April, May & June 2009

4/13/09 Brown Trout
Manistee, MI

4/16/09 Lk. Huron Salmon
 Port Sanilac, MI

5/5/09 New Buffalo, MI
Spring Kings & Coho

5/22/09 Spring Kings
Manistee, MI


/30/09  After reading several port reports from many locations on Lk. MI and speaking to trustworthy sources on the phone, came to the conclusion Manistee, MI is lagging behind most ports.  This assumption is warranted by the slow fishing for several topnotch teams that struggled in last weekend's Manistee Bud Pro-Am Tournament.
         While fishing/catching in WI and southern Lk. MI is not gangbusters by any means, it still out paces my home port when it comes to a inshore fishery for suspended Salmon.  Heard a lot of 4 to 6 fish catches, but 20 pounders were mentioned in most every case.
         Something worthy to note is how the same colors work in both sides of the big pond.  X-Glow Super Puke BTI 10" Flasher is seeing a lot of water time from our website members into pulling meat. This flasher it is pulling honest 20 pound June Kings in MI ports of Manistee, St. Joe from those I've had contact with.  Click 6/26/09 King St. Joe, MI
This X-Glow Puke blade is working in Kewaunee, WI too. Click Kewaunee, WI King 22#

       My most sincere thanks to Nick L and Mark T for use of today's great photos!

6/29/09  Just about all of the month of June I've been shore-bound for one reason, or another.  Most important one is we're giving same day shipping on orders received as late as 2pm.  Service and fast shipping is where we smoke our competition.
         Next reason has been annoying boat gremlins.  New Garmin TR1 Gold auto pilot was shipped with a bad ECU (electrical control unit).  Click for TR1 ECU
        Then, when testing the new TR1 autopilot on Manistee Lake two weekends ago, a small crack in the prop hub assembly was discovered.  Could have had this stress facture welded, but opted for a new aftermarket outdrive.  Click new outdrive  Click for crack
         Surprisingly, the new outdrive is made in the US from foreign and US sources.  Cost was 1/3 of a new Mercruiser lower unit and it came with a 3 year warranty.
          By tomorrow should be able to give a better picture of what went on this past weekend.  Need a chance to homogenize our port reports.

6/28/09  Long range forecast for our upcoming 4th of July Weekend looks OK with temps in the mid to higher 70s for Manistee, MI.  If we can believe this far-out prediction, no rain is on the agenda for the 4th weekend.
        Winds in Manistee are semi favorable thru this Tuesday (light W & SW), then it's back to prevailing NW wind for the remainder of the week.  NW means big huge pile of warm water sitting on the shelf to stratify a deeper and far more productive thermocline.
         Should have some trustworthy fishing reports for you tomorrow as website members report their weekend results and I hope everyone did well!

6/27/09  Heard from sources in Manistee and Ludington, MI the inshore shelf fishing left a lot to be desired yesterday.  Most of the fishermen are turning to the deeper stuff over depths of 400' or more.  Then, working the top 30' for Steelhead in hopes of a decent catch.  If you're fishing the big water this weekend?  Good luck and be safe!

6/26/09  Fishing off Manistee, MI is OK right now.  But finding fish weighing over 8 pounds can be hard to do.  Deepwater fishing is being done on the other side of the 30 to 33 west with the top 30' being targeted over depths of 400' to 600' of water.  From what's been told to me, the shelf/drop-off bite wanes quickly after the sun comes up.
          The heat wave we had earlier this week has done little to build warm water off Manistee.  Constant E, NE, or N are keeping surface temps are in the 50s-60s with the thermocline showing up about 35' down on our inshore, off the shelf waters.

6/25/09  Finally, summer is here.  Temps in the 80s and 90s are like manna from heaven for my line of tackle, cuz the deeper fish are ....the better my stuff works!
          With the Great Lake warming up this sets forth a whole chain of events in motion.  The biomass of plankton, zooplankton & baitfish thrive.  Resulting in a better fishery for all.
          Warm water in the 60 to 70 degree range help stratify the entire water column. Pushing our target species of Salmon and Trout to depths often exceeding 100'. Deep fish laying below a thermocline are easier to catch plain & simple.  Especially, for savvy attractor fishermen with the right tackle and proper tantalizing slow speed presentations.

6/24/09  Most important thing on the front burner is a floating yellow poly line up in the 19s, about 4 miles N of Manistee, MI's harbor.  This was supposed to be pulled yesterday by the commercial fishermen, but haven't got a confirmation on this yet.
          Was supposed to have the new net coordinates from Lt. Dave deforest for today's update.  The way it looks, this will be delayed until tomorrow's chat, or later today.
          WI fishing off Kewaunee is on the improve, but not red hot.  Catches reported are 3 to 6 fish with some kings going over 20 pounds.  Click WI 22 lbs. on a Super Puke BTI
           Manistee is still a crap shoot, with some doing well and some struggling on the inshore fishery for Salmon.  I did hear a lot of smaller fish moved in on the shelf and Manistee's harbor area no longer is no longer holding massive schools of bait.

6/23/09  Just too busy yesterday to do justice to Team Getaway i.e. the father-son that fished together on Lake Huron on Fathers Day weekend.  You might think I'd be more apt to brag up my product's tournament performance, but that's not where I'm coming from.
         My point is generations of families fishing together and the importance that brings.  In today's hectic millisecond pace, fathers and sons fishing together puts everything back into perspective.  Truly, the significant thing in fishing is not how many you caught, but those you shared this life experience with.   I envy Team Getaway, cuz I no longer have the chance to fish with my dad.  Click 6/21/09 Lake Huron 16# Laker
         Today's featured photo is from WI website member, "No Fish Nick" aka Nick L. for which I thank him greatly.  Hog WI Salmon over 20 pounds and how Nick did this will be touched on in greater detail tomorrow.  Click for Nick's Hog 22 lb. WI King Salmon   
    See tomorrow's update for updated Manistee, MI commercial trap net info too.

6/22/09  Later this morning this will be expanded on.  The crux will be the great Fathers Day Bob K Jr. and Bob K Sr. had capturing 3rd place in last weekend's Off Shore Challenge held in the Port Austin/Grindstone City, MI area of Lake Huron.  Also, they took the 3 largest fish award, all coming on meat and my products.  Click for Team Getaway

6/21/09  Have a great Fathers Day!

6/20/09  With the onset of Fathers Day tomorrow, today's featured Pike photo of Austin and Jeff Pefley is a great fit. By the looks of the background in this image, I'd say it's off the coal docks in Manistee Lake by Filer City, MI.  Click Austin & Jeff
         Fathers have been taking their sons fishing since the beginning of time.  It's a wonderful passed down tradition that will be with us forever. 
         Just keep in mind youngsters attention spans are not be bored to death on a long arduous Great Lakes excursion, ...if the fish are not biting.
         It's my honor to know both Jeff and Mark Pefley (brothers) who I consider top shelf when it comes to targeting Salmon and Trout off the Port of Manistee, MI. 
         Both Jeff and Mark have crewed for me back when used to run charters.  So, I speak from firsthand knowledge of the tons of Salmon and Trout they've netted.
         Jeff is an asset to law enforcement and works the City of Manistee's Police Department.  Hat's off to Austin on his large Northern Pike and a job super well done with his dad.  Fishing memories like this will last a life time and are to be cherished!

6/19/09  Glad to see this week come to an end.  T.G.I.F. is exactly how I feel.  Too hectic to even grab a few hours to hit the pond since last week.  Have a great weekend and do something I seem not able to accomplish and that is ...going fishing!
            Weekend Tackle Tip: Lately the most mentioned flasher and 3 fly meat of mine is the 12" X-Glow Frog.  It's said to be hot 100' down and deeper to plus 200'.
         Started a new policy for message board members that are just signing up.  After receiving their membership application and check for 10 bucks, ...I'm calling to make sure they can access all the features and navigate to the special members only section in our "Tips and Tricks" section.  Emails could do this, but a personal touch is much preferred.  If you deal with everything computers all day long, you soon find out that's a cold work  environment.  Simple truth?, ...it's nice to talk to a reel-person for a change of pace!

