Do I Stay, or Do I go?
My Jumbled Mindset of Finding Fish
Then Staying on Fish ...with a Bit of Luck!
By John King 12/1/16
8/10/16 Can Do Crew
I believe in giving credit, where credit is do. Any successful fishing trip is all about the team aboard. It's dumb thinking to heap all the praise on ANY captain for what's in the box. Results are communal affair with all hands on deck willing to pull their share of the work load. Stuffed boxes of fish are not solo effort. On sport fishing boats, it's your crew. Charter boats often, the unsung hero is the good deckhand/first mate that's the sparkplug of any charter.
The father-son duo of Todd & Dylan B have fished with me for the about last 10 years, or so. We have a strong bond. Knowing what to expect from each other. Dylan's young, quick reflexes to the rod and he spots 90% of the hits with his eagle eyes. His dad, Todd has his own boat and commands total knowledge of how to run all programs. Todd's big deal? ...he's highly adaptable.
The story of the newbie on my boat, Dimitrios G. begins with him showing up at my shop with his boat to pickup tackle a couple of days prior. We covered some of the basics in a friendly meet and greet conversation. He left saying he wanted to fish with me. Well, at my late stage of the game, took this as a huge compliment that stuck in my mind. Well, a couple of phone calls and a day later arranged for him to meet us at the launch ramp. Dimitrios has fished all over for Salmon. Including the Pacific Ocean on the west coast. So, I found his conversation fascinating. His years in law enforcement before he retired offered up an intriguing chat.
Here's the Setup
Every big water fisherman faces the perplexing cold, hard fact of what area to troll. Make the correct decision and rewards will be many. Get it wrong and results will not be as desired. Wrong leads to looking for excuses to soothe a damaged ego. Then, the only alternative is looking forward to your next trip with a better plan. Wandering aimlessly and still catching is good box is leaving too much the fickle finger of fate. Having a game plan in motion where all factors come into play will get your program working.
There are no earth shattering revelations that can turn you into an instant hero back at the dock. Good catches comes from good decisions for the circumstances and a fine-tuned presentation. The magic elixir for failure is success. And let's face it, we're all going to fail at times when it comes to the immense wide open of the Great Lakes. Over the years going back to i2k, I've laid the groundwork for proven results in my: Encyclopedia of Trix and Tips section of this website.
Temp break, in more technical terms, the thermocline was down around 60' out in 400'. You can figure the "said to be" preferred temp range for Kings is 54° to 50°. In many years going back to 1968, let's expand this number to the high 50s to 38°. 60' zone is perfect for 300' sections of 45# test copper rods at 2 mph.
The morning of 8/10/16 began with my usual fare of filling and shipping orders in the morning. Forecast was looking like it was going to cooperate in for an afternoon fishing trip.
Port & Date: Manistee, MI 8/10/16
Webstore Tackle Used
On the afternoon of August 10, 12016 the sea conditions were a short 3' chop with whitewater from the SW. For Manistee, MI this is a miserable direction of wind for my boat, a hard cut deep-vee 22' Sea Ray. Wind from the SW makes lumpy seas that hinder the usual N-S trolling direction with the seas quartering the port stern. N-S troll path is favored at my home port, because that's the way the structure runs. It's a known reel-fact ...structure is a natural barrier, or a fence that concentrates fish.
After seeing the seas, the only alternative was to run out to deep water and set up in 400' plus about 4-5 miles S of port. Then, troll the waves at our fanny on an intersecting NE angle back towards the drop off. In Manistee, the dropoff is known as the, "shelf." All ports have their names for certain areas, or structure. In Frankfort, MI they call their drop-offs the, bank, 6 mile bank and Herring Lake Hole Ludington, MI's "bath-house to the point" is branded well. Onekama has the barrel and at Arcadia it's the steeple hole. Leland calls some their structure the 1st and 2nd bank.
At Grindstone City/Port
Austin on Lk. Huron, they call a little piece of structure the "end
of the world." This is where 5-6 miles due N, the bottom goes
from a 100/105' to 120'.
Critical Calculation Pays Off
OK, 2-3 boats in the same area working and more on the way. Because as soon as nets go down? ...it's like a long distance magnet that draws more boats. This is all part of the decision making process. Weighing viable options that will effect your outcome. Even more-so on a afternoon/evening trip where daylight is fading fast. So, the clock is running down on your time fish before you call it quits. In my case ...knowing there will be a heavy workload the following morning.
Tic-tock, tic-tock the clock is winding down and we needed a course of action. Do I stay, or do I go?
The hardest decision to make on 8/10/16 was to abandon this trafficked part of Lk. MI that was producing fish, or continue moseying northbound. Besides, making 360 degree spins and turns with 300' coppers out is not the swiftest proposition in the world. OK, by now there were 3, or 4 boats working a small pod of bait with Kings lurking. This says the area was drawing crowd and it's time to move on. So, let's roll the dice. Knowing full-well, we left fish to find fish and proceeded N. Which is never the wisest first choice. This judgment call was made a little easier with the 3, or 4 fish we already had in the box at the time. The deciding factor that pushed this move? There was not a single boat to the N, in front of us, not a one!
The area N to the state park was 100% unmolested virgin water that held, yet to be ...explored potential!
Reel Rewards North
No boats to a little N of port off Manistee in August was the direct result of negative press that kept the August fleet at all time lows. It's unheard of to find any vacant water this close to the Port of Manistee in August. Public perception and actual facts don't necessarily automatically matchup. Situations change fast in our ever evolving Great Lakes fishery. What was, is not was is, in the present tense. All I know is we had a 100% clear juicy shot to the N with zero boats to contend with.
You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce issues of where the fish are. Patience and a strong resolve of not repeating the same mistakes by working the same unproductive water is sound advice. Herd mentality seldom leads to a full box when targeting wary adult Kings with a bunch of boats pounding the same water.
Big deal about my decision to "keep-a-go" north was four-fold:
1. We already had fish in
the box, This took a lot of the pressure off to play bumper boats.
Please note in the above to photos in this section, there's not another boat in the background. Sparse boat traffic was due in part to the lousy 2015 season when King fishing off Manistee was plain pitiful ...to say the least. But you don't know, unless you go!
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