Fundamental Mindset & Tactics

Surface Steelers
4.0 Salmon Busters™

10/26/15 Manistee, MI

35" Hen Steelhead

4.0 Salmon Busters™
Steelhead, 2 person limit
10/26/15 Manistee, MI

4.0 SB X-Glo Bluetail

Winning Head Games

Great Lakes fishing requires a fair amount dedication.  How else can you explain it with the expense involved?  Owning a boat is no cheap proposition.  Learning the ins and outs don't happen overnight.  Being successful begins with preparation.  Like reading this article and gleaning all the knowledge that comes with it.

Most important is not to become "set in your ways."  There are new methods, technology, and tackle that wasn't even a distant dream when I began fishing Lk. MI back  in 1968.  New stuff comes out all the time.  Being open minded cannot be stressed enough.  As long as you sprinkle in some "prove it to me,"'ll do just fine.

Success breeds confidence, or is it the other way around?  Cold water species (Trout & Salmon) Great Lakes fish are easy to catch.  Because they're aggressive eating machines with a fantastic growth rates. 

Please keep in mind, info supplied here is the way that works for me, but not the only way.  There's only 2 wrong ways to fish: 1. is by not doing enough of it!  2. is to think your way, is the only way.  Hoity-toity speculation has little to do with fishing.  It's what's on the end of your line that counts.  The reel-truth tells us all methods lead to the same place.  Some just get there ...a little quicker than others.

If you've never been as successful, as hoped for when targeting Great Lakes surface fish? ...there's 8 info packed pages here.  Covering everything I know in clear detail.  As this article was being born, it became 1000% evident that each ingredient deserved it's own page to clearly focus on all the parts and pieces to effectively target Great Lakes surface fish!

Lighten Up?

The ever clearing waters of the Great Lakes fishery nowadays is turning toward a finesse fishery that encourages use of lighter #test lines.  No longer in the charter business, I use 15 lb. test nowadays.  Line this delicate needs constant looking after.  Always checking the leader section for nicks & line frays.  And using a light, well adjusted drag with forgiving hands & no Willy Joe "break the jaw" Bass hooksets!

Then, you're going to need plenty of patience to subdue your fish on light string.  Being in a hurry by trying to overpower a fish on 15# test does not work for two reasons: 1. mainly line breakage.  2. tearing out hooks on marginally hooked fish.

Goat rope anglers using 25-30 lb. test attractor line are not going to have the same success for surface fish.  You can get by with 20# mono for a mainline.  Then, tipping down to 15 pound test on the leader section from a Bead Chain Keel Weight to a plain snap.  Snaps and Bead Chain Keel weights have their own page I highly recommend you check out.  I developed this method in 2015 and it works!

Targeting surface fish is 10% execution and 90% being in the right area.  Like I said before, trolling the surface is easy.  Finding the right place requires a little luck and science provided by NOAA Coast Watch's surface temperature charts.  This will point you in the right direction.  Surface temperature breaks show up as gridlines on these free charts.  Click temp charts 

Usually, it's hit and miss until you sort out the best area in the deep water, offshore May-June-July fishery.  Most of the time, the fish will be on the cold side of a temp break.  Meaning vertical thermobars act like a fence.  Herding fish along food rich zones containing all kinds of insects, baitfish, and many different kinds pollen.  Not sure what the cause and effect is from land-born pollen, but I'm sure it does have a major place in the Great Lakes food chain.


Please Read before Watching this You Tube Video

Hit the red arrow for play, then once the video begins, click the the very bottom of the video.  This opens the progress bar, sound/audio adjustment and a gear.  Click the gear icon.  This opens the menu where you have the option to choose 720HD.  You Tube uses an autoset feature for resolution depending on the speed of your internet connection.  In some cases, without bypassing the autoset feature, full 720 HD will never be displayed. 

The back-story for this video begins with all test sessions out of the Port of Manistee, MI in April of 2015. This is shoreline trolling in water that's mostly from 6' to 12' deep just off the beach.  Also, it was the 1st time I had the chance to use my just introduced Salmon Buster™ spoons.  From many years of past experience knew what colors worked in stickbaits.  But would the already proven colors be transposed into spoons?  This was a brand new unexplored territory for me.  More, or less a blank slate that was reel-fascinating with lots of challenges.

Tactic was the big boards on 100' to 150' leads, or how far back.  A little lumpy, a 100' is good to go. The calmer it was, the more the lead length increased.  1/2 oz Bead Chain Swivel weights were used on all the rods and plain Duo-Lock snaps.  Line was mono in 15# test.  Troll speed varied.  Caught fish with my spoons from below 2 mph to over 3 mph.  Sweet spot was discovered at 2.5 SOG on the GPS.  Water temp fish were caught in ranged from the high 30s with ice on the pond on 4/1/15 to the mid 40s by the 2nd week of April.  In 2015 weeds were a major issue.  High water and storms washed a lot of shore grass and roots into Lk. MI by mid April.


Click to purchase Salmon Buster Spoons

1. Introduction

2. Happy Hooker

3. Fundamental Tactics & Mindset
with a 7 minute Brown Trout video in stunning HD

4. Pro Rods Setups

5. Big Boards vs. Inline planers (birds)

6. Sink & Swim Bead Chain Swivel Weights

7. Stealth Presentation

8. Golden Rule of Trolling Speed
with an awesome 16 minute HD Steelhead video