September 24, 2010
If anyone knows, it's these salts, who spend about as much time on the lakes as they do on land.
The Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by surface, holding about 20 percent of the fresh water in the world and about 90 percent of U.S.'s supply.
Early season chinooks average 5 to 15 pounds around Algoma, Wisc., on Lake Michigan. But monsters, like this 32-pounder, caught on Obsession IV charter boat last year, show up as the water warms.
Photo by Kevin Naze.
They also hold a heck of a lot of fish.
Here are some suggestions for high-quality May and June fishing opportunities on the Great Lakes.
Guide Jim Hudson of Bayfield takes his show on the road wherever the bite for a particular species is best. Much of his early season action centers on the Apostle Islands for big lake trout and Chequamegon Bay for walleyes, smallmouth bass and yellow perch.
Guide Jim Hudson of Bayfield, Wisc., holds a 46-inch, 40-pound-plus lake trout caught and released last spring in Lake Superior's Apostle Islands area.
Photo by Kevin Naze.
Lake trout can run magnum-size here. His biggest release last year stretched 46 inches and weighed an estimated 40-plus pounds.
For trout, rigs vary from downriggers and Dipsy Divers to lead core and copper presentations, with much of the trolling done in 80 to 120 feet of water at speeds that vary from about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 miles per hour, depending on the current.
More info. Hudson's On The Spot Fishing Adventures: (715) 779-5833; www.fishchequamegonbay.com.
Green Bay's tributaries lure one of the Midwest's biggest walleye runs each spring, and the post-spawn bite in May can offer multiple hookups for even novice trollers working the shorelines. In addition, the Fox River at Green Bay and the Menominee River at Marinette are among the best bets for giant post-spawn muskies in May. Catches into the mid-50-inch range are made every year.
Troy Mattson of Kinn's Katch Sport Fishing, a 10-boat operation based out of Algoma, Wisc., said half the fleet starts its season near the Wisconsin-Illinois line fishing for coho salmon, the Illinois side first and the Wisconsin side as the water warms up. By June, all the boats are running out of Algoma for chinook salmon, steelhead and lake trout.
Southern basin coho action heats up off lower Michigan, Indiana and Illinois first. Mattson and friends fish Winthrop Harbor, Ill.
More info. Kinn's Sport Fishing: (800) 446-8605; www.kinnskatch.com.
If you're looking for Atlantic salmon, Lake Huron is the place. And for a real thrill, you might want to try them on the fly in the St. Mary's River. Capt. Travis White of Sault Ste. Marie began fly-fishing at the age of 10, and today it's his favorite way to catch fish. White starts with dark streamers on dark days. Floating line and a 6-pound-test tippet is favored.
Fish are targeting smelt drifting through the river, and they're very surface oriented.
Early May he'll see the Atlantics that stayed to spawn that year, some steelhead running 5 to 15 pounds and maybe some jack cohos about 15 to 20 inches long. By mid-June the fresh Atlantics will arrive. They average about 6-7 pounds.
Trophy walleyes rule on Lake Erie. Check out the fishing off Port Clinton, Ohio. That's where this 32 1/2-incher was caught.
Photo by Kevin Naze.
More info. St. Mary's Guide Company: Capt. Travis White, (906) 748-1353; www.whitesguidedfishing.com.
The hub of the lake's walleye fishing is Port Clinton, Ohio.
While many anglers troll crawler harnesses, crankbaits and spoons for walleyes, Capt. Doug Alexander said about 90 percent of his customers would rather cast.
A 3- to 4-pound walleye is common, and there are a lot of 5- to 10-pounders, with occasionally giants bigger than that. Alexander said they'll almost always get at least one 29-inch or larger walleye per trip.
Perch fishing is best in April, but they're still hooked later in spring at the same depths as the walleyes. Spreader rigs tipped with minnows work well.
More info. Holiday Village Resort: Capts. Doug or Chris Alexander, (419) 797-4732; www.holidayvillageresort.com.
In spring, one of the top bets is the waters around Oswego, N.Y., where brown trout and chinooks provide world-class action.
Flasher and fly combinations are very popular for spring kings on Lake Ontario. But they'll pop spoons. This silver beauty was reeled in aboard Fish Doctor Charters off Oswego, N.Y.
Photo by Capt. Ernie Lantiegne.
Capt. Ernie Lantiegne of Fish Doctor Charters said he finds browns and kings just minutes apart, with the trout typically in shallow and the salmon often in 70 to 100 feet or more of water.
For browns, he'll often work the plume around the Oswego River. with Rapalas, Thundersticks and Rogues behind planers, or spoons and stickbaits behind Slide Divers, Dipsys or riggers. He'll sometimes run two to three colors of lead core off the boards, if the water depth allows it.
The kings are typically in 30 to 120 feet of water, again depending on the temperature and the baitfish.
The average brown might run 4 to 12 pounds and the average king 6 to 22 pounds. By m
id-June, most salmon are over 18 pounds; some will hit 25.
More info. Fish Doctor Charters, Capt. Ernie Lantiegne, (315) 963-8403; www.fishdoctorcharters.com.