6/18/09  People I know getting the new strips are in Indiana and they can only get 10 cases at a time.  I haven't seen this yet, cuz the sample strips shipped to me were frozen solid in brine.  It's been said the production version is in a dry brine and requires only refrigeration, not freezing.  I'll try to verify this soon. Click 2009 Fish On strips
                Do not contact me for bait, or strips ...I have none for now!
This I do know, I will not paint my tackle in a corner and only recommend strips after cutting up my own from whole bait since 2004.
           If in any way you think success is greater in the prepared commercial strips vs. hand cut, or home made fillets?  That's your opinion and I won't try to change it. 
           I've ran both side by side and have verifiable proof hand-cuts on the boat out performed the older prepared Canadian commercial strips by 3 to 1.
           If you're results in 2008 wasn't all that hot?  Join the crowd, cuz 2008 was a down cycle with less fish boated compared to 2007.  Just don't fall into the trap of blaming yourself, or your program when there's less fish available.

6/17/09  Brief on Manistee?  Confused, never the same report and next to impossible to build a consensus.  One reports says 130' to 210' down, then the next says all in the top 60'.  Hot and cold mixed results are the deal I'm hearing and everything in between.  Deep water bite over 450' to 650' on the 30 to 35 west lines echoes the hot-cold results. The only certain word about Manistee-Ludington is total uncertainty with prevailing N & E winds
         WI fishermen in Algoma and Kewaunee are catching, but not in huge numbers.  Average size on the WI side seems to be running a little bigger according to Jeff C who landed Kings past 17 lbs. last weekend.  Many thanks to website member, "SteveO" aka Steve S for sending in today's featured photo. Click 6/14/09 Tony's Kewaunee King

6/16/09  Today's update is coming to you from Vladivostok, Russia regarding their Masu Salmon.  Denis U. was kind enough to send photos of the Masu Salmon that shares several traits of our Coho Salmon.  It's a Pacific Salmon that is found in Japan, Korea and Russia.  There's even a landlocked specie in Taiwan.  Masu's are nicknamed the Cherry Salmon and develop red vertical bars when they reach full adulthood ready to run the rivers.
         An attempt to establish population of Masu Salmon in Michigan's Boyne River back in the 1920s.  This visionary experimental plant nearly 90 years ago was not successful.
         Weight of the Masu Salmon can vary greatly, from about 4 pounds to 19 pounds in their 3 year life cycle (same as Coho).  So, size-wise? ...these fish pretty much reflect same weight as our Great Lakes Cohos too.  Click for Masu Salmon   Click for adult Masu
         This info was researched, because Denis U has spoken the universal language of all fishermen everywhere and was interested in some of my tackle.  I find stuff like this extremely fascinating and eye-opening about what a small world ...we all share together!
          Tomorrow, I'll condense the multitude of differing up and down fishing reports about the Manistee/Ludington areas.  Plus, WI reports pointed at Algoma & Kewaunee.

6/15/09  Let's debut the new 2009 Herring Strips from Fish On Bait Company today.  The new strips are a step up from the product they introduced back in 2004.  These new strips are firm being about 3/8" thick and around 6" long.  Click new 2009 Herring Strips
         Unless you're a talented miracle surgeon, this meat/Herring strips will not fit the older styled heads made by my competition, or my 2004 Magnum Meat Heads.
         However, the 2009 strips fit my Super Magnum Heads like a glove.  The 2009 strips require no special skills, or tuning to get the right flop-roll presentation.
         Original plan was to get an order together and have several cases of whole bait and strips for distribution in Ludington, Manistee, Frankfort and the TC area of MI. 
         There's a major issue involved for commercial freezer storage, cuz the bank foreclosed on Bear Lake Cold Storage (18 miles from my house).  My next option is Hart, or TC, but both of these freezer storage places are a good 50 to 60 miles away.  Now, this plan requires further thought and finding some work-arounds before moving forward. 

6/14/09  The bear population in Manistee County, MI is definitely on the increase.  The U.S. Bear population more than doubled between 1989 and 2006, rising from 165,000 to over 350,000, according to The International Association of Bear Research and Management.  Everyone that I have close personal contact with ...has seen bears crossing the highway, or run into these critters in the woods.
        While black bears generally steer clear of people, once they lose their fear of humans tragedies will happen.  According to the facts I'm aware of black bears kill and eat more people than grizzly bears.  Due to a much wider range and closer proximity to populated areas.  Opening a bear season will reinforce a bear's natural fear of humans and will happen sooner, or later in Manistee County, MI ...as our Black Bear population grows every year.
        Live trapped a problem Raccoon a few days back that was released unharmed 5 miles away from where I live.  This coon had been raiding my garbage cans on a regular basis and had to go bye-bye.  Click this a nabbed evil culprit

6/13/09   Carefully inspect the newer Chinese version of Luhr Jensen Dipsy Divers.  The looped arm weld/solder points leave a lot to be desired.  I'm not picking on the Chinese workers, cuz they need to make a living too.  But by not shipping more junk to the USA.
         Normark's (owners of Luhr Jensen) idea of cost cutting and selling the formerly "Made in USA" Jensen products from China a travesty of justice.  The labor in China is far less, but the US pricing on divers has remained the same, or went up!
         Multinational corporate profits seem to come first, as the idea of quality tackle gets flushed down the toilet.  In the long run this just leads to lost market share.
  I'm 1000% sure there's plenty of people in our Great Lakes region that would welcome this kind of work at a reasonable cost per unit.  Click Chinese Dipsy Divers

6/12/09   June is a tough month on fishing with graduations and family business.  Finding open times, and having the weather cooperate ...as our spring changes to summer can hinder days afloat.  Then, there's questions about where the fish are, as they often seem to scatter from the easy inshore fishing we had back in May.  If you're one of the lucky ones able to get on the Great Lakes this weekend, good luck and be safe!
         Fishing in Manistee, MI is good, but inconsistent.  Some charter boats reach easy limit catches in the morning, only to find out that same pod of fish have moved off by the afternoon.  Guess that's why they call it fishing, ...not catching.

6/11/09   Today's safety update is courtesy of highly popular & experienced Manistee, MI charter skipper, Capt. Mel Gaw from "I Dee Ho" Sport Fishing Charters.
         While fishing a few days ago, Capt. Mel had his deepest down rigger & his divers ensnarled in a new mystery snag not noted until now. Click for Capt. Mel's website
         I called this a mystery snag, cuz it's over 325' fow of water and this snag is 90' to 120' down.  That's the approximated depth where Mel had his trolling gear tangled. 
         Also, this kinda fits in with the 2008 mystery snag we had at 15.1, but in shallower water (125').  Possibly, this is the same problem snag and it's only moved out deeper.
         I've updated our printable Net Locations page to reflect this late breaking news.

6/10/09  Favorable winds for this time of the season on our side of the pond (Manistee, MI area) is SW, or S.  West is OK, but combinations of east and anything from the north severely detracts success when fishing ports in central and northern Lk. MI.
        Bad news is we've been loaded with east and north wind lately and that's partly responsible for our average daytime temps being 10 to 15 degrees below normal.  A big SW blow would be a game changer and move bigger numbers of fish back on our shores.
        Once late July and August roll around ...southerly directions in wind drive the temp deeper & subtract, rather than add to the fishery off Manistee, Ludington & Frankfort, MI.

6/9/09  Weather was a bummer for our second annual Saginaw Bay Challenge held in the Bay City, MI area.  Rough seas from a strong east winds made it a tough go.
         Website member, Jerryriggin' won and this team had the largest in overall numbers & size.  Second was Ustobe1, aka Capt. Paul Vantol and third went to member, Alligator.
          Many thanks to Bob K, aka Getaway for putting this event together and getting the food for the cookout afterwards.  I'm sure it was a good time in spite of the nasty weather.  Today's featured photo is from last year's event: Click Saginaw Bay Walleyes

6/8/09  Cool, easterly wind, damp and rainy is the headline from last weekend would could live without in Manistee, MI.  Especially, the part about east wind.  Then, to make matters worse today thru Wednesday some form of east wind is in the NOAA open waters forecast.
         At this time of the season east and north wind has a negative impact on central to northern Lk. MI.  Essentially, driving the biomass towards the WI side of Lk. MI.  This is good for WI big water anglers, but it sucks to be us on the east side of the big pond.
         What I'm saying is born out by recent report from website member, Nick L. who had respectable fishing last Saturday out of Port Washington, WI Click 6/6/09 WI Rainbow

6/7/09  Super good luck today to all our website members fishing our second annual Saginaw Bay tournament out of Linwood Beach Marina (formerly Hoyles), in Linwood Michigan for Walleyes.  This outing was a grand super success last year. 
         Today's weather for this area is going to be about 20 degrees cooler then last year.  The seas for this event on the bay are predicted to be tolerable at 2' from the NE.
         If you're fishing Manistee?  The early inshore bite on Kings is decent and I mean early.  After 7:30am, what fish reloaded on the shelf overnight seem to disappear.  Best depth of water has been inside of 200', fishing to the top 60' of water.
         Manistee, MI's weather has been cool, or downright bone-chilling cold.  Yesterday, it was in the 40s for the most part and struggled to get into the 50s.  June is supposed to be warmer than May, but that's not the story ...thus far in 2009.  This ongoing constant barrage of north wind has to cease one of these days and I hope soon!

