It was about my fifth trip out in my own boat onto Lake Michigan when I felt confident I could be safe and catch fish. Charter’s are fun but catching Kings on your own with friends is a blast!
Ben Elfelt, friend and fishing guide, Prime Time Guide Service, LLC from Amery started out fishing Lake Michigan with a friend who knew how to catch salmon. Ben quickly realized boat speed and presentation are key. “The two main methods anglers use to catch salmon today are spoons and flasher/fly combinations. Spoons are not as selective and will catch anything. Flasher/flies work on Kings! To optimize lure action and take more fish you need to fish them at different speeds. Spoons at around 2.8 to 3 mph and flasher/fly combinations at 2 – 2.4 mph.”
Trolling spoons are much different than fresh water spoons that require lure weight to cast them. Trolling spoons are weightless so their action is better, making them a fish killer. Flashers are like a giant lure that attaches to the line in front of the fly. Some say the flasher attracts salmon by resembling a school of bait fish. Salmon charge in fooled by the flasher and then take the fly.
Ben says, “Consistency kills. You want to use the same line weight; same swivels and lures on each pole because weight changes mess it up. You want to establish a pattern. Ben says it’s the same with flasher/flies. Tie on your fly 3 times the length of the flasher behind it.”
Dipsey Divers also work great. They are a type of side planer designed to pull your lures out away from your boat that can often spook fish when you are trolling. I used monofilament line back in the day but Ben uses a wire Dipsey braided stainless steel fishing line. The braided wire line cuts through the water better giving you a better approach and chance to hook more fish.
I asked Ben if he uses his electronics on Michigan in the same manner to find salmon as he does for walleye. “Not really. Every now and then you might see a fish. You can change the angle of your transducer to point it back towards the downriggers to see more fish coming in. That helps. Water temperature is another key. You can use resources like Coast Watch off NOAA to see where the coldest water is on Michigan to target the right place to fish that weekend. If you can’t decide where you want to fish but see the water is colder at Algoma than Kenosha go there.”
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at email@example.com