2015 October, November, & December

Steelhead Food
Salmon Buster™ spoons

Get the Point?
SB 4.0 Bluetail

Sept. Steel
35 inches

4.0 Salmon Busters™
10/26/15 Manistee, MI


12/31/15  Happy New Year!

12/30/15   The Ambassador Alfamar LC reels mentioned yesterday have an interesting feature.  Turn the handle 1/4  backwards & you're on a very light drag no matter how tight the drag system is screwed down.  This auto-light drag shift is suitable to ship the riggers down without thumbing the reel.  The line out clicker-alarm is very loud too.
                 I fish April thru October.  Early and late season is surface fishing is chilly.  While temp by itself is tolerable, wind makes it seem worse than it is.  So, most of the time the backdrop on my enclosed cabin zipped down with a heater on.  The loud clicker screaming line out acts as a fish-on alarm, that tells us it time to go outside and deal with Mr. Fish!
                 Not being in to big a hurry on surface fish off planer boards is actually a plus.  A slight delay gives a the fish a chance to drift back and clear other board lines.

12/29/15  In 1977 I purchased 4 Ambassador 7000s made in Sweden for around a 100 bucks each.  Adjusted for inflation that's about $1600 in today's money. 
                Back then, high line capacity reels suitable for Great Lakes fishing were in short supply.  Penn ruled with their 209 and 309 series, but these reels had a poor drag system and a slow, but powerful 3 to 1 retrieve ratio.  Click new vs. old Ambassadors
                When I entered the charter business in 1983, used all 7000s that came with a lifetime guarantee.  ABU replaced the drag washers a couple of times for free, but the main gear that was the seat for the drag washers was warped. 
                Lost interest in the 7000s after boating tons and tons of fish.  And there were a lot of new generations large line capacity reels coming on the market by the later 1980s. 
               Still have one of the original 7000s in use.  While the drag on it is a long ways from smooth, it's more for nostalgia.  This 38 year old reel serves as my chute rigger when running meat deep on 30# test goat rope, where an ultra sensitive drag is not needed.
               Replaced all my old Diawa SG 47 LCs with 8 of the newer Ambassador Alfamar LCs.  Drag is the silky smooth.  Best I've seen on a 80 dollar reel. While the fit & finish is not quite the quality of a Shimano Tekota, Saltist Diawa, or the newest Ocuma Catalinas ...for $80-$90 on eBay ...Alfamars are a reel-bargain.
Too bad the workers that make these China special reels won't get a chance to use them!

12/28/15  Limbo week between 2 major holidays is the reason many companies shut down at this time of the year.  I have brand new tackle on order the will not be delivered until mid January.  This is excruciating for me, because I'm not good at keeping secrets.  Especially, when it comes to new product I know for a reel fact, you'll see the merit in.
                     More world firsts are on the way to help you catch fish!

12/27/15  Looks like the weather gods and fish gods are cooperating.  This has to be a positive for all Great Lakes fishermen.  Warmer than average temperatures and lots of rain have been pouring nutrient rich water into all the lakes.
               Began the arduous task of editing video from my last fishing trip of 2015.  Have 5 of the 6 fish we caught on camera.  Issue is with wind noise on some of the fish.  That means voice over editing.  Because what makes a good video is an exciting sound track that put the viewer in the moment.  Hearing is as important as seeing!

12/26/15  This spell of warmer than normal temperatures has to be good for Lk. MI.  2013 & 2014 was record, or near record ice cover was not kind to the Lk. MI fish population.
                 After yesterday's encouraging news about skipper/baby Kings, had reports from Manistee and Holland that had seen big numbers of immature fish this fall too!
                 Lots of exciting stuff planned for 2016 that has yet to be revealed.  Hopefully, by mid January I can share more ground breaking ideas in tackle manufacturing.

12/25/15  Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas to all.  Christmas is all about the birth of hope. Today I have a present for all Lk. MI fishermen with very good news that pertains to the future Lk. MI King Salmon fishery.  Click 12/22/15 baby King Salmon
                Our Ludington, MI contact, Capt. Kirk has been catch 10-15 baby, or skipper Kings in close to shore, or around the harbor ...going back to mid to late October.
                Pretty sure Kirk said these are the most small Kings he's seen going back 20-30 seasons.  Will confirm this the next time I have a chat with him.
                Seems 2014 year class of Kings put a lot of their offspring in Lk. MI.  These are our future fish that will not have an impact until 2017 and 2018.
               In our second featured photo, please check out the girth on this Ludington youngster King.  This fish has a big fatso gut and it didn't get that way from lack of food!
               The DNRs are implying the Lk. MI Kings are starving to death from lack of bait, or less alewives.  I say, where are the dead floating Kings we seen in the BKD days of the late 1980s and early 1990s?  Dead fish float & are not invisible!  Click fatso juvi King

12/24/15  Merry Christmas to all!  I have a present for all Lk. MI fisherman that will be announced tomorrow.  I'm sure all of you will like it too!
                Yesterday it was 58° at my place in Manistee County, MI.  November was 6-8 degrees above normal and December is running at 10-12 degrees above the norm for 2015.

12/23/15  Christmas will soon be here.  My Christmas present came on 4/1/15 when I caught my 1st fish on a production version Salmon Buster spoon.  Let's talk?
                 Put yourself in my place.  You've have almost the price of a new pickup truck invested in an idea.  Sure, I put countless hours during 3D printed prototype spoon tests in many, many variants.  Knew my homemade spoons printed in the shop caught fish to a great degree.  But would the ones that came out of the injection mold do the same?
                 Learned during the design process, even the slightest change to the curvature and cup of the interior spoon effected action a lot.  Above all, production spoons had to retain the shudder-stop-change direction motion, as in the 3D prototypes.
                 It's all pure speculation, with fear, worry, and doubt seeping in. 
                 Plus, my reputation is on the line.  I raised meat fishing tackle and product support to a higher standard.  Accepted by many in the trailer boat fleet (18'to 25') as their preferred method to fish. Click my 1st Salmon Buster™ spoon fish on 4.1.15
                So, from the time I took the financial risk in November of the previous year (2014), it was a dreadfully long and agonizing 6 months before I could prove it to myself and you, my production spoons work!  Christmas for me? ...happened back on 4/1/15!

12/22/15  Okuma is leading the line counter reel field when it comes to the sheer volume of LCs being offered.  Magda, Convector, Cold Water Series & Catalinas are models names in the vast Okuma lineup.  Click Diawa, Okuma, & Shimano LCs
                 I own 4 early model Catalina 45Ds LCs that are the top of the line Okumas.  They feature a solid, one-piece machined aluminum frame.  Drags are OK, but not great.  The line-out alarm (clicker) spring is a weak link.  My Okumas are used for diver applications.
                Magda and Convector Okumas offer a lot of bang for the buck and are very popular with the Great Lakes fleet.  Some models come in a left hand retrieve configuration. Probably number 1 in overall sales due to price point.
                This brand has a heck of a good warranty.  Purchased 2 of their Cold Water Series 45LCs that were later recalled.  They refunded my money and let me keep the reels.
                Today is what I've been waiting for since fall-winter 2015 seasons began.  Being the winter solstice, from here on out, the days will gradually be getting longer.  Winter I can take.  Getting dark by 5:30pm sure puts a crimp in my lifestyle.

12/21/15  According to my memory, Diawa introduced the 1st line counter reel in 1987 known as the LC 47H.  Prior to that, we used to count passes, or level wind travels to gauge how much line we had off the reels, used mostly for divers.
                Since then, there's been many more manufacturers making line counter reels.  The players nowadays are Penn, Shimano, Okuma, Diawa, and ABU Garcia's Ambassadors. 
                In the mid to late 1990s, Penn 895s featured an battery operated electronic counter system.  But these reels are no longer in production.
                I'm pretty familiar with all the brands.  Guess, each brand/model number has their own advantages.  With Okuma putting out at least 4 different LCs.
               This week's topic will be my rating on all the reels, beginning with Okuma tomorrow that has high priced, mid level and low end LC reels.

12/20/15    You've got until midnight tonight to register online for MI Sea Grant's Ludington Workshop that will be held on Jan. 9, 2016.  It costs 30 dollars to attend and will be at West Shore Community College in the Administration and Conference Building
3000 North Stiles Road—Scottville, MI 49454  Click here for more info

12/19/15  The word, "pelagic" has been tossed around lately by many Mr. Know It Alls.  You know the kind. Those who cannot impress us with their knowledge.  So, they try to dazzle us with their bull___!  They've high-jacked this word to apply to Great Lakes Salmon feeding only on suspended bait, in the middle of the water column.
                I say to these "glory boys of summer" that even remotely think Salmon only feed on suspended bait ...to get their ass back on their boats for the next 40 some years and pursue Great Lakes Salmon from March into November like I have. 
                I've caught Salmon from the surface and right down on the deck in 200' of water.  In fact, according to Wikipedia, pelagic refers to all fish in the first 2000' of water according to my research on: Wikipedia's pelagic page
                One of my first product/tackle support tips when meat fishing began to explode in 2004-2005? ...was always to keep your deepest rigger within 5' of the bottom!