6/6/09  If you're fishing today, good luck!  Walleyes are good on Saginaw Bay and probably all ports on Lk. Erie.  Salmon action is decent and holding up well at most Lk. MI ports in the Michigan side.  We have some excellent WI website members the fish Algoma and Kewaunee, but results over there have been lackluster so far.

6/5/09  Changed the access to my product support forum.  Prior to a few days ago, the public at large could read the topics and see all replies.  This forum is now locked down for our members only, as I have several irons in the fire.  Hush-hush long term projects means my competition needs to know not ...what I'm up to!
         Fish reports from the Port of Manistee, MI have been very up and down as of lately with catches ranging from 17 to 4 fish.  Most of the Manistee fleet is still concentrating their efforts on the inside of 250' and targeting spring Kings.
         Today's featured photo is from website member, Reel Adventure aka Steve S.  While fishing out of Arcadia last weekend he landed a Laker not quite 18 pounds and a King about the same weight.  He landed other several fish, but only photographed the largest two.  Steve's bait of choice was the Fish On Red Label Herring I sent him a while back.  Along with my meat rigs and flashers.  Click for Steve B's fish

6/4/09  Today's featured photo of Lake Erie Walleyes brings back fond memories of my earlier days in the charter business.  Late May thru mid-July I ran trips mostly in Michigan waters off Monroe and La Salle, MI ...close to Luna Pier.  We had a MI 10 fish limit back then.  Unless, we had to fish Ohio waters, then the limit dropped to 6 per person.
        Timeframe of my Erie stint was 1983 thru 1990, or there abouts.  We caught 1000s of Walleyes, mostly on Storm Crankbaits and some spoons.  Wolverine Tackle, the fine folks that make the Silver Streaks let me debut their Mini Streaks in about 1986.  Mini Streaks were more, or less originally developed with Erie Walleyes in mind.
        A big thank you goes to sportingmanpo for letting me use his awesome box of Lk. Erie Walleyes and sharing it with you!  Click 5/27/09 Port Clinton Walleyes

6/3/09  Sunday, June 7, 2009 marks our second annual Saginaw Bay Event being held in the Bay City, MI area.  Our website tournament will be going out of Linwood Beach Marina (formerly Hoyles), Linwood Michigan.  Plan is to have all the fish weighed-in and serve a late lunch around 2pm.  This was grand fun last year & everyone caught lots of Walleyes.
        Thanks to website member, Capt. Mad Jack for sending in his photo of respectable 15 lb. King caught off Grindstone City, MI last weekend.  Click for this Lake Huron King

6/2/09  Spoke with Steve B. aka "Roscoe" on our message board.  He's been fishing Saginaw Bay out of Quanicassee, MI (just east of Bay City, MI).  He contradicted my yesterday's report by saying most of his Walleyes were in the 20 inch class and fishing was slightly better than 2008.  I guess this boils down to ...who you talk to about the bay?
         Today's featured photo is Team Getaway, father and sons trio.  They took a dandy 29 inch 8.25 lb. Walleye fishing Saginaw Bay during afternoon on 5/31/09
         Finally got a favorable report on the King Salmon in Frankfort, MI.  While not red-hot this port is producing decent fishing at the inshore depths of 60' to 150'.

6/1/09  Normally, at this time of the year, many of our message board members turn their efforts towards Walleye.  We have several members in the Bay City, MI area.  They've reported that Saginaw Bay is not as hot as last year at this time.  Undersize fish are said to be the problem.  Along with more off-colored and stirred-up muddier waters.
         Southern Lk. MI is no longer the big deal on the spring King bite.  This fishing has slowed.  St. Joe, MI member, "Reel Turner" fished over plus 150 fow water and found a mixed bag of Kings, a few Lake Trout and said small 2 to 6 lb. Steelhead were numerous.
          No reports as of 3am this morning about Frankfort, Ludington, or Manistee to go on.  Usually, this is a sign fishing is slow, cuz members are hesitant to post a poor report.

5/31/09  May 2009 was a blessing to Lk. MI big water fishermen after the disastrous 2008 version of this same month.  Last year was a tough spring for Kings in MI.
        Weather will be stabilizing after tomorrow, but cool for this time of the year.  Look for fishing to remain decent this Tuesday thru Thursday.
        Standard fare for charter skippers at this time of the season in Manistee "used to be" hit the inshore structure called the shelf and catch the early bite for Kings. 
        Then head west and fish the cold water vertical thermo bar where the cold water of the main body of the lake meets the inshore warmer temps.  Hope to make it a point to explore this deep water fishery the next time I have a chance to fish again.

5/30/09  Filled up my boat yesterday with 24.5 gallons of gas.  This is fuel usage for 4, maybe 5 trips on Lake Michigan dating back to April Browns in Manistee, MI.  New 4 stoke kicker motors are expensive, but over the long haul you will get most of that money back in fuel savings.  Then, there's the issue of less wear and tear on the main power plant.
                      Here's some additional bits of info for today's update:
1. Manistee and Ludington harbors are loaded with Alewives. 
2. There are some Salmon being caught close to these pier heads.
3. Early bite is out pacing the later morning bite by a fairly wide margin.

5/29/09  If you're hitting the Great Lakes this weekend, good luck!  If the current surface temp chart is to be believed, we're all going to need it.  Gone are the inshore warmer waters that fence the fish along structure. Click for 5/28/09 temp chart
        Lk. MI is pretty much the same temp everywhere from Frankfort to S of Little Point Sable.  Let hope this map is wrong from having to shoot thru cloud cover.

5/28/09  You know ...if you're a big water Salmon fisherman the 2009 season is off to great start.  May 2008 the best we could muster was 3 Kings on 5/24/08.
         On 5/22/09 we caught 6 Kings on a trip that was partially a long exploratory journey to make sure some of the nets were gone.  We never worked an area, or stayed where we took hits for very long.  Coupled with a later morning start and covering a lot of water from slightly N of Manistee to way south (7 to 8 miles as the crow flies).
        I'm overjoyed we ended up with an OK box on our very first 2009 Salmon event out of the Port of Manistee, MI.  I'm of the firm opinion we're ALL looking at a very good year!

5/27/09  Our MI website members caught Kings over the past holiday weekend out of Manistee & Ludington, MI.   Wisconsin website members struggled that fished the Algoma-Kewaunee waters.  W winds have stacked up a the King Salmon to the MI shore for now.
         Salmon fishing has slowed in the extreme S end of Lk. MI off ports like East Chicago, IN according to website member pcoaltrain.
         Lake Trout and a some Kings were being caught off Port Austin to the Port of Grindstone, MI.  Big numbers on the Lakers as usual from this area.
         Walleye action on Saginaw Bay is on the build.  Several limits have been reported. SB marble eyes are said to be running good sized.  Saginaw Bay is one of the world's greatest Walleye fisheries beyond a doubt.

5/26/09   Memorial Day Weekend 2009 turned out alright.  Perhaps a little more wind that was predicted, but many fished thru it.  Manistee, MI was a story some did (got into double figures) and most did not.  Fishing is decent on a pace that far exceeds last year no matter how you shake the stick.  Isn't that good news?
Compartmentalize is a big long word ....that to me means: stuck in a rut with long held beliefs that hold progress back.  Such is the case with the new HRPs in the 10 and 12 inch sizes.  Knew this deep fluorescent red worked.  In fact, caught my first Great Lakes Salmon on this very same color on 10/1?68.  5/22/09 First 12" HRP caught King
         However, I always used this color in August and September.  Mostly for Coho in the Platte Bays back when I chartered out of Frankfort, MI in the 1980s.  Never having a clue this color would work earlier in the season, cuz of narrow minded compartmentalization.     
     Nowadays testing has taught me you never know ...unless you put it in the water!

