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Thread: Lake Michigan trolling tips from Capt Andy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    5

    Default Lake Michigan trolling tips from Capt Andy

    Catch more salmon and trout this summer. Part 1, location, location, location.
    Captain Andy Derwinski
    JEDI Sportfishing Charters
    Kenosha, WI


    Lake Michigan fishing is like a puzzle with a few of the pieces missing. At least this is how it feels some days. Just when you think you have it figured out, here comes the twist of the week. After 30 years of fishing Lake Michigan from over 20 different ports, there are a few things that remain constant. The most important key to consistently catching fish is location.

    Rule #1, you canít catch fish if there arenít any fish where you are.

    This may sound simple, but day after day I see and talk to other anglers that just simply ďcouldnít get anything goingĒ. Yes, it helps to be on the water day after day. But, even that doesnít solve the location problem. These fish move at a comfortable 6 knots when they decide to relocate. That means that the short 2 hours between morning and afternoon charters could put your morning limit 12 miles away. So, what do we do?

    It would take a major event to move fish that far in such a short time. The energy required to move that distance could never be recovered. Think of the big bass that grabs the thickest part of the weed bed for her lair. Why would she risk moving more than a few feet? The same holds true for the stream trout that finds the perfect eddy behind a rock and spends his whole life there. So, donít expect a school of Coho to move any further than they absolutely have to.

    So what is the solution?

    First, pick a starting point. There are so many sources today for fishing info. The internet alone is full of up to date reports for every area of the lake. Try getting to know a local charter captain that spends 4 to 7 days a week chasing these fish. Many are more than willing to share the info they have.

    Second, stick to your plan. You get to the dock at 5am. The boat is ready to go and everyone is excited. You spent the last 2 days on the web and calling bait shops and captains. Youíve decided that 50 feet of water north of the port is the place to start. The boat next to you says they heard a report about fish in 100 feet. Or maybe, you stop at 50 and it seems like every charter boat in the county runs right past you. The answer is, FISH. You did your research, its current, donít second guess yourself. Some of my best days have been when I ran way past everyone else or stopped well short.

    Third, donít waste time on dead water. Salmon and trout in Lake Michigan eat, swim, and make babies, in that order. If you are on fish, theyíll bite. If you arenít getting bit, move. North or south, east or west, deeper or shallower, start trolling away from the dead water. This doesnít mean you set up wrong, only that they moved. My usual rule is 10 minutes at a certain level. (This is the feet of water you are in) After that, its move deeper or shallower depending on currents, water temperature, traffic, and lake conditions. If Iím convinced that north or south would make a difference, than that is the second choice.
    Make a plan, stick with it, be willing to adapt. Those are the keys to locating fish on Lake Michigan. The next article will deal more with water temperatures, currents, and other factors that determine fish location throughout the season.

    Feel free to contact me for local reports for the Kenosha area. I donít normally respond to text messages, a call is always better. For more info on the lake and what it has to offer, check the website at http://www.jedisportfishing.com

    The JEDI fishes daily from late April through October for salmon and trout from the Port of Kenosha. Kenosha is consistently ranked the best charter fishing port in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin DNR.

    I am Captain Andy Derwinski, owner and captain of the JEDI. For the best adventure on the lake, give me a call. 414-788-6603

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    5

    Default Lake Michigan trolling tips, part 2

    Catch more salmon and trout this summer. Part 2, Adjusting to Water Temperature
    Captain Andy Derwinski
    JEDI Sportfishing Charters
    Kenosha, WI



    Lake Michigan fishing is like a puzzle with a few of the pieces missing. At least this is how it feels some days. Just when you think you have it figured out, here comes the twist of the week. After 30 years of fishing Lake Michigan from over 20 different ports, there are a few things that remain constant. The most important key to consistently catching fish is location. In the last article we discussed location in relation to information available. Fishing reports, local bait shops and captains, and yesterdays info all help us pick a starting point. So what do we do if we have no information? What if we choose a location and the fish arenít there? Where do we go now?