12/18/15 I'll catch up with you tomorrow.  Bogged down with tech support issues migrating/updating my computer systems.
               Tomorrow, the discussion will be pointed at "pelagic" species.  A term I'm sure you've seen floating around, that may, or may not apply to Great Lakes Salmon.

12/17/15  Reason I remember the charter trip discussed yesterday? ...it changed my program of targeting Kings in 54 degree water.  The fish we caught on the bottom were in 38 degree water.  This served me well until I retired from the charter business back in 2003.
               Never let it be said, King/Chinook Salmon do not feed on the bottom.  Kings use all parts of the water column, including the surface when the right conditions prevail.
               Spoke with a well known Leland charter skipper recently about the state of their fishery.  He said, 2015 was probably his best season ever for Lake Trout and this goes back to the early 1970s.  Asked him about the bait situation to find out what the Lakers were eating?  His reply, 70% gobies, up to 9" long, and 30% alewives in ballpark numbers.

12/15/15  The MDNR is a case study in mass confusion that constantly tests us to see how ignorant we are.  On 10/27/05 I went to the Sail Inn in Benzonia, MI to see MI DNR presentation by MI DNR Fish Production Manager, Gary Wheland. 
                 He told us, we not getting our money's worth on Coho.  Citing IN anglers were reaping most of the benefit.  Therefore, they were cutting back on Coho a lot.
                 Now, fast forward 10 years and the MDNR is bragging up their Coho plants. 
Telling us they plant a million and some and what a huge success story these fish are.
                 Then, rewind back 20 years from 2005, to 1985 when the DNR planted a 1 mil of Coho in the Platte River alone.  Not counting the several other areas Coho were planted.  So,  the million Coho stocking number was NOT a net gain for Lk. MI anglers in 2015!
                 The core of this presentation for the
Benzie County Coalition was the upcoming 25% cut in King plants for 2006.  Wheland said, 65% of the Kings we caught were naturally reproduced and this was back in 2005.  To be continued tomorrow....

12/14/15  How do you make things better?  Short answer is, you just do!  Long answer is common sense that says 5 beads on a chain are better than 3.  This refers to the bead chain keel weights I purchased online during my search for a better method for surface fishing.  Our mold had to be modified to accept this upgrade. Click for upgrade
                If these bead chain keel weights do 1/2 as much for your surface program as they did for me?  You will see the weights are cheap at twice the price!
                Cost to manufacture signifies this is not money maker.  Due to the two 45# test 6 bead chains that cost almost as much as what we use in our meat rigs™.  I know what the keel sinkers can do and see this as a product enhancement for my spoons.
               More on common sense tomorrow.....       

12/13/15  This week's upcoming subject matter include: rating line counter reels, how do you make things better? MDNR a case study in confusion, holding hooked up fish, and the golden rule of trolling speed.  Posting this week's topics today will help sort out my week.  Have tons of material to cover for the 2016 season that's on it's way!

12/12/15  Nice weather considering it's December and the 40s and 50s temps continue.  This is where for boats with outboards have still been able to fish the Great Lakes while my I/O sits in my polebarn.  Tomorrow's temp is supposed to be mid 50s.
                We're approaching the time of the year when it gets difficult to do business. 
I have to add on a extra 2 weeks during our holiday season to restock basic parts to my flashers, meat heads, or spoons.  Good thing is new inventory is on order and the 2016 season is a long ways off.

12/11/15  Today is a continuation of yesterday's topic about attaching my spoons with snaps, or Coastlock swivels.  Ross V who fished Lk. Huron about a week ago, went ultra stealth by just tying directly to the split ring on the spoon with no swivels, or snaps.
                Split rings on the nose of my spoons is a must.  Who wants to fumble around with a tiny hole when it dark out? Click Salmon Buster™ spoon tied direct
                Split rings increase time to manufacture and cost by a little bit.  Nose split rings guarantee a perfect tow point not matter how you fasten them to your rod.  Swivel, snap, or tied directly all work.  Making tackle there's no wrong way to use ...is good.  Proving this to you with photos is even better!

12/10/15  It's my job to make catching fish easier for those who purchase my tackle.  This is a never ending search that's fun.  Click swivel vs. stealth snap
                Came up with a more stealthily way to fish my Salmon Buster™ spoons, used with great success in 2015.  Bead chain keel weights have their own excellent swivel points.  Going to the keel weights allowed for just a snap in front of the spoon.  Resulting in a smaller more compact presentation that's worked for me many times over.
                How much do little tricks like this help?  Tough to say, because I've caught both ways.  But for me, it's a confidence builder and anything that adds confidence to your time on the water is very worthwhile!

12/9/15  Thanks to everyone who purchased my Dirty Dozen spoon offer that sold out yesterday.  This was a complete program developed with great success in 2015. 
               Included Bead Chain Keel weights are a neat piece of tackle that completed eliminated all line twist issues from debris.  Plus, make a more stealthy presentation when a plain snap is used instead of a swivel.  Swivel part is in the bead chain.
               Added in bonus Lead Locker insert to store your surface program bead chain leaders and keeps your boat tidy with no bothersome tangles.
               I have just a few of the proven HRP 4.0 spoons left that are in the process of being restocked by mid to late January 2016. Click sold-out tackle offer
               Biggest upside value to the Dirty Dozen? ...it saves you the time involved with trial and error.  Every spoon included was proven to catch with photos on this website!

12/8/15  Interesting link to Michigan State Record and Master Angler fish is today's topic.  In 1978 the MI record King/Chinook Salmon was caught in the Grand River and weighed 46.060 pounds.  Manistee, MI leads the Master Angler parade when it comes to Kings with 436 registered fish over 27 pounds.  Ludington/Mason County was second at 356.
              All species are listed from Bluegills to Yellow Perch (b to z listings).  You can drill down the data to find out where the best chances are by Clicking Here

12/7/15  This fall daytime temperatures so far are averaging 7 to 10 degrees warmer than normal.  Official winter is only about 2 weeks out, temps continue to be in the mid to high 40s for Manistee, MI.  No snow is great too, unless you ski, or snowmobile.
               It's great to see late season Great Lakes fishermen are taking part in an extended season.  It's rare for this website to have recent fish pics at the time of the year.  But we have 2 fish photos that are only 2 to 5 days old from both Lk. Huron and Lk. MI!

12/6/15  Today's chat is courtesy Ross V who fished Lk. Huron yesterday morning out of Port Sanilac, MI.  Here's what he had to say:

"Hey John, Just wanted to share the laker we caught this morning on the copperhead  4.0.  First fish on the inline keel weights for me.  This was one of the spoons from the dirty dozen I just ordered!  Kick ass!!  Your tackle just plain works!  I'll be sure to send more. Have a good holiday season and thanks for the fishing knowledge as always."
God bless. Ross V.  Click 12/5/15 Lake Huron Lake Trout SB 4.0

12/5/15  MDNR's official return numbers for King Salmon at the Little Manistee Harvest weir for 2015 was a dismal 654.  2014 it was 2781 and 2013 had 6427 show up.
              Steelhead was down too, at 51 for the fall run during the time this harvest facility was in action.  These numbers do not count as the exact overall numbers.
              Early run Kings do start to trickle in the Little Manistee river by late June and continue unheeded upstream thru late summer, while the gates of the weir are still open.
              In 2015 there was 2908 Steelhead when the spring and fall numbers are added up.  Making 2015 the first year we had more Steelhead than Kings since 1996.
              This is why I'm devoting so much effort to my new 5 part article and "how to" videos about targeting Steelhead.  Besides the reel-fact, my Salmon Buster spoons are ultra deadly on Mr. Steel. Click MDNR historical weir data

12/4/15  T.G.I.F.  This is an exciting time of the year for yours truly doing prep for the 2016 season.  I'm enthused about new tackle that will be revealed after the 1st of New Year.  A lot of planning goes into my industry leading creations, that nobody else offers. 
              It just takes time to get all the pieces in a row.  Making sure not to bite off more than I can chew to keep a comfortable work environment.
              2016 will mark my 12th year in the tackle business after a successful 20 year run as a charter operator and river guide.  I know what catches fish.  Been there, done that!
              33 years ago I made the life altering decision to become self-employed and it's the best move I ever made.