5/25/09   Memorial Day 2009 is set aside for those who've served our country with valor since 1776.  Their sacrifices have made our nation and kept us free to rule ourselves.
          Last Friday, 5/22/09 ...fished with John N and legendary Capt. Bud Raskey out of the Port of Manistee, MI.  We started just south of the trap net in the 17s and trolled south to the 10s off Guerney Creek to catch fish and verify the new trap net numbers were accurate.  Gone are the nets in the 15 and 14 numbers from 2008.  So, there's a lot more open waters to safely navigate and fish.  Click here for out best rigs
          We set lines around 8am and pulled rods around 2pm.  During this time span we had 9 good hits and 6 of them stuck ...making it to the boat on our long exploratory venture.
          The Salmon were in the 7 to 10 pound range.  Except one smaller King of around 4 pounds.  All of our action came on the divers & riggers.  New 12" HRP showed great promise, taking 4 of our bites.  This new hot red color continues to surprise me big time!
          Our early bites came at 50 to 60 feet down over 70 to 80 fow.  We did manage a small mid-day flurry with 3 strikes and boxed 2 fish between 1:30 to 2pm. These fish came in the 10s off Guerney Creek over 130-120 fow, down 85' to 110'.

5/24/09  Had the grand honor to fish again with the Legendary Freshwater Hall of Fame member, Capt. Bud Raskey and John N. on 5/22/09.  Click for Capt. Bud Raskey
          This was as much as a recon mission, as a trip for spring Kings.  We trolled all the way down the shelf to make sure the 2008 trap nets that were spread from the 15 numbers down to the 10s were either located, or noted as not there ...any longer.
          Our troll depth from the 16s to the 10s was in 150' to 180' to stay outside of any potential problems.  Keeping in mind, we did not have the newly updated net locations until after we went out.  I'm happy to report most of the 2008 nets are gone. 
          Now, the shelf has a lot more open water, close to drop-off (shelf) to fish without worrying about where the trap nets are. 2009 nets are at the north numbers at 17.8, 13.2, 11.9 & 11.2.  There's a couple further south towards Big Point Sable at 7.0 & 6.3.
          We did hit some fish, but I'm saving the reel-fish tales for tomorrow.  It's far more important you're informed about the trap nets today. Click for current net locations

5/23/09  Have good news for you today, if you fish out of the Port of Manistee, MI.  The way it looks we have might ONLY 6 trap nets to contend with in 2009.  Not the two dozen in 2007, or the dozen in 2008.  Click Printable Net Locations Page
        There is a slight glitch, cuz the way it looks to me, the 1 and 2 nets are the same as the 7 & 8 nets.  Hope to have this issue resolved by tomorrow.  Need to thank Lt. Deforest from Tribal Law Enforcement for
this timely info.
         Fished out of the Port of Manistee yesterday from about 8am until 2pm.  We did find some fish, but I'm saving this fish story until tomorrow.  Click new fishin' bad, John N

5/22/09  Here's where we stand on the info for current trap net locations as of yesterday according to Tribal Law Enforcement's Lt. Deforest: "Sgt. Szynski and Cpl. Huff have been out since 1630 hrs.  They are doing a net survey from Ludington to Arcadia.  I will let you know the coordinates probably tomorrow as they won't be in until late."
Good luck to all this weekend.  May you have a safe and bountiful Memorial Day 2009.  Lest we never forget ...many gave all so we can enjoy our freedoms & country.

5/21/09  According to the surface temperature chart, there's a 10 to 12 degree temp fence (break) running N & S along Manistee, MI's drop-off, or as the locals call it, "the shelf".  For May fishing this is the best temp chart I've seen in a long, long time.
         Predicted daytime high temps for Memorial Day Weekend 2009 have been revised upwards to the low 70s.  Good luck to all this weekend.
         Hope to have fresh news on the current trap situation from Lt. Dave Deforest from Tribal Law Enforcement any day now.

5/20/09   Updated the printable version of the Net Locations Page.  This info is 3 weeks old.  So, keep this in mind when fishing out of the Port of Manistee, MI.  This page is condensed and fits on one piece of paper nicely.  Click 4/29/09 Net Locations
         Today's featured photo of the day is from website member, Herman B aka Matt M who fishes out of the Port of Grand Haven, MI.  Click for Matt's 10 fish limit
         Matt and his buddy did a flasher/meat/fly program versus the more traditional metal on 5/15/09 in Grand Haven. The score was 5 fish each, but the metal produced best at long distances on lead core & copper. The riggers & divers equipped with 12" flashers & meat, along with BTIs/Mini Flies stayed very active.  This shows attractors will draw the biting fish closer into the boat.  Plus, the BTI Spark
ler & Mini Fly took the largest King too!

5/19/09  Memorial Day Weekend 2009 is looking better and better if the predictions for wave heights prove to be accurate for Manistee, Ludington & Frankfort, MI
        Here's what I got off the long range open waters NOAA marine weather website:
FRIDAY:                  NE WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. WAVES 1' OR LESS.
        With this weekend's temps in the 60s ...conditions are going to be on our side if all holds true.  Last weekend was too lumpy unless you had a battle cruiser.  So, anything to do with fresh fishing reports for the time being are hard to come by.
         Sometime in the near future, like today ...the Net Locations page for Manistee trap nets will be updated.  Biggest change in 2009 concerning the trap nets is the new one in the 17s N off Manistee, MI's Orchard Beach State Park.
         Please keep in mind, Manistee is one helluva good port to fish.  Do not let the nets curb your interest.  There's less nets this year and about good dozen less than in 2007.

5/18/09  Ludington and Manistee are both producing decent fishing for Kings.  Especially, if you compare it to this time last year.  My thanks to Capt. Ken Lutz from Ludington, MI for emailing today's featured photo of the day: Click for 5/17/09 King Salmon
        Sea Grant's Coastwatch surface temperature chart is still not working.
        Lumpy seas have kept me shore bound for the most part.  When looks like Lk. MI is going to cooperate?  Work keeps me in the shop building tackle and shipping orders.
        Memorial Day 2009 long range forecast for Manistee is for temps in the mid to upper 60s with bright sunny skies.  Let's all hope ...this holds true!

5/17/09  If you're looking for high quality Interstate Marine Batteries at the best prices around check out North Shore Marine and RV Supply.  Call Cathy at: (231)723-5288 who runs this business.  Believe it, or not North Shore is ranked among the top of Interstate retail dealers with numbers of batteries sold.
         Fish cleaning tables are in at the First Street Public Boat Launch in Manistee, MI.  Keep in mind, there a collection machine and not an attendant to take launch fees.  This machine is located on the left as you pull out of the launching area.
         Spoke with Lt. Deforest from Tribal Law Enforcement about the trap nets off Manistee.  The 4/29/09 info posted still stands with no fresh info.  There's less trap nets off Manistee so far in 2009.  I will be working on the printable version of net locations in the very near future ...long before our upcoming Memorial Day Weekend.

5/16/09  On 5/17/06 we had decent fishing off the Port of Manistee, MI.  I posted a combined photo of the surface temp chart and what we caught a day later on 5/17/06.
         Reading the chart shows cloud cover and the main body of Lk. MI had warmed to at least 40 degrees.  Inshore waters were 47 to 48 and there was a 6 degree temperature break running N and S along Manistee's shelf (drop off).  When you see similar conditions at this time of the year fishing ought to be pretty darn good.  Click for this photo
         For some reason unbeknownst to me, 2009 Manistee temp chart we currently have to work with is over 4 days old.  Between this old temp info and being hit with orders for the new BTI Mini Flies ....presently I do not have a clue to what's up with Manistee?
         Hope to rectify this problem next week and sneak away from the shop for more product testing and a King family reunion.  It's been too long since our last trip (10 days)!
         Late latest word from Ludington is it's game-on for spring Kings according to website member, Capn Kirk.  He said it looks like it's going to be a banner year.  This is what we've waited for all winter and now's the time to score big on easy May Salmon.

5/15/09  Good luck to all lucky enough to fish the big water this weekend.  Open waters beyond 5 nautical miles from shore are not that promising until early next week.  I use the open waters Lk. MI NOAA, because it goes 4 to 5 days into the future.  Near shore wave forecasts are only good for a day, or two. Click NOAA open waters forecast
         From field testing on 5/5/09 for the new 2009 BTI Mini Flies to product completion and distribution was accomplished in days.  Ten days to be exact and actually had product shipped before last weekend with strong reviews on our message board.
         Being a small manufacturer has it's own special set advantages.  With today's addition of the new Mountain Dew Min Fly ...the 12 color lineup is complete for now.  The page at my webstore is done. Click for new 2009 BTI Mini Flies selections

5/14/09   Surface water temp off the Port of Manistee, Mi is looking better and better.  Seen high 40s and low 50s inshore and out on the drop-off the water was 44 to 42 degrees.  We will have fishing in my home town soon, if not already.
           Installed some of the missing photos on the new 2009 page for the BTI Mini Flies.  Still need to publish the Mountain Dew Mini image and that will be accomplished today.
           Our inventory on the new mini flies has been nonexistent, but no orders have been delayed to stock issues.  Many thanks for the great response on this product.
           Effective 5/16/09 BTI 10" Flashers will no longer be offered a singles and will only be available in pairs.  This option will be removed then to balance inventory issues.

