New Way of
||It was July 27, 2007, my
sisterís birthday, and also a memorable day spent on ďFish
Squeezer.Ē It was a
typical start for us around
. We headed west out of
the demise of the alewives and salmon around 2003 in
Mussel Cause & Effects
What has caused this change in luck? It always seems to boil down to the food! Invasive muscles, Zebra and Quaggas have caused a broken link in the food chain for the Salmon. There has been a shift of nutrients from the upper and middle part of the water column more towards the lower part of the water column where the Zebras and the Quaggas live.
As a result, the species that lived on the plankton in the upper and middle parts of the water column are not getting the food they need. These are the alewives whose numbers are diminishing. The plankton Diperia, a favorite alewives food, is being consumed by the muscles. The muscles can filter up to a gallon of water per minute so one can imagine if a large number of these muscles are living on the bottom, what they can do in short order. The Diperia canít reproduce fast enough, plus their food is being taken by these muscles as well.
Since there isnít a
healthy stock of alewives available, the salmon have decided to look
elsewhere for food. They have options. One of them is to
swim and hunt for food, ending up miles from home. Another option
is to look for new resources or types of food. Or finally, the salmon
just starve and die. Right now, Alpena and further north seem to
be where most of the salmon are finding a food source. There seem
to be lots of structure along with a variety of food available.
The smelt and emerald shiners, particularly the smaller ones, are of
great abundance right now especially in the
The Bright Side of the Sunrise Side
On the bright side, Lakers,
Steelhead, Browns, Atlantic Salmon, and Walleye in this area have been
doing very well as of lately. They have been able to exploit the
entire water column to find food. One example of this is the
explosion of Lake Trout in
We ended up with a
heck of a cooler of fish for the day. We had at least 2 kings over
10 pounds, and a couple around 6-8 pounds. We also had 3 nice Lakers
going 4-6 pounds. Our score was 7-9 that day. We lost a nice
Steelhead after an awesome aerial show. The big highlight of this
trip was a quadruple with just two of us fishing. We managed
to get 3 of the 4. With 2 other boats closing in on us, fighting
the fish, steering the boat, and fish flopping all over the boat deck,
one can imagine the chaos.
Core of Julie's Game Plan
Itís a pretty simple fishing plan. I have eliminated 1 of 4 downriggers and opted for more lead core and planer boards. I use a 6 rod spread and 3 downriggers: one set in the 20 feet range, one set in the 30feet range, and one 10 feet off the bottom. I also use anywhere from 1-5 colors of lead core. I have 5 different rods set up respectively. The important thing here is that you canít fish a full core and hook up a planer board on the lead core. It will break the outside Dacron line. Secondly, a full core will be fishing too deep and catch bottom. Itís important to have plenty of backing for hard fighting fish and getting the lure away from the boat.
My favorite lead core set ups have been 3 and 5 colors. I let out the entire lead core plus another 50-100 feet of mono behind the lead. This gets the lure away from the boat. At this point I put the board on and move the board a good 75 feet away from the side of the boat. I do this with both lead core set ups. If I see surface feeding, the water is cold, or we are fishing waters less than 40 feet deep, I will opt for the 1 or 3 color lead core set-ups. I may even just run mono off the board as well. It all depends upon the situation for that given day. With my downriggers, the one I run in the 20ís, I put that back at least 80 feet off the ball. The one I run in the 30ís is usually around 50 feet back. The one I run 10 feet off the bottom, I usually have around 30 feet off the ball. Sometimes the fish will surprise you and hit lures shorter off the ball. Itís important to pay attention to how deep the fish are hitting, and what they are hitting on. If they are hitting lead core and divers, they will be a bit spooky or timid. Therefore, try to adjust everything to accommodate that including the downrigger set ups. If they are hitting the riggers, they may not be as spooky or timid. If I get more than one hit at a particular depth, or anything on a particular downrigger, I will set 2 of them right in that zone. The third one will be set 10 feet higher or lower depending upon the hot zone. Most of the time with the downrigger set 10 feet off the bottom, I will add a slider.