12/3/15  Today's featured photo is from Ludington's, Capt. Kirk.  He had 2 person limit of Steelhead (6) and a Coho yesterday.   Please note how chubby the short stocky Coho is.  Loose scales on this fish shows it's not an adult and won't mature until next summer.
               Capt. Kirk shared, "I'm just amazed the difference in speeds you get bites with these," speaking of my 2015 Salmon Buster™ spoons. Click for Kirk's catch
               It was my goal with the SBs to make a plastic/Lexan™ spoon that could keep up with metal spoons.  Never figured I could make a spoon that out-fished metal spoons.
               Knew my final design was thoroughly water-tested, with an underwater video showed an action that was unique compared to several brands of accepted metal spoons. 
              Now, we're all learning just how good my spoons are.  6 of Capt. Kirk's 7 fish catch came on my SB 4.0s. Score 6 on plastic, 1 on metal ...proves it's not even close! 
              We're almost out the HRP hot red spoon blanks until the first part of 2016.  Tackle that catches fish is always in demand.  No brag, just fact!

12/2/15  One of the biggest improvements to my planer board program in 2015 was the keel bead chain weights.  This was like the second coming for me. Top 10' of water is where the weeds, junk & debris are waiting to turn fishing line into major coils of twisted knots of from hell that takes a lot of time to fix. Click bead chain keel weights
              Worst case scenario? ...the line cannot be fixed.  Then, gets cut off and thrown away. This results in having to re-spool with more string.  All my bird/planer board rods made it thru the 2015 season with full spools, because of the the bead chain keel weights.
              That's why these weights are included in the Dirty Dozen spoon special that on pace to sell out very soon.  The hot red fluorescent HRP spoon blanks are nearly all gone and are in the process of being restocked for the 2016 season.

12/1/15  During 2015 my most productive hours on Lk. MI was when I ran a surface program.  That's how Capt. John's Dirty Dozen spoon special came about. 
              In April 2015, I ran my spoons on one side of the boat, floater size 11 Rapalas on the other.  My Rapala program was refined over many seasons going back to the 1970s thru the 1990s, put forth an the 2001 article named: Brown Trout 7.0
              Tactics discussed in 7.0 goes back to the days the Lakes Huron and MI had good populations of Smelt, with a slim-skinny stickbait that was a good Smelt imitation.
              That was then, this is now.  It's hard to change. Unless you can prove a reason to.  I cannot recall, during last April ever catching a fish on a stickbait.  In spite of dragging them for several times in a 50/50 spilt program.  Like I said, change comes hard.
              To the best of my recollection, every April 2015 fish we caught came on Salmon Buster™ spoons.  Proving what was: Brown Trout 7.0  has little bearing ...on what is!
               Have a new work in progress that's a lot more up to date.  Explaining what I know & use to target surface fish, like Steelhead and Browns.  There's so many simple parts and pieces ...completion date is a big question.  This new A-Z article comes with "how to" tactical videos covering leaders, boards, weights, releases, speed, hooks, rod setups, conditions, time of the season, spoons and not to be overlooked ...fish catchin'!

11/30/15  Posted my web special that a 25 dollar value added giveaway.  SUV Double Glo has all the right parts that combines the fishing catching daylight blue glo and double sides of crushed-laser glo tape.  Click bonus flashers
                Have some new tackle on the way for 2016 that's a step forward.  Target date for the debut is sometime in January.
                MDNR's historical data for the Little Manistee Weir still has not been updated with the fish capture numbers from this fall. Click MDNR missing 2015 data 

11/29/15  This morning's low temperature of 14 degree at my place is just preview to winter 2015-2016 has in store.  To coincide with Cyber Monday, there will be a web special tomorrow on purchases over 125 at: www.michiganagler.com

11/28/15  One month and 2 days ago was my last Lk. MI trip out of Manistee, MI for the season.  It was chilly with a stout offshore E wind that was not a confidence builder. 
                Thought, if we even caught 2 fish, the trip would be a success seeing we had to stay close to shore for a comfortable ride.  Soon my expectations were met, when we boxed 2 double digit Steelhead in the first hour of the trip.  Then, went on to boat 4 more, as I cherished every minute of my last day afloat, bidding goodbye to the 2015 season.
                It was wonderful to head in on 10/26/15 with a darn nice box of Steelhead caught with the spoons offered in Capt. John's Dirty Dozen.  2015 was a lot of testing that paid off in the end.  I'm looking forward to 2016 in a huge way.  Knowing there's an established baseline of working spoon colors/patterns that I have the utmost of faith in!
                Last year at this time, all the colors for my new spoons were on the drawing board.  Now, Salmon Buster™ spoons are putting fish on the brag board!

11/27/15  Today's featured photo of Capt. John's Dirty Dozen special limited time Salmon Buster™ spoon offer.  This is a complete program to designed to fish for surface Steelhead, shoreline Brown trout and early season Coho.  Each one of the selections proved their effectiveness in 2015.  All the "hit and miss" guess work has been removed on what to run.  
                Offer includes the extra sticky 9649 size 1 VMC trebles for stock hooks.  Along with 12 9650 size 1 VMC 3X Trebles, 12 bead chain keel weights, 12 snaps and a Leader Locker™ insert to neatly store a dozen leaders. Click Dirty Dozen offer
                Hopefully, by Christmas I'll have a new article and a companion "how to" video that goes into great detail about putting the odds in your favor for surface Steelhead and springtime Browns.  Lk. MI Kings in 2015 were scarce for the most part.  This season's Lk. MI Steelhead were available in better numbers.  Focusing the positive, 2015 was probably the first season MI anglers had more Steelhead, then King/Chinook Salmon since 1996.

11/26/15  Happy Thanksgiving!

11/25/15  New for 2016 will be an added hook option for my Salmon Buster™ spoons that debuted 1 year ago today.  You'll be able to order number 1 VMC 9649 Bronze trebles that have a wire diameter of .047" that's slightly thinner the 9650s that come in chrome/nickel, black, tin red and permasteel.  Click VMC hook comparison
               Plus, the west coast option of a larger VMC single on a swivel.  Your hook makes 1st contact and determines if you're a winner, or a loser.
               The new 9649s come highly recommended for targeting surface running fish like Browns and Steelhead that do a lot of exciting jumping.  If you're after at least a 80% strike to boated fish ratio off the surface? ...please pay heed to today's info.
               I don't just make tackle, I make pro tackle that caters to your exact hook preference in style and color.  All in an effort, to make sure what bites, stays stuck!

11/24/15  Keel weights for my surface program were new to me this season.  Even though, these weights have been around for a longtime. 
                Keel weights accomplish four things.  1. They break the surface tension of the water so any spoon grabs water.  2. Totally eliminate line twisties, or nasty coils from  debris that foul lures.  3.  Deflect some of the weeds and roots that can foul any bait.  4. Act as a stopper for inline planers, like Yellowbirds.
               My most productive hours afloat on Lk. MI during 2015 was raising my surface program to showcase my new Salmon Buster™ spoons.  There's always a better way, if you keep looking long enough.  Plus, having these weights in 3/8, 1/2, 5/8, and 1 oz means the ability to split hairs on what depth the spoon attains.  Click to view weights
              We've started production on these weights that are very costly to manufacture.  Most of the cost comes in with the 2 number 6 bead chains that are 45# test required to make one sinker.  Then again, the cost of the best ...never comes cheap!

11/23/15  Today is Part I of the world introduction to a more stealthy way to fish spoons behind boards when targeting surface fish.  This method encapsulates the early season inshore Brown Trout Fishery and surface running Steelhead at all times of the year.
                Time span to use this highly refined stealth approach begins in April and runs thru early July.  Then, starts up again in late September and runs thru the fall.
                Now, you can fine tune how high your spoons will ride in the water column with 3/8, 1/2, 5/8 and 1 ounce inline bead chain keel sinkers. 
                This is so simple, wished I'd have discovered it a long time ago.  The bead chain keel weight removes any chance of the dreaded line twisties, or the coiling effect from a lure fouled with debris. As an added benefit, the mass of the keel molded into the weight can help deflect some of the nasties that gunk-up your bait.
               Sneaky part comes in by coupling these weights with a Duo-Lock snap on a 5' leader.  This eliminates bulky swivels at the nose of the spoon.  Sure, you'll still have a swivel, but it's hiding 5' in-front of your offering on the leader to the mainline.
              If you look closely in this photo, you'll see the Duo-Lock snap hooked on the split ring on my Salmon Buster™ spoon.  Click to see this pic

11/22/15  Took the top 2 Steelhead Salmon Buster™ spoons from this fall and morphed colors from both into one.  Artificial lures like spoons, it's all about color and how the fish reacts to it.  Combining the HRP 1 and the Gold HRP was a no brainer and keeps a slight variation of the fluorescent red base as the main theme.  Click 2016 HRP 3
               The HRP 3 will bridge the gap between the all hot red and the gold die cuts in one yummy creation.  Both the HRP 1 and Gold HRP (hot red panties) are proven fish killers.
               Have some new tackle that will improve your odds of success with planer boards, or inline planers, like the Yellowbirds.  There's always a new ideas, improved methods, and more stealthy ways to fool Mr. Fish.  Know what I hit on in 2015 is a reel-winner.