5/13/09  Today's photo of the day says mountains of words.  So, I'll save you a long drawn out explanation.  Having an attractor & fly match exactly is way ahead of it's time.  No more figuring out tricky color combos!  Click for matching flashers & flies
           Raising the bar to where others can never hope to reach is pretty cool. 
             Then, if some manufacturer does, we will all know who did it first!

5/12/09  Lake Michigan continues to get rave reviews.  Courtesy of Capt. Rob Presson here's what he had to say about Muskegon, MI: "Took a couple out for Mother's Day and wow what a treat!  Ended up 6 for 10 in a short window....
All the Kings were around 12 pounds and fat, except one 15 pounder that was a good 3 inches across the back, all these fish looked like they had a very good winter. Hope this is a good sign for summer."  Capt. Rob www.seabeesportfishingcharters.com

5/11/09  Fresh news from Lk. MI this past weekend?  For the most part, Saturday was too lumpy and Mother's Day held back fishing reports from yesterday (as well it should).
         Harbor Beach, MI's 2009 Can Can Tournament showe
d a tremendous increase in contestants over last year's event.  Lake Trout were thick, but the bite on the Kings and Coho slowed due to huge seas.  Extra monies from the contest goes to Muscular Dystrophy Association not in some promoter's pocket.  What a grand way to help out a good cause!
         Started on a new page concerning the 2009 upgrades to my boat, SR 1979.  Boats are a constant work in progress.  Hope to debut this ongoing saga soon.
         Have a new page with the basic selections of the new 2009 BTI Mini Trolling flies at the webstore. Introductory price is 7.95 for 2 flies that are built to my high standards. 
         If I'm going to fish with it?  It better be the best possible.  Head & shoulders above what other manufacturers offer, cuz don't believe cheap cuts it ...when a big King tests you and the quality of your tackle!  Click new 2009 Mini Fly info

5/10/09  Mother's Day, a special date set aside to honor your mom. 
         If Monday's port reports on our message board speak of Muskegon being hot for spring Kings, Ludington will be about a week behind.  I learned this from Craig at Capt. Chuck's in Ludington who's tracked this over the years.

5/9/09  Cool, rainy and wind is what's happening in Manistee.  35 knot gale force  winds predicted for this afternoon will keep the fleet shore bound today.
        Posted a tech tip concerning the new Mini Flies I hope to have installed on my webstore by this coming Monday.  Blouse out the skirts by bending the Mylar forward, same deal on the meat rigs we sell.  Water pressure will make the skirts pulse when the BTIs rolls, wags and snaps the fly.  Click tech demonstration photo
        Mini Flies are pre-tied at the right leader length for my line of BTI 10" Flashers.  This takes the all guess work out of the equation.

5/8/09  Fishing reports from S. Lk. MI continue to rock and the reports from Lk. Huron are decent too.  Good luck this weekend and hope the seas are with you.
         Learned just a pile of stuff last Tuesday when we were down at New Buffalo, MI.  Some of this was a surprise to me.  I had no clue the HRP BTIs would work so well on big Kings.  Knew HRPs would tear up the Coho having used this deep fluorescent red color since 1968.  In fact, my very first Salmon, a Coho caught on 1/10/68 came on this color.  Some colors are just timeless and this is one of them.  Click my 1st Sparkler BTI Salmon
         Tackle manufacturing is a dog eat dog world and I wear Milk Bone underwear.  In this Great Recession we seem to be climbing out of, it was 1000% necessary to bring you a product priced below my competitors and would out perform for less then 10 bucks a copy!
          Same deal with the new 2009 Sparkler BTI, better price, better performance and a bunch better hardware in spite of 30% increases in manufacturing costs since 2004.
          New 2009 Mini Flies were a blessing to rediscover.  Charter skippers have long trimmed trolling flies down and this is an offshoot from that seldom revealed secret. 
          Introductory price on the minis will be two for 7.95.  Breaking the 4 buck barrier, with a superior hook, and special leader grade fluorocarbon line!  Plus, most of them will match up perfectly with my BTI 10" flashers.   This is a huge advantage over the multitude of "off the wall" trolling fly manufacturers that do not have this luxury.  Better price, better performance and made in the USA.  Who could ask for more? Click assorted Mini Flies

5/7/09  Posted brand new photos of our fish box (fish catchin' tools included) and our largest King caught a couple of days ago at New Buffalo, MI.  King never made it to the scale, but higher teens is an honest estimate.  Click for goodie 5/5/09 King Salmon
        HRP BTI 10" flashers and the new prototype mini trolling flies were the ticket for a 10 fish, two legal MI limits in a very short amount of time.  I never flatter myself into self hero worship, cuz we can take a bunch of fish.  Always remembering, if the fish tain't there in good numbers? ...catching will always be skimpy. Click our 5/5/09 fish box
        Extremely pleased with the results of the new 2009 colors: HRP and the Sparkler BTIs.  We took fish the first time we used them.  New hot mini flies are story onto themselves that will be explained in greater detail tomorrow. 
        This can said in 100% sincere total honesty, the mini flies impressed me and that's darn hard to do after 41 seasons on the Great Lakes of Erie, Huron and Michigan.

5/6/09   John J and I fished out of New Buffalo, MI yesterday morning and did quite well with a very non traditional all BTI attractor program.  I'm pretty well spent from the 420 miles to and from this port in a little over 24 hours. 
        So, I'll just touch on the high spots today until I get my feet back underneath me for better explanation tomorrow.  Click new prototype fly
        HRP (Hot Red Panties) BTIs were and are totally awesome.  Fished prototype small flies very similar to the flies on the meat rigs we sell.  Leader length of 15"-16" was a little shorter than the 20"-24" normally we run for summer Salmon. Click for tackle used
        Started out with 2 meat rig rods, but after 4 fish on at one time ...cutting back to all BTIs & flies kept things at a more comfortable, slightly less torrid pace.  We tried keep 3 riggers, 2 divers in the water during our brief morning trip. Click HRP Triple header
        Fish count? ...8 Coho from 3 to 5 pounds and 2 Kings to the higher teens.  It took longer to launch and retrieve my boat, "SR 1979" then it did to box out, no brag, just fact!
          More info tomorrow and specific details on our New Buffalo, MI outing

5/4/09   Southern Lk. Michigan is off to a great start for early May.  Coho and Kings in St. Joe and New Buffalo, MI.  Michigan City, IN has been hot too.  Manistee is even producing an odd-occasional King once in a while.
Fishing on Lk. Huron from Harbor Beach to Lexington is respectable.  Good numbers of Coho, some Lake Trout and a few Kings.
         Posted a couple of visual tech tips.  First is a net release to prevent the from drifting backwards.  I use an Off Shore release for this job and picked up on this tip in 1982.  By pegging the net with a release there's a lot less tangles. Click net release
          Second is the way I rigged my tow line for the planer board system on my boat by using the bow rail & foregoing the traditional mast.  Planer board reels are located in easy reach and can be operated from the cockpit with no problem. Click bow rail towline

5/3/09  Fishing is good on all southern Lake Michigan ports from St. Joe to East Chicago, IN.  In fact, catches are smoking anything that was done at this same time in 2008.  May 2009 is off to a great start.  Kings and Coho are the majority of the catches.
       From what's been told to me, this hot S. Lk. MI fishery is being driven by schools of Alewives entering the inshore waters and rivers.  This is a bunch more normal than what went on in 2008 when spring (May) fishing was downright dismal.

5/2/09   Don't you love it when a plan comes together?  This is the case with the modifications I made to my vertical rod holders used for the larger dual planer boards, or inline planers.  Added another rod holder ...going from 3 to 4.  Had to take a long hard look at how to do this.  Finally decided in 3 different angles and 14" clearance between the bottom 2 rod holders. Click for SR 1979 Bird Holder spacing
       Space aboard my boat, "SR 1979" is very limited and used angles to get a close to perfect separation at the rod tips.  This spacing is incredibly important.  So, when a rod goes off, it doesn't get tangled into another rod.  Thusly, causing a mess.
        It's my firm contention that anyone can produce the same results as me, if not and probably better.  All you need to do ...is keep in mind your boat is doing all the fishing.  How your rig is setup to fish is 90% of the battle.