    Most days, water temperature will determine fish location. If we break it down into seasonal patterns, it can begin to make sense.

    Spring in my part of Wisconsin starts in mid April. The fishing can be excellent one day and downright aggravating the next. The key here is to find the warmest water in the area. Sometimes itís the filtration discharges. Other days itís runoff from the rivers and streams. Still other days it is small pockets of warmer water located along the shoreline. However, as spring progresses into late May, the warm water pockets are often located well off shore. A great tool is on the web. Just Google ďcoast watchĒ. There you can find satellite images showing lake surface temperatures. As I sit here in the dead of winter, the warmest water on the lake is 37.7 degrees. A small pocket located halfway between Kenosha and South Haven, right in the middle of the lake.

    As June approaches, the water begins to set up with summer thermo clines. Currents begin to form as the lake rolls north and south from winds and the earthís rotation. These currents will hold colder water and higher oxygen levels. These currents also hold the bait fish. Once the alewives have stopped spawning, they move offshore and move with the currents.

    So much has been written over the years about preferred temps for the various Lake Michigan species. However, with a reduced bait population and almost no smelt, food often becomes the main factor for fish location. In a perfect world a big Chinook could spend his entire life swimming in 52 degree water and there would always be plenty of food. This is why June becomes a challenge as the bait begins to move. Cold water doesnít mean a thing if the bait is elsewhere. So, until the summer thermo cline sets up, the late spring/ early summer focus is on bait.

    As summer approaches, cold water is the key. Last summer we had west winds for a week followed by 2 weeks with no wind. The west wind brought cold water near shore. The shore temps were down to 39 degrees for several weeks. It made for fantastic fishing right off the beaches. Mixed catches of all 5 species, even Lakers, were common in 30 to 40 feet of water.

    Other times during summer we may be anywhere from 150 to 300 feet of water with a major temp break 90 to 120 feet down. The pocket of cold water may extend for miles or maybe only a few hundred yards. Finding these cold pockets can be a challenge. You need to keep moving until active fish are located. A downrigger temp probe is very helpful at this time of year. Also, keep checking surface temps on coast watch for pockets of colder water near shore.

    Finally, as the lake starts to cool, you need to move with the falling temps. Spawning fish will move to shore if the water remains warm. However, the main schools will wait till the shores cool.

    Once the spawn is over, the focus is on bait again. As the lake temps fall, the last few pockets of warmer water will concentrate the bait. Weíve trolled in 20 feet of water in October and watched huge schools of alewives pass under the boat like a giant silver ribbon. It can be a challenged to beat Mother Nature with all the free food around, but the rewards in October can be great.

    Next month I will cover in detail a plan for early season Brown trout.

    Feel free to contact me for local reports for the Kenosha area. I donít normally respond to text messages, a call is always better. For more info on the lake and what it has to offer, check the website at http://www.jedisportfishing.com

    The JEDI fishes daily from late April through October for salmon and trout from the Port of Kenosha. Kenosha is consistently ranked the best charter fishing port in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin DNR.

    I am Captain Andy Derwinski, owner and captain of the JEDI. For the best adventure on the lake, give me a call. 414-788-6603

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    5

    Default part 3, Spring brown trout on Lake Michigan

    Catch more salmon and trout this summer. Part 3, Spring Brown Trout on Lake Michigan
    Captain Andy Derwinski
    JEDI Sportfishing Charters
    Kenosha, WI


    I canít remember a winter that seemed to last so long. Finally after 3 days in the 50s, I can see my lawn for the first time since November. Yes, spring is in the air.

    Now is when the cabin fever really sets in. Iím realizing the days are numbered before the JEDI hits the water again. Itís time to finish the trolling reel overhauls, equipment repairs, and get started on prepping the boat for the 2010 season.