11/21/15  Going to expose a secret not many of you know.  King Salmon are a miserable charter fish.  The window Kings hit good in is very limited.  Click 1997 charter catch
                Learned this during my chartering days (1983-2003).  New customers who booked a trip with me for summer Kings didn't have a clue to what they were getting into.  
               Truth is, for the occasional charter fisherman, they're over matched when trying to land a 25-30 pound King.  It was a rare group that could boat 75% of the fish that were hooked up.  200 to 300 pound fish boxes? ...you can't believe how hard a skipper and his deckhand have to work, to turn newbies into accomplished rod handlers.
               That's why charter operators appreciate return customers so much.  Repeat business are on your boat, because they know what's involved.  And appreciate the job the charter operator did the last time they were off the dock with you!

11/20/15  More than likely, if you're a fisherman? ...you're a born optimist.  Today you're going to need to put your big boy pants on. 
                Then, muster every bit of optimism you have after reading a gloomy mlive.com article by Garret Ellison when he spoke to MDNR Lower Peninsula Hatchery Manager, Aaron Switzer about this year's Salmon run.  Click for this article
              What's not said, is MDNR mortality rate on King Salmon (about 99.8% to the bad) vs. the King Salmon survival rate of fish raised by the Wisconsin DNR.
                Another thing that's not being mentioned any longer is the MDNR's pipe dream about Chinook/King Salmon natural reproduction in MI rivers and streams.  While, MI fishermen bore the brunt of the largest stocking cuts on Lk. MI.

11/19/15  Extra nice fall we've had is going to turn towards more winter-like weather soon.  Having Sept. days in the 80s, Oct. was 70s and plenty of high 60s in Nov. has allowed for preparation of 2016.  Boat is put away in complete readiness for April 2016.
               Have notes going into next season for Manistee, MI's early season fishery.  Knew what colors worked in stickbaits and transposed many of these patterns onto my spoons.  Copper and gold in several variations was the big deal last April's murky water.
               Did figure out a way to help deflect a some of the roots from shore grass from junking up the baits. This major issue last April from high water eroding the shoreline.

11/18/15  Today's featured photo is the different types snaps and swivels that were tested on the Salmon Buster™ spoons during the 2015.  Good news is all performed pretty darn close to the same. Click tested snaps, coastlocks & swivels
                Making a spoon that's easy to use, isn't is easy as it sounds.  It takes work, testing, and design perfection to make a no-brainer piece of tackle.
                Did learn a stealthy approach for targeting surface fish that will be shared later this year in video and written text to fully explain how this works.
                In fact, learned a ton about my spoons and what a giant leap forward they are with high action erratic movement that's a total game changer over traditional metal.
                2015 was all about gaining spoon knowledge.  2016 is about fine tuning!

11/17/15  Mid November and we're still seeing daily high temps in the 60s here in Manistee, MI.  This has to be a plus for all Great Lakes fishermen going into this winter by extending the time for food chain's growing season.
                We all know what a trying season it was for all MI residents who focused on Lk. MI for just King Salmon.  Seen a downturn in catch rates in the late 1980s from BKD, or bacterial kidney disease.  Back then, the fleet wasn't as sharp as it is now.  In that era we relied on big numbers of fish with OK tackle, but not great.
                Advancements in tackle since has been a giant leap when even smaller available numbers of Salmon can be caught.  Then, there's the question of how many fish you need to call a trip successful?  My pain threshold is about a fish an hour to make it worthwhile.
               I was able to accomplish this in 2015 by doing dark-30 quickie 2-3 hour trips out of necessity to adhere to a strict policy of same day shipping on all tackle orders.

11/16/15  Figured a good topic for today is to rate my 2015 Lk. MI season with a letter grades.  April Browns in Manistee gets a D with conditions factored in.  There was a lot of floating weeds and roots to contend in this shallow water inshore fishery.  Dragging spoons cluttered with salad is not a way to catch.
                May out of Wilson NY was a C, because I didn't have a clue as what to expect.  Knowing what I know now, look to improve to better than my fish a hour average in 2015.  Dealing with the massive bait pods kept me sucked in the 50-60' depths with just enough action as not to explore the deeper water off the dropoff to 100'-150' and more.
               Making plans now to return to Lk. Ontario in May 2016 with a better game plan that must not include sleeping on the boat.  Click Lk. O fish box May 2015

11/15/15  Have a safe hunt.

11/14/15  Tomorrow's forecast for the opening day of firearms deer season is going to be warm with temps in the 50s to 60 degrees for Manistee, MI.
                I live a deer rich area and suffer from deer fatigue by living with them 365 days a year.  My yen to hunt has left me, because of this. Click spike horn on 11/13/15

11/13/15  Happy Friday the 13th and it's time for some good news.  This year's Coho run on the Platte River, N of Frankfort, MI was decent with over 5k showing up.  This is probably as much, or more than all the sites where the MDNR has collection weirs for Kings.
                Waiting for the MDNR to list this year's run of Kings at the Little Manistee River. Already know it was very disappointing for Kings.  Species number I'm most interested in? ...is how many fall Steelhead were tallied.  Click LMR stocking list 1968-2015

11/12/15  With the MI firearms deer season right around the corner, John J's 9 point buck makes a great featured photo.  John shot his deer at 20 years with a crossbow and he's one of the few people I know that scores a decent buck every year.
                He does it by knowing how to hunt is area/property by hunting in later in the day. John had this buck on his trail cam, but this deer only came in at night until Mr. Buck made his last mistake by coming at dusk.  Click John J's 9 point.

11/11/15  Veterans Day Update: Good news from the late season Lk. MI fishery for Steelhead, Capt. Kirk is still catching fish when conditions allow.  Early and late season fishing is the same, because your target species is close to the surface water.
                Republican led MI government passed an 8 cent a gallon gas tax and a hefty hike on license plate fees.  This money is supposed to be going for the highway works program.  This puts MI close to the top of all states for the tax they collect every time you buy a gallon of gas.

11/10/15  40 years ago on this day in 1975 the Great Lakes freighter, Edmund Fitzgerald went down with all 29 crew members in Lk. Superior close to Whitefish Point.
                I'll never forget this night, because I was night fishing Lk. Charlevoix for Rainbows on the E-W Boyne City to Advance Rd.  Wind was from the N and it was fierce.
                Had a slide-in pickup camper back then, and had to put the jacks down to keep the camper from almost getting blown over.  Did catch a couple of dandy 7-8 pound Rainbows in the worst imaginable conditions during this fateful night.  The fish ate stinky old spawn with a mini marshmallow to float the bags that had long since spoiled.
               This was back in the day, I'd fish 24 hours a day, if I could.  Lk. Charlevoix's Boyne River had a fair run of Kings in the 25 pound range.  Tiny Advance Creek had pile of 8-10 pound Coho that would run in mid to late October.  In 1975 this area was nirvana for me with my wife's parents living not too far away in East Jordan, MI. 

11/9/15  Today's story is about the recent MDNR press release about the success of their Platte River Hatchery's Coho program.  They painted a pretty rosy picture regarding the Lk. MI Coho fishing in 2015.  Then, saying and I quote, "Chinook salmon populations are down significantly, largely because of stocking cuts necessitated by a diminishing alewife population in Lake Michigan." Click for this MDNR press bulletin
             OK, we all see how the MDNR has put themselves behind the 8 ball with the excuse that the 2015 Lk. MI King Salmon fishing went down the tubes due to their 67% planting reduction.  This is a smoke screen and does not explain why we have devastating survival rates of planted Kings at 0.010.  Whatever happened to their highly vaulted propaganda theory we had scads of natural reproduction from MI rivers?
              If anyone thinks I enjoy ragging on the MDNR, you're sadly mistaken.  I want to see them succeed.  But it's time stop to giving MI fishermen the "mushroom treatment." 
              Mushroom treatment explained: is when they keep us in almost total darkness, then throw manure on us ...every once and a while!