5/1/09  The vitals on our 4/29/09 Brown Trout trip out of the Port of Manistee, MI include:  Speed was 2.2 to 2.5 mph, any slower ...no bites, any faster ...no bites.  Temp ranged from 45 to 46 degrees and we stayed in the stained water north of the piers to Blood Creek.  Best was off the Orchard Beach State Park in 8' to 12' of water.
Click our largest Brown   Click 4/29/09 box of Browns   Click Capt. Bud Raskey 
       Blue/sliver and gold/red floating 11 sized Rapalas were the hot ticket.  125' to 150' leads of the big dual planer boards.  Shorter leads did not produce the last time we went out.  So, I stuck with what I knew was working.  Days of S wind prior made us go to the N. Click coming to the net    Click in the net   Click unhooking Laker to release
        Need to thank Capt. Deforest for the trap net info I posted yesterday.  There's a couple of bad nets towards Big Point Sable, but the mess is nothing like last year ...so far?
        Tomorrow's update will take a look at correct spacing on planer board rods.  Angles can work wonders in a small space. Click for SR 1979 Bird Holder spacing.

4/30/09  Fished out of the Port of Manistee, MI yesterday with John J and legendary Hall of Fame skipper, Capt. Bud Raskey.  We took 10 fish, 7 being browns (2 to 5 pounds) and 3 Lake Trout we released.  Hours fished?  Set lines 8:30am and pulled rods at not quite 1:30pm.  More on this current event tomorrow when I have more time to stitch this fishin' tale together about 3 anglers with 12 decades of experience on the Great Lakes.  Until then, enjoy the 6 brand new photos from yesterday's voyage in the left border.

4/29/08  Sometime in the not too distant future we will be test marketing  BTI Flasher/Fly combos.  Catching Great Lakes fish isn't all that hard if you have the "right stuff."  Like my flasher/meat rigs all on my products are made to match.  This is a supreme plus.
        Same thing with the well tested BTIs and trolling flies (past 3 seasons).  This stuff works and you do not have to rack your brain trying to figure out the right color combinations.  This has been done for you already. Click 2009 BTI/Fly combo deals
        The reel-cost of tackle is purchasing stuff that does not work, or performs only marginally.  Rest assured the BTI/Fly combos are fully proven slayers!  Greatest benefit of these new yet to be offered combos is they'll work all day long.  Not just early & late.

4/28/09  We all have inner feelings.  Call it gut, intuition, or how our 6th sense feels about how events might play out.  Then, there's indicators to confirm, or deny hunches we might have.  These are all important tools for people who make their living from fishing (in my case this goes back to 1983), or just likes to fish our Great Lakes. 
       With me concerning the Lk. MI Fishery?  It's always been dependent on what happens on the southern most end of Lk. MI during early spring Salmon Fishery.  This is a leading barometer of what the rest of the season generally ends up looking like. 
       Back in 1987 when Bacterial Kidney Disease first broke, there were only few Kings caught in April and even worse during 1988 on the southern end of Lk. MI.  Dismal early season results were the foreboding harbinger of bad tidings back then.
       Encouraging 2009 signs from S. Lk. MI  April spring Coho on the big end ...are going 5 to 7 pounds (average size is smaller).  Early 2008 Indiana Salmon Unlimited tourney was won with 6 fish weighing 30 pounds and in 2009 it took 15 fish at 105 pounds.  These are the hard core reel-facts, not a bunch of hocus pocus BS conjecture!
       How the entire 2009 season unfolds is yet to be seen ...only time will tell.  I suspect it will be a helluva lot better than May 2008 struggle in Manistee, MI when less than a handful of Kings was considered a fair box of fish. 
       Need to be careful about firm predictions, but from what I've seen and heard ...2009 will surpass last year's lowest total of King Salmon returning to the Little Manistee Harvest Weir ever.  At least we can hope so!  This update will be revisited in late fall this year once the numbers from the Little Manistee River weir are made public from the MDNR.

4/27/09  Lots of Salmon photos from Lake Huron last weekend.  Seems this lake is finally gaining a little steam after the horrendous Salmon crash in 2002, or there abouts.  Harbor Beach and Port Sanilac north produced the best catches on southern Lake Huron.
        My thanks to Mike R and Tom L. for sharing their Lk. Huron photos with us!
Click 1st Lk. Huron catch  Click decent Lk. H. King  Click 10 silver Lk. Huron salmon
        Excellent reports came from Michigan City, IN on Lk. MI too.  Coho are plentiful and more and more Kings are making their presence known after a dismal 2008 spring King season on southern Lk. MI. 

4/26/09  Wet, windy and cool is the deal from Manistee County, MI.  Rough seas have kept most of our home fleet shore bound.  Did see a near shore area of 52 degree surface temps from S of Michigan City, IN to N of New Buffalo, MI.  Starting to hear of Walleye action on Saginaw Bay and Lake Erie.
        Effective May 1, 2009 we will no longer be shipping bait.  I've hoarded a few cases for personal use and to help out message board members.  This issue will be revisited in the future, but with the onset of warm weather shipping requirements to guarantee frozen bait at your doorstep ...I fear will become way too costly to make this a viable enterprise for the customer at what's considered reasonable to charge!

4/25/09  Just about had to pinch myself yesterday to make sure I wasn't dreaming, cuz it was above 80 degrees!!! Last 80 degree day we had was ...probably September 2008.
       Upgraded my surface rod spread to now include 4 rods per side.  Having equal separation on the rod requires a lot of trial and error. Click SR 1979 surface rod spread
        Equal distances means when a fish bangs your offering, tangling into other rods will just not happen.  Pretty trouble free now, or at least it should be!

4/24/09  While the temps look to be in the 70s the next two days the prediction for wind leaves a lot to be desired.  Here's Manistee, MI's marine near-shore forecast:
Friday:   South winds 15 to 25 knots. Mostly sunny. Areas of fog. Waves 1 to 3 feet.
Friday Night: 
South winds 15 to 25 knots. Partly cloudy. Areas of fog. Waves 3 to 5 feet. Saturday:  Southwest winds 15 to 25 knots decreasing to 5 to 15 knots through mid afternoon...then veering northwest 10 to 20 knots late in the day. Becoming mostly cloudy with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Waves 3 to 5 feet.
Even though 70s are coming, don't bet on it if you're fishing the Great Lakes.  A 20-30 mph wind driving across surface temps in the 40s will make it a seem lot colder than it is!

4/23/09  Archived temps dating back to 2004 shows southern Lk. MI is several degrees colder in 2008 and so far in 2009.  4 to 8 degrees is a helluva lot, or maybe better said: Salmon are a lot easier to catch when the surface temp is 48 to 50 degrees, compared to the high 30s and low 40s like it is now. Click archived Lk. MI surface temps
       The next few days of warm weather will help, but keep in mind last winter was very cold and it will take a lot longer for the big ponds to warm up.
       Poke around on the above link and you'll see for yourself what's up with temp!

4/22/09  Spoke with Mark C who belongs to the Salmon Unlimited Club and fishes mostly out of East Chicago, IN. Got an encouraging report on early season King Salmon.  Mark said they were catching some Kings pushing the high teens & all were over 10 lbs.  I was left with the impression 09 is way ahead of what played out in 08 in this very same time frame.
        I'd like to share a complimentary
email received earlier this week:

"Good morning John,
I spoke with you yesterday on the phone, and, the pleasure was all mine! I wanted to tell you that your web site is the greatest I have ever seen. I have only scratched the surface so far. I have been looking for this type of information. I don't recall, but, maybe your site popped up in my many searches and I just didn't navigate to it. There are so many sites, but, mostly just commercial BS. I am going to be checking through the remainder of your site and visiting often, and, I am sure that your information will make me a better angler for these crazy fish in the Great Lakes.
     Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me. Happy Fishing and Tight Lines!"

