How To

Fishing for King Salmon in the Midwest

King salmon like this one will test your tackle.  When the bite is good, your arms will be worn out after a few encounters with these guys.

King salmon like this one will test your tackle. When the bite is good, your arms will be worn out after a few encounters with these guys.

I did something last week that I haven’t done for a long time. I went fishing for king salmon. The last time I fished for kings was back in the ’80s. I enjoyed it then, but had just never gotten around to doing it again. So when some friends invited me to join them for a morning of salmon fishing on Lake Michigan, I quickly accepted. This type of fishing is great for a group of anglers who want the chance to catch perhaps the hardest-fighting freshwater fish there is. It’s a simple deal. You do some research on the various charter boats, determine which one best meets your needs, book the trip, and show up at the agreed-upon time. The charter provides pretty much everything but your personal items. Here’s how our trip went.

We had a morning trip booked. A morning trip for salmon and trout starts very early: we were at the dock at 3:45 a.m. and headed out by 4:00 a.m. It’s surprising how much activity there is at the marinas at that time of day.

We went out of Algoma and started setting lines about 10 miles out where the water was 500 feet deep. We were fishing with Trio Fishing Charters. Captain Matt Solchenberger and his first mate, Zach, were experts at putting out the lines. There were five of us fishing, so we had fifteen lines in the water. We had lines straight down, straight back, and out to the sides. Not once was there a tangle.

We had trolled about 15 minutes when the first line went off. A few minutes later a coho, weighing in at about eight pounds, came aboard. While we were landing the coho, two other lines fired. When you get into the fish, it’s non-stop action for a while. We caught three cohos in about 10 minutes, and they were all nice fish weighing somewhere between eight and 10 pounds.

Then another rod triggered, and this time we knew we had a king salmon. Coho will jump, kings just strip line off the reel so all you can do is hang on and keep your rod high to tire the fish. Your arms get tired when the fish is only about halfway to the boat. This was a four-year-old king that weighed near 25 pounds.

A bit about landing the fish. They must be netted, and in the past, with some lures netting trout, salmon, muskies, walleyes, or whatever, multi-hook lures can get very tangled. We used a new net from Frabill that was designed to eliminate those tangles, and from what we saw, they did just that. The hooks came right out of the bag quickly and easily.

We filled a cooler with trout and salmon and headed in. As we steered toward the dock, Zach started cleaning the fish. By the time we got to the dock, he had the fish cleaned, bagged, and on ice, ready for the trip home.

If you want to catch hard fighting fish, you should consider taking a salmon trip on Lake Michigan. Check out triofishingcharters.com. They will give you the best chance for action, they’ll show you a good time, and to me, that’s what fishing is about.

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Image courtesy Bob Jensen

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