11/6/15  Top 2 photos in today's update are the bookends to my 2015 Lk. MI season.  Being the 1st fish caught on 4/1/15 (Brown Trout) and my last one on 10.26.15 (Steelhead).
               History does not look fondly 2015 when it came to the summer-fall King/Chinook Salmon run.  Early season and late season offered up some of my better catches.
               The beginning and end of my 2015 season was tolerable, but what happened in the middle left a lot to be desired.  Click my 1st fish on 4/1/15
               It's hard to rate this, but Manistee, MI was a port where you could catch some Kings in August.  While S Lk. MI ports in the State of Michigan were desert when it came to summer Kings.   Click my last fish on 10/26/15
               Muskegon, Ludington, Manistee and Frankfort all have river systems with a very-very small amount of natural reproduction.  Far less then we are led to believe by the under performing MDNR.  Employees of the MDNR work for us, the fishing license holders in MI. 
               Yet, they've not even came up with a plausible excuse/reason why there were so few Kings in ports such as Traverse City and Benton Harbor-St. Joe in 2015!

11/5/15  Welcomed record warmth continues for NW lower MI.  This is a godsend for presenting the best possible conditions to paint lures.  Building more inventory of 2016 Mamba spoons is on the front burner for today. 
              We're about 5 months out on the 2016 season at my home Port of Manistee, MI.  Winter months go by fast for me, as fishermen look towards the future and sales pickup.
              Proof to the led me to conclusion my most productive hours with the 2015 Salmon Buster™ spoons is? ...when we ran a dedicated surface program in April and October.  Having notes going into 2016 is going to be a tremendous advantage. 
              My 2015 April Brown Trout program?  Truthfully, did have a clue on what to run. This was all uncharted territory. Click 4/1/15 SB 4.0 caught Brown Trout
              April 2016 will be a far different story, because a baseline has been established!

11/4/15  Recent November warm spell with temps in the 70s is 12 degrees warmer then  2014 in Manistee, MI by at least 12 degrees. 
              Lk. MI main body of water is 53-55 on the surface.  From what I was able to dig up on historical data, Lk. MI is about 5 degrees warmer than recent averages at this time of the year.  Let's hope we have a heat bank that holds back the ice cover.
              News on Asian Carp entering the Great Lakes is not good. Click for more info

11/3/15  In a follow-up  to yesterday's post, land bugs, such as beetles are part of Great Lakes food chain.  If I wanted to sound smart? ...proper terminology is terrestrial insects. Let it suffice to say, bugs raised on land, that get blown onto the water's surface.  Pre-emerging aquatic insects are part of this food chain too. Click bugs in the stomach
              Today's featured pic is the stomach contents of a Steelhead that was caught last week.  There's Asian Beetles, water fleas, few big Alewife scales and a bunch of other stuff I cannot identify.  Showing surface Steelhead are not solely dependent on the Alewife population.  But the MDNR has done little, if anything to increase Steelheads plants.
             Everything in the last policy shift by MDNR did was "takeaways," cutting the Lk. MI Chinook plant by 67%.  I say, "it's time for some "givebacks" and we need more Steelhead!"

11/2/15  Every time we get a warm day around this time of the year, hoards of Harlequin Ladybird, or Halloween Beetles try to invade every nook and cranny in your house, garage and storage buildings.  These nasty insects look like Ladybugs and some even bite.
              Out of desperation, last year applied Ortho's Home Defense around the inside base of my pole barn and doors.  Much to my surprise, a year later Ortho's bug killer was still working.  Reapplied this product to continue my war against these foreign invaders that were brought into our country to control Aphids on farmer's crops.  Click dead beetles
              This is another case of bioengineering that went wrong like Asian Carp!
Complete winterization must include draining the lower end lube.  If you have a sterndrive, or outboard drive system?  Here's when and where you find out if there's been water intrusion that looks milky, or gray.  Click draining the lower end lube
             If this problem is not addressed immediately, it's going cost you a good wad of Benjamin$.  Lower drive units contaminated with water in can freeze and crack the housing.  Don't be too broke to pay attention to that last sentence!
             I'm a fan of I/Os, or sterndrives.  This means of boat propulsion is fairly new that began in the late 1950s and took off in the 1960s.  Marrying an automotive motor to the lower end of an outboard has several advantages. 
             Most important nowadays is fuel economy.  My 1979 22' Sea Ray equipped with a GM 350 V8 averages 6-7 gallons per trip.  That includes long boat runs when necessary.  Granted, I have a 15 ph. kicker, but that doesn't run my boat 8-15 miles offshore, or make the 10-12 mile trek to Big Point Sable from Manistee, MI.

10/31/15  Happy Halloween.  Tonight is when we "fall" back an hour to adjust our time.

10/30/15  On this past Monday's fishing trip we fished S towards Big Point Sable.  This is where the deepest water is found close to shore in an effort to minimize the brisk E, or offshore wind.  Seen lots of bait mounds on the bottom with almost no marks on the sonar, indicating the presence of likely species i.e. Salmon. Click sonar bait marks
                Wind messes up the sound track when trying to shoot video and causes the need for me to do time consuming "voice over" editing.  Without hearing what's going on, at the time doesn't help "stir the pot" for a good fishing video.
                Have video of the 10/26/15 fishing trip that will be put together in the future. 
5 of the 6 fish are on video.  Including the 2nd half of a doubleheader that will be the basis of a new article (written and video) that will debut this winter.

10/29/15  Busy with with boat prep for the 2016 season.  Some call this winterization, but it's far more important, if you want to get off to a good start for next year.  This is the time for all maintenance issues to be taken care of.
                 In my case, this means pulling the Mercruiser Sterndrive to grease the double U-joint (
trunnion), change motor oil, replace lower end gear grease, and pull the batteries.  Then, tidy up the boat for winter's long nap.  2016 for me, is only 5 months away.
                 This summer upgraded my old kicker motor with 2015 fuel injected 15 hp. 4 stroke Suzuki with power tilt.  This motor is worth every cent I paid for.  It's quieter than the 2008 OMC.  Trolling performance and instant cold weather starts, is far better than the 2008 15 hp. OMC it replaced.  Got lucky, because always regarded Suzuki as an off-brand.  When you compare horse power vs. weight, 12 amp alternator output and the only outboard motor manufacturer to offer fuel injection in 2015, this motor is a winner

10/28/15  Today's featured photo is our catch discussed yesterday.  You can see the Salmon Buster™ spoons used sitting on top of a pile of silver bullet Steelhead.
                Due to the aggressive nature of Steelhead, they key in on high action baits, or in this case ...spoons.  There is no spoon on the market the wiggles, dips and dives like the ones I designed in 2014.  Only with 3D printing and 100s of prototypes could this came about.  That being an indestructible plastic/Lexan™ spoon never fades, or has paint that chips off.  Plus, it's a proven fish catcher will a wide-wide speed latitude. 
                This past Monday we took fish from 1.8 to 3.2 mph.  These marvelous pieces of plastic have caught fish at 1.5 to over 4 mph, going back to prototype test sessions.
                One of the best compliments I received this year about my spoons?  "They always look new," was said by more than one person. Click 10/26/15 Steelie catch pic
                Never in my life have I put in the effort to design, test, then bring into production Salmon Buster™ spoons.  Isn't it nice ...when a plan comes together?

10/27/15  Yesterday, Todd B. & I wrapped up the 2015 Lk. MI season in grand fashion by catching our 3 per person limit of Steelhead.  We boxed 6.  All decent fish and a couple that were on the plus side of double digits. Click last time on the trailer 2015
                Weapons used were all 4.0 Salmon Buster™ spoons in the colors of: HRP1, Gold HRP and X-Glow Bluetail with a 1/2 oz bead chain sinker 5' up from the spoon.
                Seen several advantages to my spoons that have action and movement beyond the norm when compared to the realm of traditional metal spoons.
                Even if you're  a newbie to Great Lakes fishing, you'll soon learn, Steelhead like to leap, jump, or skyrocket.  Surface antics is what makes Steelies one of the most sought after and respected species in the Great Lakes.  Click Todd's whopper Steelhead
                Ironhead landing ratios vs. hook-ups is usually not in your favor.  In the 8 fish we had on, seen with my own eyes close to 30 violent jumps.  Some, way in excess of 3' out of the water.  Our "fish in the net" ratio was 75%. This is more than acceptable. 
                Why? ...because my Salmon Buster™ spoons are light.  Making it a bunch harder for these silver missiles to shake loose, or throw, ...frequently known to happen with the much heavier metal spoons.  My spoons mean more fish boated per strike!
                We lost 2 Houdini fish.  This makes fishing fun.  If you landed every fish you had on?  The adrenalin rush would soon fall by the wayside.  There can be no victory without the ever present, looming agony of defeat!