Chris T.   Redford, Michigan

4/21/09  Today's update and photos are courtesy Chris S, skipper of the Fray'd Knot:

"Here are some pics for Friday and Saturday. Fished on my buddies boat King Kong.
Fri. Salmon stakes press day 1st. place 7 fish 49 lbs.  Three 10-12 lb. Kings, one 7.5lb. Steelhead, one 2.5 lb. Atlantic Salmon, and one 2lb. Coho. Fished out of Port Sanilac 10-15 foot of water. Saturday Port Huron Tournament we ran to Port Sanilac again. 3 Kings, 5 Coho and 2 Lake Trout.  Took 4th with 28.6 pounds for the 5 fish."
Thanks, Capt. Chris S Click 4/18/09 catch    Click 4/15/09 catch

4/20/09  It's a great time to be a consumer as companies have to push harder to maintain customer loyalty This plays out in reel-facts with my efforts.  Since the first of the year I've written 9 easy to understand articles formatted for web usage with photo explanations in great detail.  With that thought in mind, today I'll debut a new piece directed at at correct meat rigging techniques with 5 to 6 inch Red Label Herring.  There's a couple of EZ ways to do this.   Here's the new work: Click Rigging with Red
         Fishing info from last weekend is far too sketchy to draw any firm conclusions.  Bright spot is there were a few Kings caught on both Lakes Huron and Michigan, but nothing to write home about.  I suspect with the days of east wind, WI anglers did OK.

4/19/09  Don't have a lot to go on, but Lk. Huron's Port Sanilac, MI sounds like it out produced St. Joe, South Haven and Holland.  Port Sanilac catch was mostly Coho and some Kings, as Lk. Huron continues to inch back to it's former self.
         Overall best for numbers on Coho is Michigan City, IN with limits being the rule, not the exception.  Heard the spring IN Coho were running good sized ...from 3 to 5 pounds. 
5 pound spring Coho can be easy 10 pounders by late August.
         Had one decent report on Walleyes from Saginaw Bay and this fishery is definitely on the build.  Warm temps yesterday brought out a lot of fishermen.

4/18/09  Should be able to piece together a better idea of what's happening on southern Lk. MI by this coming Monday.  Reason behind this line of thought?  There's more of our message board members fishing and their reports will tell.
         Removed Green Label Herring from my webstore: www.michiganangler.com
Only have about 50 trays of green left and close to 120 trays of red label.  Actually, I've sold more red label and this is the size I prefer.  Slightly unbalanced inventory is due to there's 50 trays of green to a case and 68 trays of red.
         Considering discontinuing shipping bait with the onset of May.  Our main job is making tackle and time for that is limited at best.  Haven't made up my mind on this issue yet, but will in the near future.  Shipping bait when it's too warm can be risky.

4/17/09  Played hookie from work yesterday morning.  Fished Lk. MI out of the Port of Manistee, MI from 8:30am until about noon. 
        Days of E wind has taken it's toll on the inshore shoreline fishing by pushing the stained water further out to sea.  Then, flat calm conditions meant it was a lot tougher to pull a bite.  We trolled for the best part 2 hours without a hit with our lures 125' behind dual planer boards.  Lengthened the leads to 175' and lost a OK fish a 100' from the boat and landed a small Lake Trout before we threw in the towel and headed for the barn.
        My team consisted of John J and new website member, "Acejack" aka Nick F who landed his first Lk. MI Laker.  Click for 4/16/09 Acejack's LT

        Bright spot is we've had 10 fish hooked up this week & 9 of them made it to the net!  90% is about as close to perfect as you can get considering the lighter line 15# test and the small light wire hooks on the stickbaits we used.
        Did notice pier fishermen lining the inner wall of the north pier.  Looked to me like they were catch perch, but the fish we seen being pulled were not very large.

4/16/09  Thought you might enjoy seeing the first reel line counter I know of ...used on the Great Lakes.  In the 1970s Olympic Fishing Tackle Company had a series of reels, but the one you're seeing was used for monel wire to pound the bottom for Lake Trout.
        This reel pre-dates the Diawa LC47 that came out some where's in the neighborhood of 1985-1986 by a good 10 years!  Click 1975 Olympic LC reel 
        Second shared photo of the day is from Steve A ...aka "Red Dog."  He took a double on Lakers, then watched us land our twins.  It's a small fishing community when a website viewer is within eyeshot and can verify accomplishments.  Click Mr. Red Dog's Lakers

4/15/09  Tax day.  There's a pile of things wrong with the government nowadays, but there is a bright spot.  That being the City of Manistee, MI that has forestalled charging to use the First Street Public Launch.  In plain terms, it's free to launch your boat for now!
         Manistee has the best public launching facilities of any port I'm familiar with.  16 to 20 boats can be launched, or retrieved at the same time.  Massive parking on prime lake front real estate with a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan to boot!
         City of Manistee makes use of some of their full-time employees to wash, clean and service the fish cleaning station everyday during season when it's busy.
          You know, small things like providing a great public ramp for free goes a long ways in restoring my faith that our government is not working against us all the time. I'm sure this free ride will not last much longer, but for now ...it's pretty darn thoughtful!
          Tomorrow's update will focus on what a small fishing world we live in.

4/14/09  Had a great opener to my big lake 2009 season with the fine company of John J & Capt. Tom Rasmussen from Sue Lee Charters in Manistee, MI.  From the bottom of my heart, it's a blessing to know and fish with the class of these two excellent anglers!
          Our morning began around 9am with a brutal 15 to 25 knot howling directly out of the E while the temperature was still in the 30s.  Cold was the word until we missed our first fish slightly S of Manistee's harbor while still setting lines.  Click Capt. Tom R
          After getting 8 lines in the water, 4 on each side being pulled by the large double planer boards, we had a solid hook-up.  This fish morphed into a double header for the first pair of fish to come over the transom of SR1979 since late September 2008.  What a great way kick off the 2009 season on our very first trip! Click for our double header
          We had fairly steady action from 9am until the wind swung around out of the N around 1pm.  We boated 6 Lake Trout (all released after quick photo), a small Steelhead and a micro Brown Trout that's probably on the endangered species list the way the Brown Fishery has declined since 2002 in Manistee.  Click micro Brown Trout
          The methodology we used is fully explained in my
Encyclopedia of Tips & Tricks section I wrote back in 2001. Click Brown Trout 7.0    Click our small Steely
          I know for a fact Lake Trout have often been maligned by the more uppity Salmon purists, if there is such a thing?  When LT's are the only game in town, you do not bad mouth them with demeaning names.  Besides, on light 15# tackle they scrap OK.
          The best tip I can leave you with today is Brown Trout 7.0 & use the Rapala knot to free up the action and use no more than 15# test mono for this kind of fishing.  April shoreline trolling is magnificent scenery & one heck of good time! Click Rapala knot

4/13/09  Lake Huron's Port Sanilac, MI was a tough go last weekend.  Cold water was thought to be the culprit according to website member, Getaway. 
        Action on Coho out of St. Joe, MI slowed from last weekend where 15 to 20 spring Cohos were eagerly attacking lures.  Go news from the southern Lk. MI port is there were some double digit Kings in the mix taken in shallow while targeting Coho with surface lines.
        Modern era of purchasing fishing licenses online sure takes the hassle in getting the 2009 MI Resident All Species License.  Consider building a special folder in your favorites for the receipt and license.  I printed out 2 copies and if these become lost, or destroyed I can print out replacements from my fish license folder. 
Click 2009 MI Fish Licenses

4/12/09  Easter Sunday

4/11/09  Good luck to the early season fishermen competing today in St. Joe, MI's Brown Blast.  Hope the weather in the south end of Lk. MI is better then the N wind 15 to 25 knots predicted for Manistee for the first part of today.
        Temps all next week (in the 50s) looks like the weather has finally turned towards spring.  Status of my fishing Lk. MI is a tough luck story.  When the lake is tolerable enough to go after the Browns in Manistee ...taking care of orders has kept me in the shop.  Business comes first, but hope to get soon!

4/10/09  A few of the local fishermen in Manistee, MI got a chance to take a whack at the Lk. MI Brown Trout yesterday.  Action was very spotty, pressure was light and the seas cooperated for a change.  I do not want to overestimate numbers, but 1 to 3 per boat is what was told to me for those that put their time in.  Please let me stress, do not look for success on Browns during more crowded weekend conditions.
         Over this weekend the plan is to complete a new photo "how-to" article on using whole Red Label Herring in my Super Mag Heads (right out of the package).  Images tell a story more efficiently than any word-smithing by yours truly! Click Red Label rigged

4/9/09  Finally dug up some late season 2008 good news from charter skipper, Capt. Bob Smith who runs the Sportsman Shop in Glen Arbor, MI.  This area and Leland is close to N. & S. Manitou Islands.  Capt. Bob reported good catches of 3 year juvenile Kings into very late September.  Let's hope this is a prognosticator of how Kings will play out in 2009.
         Too rough for boats to chase Brown Trout out of the Port of Manistee, MI lately.  I have no reliable recent information on this fishery.  Hope to cure this problem soon!
         Updating yesterday's post by Einar F from Norway with the correction of the country close to the Bornholm Island being Denmark. 
         Edited his report slightly due to space requirements and his English was very good.  I'm willing to bet any number of us can fish with Einar and Torben without any spoken word barrier, cuz fishing is a universal language that needs no translation!