    Open water trolling begins in March along the Indiana shoreline and April up here in Wisconsin. These next 2 months offer some of the best brown trout fishing of the year. Jigging in the harbors has become very popular over the last few years. There are several good guides available in many of the ports. However, my focus remains on trolling. Over the years I have caught browns from every harbor from St Joe around to Milwaukee. Every one of them offers an excellent spring fishery when the conditions are right.

    The best plan of attack is ďsearch and destroyĒ. As the water warms, browns begin feeding heavily. By the time I am fishing, water can be anywhere from 35 to 45 degrees. Small pockets of warmer water can form near river mouths, harbor mouths, warm water discharges, and rocky shorelines such as breakwalls. Coastwatch.noaa.gov on the web can be used to find the spots, providing the skies are clear. Cloud cover blocks the satellite imagery and limits the data available. Watch your temp gauge closely. Youíll be surprised how quickly a pier or concrete wall can warm the water on a sunny day in March. That warm water gets the bait moving in search of food. The browns are never far behind.

    As far as a program for these fish, I keep it simple. I count on 6 basic lures to get the fish to bite. Magnum spoons in blue and silver, standard spoons in blue or green, and the small 2Ē Redeye from Eppinger. For plugs I count on jointed Rapalas, Yoruzi Minnows, and Wally Divers.

    Iíll start with orange jointed Rapalas, size 9 and 11. These will run 20 to 40 feet behind the planer boards on 1 side of the boat. The other side will have magnum spoons. My go-to spoon is a magnum Pro King OZ. Thatís the blue and silver with the red eye. These will also be 20 to 40 feet back with a ľ or 3/8 oz sinker in front. Iím fishing very shallow, maybe as little as 8 feet. I tend to stay with just 2 riggers this shallow. Both will have a spoon, one short at 10 feet and one at least 100 back. Finally the 2 dipseys will have spoons or Rapalas, run just deep enough to disappear in the normally dirty spring water.

    The key is to keep moving along the shore until the active schools are found. I usually zig zag between 8 and 25 feet. As I move through areas that have held fish in past years, I pay attention to which lures are getting hit. The water is shallow so these schools will spread out to both sides of the boat. The sides not getting hit get changed rather quickly. If the magnum spoons are dead, I switch to small spoons like the redeye or stingers. If the Rapalas are dead, I switch to the Yozuris, then the Wally Divers. Once active fish are located, I cut back on the lines in the water. I start with 4 planers per side and will cut back to 3 each, 2 if the fish are very active. The dipseys come out as sure as I am convinced that I am fishing the right depth. When things get busy, the last thing I want to worry about is hanging a dipsey on the bottom. Plus, a 10 pound brown hooked up on an outside planer board could easily wipe out the entire spread. Yes, I know this from experience. The 2 riggers stay in but I shorten the longer lead to about 25 feet. If I move deeper, past 20 feet, I usually add 2 more riggers. If you find one lure is doing all the work, donít be afraid to change the others out.

    One important point: when very shallow, make sure the spoons behind the boards are all on one side of the boat. Make your turns away from that side. Theyíll move faster on the outside through the turn. If they are on the inside of the turn, theyíll drop down and you risk snagging the bottom. With the floating plugs on the inside of the turn, you wonít have that problem.

    Keep it simple and stick to what works. Keep moving till active fish are found. And did I mention the Redeye? The 2 inch nickel or brass can be deadly. Take off the front hook.

    Next month weíll discuss coho. Just in time!

    Feel free to contact me for local reports for the Kenosha area. I donít normally respond to text messages, a call is always better. For more info on the lake and what it has to offer, check the website at http://www.jedisportfishing.com

    The JEDI fishes daily from late April through October for salmon and trout from the Port of Kenosha. Kenosha is consistently ranked the best charter fishing port in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin DNR.

    I am Captain Andy Derwinski, owner and captain of the JEDI. For the best adventure on the lake, give me a call. 414-788-6603

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