10/26/15  Wind is supposed to be favorable this morning for what "might" be my last Lk. MI fishing trip for 2015.  As of 8:00am: delayed the start this morning due to light sprinkles, will be on the water around 9am. Results and insights will be shared to tomorrow.

10/24/15  Have a great October weekend!

10/23/15  Happy Friday!  On 10/20/15 MI's long standing 107 year Smallmouth Bass record was broken with a 9.30 pound fish. Click here for the details

10/22/15  Wind permitting scheduled a fishing trip for tomorrow out of my home port of Manistee, MI.  It's been 3 weeks since my last outing.  This could be my last trip of 2015.
                 Traverse City, MI's Boardman River weir captured 55 Kings and 280 Coho according to their tally earlier in October.  Click TC tally board as of 10/21/15
                 There was another harvest scheduled a couple of days bringing the grand total to 185 Kings.  In 2013 this facility took 3525 Kings.  2014 the number was 1363 last year.  Could these diminishing returns be directly correlated to the 67% cut in King plants?
                 It pains me to write anything negative, but news is news even ...if it's bad.  This is a complex problem that began with the mindset of the DNRs back a long time ago to put all their eggs in 1 basket (Kings).  While not giving Steelhead, Browns & Coho a equal share.  So, we'd have a more varied fishery that wasn't totally reliant on 1 species. 
                 One bright is the often maligned Lk. MI Lake Trout population that's not received much attention.  In the 1970s this was Lk. MI's big-deal bread and butter fish.

10/21/15  Every port has them, local fishermen that excel at what they do.  Ludington, MI's Capt. Kirk is my eyes and ears for the early and late season Lk. MI fishery.
                His Yellow Bird surface program I envy.  I've never got the same performance from the original inline planer board, the Yellow Bird that never seems to run true and each board has a mind of it's own.  The biggest advantage to Yellow Birds is they're a lot lighter.
                Yesterday, Capt. Kirk caught his largest Steelhead of 2015 on one of my Gold HRP 4.0 Salmon Buster™ spoons.  For this year, it's a giant Steelhead when compared to the downsized crop of 2015 King Salmon.  Click Capt. Kirk's goodie Steelhead
                Kirk took this fish in 50' of water, off the surface, behind a Yellow Bird on about a 60' lead, with a 1/2 oz weight about 5' feet in front the spoon. Click 4.0 HRP SB

10/20/15  Late season Lk. MI fishing is showing promise.  Local to Ludington, MI Capt. Kirk has a highly evolved surface spoon program he's been perfecting for 30 years.  Up until this year, he's used all metal spoons.  Click Capt. Kirk's Ludington Steelhead
                Now, Kirk is putting some of my Salmon Busters™ plastic spoons in his mix.  His 3 fish limit catch Steelhead came off the HRP1, a hot fluorescent all red spoon with no silver on it.  This pattern came from a 15 Long A Bomber stickbait I've caught 100's of Steelhead on.  So, it was a no brainer to have this proven color transposed in my spoon lineup.
                I asked Kirk, "do my plastic spoons work better than metal?"  Kirk's answer? ...  "wouldn't say better, but just as good."  His statement says a lot, because he's only used my SB's for less than a season vs. 30 years of a fine-tuned refined metal spoon program.  Proving there's zero learning curve with my Salmon Busters™ spoon.
            More on Kirk's findings on small Salmon and the bait situation tomorrow...

10/19/15  Results of our "Rate the MDNR Salmon Fisheries Division" poll was 10% good, 10% Neutral, and 80% Bad.  The MDNR has needs to fix their poor public image ...and fast!
                Good news, schools of 2" to 1.5" alewives are pretty thick off Manistee and Ludington, MI.  Steelhead are being caught stuffed with these baby alewives.  Those trolling on the beach are reporting lots of 6" to 7" baby Salmon throwbacks too.

10/18/15  The "Rate the MDNR Salmon Fisheries Division" poll is configured to 1 vote per day, per person.  This is to prevent dinging up the numbers by those with an agenda either for, or against.  My beef with MI DNR? ...they cut their plants by 67% while ALL other Lk. MI surrounding state DNRs reductions were significantly less. 
                MDNR reasoning was all the natural reproduced Salmon in free flowing rivers like the Pere Marquette, Manistee's 2 systems, Muskegon and Betsie Rivers.
                Earth to the MDNR: where were all of these natural reproduced fish in 2015?  Perhaps these were a new strain of stealth ghost Salmon nobody could see?

10/16/15  There's still an outside 5% chance we will see more King Salmon at MI's collection weirs.  In 1982 the Coho that run the Platte River, N of Frankfort, MI never showed up in force until October.  Then, it was game on with EZ limits in under 2 hours.
                Installed a poll where you can vote your conscience and rate the fisheries division of the MDNR performance level of the Great Lakes Salmon program.

10/15/15  Our MDNR is probably in crisis mode with a bunch of CYA going on.  Unless we get a late season burst of fish at the collection weirs?  ....we're ALL in deep-deep doo.
                Can foresee the MDNR scrambling to get enough Chinook Salmon eggs to meet the pitiful low quota of fish to plant in 2016.  In all my years (since 1968) being involved in Great Lakes Salmon fishing ...nothing, and I repeat nothing, has been this severe!
                Earth to all Lk. MI DNRs: if it ain't broke? ...don't fix it!  Their flawed natural reproduction replacement theory began in a propaganda net meeting I attended online about 4-5 years ago.  Knew we were trouble when this ultra-nerdy geek that hasn't have his face out of a book, or a computer screen spew out, "Lk. Huron was producing 40 million (approx number from memory) natural King, or Chinook Salmon smolts."

10/14/15  Guest update today.  You do have a voice here:
                 "Hi Mr. King, GRANT in Traverse City AGAIN.  I spoke with you on the phone last year after i sent you a letter concerning some mutual concerns about the state of our fishery and couple weeks ago sent email wondering if you saw the free press article. After reading your last few website updates, thought I had to respond.
                I think you may be on to something with the correlation of the fin clipping and the low returns and agree the DNR fisheries people need to be held to a high standard. I feel we get one excuse after another from them and they have the next one all ready to go. Lets cut stocking, lots of natural reproduction.  Oh well, low water no natural reproduction, no bait, oh fisherman are seeing tons of bait and catching fish stuffed with it.  Oh well, there's no nutritional value in it any more etc. etc.
                Can't believe more fisherman are just not taking this more seriously and seem to be just accepting what we get, which at this point is pathetic. I fished through the BKD days also and can only hope for another rebound. Here in TC the first harvest about a week ago resulted in a whopping 55 kings. That makes the BKD days look like baby sh~t. Someone has to ask these DNR guys "really? Come on now!"  I will be looking forward to your questions for them. As always great job with the tackle and website!"

10/13/15  Wind has kept my off Lk. MI for quite a while.  So, I'm not done fishing the big pond yet.  Late season open water fishing is a good gauge for what's in store for us in 2016.  Do know we're all concerned about this year's low numbers of returning fish.
                Going to wait until the MDNR posts the number of Chinooks/Kings returning to the Little Manistee Harvest Weir, then ...present a series of questions, me as a layman cannot answer.  Do know since the DNRs using an automated machine process to clip adipose fins and wire tag every fish they raise, our population of Kings has fell off a cliff.
                We can give the DNRs a pass on things beyond their control.  2 hard winters in a row with record, of near record ice cover on Lk. MI is a detriment.
                Endured the BKD fiasco of the late 1980s and in 1990s when Lk. MI rebounded.  Showing ...if it's done it before, history can repeat itself again!

10/12/15  I'm trying reel-hard to remain optimistic about the exceptional poor return of this year's run of adult Kings.  I know the last time there was a big-time downturn of Kings due to the outbreak of Bacterial Kidney Disease that hit the Lk. MI Chinooks/Kings in 1988, it wasn't until 1996 until our Lk. MI fishery was back in full force.
                Sounding like a reactionary attacking the fishery division of MDNR is not going to accomplish anything, but we all know what needs to be done!
                The farm system of the MI's DNR by promoting within (last man standing) has led to poor leadership that has brought us to where we are.  Current lack of confidence in the fishery division of MDNR hierarchy needs to be addressed immediately.
                Under performing CEO's are sent packing by any major corporation!

10/11/15  Yesterday, visited the Little Manistee Harvest Weir.  I was disappointed to see only, maybe ...6 to 8 adult Kings below the falls.  There were no fish traveling up the raceway into the holding pens.  Is this the best the MDNR can do with their flawed natural reproduction theory is enough to sustain a Lk. MI fishery?  Is this the end result of a 67% reduction, or cut in Chinook/King Salmon stocking by the MDNR?