Deadly Diver Usage
The slide diver which is very similar to the dipsey diver is another awesome shallow water tool. The big difference with the slide diver is that you can put the lure as far back or as close as you want to the boat before you let out the diver disk part. Once you clip the diver on the line and set the number according to what you want, clear the counter and let the amount of desired line out for the desired depth you want to achieve. The best scenario that works for me is letting out 60 feet of line, clipping the diver, and having it set on #3 and letting out 160-170 feet of line. I am using 30lb mono for my diver line. It will get between 30-35 feet down. This has been the hot zone for the slide diver for us.
Another change for us has been lure speed. It seems like going a little faster has been much better. We can monitor speed and temp at the ball. Our favorite speed has been 2.5mph at the ball. We use this speed all the time except in the spring or when we fish for Laker Trout. Lake trout are attracted around 2.0mph. Going a little faster has deterred many of the small Lakers. Most of the Lakers we get are keepers, but there are those days where the little ones just wonít leave us alone.
We pretty much fish anywhere. We gamble just about every time out. Our favorite places to fish were straight out of the harbor. This is where we generally started. Then we either headed west towards 40 Mile Point or south towards Adams Point. We only took off to a direct spot if we heard about it before we went out. On many of our trips we just trolled to the area where we caught fish in the past. Many times we caught fish well before we got to that area. Many times we never made it to that specific spot. It pays to be just as nomadic and flexible as the fish are.
Keying in on Structure
is really an important ingredient to the success of currently catching
Julie's Favorite Lures
As for lure choices on this particular day, they were hitting silvers and whites. The hot ones were Silver Streaks clown set down 30 feet off the rigger. The Ludington water melon off the diver, Bugsy Bait orange crush with 5 colors of lead off the board, and the Bugsy Bait bonnie blue set 45 feet down on the rigger. Silver Streaks Miss Piggy was very good on the high rigger 20 feet down. One thing I have noticed since fishing these shallower waters, the bright colors orange and silver, silver, white, yellow and green, orange glow, orange and pink, plain orange, and the silver with a color have all been hot choices. When the water is cold, blue is very good. The Silver Streak blue SLT or the Bugsy Bait blue bayou, the small Silver Streak blue snake skin glow flodger with a small green alewife spoon, or the small Silver Streak yellowtail flodger with the small yellowtail spoon have all been very good for us. If we manage to get out early before sunrise, the moonshine x-glow yellowtail and bullseye have been excellent for us. I am mostly using Silver Streaks and the new Bugsy Baits. I have no preference over a particular lure brand. I use them all at one time or another throughout the season. What has worked great this year has been the small Silver Streak flodgers and the small spoons behind them. Most of the bait has been on the small side. So, I have been trying to match it.
last year, or two I have been paying very close attention to the Solunar
tables. In order for this new
way of fishing to work, there has to be the right conditions for salmon
and trout. The water should
be the proper temperature. There should be some stable weather, not a lot
of wind back to back. It
works the very best when you have the cool to cold water around.
The stability of weather seems to really be another important factor. If the winds stay the same for a while, or if there is no wind for days, the fishing really picks up. And the fishing really picks up when the wind doesnít blow for 2-3 days.
On a final note, fishing for some is for fun, just going out dropping some lines and hoping to get some fish. For me, fishing has become a passion. I say that, because I am always watching the weather, wind, and water temperature. I try to take advantage of the right conditions. The more chances I can get with the cold water and stable conditions, the better the fishing. Finally, donít forget to take your friends out and share the fun, especially with ones who have never fished this way. It is fun especially when a king takes out lots of line and the reel is screaming. Taking the old salts out is really lots of fun, because we can always talk about the good old days and memories from past trips. Taking out handicapped individuals is another story in itself. To see that great big grin from their faces when the rod bends and the fish pull, it is priceless!