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Fishing Expert Gives Tips for Beginners

Detroit bait shop owner helps novice fishermen – and women – learn how to reel in a good catch

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The summertime is one of the most popular seasons to enjoy casting your line into a river and reeling in a big one. But if you don't know much about fishing, you're missing out. Michael Freeman, owner of Michael T's bait shop on Jefferson Avenue in Detroit, has been in the fishing business for 23 years. Here, Freeman shares a few tips that will help you get started and are sure to reel beginners into the art of fishing.

Pond Fishing and River Fishing

One of the first steps to fishing is figuring out where you want to fish. When pond fishing, use a bobber to keep your bait afloat. When river fishing, use a sinker to weigh the bait down. If you use a bobber in a river, the strong current will push your bait back to the bank. In the case of bobbers, size matters.

"The smaller the bobber and the thinner the bobber, the longer the fish hold onto the bait. These big bobbers are a lot of resistance and the fish don't hold on," says Freeman.

Tight line fishing

The tight line fishing technique is when you drop your line into the water. The line is straight down and the rod isn't moving. The line is so tight that you can easily notice when a fish takes the bait because the rod will start bending.

"To tell the truth. I don't call it fishing. I call it sitting and waiting around. Waiting on a fish to just happen by and see your bait," says Freeman. "Fishing requires movement. Fish are predators. They chase their food. But some people don't want to put in the work. They want to sit down and just have a good time."

Casting and Retrieving

Casting and retrieving is the technique where you cast your line into the water and reel it in. This technique gets your line further into the water.

"You can catch more by casting and retrieving. The purpose of casting and retrieving is to cover more territory. Fish lay in ambush so they are stationary. They aren't moving around as people think," says Freeman. "The more territory you cover the more fish you pass. You can catch more fish that way."


There's a variety of live bait a fisherman (or woman) can use, from worms to little fish. Freeman says the type of fish you're after will determine whether you use leeches, crayfish, minnows, nightcrawlers or worms.

  • White Bass: A white bass doesn't care anything for a worm, a leech or a crayfish. They want the minnows. They follow minnows upstream so that will be your best bet for a white bass.
  • Smallmouth Bass: Your best bet for catching them is usually a crayfish or a leech. They will eat a minnow, but the crayfish is their favorite food.
  • Walleye: That's the cream of the crop, says Freeman. He's very elusive. When a fisherman gets himself a walleye, now they have bragging rights. They are very subtle biting fish, and a lot of times they are there and you don't know it. They can be caught with night crawlers, leeches and nice size minnows. They love smelts, too.
  • Northern Pikes and Muskie: They'll eat pretty much any fish that you have on your hook.
  • Flathead Catfish: Your best chance of catching a catfish are crayfish, a nightcrawler or shrimp.
  • Minnows and Smelts: You don't use bait for Minnows and Smelts. You use an umbrella net to catch them. After you got the fish close you just dip them out the water.

Artificial Bait

"The benefit of using artificial bait is you can save yourself a lot of money by not having to buy live bait. It requires a lot of work casting and retrieving," says Freeman.

Freeman prefers live bait over, because he says you can catch more fish that way.

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