10/10/15  Road trip the Little Manistee Harvest Weir is my goal for today.

10/9/15  When you look at the big picture, this website is a living history of Salmon & Trout.  You can go back to the year 2000 and see what my charter customers caught, every day, every trip.  I never cherry picked the better one's just to boost my ego.
              You can travel forward and see how our fishery has progressed, or regressed, one thing's for certain, nothing stays the same when it comes to fishing. Click Past Results
              Having years under my belt doing this website, writing articles, photo journalism, shooting video and long running polls is what I do.

10/8/15  2 days ago went to my favorite stream for watching the fall King Salmon spawn.  Been photo documenting Manistee County's Pine Creek since 2007.  For 9 years been photographing the same section of this stream.  Click Pine Creek article
              What I seen this year was fewer and smaller fish.  Be hard pressed to say any spawning 2015 Kings were over 10 pounds.  Every Salmon I saw, were naturally reproduced with their adipose fin intact (non clipped).  Click spawning 2015 Kings

10/7/15  Sent in the required 2015 catch data report forms that are part of the Salmon Ambassador Program.  Bleak best describes my Chinook/King Salmon take for the 2015 season.  In about as many Manistee, MI trips, caught around 20 Kings during June thru September.  Only 1 was a planted King with a clipped adipose fin. 
              I have no excuses, you can't catch what's not there!  Most trips might be 1 King Salmon outings with Lake Trout and Steelhead making close to 3 fish average per 3 hour trip.  Only took a few Coho.  So, there weren't many of them around to pick on either.
              Tomorrow? ...photos and report from Manistee, MI's Pine Creek.  Pink Creek is a protected Trout season tributary of the Big Manistee River.  This stream is a great place to Salmon watch when the fish go thru their annual fall spawning ritual.

10/6/15  Posted the results of the 2015 on the poll page.  No startling revelations, trends continue to be mostly static with the exception of spoons.  In 2003 spoons took about 25% of the vote.  In the last 2 seasons spoons are in the 40% range.  Click Poll Page
              Bad news from the Little Manistee Harvest Weir according to Traverse City TV station 7 & 4.  There was less then 500 Kings when the egg take began.  It was said, the MDNR needs about 2000 fish to meet their already record low quota for stocking Lk. MI.

10/5/15  According to the surface temp chart, Lk. MI has rolled over with cold water (40s) on the shore, out past the shelf.  Then, it warms up to the 60 degree mark.  This makes an excellent vertical fence that should keep the fish on Manistee, MI's dropoff, or shelf.
              Voting on the annual poll continues.  Once we hit an appropriate sample size this year's poll will be added to poll page began in 2003.  This makes 12 years I've been running this very same poll with the same questions.  Have learned, ...there have been no tremendous shifts in the way the fishing public chooses to fish.

10/4/15  Pretty much reached the end of the Great Lakes open water fishery for King Salmon.  Every year, about this time, I run an annual poll that asks you, "My Best Method for Adult Salmon?"  So, please vote.  Results will be posted on: Click My Poll Page

10/3/15  Need to mention the DNR's public launch at Crystal Lk. was a lot better than expected.  It handled my 22 footer OK, but larger could be iffy.  You have to wash your boat and trailer with a free pressure wash in an effort to control aquatic invaders to use this facility.  I view this as an exercise in futility, cuz out can't control the water birds that migrate freely from body of water, to body of water.
              Going to tie up another loose end for those that think a bigger boat is the answer to fish rougher waters.  Trust me on this, when it's 4 to 6 footers, or seas that are larger, it's still a miserable ride.  My biggest complaint about the fishing the rough stuff? ...the surge of the boat against the surge of the sea knocks a lot of fish off that would have been boated in calmer conditions.

10/2/15  Owning a 22' trailer boat makes me happy.  Being 100% mobile means you're not anchored at any one certain port.  This year, I've been able to fish out of Wilson, NY & Crystal Lake near Frankfort, MI.  These are both world 1st's for my boat.
               There's always something new over the horizon.  Challenging yourself to strike out for parts unknown keeps things from getting routine.  In turn, making you a better fishermen far more adaptable to any given situation.
               Know there's several of you that yearn for a larger boat.  Be careful here, cuz most don't have a clue what it costs to run a wide beam boat with twin motors.  If you're ready and can afford a mile to a gallon of gas? ...then bigger might be your answer.
               My average is 6 to 7 gallons a trip.  That includes long runs N & S of Manistee. Having an economical water craft sure keeps the fun in fishing and money in your pocket!

10/1/15  Yesterday afternoon, drove up to Benzie County, MI and fished Crystal Lk.  This lake is gin clear.  Hence the name.  And it's deep too.  Like 150' and more in some areas.
               MI's DNR has planted Crystal Lk. with California's Eagle Lake strain of Rainbow Trout.  10s of thousands of Eagle Rainbows have been released in this this lake.
               Registered a 1st aboard my boat when we caught one of these California transplants!  It was a chunky critter, all of 2 pounds, packed on a short stocky frame. 
               Our trolling time on Crystal was a short 90 minutes and we missed another mysterious happening off a 5 color section of lead core.   Said mysterious, cuz whatever it was, it pulled reel-hard and came unpegged before we ever saw it. Click Crystal Lk. Bow
               The fish we landed hit a 4.0 Salmon Buster™ spoon in the Bluetail pattern that's been hot on Lk. MI, as a lately on my boat.  Click Bluetail spoon & Rainbow Trout
               Granted, Todd B & I only took 1 fish, but did see a great alternative to Lk. MI when it's too windy to fish comfortably.  Looking forward to another trip to this lake before I winterize my boat this later fall.  Click to learn more about Eagle Lk. Rainbows

9/30/15  Just when I think I've heard it all, another bug-a-boo rears it's ugly head.  I'm speaking about aqua-farms where they use huge net pens to raise fish.  Lot's of this is going on in Alaska and even Scotland. Click Detroit Free Press article
              Some have traced VHS to when the W. coast began rearing Atlantic Salmon many years ago.  1000s and 1000s of fish all cramped into a small space has it's risks ...bigtime!
     This is just a plain bad, stupid idea that I hope never happens to the Great Lakes!

9/29/15  Making tackle with no learning curve is basically what I do.  Salmon Buster™ spoons work with all variables when it comes to what you attach your spoon to the line with.  Meaning any kind of swivel, i.e. crosslocks, or, coastlocks in a varieties of sizes. 
             Tried light wire, to heavy duty and they all work with no subtraction to the spoon's productiveness.  This is accomplished by the added nose split ring that most spoons do not have.  Besides, the spilt ring makes attaching it to your line one helluva lot easier!
             You can see this for yourself every time there's close-up pic published on this website on a spoon caught fish!  Click close-up 1  Click close-up 2

9/28/15  This is the time of the year when production shifts into high gear for the 2016 season.  I'll save you the boring details about work, being work.
               Looking for a window to fish Lk. MI soon.  I'll feel a lot better about 2016 if we can catch a few of next year's Salmon.  That are a no show aboard my boat thus far.
               Winterizing my boat will be delayed as long as possible while I keep looking for juvenile Kings.  If you've caught any 2 or 3 year olds recently? ...please email the pics.

9/27/15  Notes from 3D printed prototypes from this time last year, said the 4.0 XG Bluetail Salmon Buster spoon was due to start producing.  Click Bluetail 4.0 SB Steelhead
              Sure enough, this spoon color took a Steelhead and a Coho on my last Lk. MI trip out of Manistee, MI on 9/23/15.  This was half of our 4 fish evening catch, the other 2 came on the 4.0 SB in the SUV pattern. Click Bluetail 4.0 SB Coho
               Main issue I've seen with fish off my home port? ...there's a lot of bait in the 200-350' depths, keeping the fish well fed with easy meals.  Worthy of note? ...is we had only 1 hit in 53 degree water, the other 4 bites came up higher in the warmer water.
              Then, there's no surface temp breaks to fence-up the fish, keeping them scattered from 600' to 250' of water.  Please keep in mind, this was last week and heaven only knows where the fish will be located on my next trip!

