Invasive Fish Helps Grand Traverse Bay Become Bass Hotspot

May 22, 2014

Round goby
Credit Michigan Sea Grant

Grand Traverse Bay has been named one of the best bass fishing spots in the U.S. by Bassmaster.

Bass are doing well in many parts of Lake Michigan with the help of an invasive species from Europe. Round goby has quickly become one of the most common feeder fish in the lake.

Dave Clapp manages the state’s research station in Charlevoix and says goby are thick in the rocky areas where small mouth bass tend to congregate.

"You can see 100 gobies in a square meter of [lake] bottom," says Clapp. "They're real plentiful."

One recent estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey suggested round goby make up one fourth of all the food available to large predators in Lake Michigan.

Grand Traverse Bay ranked ninth on Bassmaster’s annual list of 100 best fishing spots. Sturgeon Bay, across the lake on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula, took the number one spot this year.

While round goby are helping bass and some other native fish, the invasive species has also been linked to outbreaks of botulism that kill shorebirds, sometimes by the thousands.