4/8/09  Today's update is entirely thru the gracious courtesy of Einar F from Norway.  Here's what Einar had to say about the tackle he purchased from me:

"Hi John! Here are some photos from our annual spring trip to Bornholm Island in the Baltic Sea.  Did well on the Super Mag heads in gold bullet (50ft and up) and X-Glow green frog (60-110ft).  Used them with 5-6inch whole baitfish (small herring).... 
         It's perfect for Atlantics in cold water. Also, did well on the X-Glow BTI Fly.  Water temp was 35-38F.  So, the salmon didn't want to much action on the baits.  Trolling speed was 2 knots and slower....   Click 14 & 22 lb Atlantic Salmon
         Really like the Super Mag heads. They have a large window (speed).  I've run them successfully with baitfish from 5 inch up to 10 inch.  Have given a way samples to German and Danish teams, and they have ran them successfully too. Click Torben's 14# Atlantic
         They worked well in the Norwegian fjords with warm water last summer, when we where trolling for atlantics and browns... Last spring and summer I also did well on the meat rigs behind BTI flashers.   Thanks for the Tips and Trix that I've picked up on your website."
  ...Einar F.      More discussion on this interesting worldwide topic tomorrow!

4/7/09  Today's update will be most helpful to those newer to the sport of big water trolling.  The focus is on the Double Loop Knot when using trolling flies.  This knot is used to attach the fly to the flasher.  Click for photo "how-to" article
        Besides, it gives me a chance to take a swipe at those on the tackle business to cheap to install a tail hook, or snap.  Leaving you on your own to come up with attaching hardware.  Beyond a doubt, this is the epitome of consumer neglect to skinflint a pennies off a product in the mindset of high volume manufacturing. Click loop knot in action

4/6/09  First off, we're sitting on a fair number of herring orders at our webstore.  All herring orders will ship tomorrow on Tuesday 4/7/09. Click if you need good bait
         Today's featured photos shows how easy Red Label Herring is to use.  Just snip off the head and insert the bait (innards and all) into my Super Mag Meat Head.  This can be done fresh out of the package without brining.    Click red label with innards
         This new batch of red we're selling is tough stuff.  It's the first bait I've used that can be used without salt and brine to toughen it up.  By far, this red label has the very best scale retention of any bait I've ever used.  Click red label with belly cleaned out
         Red will give you about an overall 5 inch long bait presentation to better suit the size of usually smaller spring baitfish.  This is an important factor that needs mentioning.   
         To use right of the package? ...there's 2 ways.  One is to snip off the head and shove the bait into the Super Mag Head.  It will be a tight fit, but it can be done.
         Second is to snip off the head then cut off 1/4" of the belly.  Then open the belly cavity and clean out the stomach contents.  Then slide the red label herring into the meat head.  Either way works for fast right out of the package usage.  Have a jar of brine with you.  Then put the used bait in a jar w/brine for the next time out.  Save all your used bait, cuz meat is never in good supply when you need it!  
         If you think bait in the photos looks good?  This is leftover reused stock we used during our January and February 2009 free shop seminars.  It's been refroze and thawed twice.  Something I do not recommend for best results.  Like I said, "this stuff is tough!"

4/5/09  Decent weather in Manistee, MI yesterday, then it's supposed to be more winter-like until mid week.  Improving weather will mean more fishermen including myself.  My lake boat is ready to go and with the right seas ...should be fishing Lk. MI later this week.  Boats are an immense amount of preparation work for the first splash of the season.
If anyone questions our motives about having a private message board, just Google  fghi873.  You find out this fictitious robot-spammer has signed up for 235 message boards all around the world.  This internet fanatic is lying in wait to pollute our forums with the most obnoxious advertising of the lowest kind.  By having our board locked down with tight security ...fghi873 cannot gain access.

4/4/09  Since last fall John J my ace number 1 fishin' bud has let me impose on his good nature and loaned me the use of one of his freezers.  John is returning home from wintering over in Arizona and common courtesy dictates I must clean out his freezer. 
         For now I've rolled back the price of Fish On Bait Company's Red Label Herring to it's former winter special sale cost of 59.95.  8 trays of a 12 herring (96 baitfish), economical 4.95 shipping, & no extra charge for costly dry ice.  Plus, a free insulated shipping container makes this one helluva extra good deal!  Click herring in freezer
        This lowball  price only applies to Zone 1 UPS shipping from my place.  When these trays of bait are gone in today's featured photo this sale will end.

        Starting another free flasher giveaway with the popular 12" King Kobra flashers with any 75.00 purchase at: www.michiganangler.com  These are ever so slightly blemished factory seconds I would never sell anyways.  But they'll make an excellent sales promotion.
You can plainly see these flashers are almost in perfect shape by clicking King Kobra

4/3/09  Big Manistee River Steelhead fishing?  Tough to tell on this, but there's still bright silver fresh-run Steelhead entering this watershed.  Heard below Bear Creek was decent last Wednesday and it's safe to assume those fish moved higher.
         Early season Lk. M I Brown Trout out of Manistee, MI?  Some have been caught when weather allows fishing the shoreline.  High winds and rough water has kept the Manistee fleet shore bound 5 days for every 1 day they can get out. 
         By no means have I heard of limits on Browns, or anything close to such.  Good news is a few being caught south down to Guerney Creek.  Heavy on the word few too, as this fishery is still on hard times from our glory days in the 1990s to the early i2ks.  It's way to soon to gauge how April Browns 2009 will turn out.
         Take this with a grain of salt due to sketchy info.  There's supposed to be only 1 trap net commercial operator working out of the Port of Manistee in 2009.  There's a chub tug that will be setting deep water gill nets for bloater chubs too. 
         It seems there's an unknown number tribal netters who took money.  Then cut and run after pillaging big bucks from tribal funds for start-up monies of a 100k and more!
Over the weekend I'm going to try to have a photo how-to article on tying the loop knot used in attaching trolling flies to the flasher.  I know it's a simple thing, but many do not know how to tie this very useful knot.  Hope to have this for you early next week.

4/2/09  Got a special update for you today sharing my King Family Photo Album with you.  All of today's photos are the first King boated during the start of a new season dating back to 2004.  04 is when I embarked on the highway of tackle manufacturing.
         Each these King Salmon circa 2004 thru 2008 kicked off the reel season in earnest in the month of May.  Exception being 2007 when I bought a boat and devoted all my time to a major refit that wasn't completed until early July.  Click 2004   Click 2005
         Could have posted earlier first Salmon of the season pictures, but the April and May are busy months for tackle manufacturing. Click 2006    Click 2007   Click 2008
         Of course all the fish displayed were taken on the tackle products we proudly make in Manistee, MI USA.  Incidentally, ALL the components that goes into our products come from Great Lakes States.  Meaning the colorants to the hardware & anything in between.
I am especially proud of this reel-fact and cannot fathom using overseas suppliers! 
        Tomorrow's chat will be current scuttlebutt from Manistee on what's happening with the Big Manistee River, Lk. MI Brown Trout & recent news about the netting situation. 

4/1/09  It's official today with the MDNR.   Five Salmon (Kings & Coho) limit increased from 3 per species over the past many seasons.  This is especially good news for the sport fishermen who hit the early season Coho in southern Lk. MI.  5 Chinooks per license will help extend fishing trips for those that fish 2, or 3 persons to a boat.
         While this is good news for the sport fishing fleet, it sucks for charter operators.  Gone are the easy 3 Kings per license, then head for the barn.  Charter skippers are now faced with pulling 20 to 30 Salmon per trip depending on how large the charter group is.
         Did these numbers back in my early charter days in 1983-1987 and always felt it was overkill.  I wonder how many of the fish my charter customers took home that actually were used for food, or thrown out from freezer burn.  Salmon and Trout does not freeze well and quality of the fish deteriorates after 4 months.  Unless you're going to smoke it.
         There's been a MDNR rule change in the amount of smelt you can take.  Only two gallons is allowed per license now. At least the DNR isn't gonna make you count them!