9/26/15  According to my Salmon Ambassador Program, David Warner, Research Fisheries Biologist for the U.S.G.S, Bloater Chubs have been spotted in the stomach of WI Salmon. 
               If you find stomach contents of a small bait fish, that might be mistaken for Smelt?  Please document this with a clear photo and send the results to me.  I will forward your photo with credit to you.  Then, send it to the appropriate sources.
               This year Chubs have had their best "young of the year" class since 1992 and could be a bright spot in the bait fish population.  Click young Bloater Chubs
               Bloaters are a member of the whitefish family.  "The bloater is found at depths of 30 to 198 meters (98 to 650 ft) There it inhabits underwater slopes, and is tolerant of temperatures between 34.7 to 52.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 to 11.4 Celsius).  When it is brought to the surface it's gas bladder expands, giving it a swollen appearance." Part of this paragraph is from Wikipedia & more info on chubs can be found by: clicking here

9/25/15  Late September weather continues to be a blessing.  Never in my long memory of fishing Lk. MI since 1968 have I seen as many calm days as this month.  Daytime highs 10 to 12 degrees above average aren't too hard to take either.
               Cannot put a handle on our fall fishery as of yet.  Maybe the weather is holding it back a week, or two.  Do know we should be seeing better catches then we are.
              There's more suspended bait off Manistee, MI right now then we've seen all season, going back to April.

9/24/15  Yesterday evening Todd B and I fished Manistee, MI.  We had 5 hits, 3 made it to the boat.  High flying Steelhead always come with a high loss ratio.
               Best water depth?  200' to 325' of water.  4 of our bites came on Salmon Buster™ spoons, with 1 on a Frog BTI flasher/meat combo.  Temp was 53 degrees at 75' down.  Bluetail and SUV spoons had 2 hits each in the 45' to 60' depth down range.
               Went way out to the 32 line in plus 600' of water that was a waste of gas and time.  Marked lots of bait closer in, which of course ...is very good news!
                Weather and seas are behaving quite nicely.  Click SUV spoon Steelhead

9/23/15  The official fall season is upon us.  Gone are the massive summer crowds of Lk. MI fishermen.  Few boats and wide open spaces makes this my favorite time of the year.
               September 2015 is the warmest on record ...ever.  This extends the growing season for Great Lakes fish of all species.  After two record, or near record cold winter temps that kept. Lk. MI chilly, having warmer ...late season water has to help.
               Hope to fish Lk. MI again very soon.  Have a few notes from this past Monday that should prove beneficial on my next trip.  Do know recent S wind is good news.          

9/22/15  Fished Lk. MI out of the Port of Manistee yesterday morning looking for next year's Kings without any luck.  Did find a few Steelhead and Coho, but no immature, or adult King Salmon.  We did have a brief fishery for juvenile Salmon about this time last year.
              The shelf was absolute Deadsville.  We didn't find any active fish until we moved over 250'-350' of water during the last couple hours of the trip.  Click spoon & Coho
              Then, we (Todd B. & I) had 4 hits, 2 on Salmon Buster™ spoons and 2 on meat.
If the lake had been more conducive to a long offshore run, would have went out deep in the 1st place.  But a stiff E wind was building a bigger chop than I want to deal with.

9/21/15  Recent news from the Little Manistee Harvest Weir says there's maybe 50 to 60 Kings in the hole below the raceway.  So, there's not scads of Salmon there yet.
               Last year there was only 2781 Kings that returned.  2014 set a record for the lowest number of fish since the MDNR began keeping records in the early 1970s.

9/20/15  Have a great Sunday!

9/19/15  Looking forward with great anticipation to fishing Lk. MI soon.  The lake should roll and cool.  Bringing the fish up higher in the water column.  The shallowest fish caught aboard my boat last July and August was 60' on the rigger counter. With that fish hitting a 4.65 Kevorkian Salmon Buster™ spoon.
               Late season fishing will turn back to spoons.

9/18/15  Happy Friday!  Yesterday, Manistee, MI probably seen it's last day with temps in the 80s till next year, as fall approaches, then winter.
               If and when the wind allows, we're entering one of my favorite times of the season.  Fall Steelhead and next year's Salmon will happen soon.  The crowds are long gone and there's plenty of room to troll any direction without dealing with traffic.

9/17/15  Next big sign post when it comes to Lk. MI fishing for 2016 is the amount of juvenile Salmon that will be caught towards the end of this month, going into Oct.
              In 2014 fall fishing for next year's crop Lk. MI Kings was some.  2013 fall fishing for Kings was none, and that's why the adults that ran in the summer 2014 was sparse.
              2015 was a better year for the fleet off the central Lk. MI ports.  But southern ports like St. Joe, MI struggled to locate and catch Kings.
              How much of an improvement 2015 was over 2014?  That answer is going to be in the eye of the beholder and what time of the season they fished.

9/16/15  Only a few days of official summer 2015 left.  3 days of S wind to 30 knots has the trailer boat fleet shore bound.  How many adult Kings are left, still out in Lk. MI remains to be seen.  Next break in the wind? ...I plan on finding out.

9/15/15  14 year old Dylan proudly hoisting his King pic is from this past Sunday morning. Fishing has brought me plenty of joys in my long career.  Seeing next generation fisher people like Dylan B ranks at the top of my list.  Click Dylan hoisting his King
              His fish pounded a 10" BTI Frog flasher with the same in a 2 Fly Meat Rig™ with 80' of line off the 10' diver roller rod, dialed on 2.
              This would have put the diver right in the 35-40 foot zone with my cupped diver rings.  Need to cover this diver topic more fully: thought for years trying to solve the missed diver hits issues we've all experienced.  Every lost bite is a missed opportunity!
              There's 3 factors to consider in my current string of 10 fish for 11 strikes on my divers.  1st, double snelled trebles on my meat rigs.  2nd, my Super Snubbers™ that out performs all other diver snubbers by a wide margin.  Lastly, is my original cupped diver ring that dive deep without the extreme hard pull associated with traditional mag rings.  Hard pulling diver rings means a tighter drag to prevent line creep ...that results in missed fish!
              All 3 of the above items mentioned are my original ideas. These are not knockoffs, or imitations of anything that came before!

9/14/15  Yesterday morning it was my great honor to fish with the father and son team of Todd and Dylan B.  The seas were mixed up and nasty coming from all directions at once.  That's the reason we cut our trip short and pulled lines at 9am.
               The vitals on conditions of the Port of Manistee, MI begin with N wind raising the temp break, or thermocline up to 30'-35'.  Surface temp was 63°
               This trip was a case of being lucky, rather than good.  Knew we were in for a tough time when we marked a large school of bait that was at least 200' long with nary a good fish mark around it.  Click Dylan working on wire diver King
              We had 2 diver whacks and both stuck.  Extending our bite vs. fish in the net on divers, ...to 10 boated for 11 strikes when our last 3 trips are added up together.
              Fun part was watching young Dylan gain mastery over a decent, hard pulling King on a 10' wire diver rod all by his lonesome.  Then, watching his dad, Todd net the fish.

9/13/15  Stiff N wind is the main story from Manistee, MI.  It remains to be seen what this has done to the adult Salmon off Manistee's drop-off, or shelf.  Hope to hope a full report on what's left in Lk. MI, that hasn't already scooted up the rivers.

9/12/15  Today's featured photo proves homemade old school glow stick spoons still work.  Todd B is holding a King that hit slightly above the temp break at 60' down over 200' of water from about a week ago. Click glow stick Kevorkian Salmon Buster™ spoon
            This photo is a companion pic on the same day aboard another boat with a fish caught by Jake R.  Click Jake R's Kevorkian spoon caught King
            The purple color has been good on adult Kings since the mid 1980s.  This same pattern is a goodie in a flasher/meat rig too! Click Kevorkian flasher/meat King

Continued below back to the year 2000:

2015 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August & September

2014 Results
October, November, & December
January, February, & March
April, May, & June

July, August, & September

2013 Results
January, February, & March

April, May, & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2012 Results
January, February, & March
April, May & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2011 Results
January, February, & March
April, May, & June

July, August & September
 October, November, & December

2010 Results
January, February, & March

April, May & June
July, August & September
October, November & December

2009 Results
January, February & March
April, May & June
July, August, & September
October, November, & December

2008 Results
October, November & December

July, August, & September
April, May & June
January, February & March


2007 Results
October November & December
July, August & September

April, May & June
January, February & March

2006 Results
October, November & December
July, August & September
April, May & June
January, February & March

2005 Results
October, November & December
July August & September
April May & June
January February & March

2004 Results
October, November & December
August & September 
June & July  April & May
January, February & March

2003 Results
Jan Feb  Mar  April & May
June & July  Aug & Sept

Nov & Dec

2002 Results
Nov & Dec  Oct  Sept  
Aug   July   June  May  
April  March  Feb  Jan


2001 Results
April Brown Trout  
May & June
July Salmon
Aug. Tuna Time

2000 Results
Dec. Nov.
   Oct.  Sept.
July   June
May  March & April
January  February

For complete results of all fishing trips, fishing reports & general info
and a peek into my archived log for the past seasons, 
click the below link:

Past Results