Mid-Day Mayhem
Smart Tactics for the Off-Peak Hours

Does this sound familiar, it's 4am and the alarm goes off starting the early morning ritual of trying to get that first shot at the easy fish before the fleet pressure intensifies?  What time do you get up to go fishing?  Interested in gaining some semblance of sanity by waking up later and still ending up with a respectable catch?  

In the wee hours before first light are you trying to convince yourself this is enjoyable?  Getting up in the middle of the night, then having to deal with a crowed launch ramp when time seems to grind to a halt, cuz you're in a hurry. Fishing is supposed to about fun, not who can race the fleet to the first fish.

Traveling on the water in the predawn hours is not safe. Even on a slow plane of 12 to 14 mph any obstruction you hit can and will cause major damage to your prop or hull.  Even worse a collision with another vessel that forgot to turn it's running lights on.  These are some of the dreadful situations that can occur in the dark when running in restricted visibility.

Adult Silver King
X-Glow BTI Frog Combo
10:30am Manistee, MI

7/5/08 Manistee, MI
This King hit at 180' down

11:30am 7/31/08
Manistee, MI this fish hit at 130' down over 150' FOW


Empty Pond
9/2/08 the Day After Labor Day by noon we had the
 Lk. Michigan to ourselves!

22 lbs. Leland, MI
10" Black Mamba Glow BTI Flasher towing a BTI Fly
Available at:

Benefiting From a Later Start?

It's not how early you start, it's about how you finish. Conventional wisdom says the early bird gets the worm and in many cases this is true.  From my experience it's not true when you're dealing with fish that are plus 100 feet deep.  This is when temp is deep, fish do not hit well at first light.  Possibly, there's not enough light, or dinner bell hasn't rung yet.  How knows? ...I surely don't, but I do know by 9am these deeper fish will light-up and go on the bite.

By about 10am you'll see a large portion of the fleet leaving. By noon you'll have the lake pretty much to yourself. Your fishing grounds will pretty much stay that way until the shore-side crowd get antsy in the later afternoon.   This mid-day, off-peak time-frame allows the fish to reorganize and become far less wary.

Deep summer fish do not cooperate well until after the sun is higher on the horizon.  First light being at a shallow angle does not penetrate the depths of a 100 feet and greater.  I've found time between 8:30am to 9am for the big show to begin during August's deeper fishery.  This is another strong reason to use attractors that come into their own when the fish are deep.  The additional sight, sound and if you use meat, ...scent will help to draw fish into your spread.

Here's something I noticed over a span of decades.  Most big water anglers start out with a lot of zest and zeal.  Then, as the hour of 6am climbs towards 9am a lot of enthusiasm gets lost by the wayside.  Especially, if they didn't set up on a mother lode of fish.  Their last few hours of water-time generally turn into an exercise in total futility with little effort to turn the situation around.  Mistakes get made more easily ...once the promise of a good day heads south.  This is mostly due to pilot error by not changing boat location, lack of rest, and ...or changing trolling speeds and seeking deeper depths to present his offerings.  

Proper Mindset, Before the Hookset

If you've been burning the candle at both ends, meaning fishing just the early and late fish, this doesn't leave much time for sleep.  Say you hit the pond in the evening, fish till dark and plan on the early am next day ...first light bite.  By the time the fish are cleaned from the pm trip, you'll have maybe 4 hours of rest before turning the morning into a forced march.  Lack of sleep will take it's toll on your mood.  Most importantly, not having a good night's snooze will slow down your thought processes.  Therefore, missing the clues Mr. Fish is leaving for you.  In the years of 2002 thru 2007 you could be as "dumb as a stump" fishwise and still end up with a healthy box.  In 2008 this was not the case.  You had to be "spot on" with an eager awareness sleep deprivation simply does not provide.  Even worse? ...the defeatist status quo "the fish ain't biting mentality" can set in if you're too tired to think straight   Trust me, ...mid-day fish can be caught!

Fleet Dispersal

After about 9am the boats that were working tight to structure seem top lose interest, scatter and head for deep water once the easy fish have been picked off.  There's a deep rooted fallacy that says fish head for the deeper water once the action slows.  Is this correct?  In some cases probably, but from what I've noticed is the fish go deep, but not necessarily move out to the middle of the lake.  Suspended "easy to see" fish marks on your sonar soon disappear after sunup.  Yep, that's a reel-fact, but in many cases the fish just go tighter to bottom.  This is where any brand of sonar struggles to disseminate marks fish with their bodies laying tight to the floor of the lake.

All tackle featured on this page can be purchased at: www.michiganangler.com

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10am Manistee, MI

Manistee, MI
2 Person Limit 7/28/08
"Hot" Rigs

John J Special
12" King Kryptonite flasher &
3 Fly Undertaker Meat Rig
Works best on your deepest rigger!
Available at:

Meat Dimensions
Preferred Bait Size during 2008


Manistee, MI 8/12/08
Flat Calm middle of the day!


1.  Extra sharp hooks, pay attention to this important part of your weaponry.  Off peak bite will afford opportunities at the rate of 2 maybe 3 bites an hour if you're over fish.  Learn to turn hits into boxed fish with focusing on details.

2.  Mid day fish will generally be deeper cold water fish in temps from 44 to 38 degree and semi lethargic.  Meaning your adversary will not run down a meal that looks to hard to eat.  Slow troll from 1.5 to 2 mph will aid in tantalizing your target species.

3.  Mid day is when the wind picks up.  It's easier to do a long downwind troll with the waves at your stern.  If you've located a good 2 mile piece of water it's a lot quicker to pick up lines and travel to the original point of beginning.  Getting speed right will be a heck of a lot trouble-free to duplicate rather than trying to fight a head sea.  Plus, a bunch more comfortable for you and your crew.

4.  Set a goal, or a point to travel to in an effort to cover water.  Some of this is for exploration purposes to sort out the fish holding water and depths before retracing unproductive routes.  Avoid doing the same thing twice, double true if it's not working.  Look at it like I do, if all I'm doing is making mistakes, let's make a brand new.  Meaning a new tact, one not influenced by recent past performance issues.

5.  Less stress is involved, cuz you're not going to be playing dodge boats that will dictate your trolling path.  Lead core and copper?  This is the time for this long distance program from the boat.  Not when there's a ton of boats waiting to saw you off.

6.  Do not crowd a lot of riggers all in the same approximate depth.  We try to maintain a 15' depth separation on our 3 rigger spread.  Mid day fish cruising for a meal can be turned off by too much stuff.  Then stagger the leads with the deepest rigger have the shortest lead from the cannon ball and gradually increase the distance on the rigger that are higher.  Our center rigger is the always the deepest with a 10 to 15' lead, next higher will have a 20 to 25' lead and our highest rigger will be back 30 to 40'.  What's just been mentioned works if you concentrating on depths from 80 to 120 down.  If you have to go deeper, tighten the all leads up more to like 10 to 12 feet if you're working the 150' to 200' depths.  These deep Capt. Nemo fish taint all that fussy.

7.  Use north/south numbers and depth to approximate the best water where you're getting action.  Punching waypoints on
every fish is a waste of time.  If you're luck enough to have marked a pod of bait, keep track of this.  Mid day fish close to their
food source do not hit all that good, but fish traveling to bait will.  Fish seldom hit well going into a pocket of bait.  Coming out the
over side is where most of the bites will occur.  Goofy, spinning and wobbling chunks meat attenuated with a flasher mimics wounded bait wandering away from a school of alewives is beyond Mr. Salmon's ability to resist.

This article was completed on 1/12/09
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