Phat Results
on the Skinny Minnie aka Alewife SUV Pattern
By John King late fall of 2017

12 pound plus Manistee, MI Phat Coho on the Skinny Minnie (Alewife SUV pattern)

September 26th, 2017 started out like all my fishing trips with low expectations.  But optimistic for good outcome with a few fish.  This trip was about quality, not quantity, because we only caught 4 fish. 

Little did Todd B and I know? ...we were going to set a boat record for the largest Coho (16.95 lbs.) aboard my current boat: a completely newly refitted 1979 22' Sea Ray.

Late September is not prime time for Lk. MI fishing.  Most of the Salmon are up the rivers and streams. Fall Steelhead are just beginning to migrate towards inshore waters.

Best time to go fishing? when you can.  9/26/17 offered calm seas and a chance to test/prove new tackle.  A limited amount of fish to deal with better for testing. 

This makes sure the results even more meaningful when the proof is in the pudding with fish coming to the net.  Pics in this article proves beyond any shadow of doubt!

8:52am Coho 1
First fish on 9/26/17


9:17am Coho 2
Skinny Minnie 10" combo


 Phat Coho II 9:19am
Over 12 pounds!


8/10/06 XG Frog
Short trip, lots of fish



7/28/08 Manistee
X-Glow Frog proof



5/15/15 Spring Coho
Alewife SUV Salmon Buster™ Spoon


6/2/17 Manistee King
Alewife SUV Salmon Buster™ Spoon

9/26/17 Trip Conditions and Report

Late September with daytime high temps approaching 90° is an opportunity too good to pass up!  Especially, when you see your season shrinking fast.  Todd B and I had not  been off the dock enough to keep dreaded fishing fever in check.  Plus, the wind was going to play nice with seas under 2' that went to almost flat calm when we pulled lines around noon.

This late in the season? ...there should still be enough scraps left on the table to test highly successful SUV Alewife spoon (number 1 seller in 2017) pattern transposed into Meat Rig™ and flasher combos.  This a repeat of happened in 2016 when the Ghostbuster spoon pattern earned the right to be made into Meat Rigs™ and flashers.

Recent S wind had pushed the thermocline down to the 70'-80' range.  Perfect depths for a dedicated meat program.  That's what Todd B. and I hung on every rod in our 6 rod spread. 
2 riggers, 2 wire divers, a 300' copper, and a 450' copper were the weapons deployed.  Target troll zone was the 125' depths.  Using structure to our advantage.  Our all-meat program trolling speed was slow, around 2 mph.  We used super mag heads with a slight more bend in whole bait to make sure the bait had an enticing snappy roll at 2.0 to 1.8 mph.

Name Game

Naming tackle is how we differentiate the many options we have in colors.  Where many these names come from?  I know not.  Do know lure vernacular covers the spectrum.  Monkey Puke, Yellowtail, Michael Jackson and Hot Red Panties are just a few of iconic names that are part of our fleet's history.  Some of the color names I've used have came from our message board members.  Even used a Facebook contest that came up with UFO for one of our glow spoons.

Shortening lure names for easy reference on a boat saves time sorting thru the many colors of tackle.  Factor in, a catchy name that flows off the tongue well is fun too.  On the spot, came up with, "Skinny Minnie" trying to shorten Alewife SUV flashers/meat rigs™.  When Todd asked, "what are we going to run?"  Skinny Minnie says, it all 4 short syllables.

Test for the Best

Testing new colors is one of the most rewarding parts of my job.  Seeing imagination turn into innovation that catches fish is what we do.  The only way to verify? to run the newbie against a tried, proven selection with history.  The catalyst for a direct transfer was expanded from the very popular SUV Alewife Salmon Buster™ spoon to meat heads and flashers.  Reel image baitfish lure tape, mimicking a school of Alewives is no more far fetched than a lot of the Bozo circus colors in use today.  To the best of my knowledge, this is another world 1st for our tackle lineup.

Testing protocol is run the test color against a tried and true, proven color.  Such was the case in 2016 when the new XG Ghostbuster flashers/meat rigs™ went head to head against the X-Glow Frog.  The glow Frog has been pounding out boxes of Salmon since 2006.   We chose the proven XG Ghostbuster as the control factor vs. the Skinny Minnie.  The final tally was 5 hits, 3 on the Skinny and 2 on the Ghostbuster.  Making it a no-brainer to put this forward thinking school of Alewives pattern into production for 2018.


