Proposed pier in a bad spot for fishing, experts say

Feb 3, 2015

The schematic design for a public pier in Traverse City shows it extending 500 feet from the mouth of the Boardman River.
Credit Smith Group JJR

Traverse City is moving forward with a plan to build a $9 million-dollar fishing pier out into Grand Traverse Bay but local fishing experts say the location of the pier – near the mouth of the Boardman River – is not an ideal place to fish.

Traverse City commissioners looked over the new pier design at their meeting last night. The document features colorful images of walleye, salmon, steelhead and smallmouth bass.

But fishing guide Ted Kramer told the commission the 500-foot pier is in the wrong spot for fishing.

“It seems to me that idea of building the proposed fishing pier is a Trojan horse to bring another expensive waterfront feature to Traverse City and the bay, for mixed use and attraction, not necessarily for fishing,” said Kramer.

Dave McCool owns McCool Outdoor in Traverse City. He told IPR he loves the idea of the fishing pier and thinks anglers could have some luck catching migratory steelhead and salmon as they return to the river. But he agrees that if bass and walleye are your target, you’d be better off fishing elsewhere.

Tim Brendel of Dancing Bear charters likes the design of the 500-foot pier but he said the west side of the Boardman River is just not a very good fishing spot.

“The idea is a great thing but if you’re going to spend that kind of money on one, you’d think you’d want one where you can actually catch some fish,” said Brendel.

Brendel said the water along the site is too shallow and the lake bed too sandy to support an active habitat for bass, perch and walleye. Brendel says they tend to hang out in deeper water and in rockier terrain.

“They go in those little crevices … that attract bait fish,” he said. “You don’t have that on a sandy bottom scenario like on the Boardman River mouth.”

If you want to catch fish in Grand Traverse Bay, said Brendel, you need to go out past the dropoff point, which aligns with the only the very tip of the proposed pier.

City commissioners gave the green light last night for engineers to continue studying the project, using grant money from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust.