photo of our guided ice fishing services in their story about the top things to do around the country in ski towns other than skiing! What a huge honor to be mentioned in this long-standing and very popular travel magazine. The Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau covered our ice fishing in both a newsletter and web story. Mountain Life Magazine, published by Crystal Mountain, also did a story about us in a feature article. We are working with a couple of writers out of Chicahgo for upcoming stories. The Angler Magazine did a feature article on us, showcasing the outstanding vertical jigging opportunities for lake trout on the Grand Traverse Bays.

9 & 10 News interviewed me for a story about bass fishing the Grand Traverse area, and Sport Fish Michigan sponsored the very popular national television show, Hook n’ Look. Hook n’ Look airs on the Outdoor Channel, and has the kind of loyal following any fishing show would want. In addition to the many small video clips we filmed ourselves, we also filmed a couple of different shows with a new fishing show that will air in January called iFishigan. This new show will air on the World Fishing Network.

The fishing was outstanding in many ways, and odd in others. With the extremely cold winter we experienced, the spring thaw was delayed by almost a month. Downstate, the walleye fishing was outstanding on the Detroit River. Surprisingly, the cold waters didn’t cool the bite at all. Lots of walleyes, many of them impressive in size, were caught by Sport Fish Michigan’s Captains and Guides. The walleye fishery on the Detroit River is stunning, and anglers vertical jigging with our Guides had great catches most days. Bass fishing on Lake St. Clair was incredible, as usual. The winter, although brutal, didn’t seem to faze the fishing much, and the bite turned hot almost right out of the gate at the start of the season. Not surprisingly, Lake St. Clair’s incredible fishery kept its reputation intact, despite falling a bit in the Bassmaster Magazine top 100 best bass fisheries in the world.

In northern Michigan, the cold took its toll a bit more, and it took longer to warm up. River levels were very high from the huge amount of snow that fell, and the spring steelhead run lasted much longer than normal. We were even fishing steelhead in late May on the Manistee and the Platte rivers! The walleye fishing on the rivers like the Manistee and Muskegon rivers was also very good. The opener to the season played right into the hands of anglers due to the cold water making for a later run. Normally, the run is over on the rivers before the season opener, but this year we were able to get on the walleyes in great fashion.

Wolfe Outfitters guide trips not only were able to target trout and steelhead, they were able to keep many of the walleyes that were caught after the season opener. Throughout the season, the trout fishing was incredible and, even now, it continues to be stellar. The salmon and steelhead runs are something that many are talking about. Not only has the DNR decreased the amount of king salmon stocked into Lake Michigan, the conditions were such that we did not have a good fall run. Guide trips went well despite this, and customers still were able to have a great experience, even if the fishing was slower than customary.

Bass fishing was stellar, as usual, but we weren’t able to enjoy the early spring bite as much as normal. Traverse City Bass had many thrilled customers despite some chilly water temps early in the season. With an unseasonably cool summer, many of the patterns ran late in the season, including the spawn. We even had spawning smallmouth in August! I’m not sure what that will mean for the success rate of the bass fry, but hopefully it won’t be too bad. We were able to showcase the incredible smallmouth fishery that we have to many new customers this year, and we enjoyed fishing with our repeats as well. It is such a treat to fish with customers every season—not only are they excellent customers, they also become friends.

Sport Fish Michigan’s endeavors this past year included offering vertical jigging trips to customers using Wolfe Outfitters Guides and Sport Fish Michigan Captains. The jigging this year was absolutely incredible, and we were very fortunate to have the beautiful lake trout to play with this year. On light bass tackle, they put up an incredible fight, and this was something that all of our anglers thoroughly enjoyed. Especially when they can feel the bite, and get to set the hook as well as fight the fish the entire way in.

On a personal note, I was nominated along with many other outstanding charter Captains, for the Best Charter Boat Captain in the annual Traverse Magazine Red Hot Best public poll. Traverse Magazine conducts this popular poll each year for the “Best Of” in Northern Michigan, and I was honored to be among the top 3 vote-getters in this inaugural category. Given the number of other nominees and some of the longevity of many of these fantastic Captains, it was very humbling to be voted among the top 3. In fact, to make things even sweeter, I was the only Captain in this category who actually offered fishing charters. The other two operate sunset cruises, capable of servicing many customers each time out. A huge THANK YOU to each and every person that voted to help put me on top!

