12/31/15 Happy New Year!
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
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
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.
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
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!
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
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
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
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.
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
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'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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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:
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
Brown Trout 7.0 has little bearing ...on what
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
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.
Have some new tackle on the way for 2016 that's a step
forward. Target date for the debut is sometime in
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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
Click to see this
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
My 2015 April Brown Trout program? Truthfully, did
have a clue on what to run. This was all uncharted
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.
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
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.
This is another case of bioengineering that went wrong
like Asian Carp!
11/1/15 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.
draining the lower end lube
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!
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
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,
10/31/15 Happy Halloween.
Tonight is when we "fall" back an hour to adjust our
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.
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
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
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
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
One of the best compliments I received this year about
my spoons? "They always look new," was said by
more than one person.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Kirk's findings on small Salmon and the bait situation
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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:
April, May & June
July, August &
November, & December
April, May, & June
August, & September
February, & March
April, May, & June
July, August &
October, November &
February, & March
April, May & June
July, August &
October, November &
February, & March
April, May, & June
July, August &
November, & December
February, & March
April, May & June
August & September
October, November & December
February & March
April, May & June
July, August, &
October, November, &
November & December
July, August, &
April, May & June
February & March
November & December
July, August & September
May & June
February & March
November & December
July, August &
April, May &
February & March
October, November & December
July August & September
April May & June
January February & March
October, November &
August & September
June & July
April & May
January, February & March
Feb Mar April
June & July
Aug & Sept
Nov & Dec
April Brown Trout
May & June
Aug. Tuna Time
March & April
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: