I had only ice fished Big Green Lake one time and never open-water fished the 7,920-acre lake before, so I called a buddy of mine to point me in the right direction.
He pointed me to Greg Haut of Hautdoors Guide Service, who I’ve talked to a few times, but never had the pleasure to fish with, even though we tried a few times. Tournament bass fishing is his passion, and guiding acts as a nice way to hone his skills during the summer when he’s not at Rufus King Middle School working as an art teacher.
“I guide a bit different than most,” he said. “I teach people tournament techniques that they can then take on their own body of water to help them catch more fish. I rarely use live bait because it’s just not practical. I think if people learn tournament techniques they are better off because they can work in almost any situation.”
Live bait gets deployed when things get really tough.
“It has been a weird year out here,’ he said. “Normally, I’d be fishing deeper weeds and summer patterns, but the lake really hasn’t warmed up much. Fish now are deep at times, but there are a lot of them shallow, too, even some big smallmouths. Some fish are even still on beds.”
We started out fishing in about 30 feet of water off a deep drop-off. My son, Hunter, tossed wacky-rigged plastic worms to the shallow flat in about 8 feet of water, while my brother-in-law, Glenn Lazich, casted deeper with a tube jig. I threw a top water and Haut switched off between several baits looking for a pattern.
“You see those marks on the locator,” Haut said. “Those are smallmouths down there at about 15 feet. Even though we’re in almost 30 feet of water we can get them to come up and hit a topwater. We’re trying to fire up a school of them and that’s when you can catch a ton of fish in a short amount of time.”
Big Green is a really cool lake. Not only can a person have some of the best smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing in the state, but there are also nice pike, panfish, and even lake trout.
“I think the lake trout fishing out here at times can be easier than fishing them on Lake Michigan,” he said. “It’s just a smaller body of water and you can target them easier. Trolling and jigging both work at various times of the year.”
“Got one,” Hunter said. “It’s huge.”
The fish ended up being about 16 inches. Not really huge, but it was Hunter’s first smallmouth and the fight in the fish made him think it was much bigger than it was.
“They fight harder than a largemouth, “Haut said. “Don’t they Hunter?”
The smile on Hunter’s face told me he agreed.
A few seconds later, Hunter scored again and then I got in on the action too.
“There are days out here you can easily put 50 fish in the boat,” Haut said. “I have over 800 waypoints saved in my GPS and they all can be productive. Rarely in a tournament do I ever fish more than a few.”
We didn’t have a ton of time with Haut as he was taking out people in our group in shifts and ours was only a couple hours, but we put some really nice smallmouth in the boat. He also gave us some tips on largemouths that we cashed in on later that day in my boat with some other people in my family (that’s when I’m the guide.)
The lake was one I will be putting on my roster for sure; it just has so much to offer, and at almost 8,000 acres, it never felt crowded, even on a busy July afternoon. Haut taught us a lot, which is no surprise since he’s a teacher by trade.
The only problem is now Hunter wants to fish Big Green more than he does the local lakes, which means an hour drive versus 20 minutes.
I guess a commute like that isn’t too shabby for the likes of the bass that swim in Big Green.