Our new boat that was trucked out from Washington State this past winter, and outfitted specifically to highlight the jigging technique. Our customers loved it, and it proved to be invaluable. It was a joy to be able to offer trips out of this boat, and its worth proved itself on the big waters of Lake Michigan, Grand Traverse Bays, as well as the L. Michigan waters of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It also functioned extremely well as a river boat, and its design proved priceless. The Evinrude E-Tec on the back of this 20-foot beauty is outfitted with a jet drive, and is able to handle both the bigger bodies of water as well as allowing our new boat to run on plane in water as shallow as 4 inches! Outfitted with a kicker motor, an electric anchor winch, Minn Kota i-Pilot link on the Terrova electric motor, and Humminbird Onix electronics, this is the ultimate fishing machine. Many of our Wolfe Outfitters and Sport Fish Michigan customers got to enjoy this new boat, and I think they would agree that it truly is an awesome boat to from which to fish.


Thank You

Creating Sport Fish Michigan has been a tremendously rewarding journey, and to see it come together has been awesome and humbling. Sport Fish Michigan started out as a way to attract attention from search engines for my Traverse City Bass Guide Service and Manistee River Salmon Guide Service businesses. It has since grown to be so much more – a network of the top Charter Captains and Guides in the state, and I could not be more proud.

Sport Fish Michigan, or SFM as I call it, now features some of the top Guides and charters around Michigan, all of whom I know personally. As SFM began to grow out of its humble web beginnings, I added friends of mine that were Captains and Guides, with the idea that we would share referrals to each other. We’re still small, but strong. And we are growing!

SFM features Guides and Captains that specialize in almost every species that anglers want to target here in Michigan. King salmon, coho salmon, atlantic salmon, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, steelhead trout, brown trout, brook trout, rainbow trout, walleye, lake trout, perch, muskies, pike, panfish, and even some less commonly targeted species like carp, gar, catfish, and burbot!

All of these species thrill anglers of all ages! Not only do our Captains and Guides know how to target an angler’s species of choice, we have built a network that can facilitate an angler catching their preferred species using the techniques that they prefer. Casting artificial baits, vertical jigging, fly fishing, trolling, or casting live bait—SFM’s Captains and Guides have the knowledge and the boats to accommodate just about anything a customer could want.

Michigan is blessed with an incredible number of lakes, rivers, and streams, and most of these are clear bodies of water that were glacially formed. With such a variety of fish species to choose from, and with such a vast choice of waters to fish in, it can be hard to narrow down which guide to choose. All guides look good on a web site full of pictures. My intent with SFM was to create a top-notch referral service that would take the guesswork out of who to book on certain bodies of water.

Sport Fish Michigan is now even a sponsor of the very popular national television show, Hook N’ Look, hosted by renowned bass professional and retired tournament angler, Kim Stricker. Sport Fish Michigan is even sponsoring a local Traverse City high school bass team, encouraging the sport of bass fishing and the youths that enjoy fishing.

Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine had their annual Red Hot Best poll a few months back, and this year saw a couple of new categories, including the best Charter Boat Captain. The list of nominees and write-in candidates grew to an impressive length, as northern Michigan has world-class fisheries. There are lots of area guides and charters to choose from. I was lucky enough to be one of those nominated, and it was exciting to learn a month or so ago that I was one of the 3 top voted for in this new category. With the June issue on newsstands, it is an absolute thrill to finally let the cat out of the bag! Of the top 3 spots, I am actually the only Charter Boat Captain that offers fishing trips! That was a shock to me, considering how many well-established fishing charters there are in northern Michigan.

Hats off to Chien Nowland of the Nauti-Cat for garnering the top spot in this category, and to Chris West of the Ugly Anne up in Mackinaw City as well. Chien and Chris are both terrific operators of water cruises, taking customers sight seeing and sunset cruising in style. It is, without doubt, a tremendous honor and source of pride to be in the top 3, and especially to be the only fishing charter Captain.

I would like to sincerely thank all of those who voted in the Red Hot Best poll. Thank you to each and every one of my customers who have fished with me or one of my esteemed Sport Fish Michigan Captains and guides over the years, making each trip special and memorable. Many photos from our trips grace the web sites that make up Sport Fish Michigan. I would also like to thank my other Sport Fish Michigan Captains and Guides, and those that have helped us along the way. This honor isn’t just for me—it’s for all of us. We did it together. Thank you for all of your hard work, dedication, and for working together to make something great!


Sport Fish Michigan Sponsors Hook n’ Look TV Series

Sport Fish Michigan is proud to be a sponsor of Hook n’ Look, starring Kim Stricker, which airs on the Outdoor Channel. Much more than a fishing show, Hook n’ Look offers viewers a unique perspective on angling – a view from under the water! Both Kim and his son, Danny, are experienced divers and they combine their diving and angling skills to provide viewers with unparalleled information gained by experiencing fishing from both above and below the water.