Fishing always involves an infinite amount of variables.  You'd think experience would lends a hand on what to expect ...wrong!  Each trip is a journey into the unknown.  Last thing that was on my mind when we left the dock was 3 MDNR master sized (Coho over 12 lbs.).  Caught 1000s of Coho going back to 1968 and not many were over 12.  Only had 2 clear 16 lbs, 1 in 1999 and on this event.  So, this was a shocker for me and made up for a small 4 fish box and shows, "You don't know, unless you go."  Click for this article

8-10 pound adult Coho are considered good fish.  To have 3 year old Coho over 12 is an anomaly for a fish that only spends 18 months free ranging in Lk. MI.  Another scenario is the Salmon Todd B. & I caught on 9/26/17 were actually 4 year old fish, like in 1999.  Plus, in 2017 the Coho return at the Little Manistee Harvest Weir was over 3000.  Doubling the amount of King Salmon that were captured.  Click harvest weir verification


Posted several photos going back to 1983.  The 1996 catch pic is special to me.  This is when my friend, Freshwater Hall of Fame fisherman, Bud Raskey was still alive.  We ran this trip off my 28' Cherokee with Bud as my crew mate and cleaned fish at his place.  Last pic in the right border is directly from the outdoor page in Detroit News in 1983 when I was a newbie charter skipper.  Rest are to add credence and fill in the high points to this piece. 

Let's face it, talk is cheap.  Reel-proof beyond any shadow of doubt is not!  Will the Skinny Minnie aka Alewife SUV be a hit with the fleet?  That's up to you and history to decide.  With just about every color, pattern and hue being covered, having images of bait fish is reel 21st century technology enhancing our 2018 tackle lineup!

Click here for 18% off special pricing
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Coho 3 11:24am
Giant at 16.95 lbs.


Coho 4 11:56am
Skinny Minnie 12"


Chunky Coho 4
Mid-day meat fish


8/10/16 Manistee
Frog vs. Ghostbuster


9/26/17  Fish Box
Skinny Minnie vs. Ghostbuster Pattern


8/2/9/96 Manistee
Over 20 Coho & Kings!


August 1983
Detroit News photo by Dave Richey

Raymarine 50kz Sonar




Sonar Wars
 Raymarine Regular 50kz Sonar vs. Simrad 83kz Medium Chirp

I'm no authority on sonar.  200-300 page operating manuals are way beyond my needs.  Just need a machine that's EZ to operate and marks fish.  My problem is shallow, up high fish do not mark all that well.  So, this does present opportunities for new nowadays side scan units that are most effective when surface temperatures are in the 50s, or lower.

The above photos are from the same date, 9/26/17.  Not a true side by side comparison.  While the pic was snapped during the same timeframe, scroll speed on how fast the picture moves are not in sync.  CHIRP is a sophisticated sonar technology and is an acronym for (Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse). Click CHIRP explanation

Raymarine C127 has a 12" screen and was close to top of their line back 4-5 years ago.  Priced at around 3k.  The 2017 Simrad has a 9" screen, priced at $1100 with side-scan transducer, CHIRP, and a pile of functions I'll probably never use.  The C127 is has only a 50kz wide angle transducer that marks deep fish better than the Simrad on medium CHIRP with the 83kz transducer setting.  It's unfair to compare a 3k machine to one that costs about 1/3, because you only get what you pay for.  With that being said, the Simrad is modern day technology and money well spent from what I've seen so far in limited usage.

The Simrad marks high fish better.  Also, this unit has side-scan that has shown great promise the few times I ran side-scan in Manistee's harbor.  In fairness to Simrad my operating skills are not that great yet.  I do prefer the C127 for the deeper water.  Motivation to buy the Simrad was to see high fish better.  Seeing what's there, off to the side of your boat can tell you if there's fish around.  This means saving a lot of time by not changing up your program, if you're not seeing any potential victims (sonar fish marks)?

Simrad CHIRP Sonar


Simrad in Harbor

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