Ben Wolfe, owner of Sport Fish Michigan said, "Education is a big part of what Captains and Guides offer to anglers, and understanding the underwater landscape is critical to success. This is a key premise of the Hook N’ Look program, and a partnership between Sport Fish Michigan and Hook N’ Look makes sense. Kim’s love of his home state of Michigan only furthers this partnership. Through the Hook N’ Look show, he often showcases the beauty and pristine nature that Michigan’s waters have to offer."

"Sport Fish Michigan has a very similar goal: we aim to heighten each angler’s experience through a keen understanding of not only the pieces of the puzzle happening above the water, but understanding what is happening below the water, as well. Sport Fish Michigan’s Captains and Guides have years of experience on the water, and with our partnership with Hook N’ Look, we are excited to promote the world-class fishing that Michigan has to offer on waters that Kim (and Danny) have spent countless hours on filming their outstanding show."

Visit the Hook n’ Look website.


Hook n’ Look 2013 Show 10 – A Blustery Cup O’ Joe

Kim Stricker along with Professional Fishing Guide/Entrepreneur Ben Wolfe reveal how they cope with gale-force winds and ultimately produce chunky late fall smallmouths in Northern Michigan. Strike King Coffee Tubes and Tour Grade Spinnerbaits are the featured lures.


Captain Ben Wolfe’s Deep Blue Coffee Company® is now a proud sponsor of the Outdoor Channel’s Hook n’ Look TV Show

Article from the November 14th edition of the Hook n’ Look newsletter:

 HOOK N’ LOOK DIVES INTO DEEP BLUE COFFEE!

Considering the names of some of Deep Blue Coffee’s hand-crafted blends, Traverse City Bass Blend, Anglers Blend, Great Lakes Blend, Hook N’ Look is especially proud to announce a promotional agreement with the Traverse City, Michigan based coffee company.  Each custom roasted blend displays a satisfying richness which will please any palate. Try some for yourself!  We’re thoroughly confident you’ll agree that Deep Blue Coffee is unforgettably delicious!


Hook N’ Look

What a difference a couple of weeks can make! 3 weeks ago, I was thrilled to film a tv show, Hook N’ Look over the course of 3 days with Kim and Danny Stricker. The weather was crappy—heavy winds all 3 days, and rain for two of them. Perfect for showing off raingear, but difficult to film in, considering the high-definition cameras and sensitive microphones. Sure, the fish are already wet, and we’re in a boat designed for water, but wow was it uncomfortable. Thank goodness we were also highlighting my coffee company, Deep Blue Coffee. Few things can warm up a chilly and wet day on the water than a great cup of hot coffee!

Filming a spinnerbait show, showcasing the Strike King tour grade painted blade spinnerbaits, we needed wind to help promote a hot bass bite. Well, we got wind—a little too much of it, however. We were able to connect on a few, and got a few more to chase and bump the spinnerbait, but overall, it was not a great bite to really show off this technique. As a full time guide, this was a little puzzling. The fish were shallow; there was the right water temperature zone; there was wind to help promote a shallow spinnerbait bite; and there were baitfish present. All signs that there should have been a phenomenal spinnerbait bite.

The fish, however, don’t always seem to follow our human best laid plans. And very often, in very frustrating fashion, they do their own thing. Given the seemingly perfect conditions for this kind of bite, it became very apparent that we would have to grind it out, taking an overly persistent mindset. Having confidence in an area was key for our shoot. I knew from years of experience where the fish were. Just getting them to bite on what we wanted them to bite on, for the sake of a spinnerbait show was the issue. Sure we probably could have gotten more bites using other baits or techniques, but if you’re going to film a spinnerbait show—you have to throw a spinnerbait! Not having confidence in the areas we were fishing could have led us all over northern Michigan’s prime smallmouth water, but at the end of the day—if you know the fish are there—don’t leave fish to find fish. Just fish, and make it happen.

In all, filming with Hook N’ Look was a great experience. Kim, Danny and my friend Capt. Kyle Buck (who was driving my Ranger Z-520 as the camera boat) all shared a lot of laughs, caught some fish, filmed a show, and drank A LOT of Deep Blue Coffee Company’s coffee. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!

Kim Stricker and Captain Ben filming for Hook N’ Look.

Kim catches a fall smallmouth on a Strike King spinnerbait

Captain Ben and Kim Stricker throwing Strike King painted blade KVD spinnerbaits for fall smallmouth in the Traverse City area