Fishing Report

Information that tags on Chinook Salmon give. (Dec-23-2012)


Reprinted from Inland Sea Anglar,  Great Lakes Fishing Report by Dan Thomas
STURGEON BAY, Wis. – Stainless steel tags smaller than a pencil lead and the "Dr. Seussian" machine that can implant them in 8,000 fish per hour are unlocking the secrets of Chinook in Lake Michigan, the biggest predator in the big pond.
Loaded with information about where and when each fish was hatched, the tags are already showing that Chinook caught by anglers in Wisconsin waters of Lake Michigan were just as likely to come from Michigan as from Wisconsin.
Wisconsin DNR and USFWS biologists recovered hundreds of coded wire tags from angler-caught Chinook from Wisconsin ports during the summer of 2012. “Our preliminary analysis indicates that about 41 percent of these stocked and tagged Chinook originated from Wisconsin stocking sites and 34% originated from Michigan DNR stocking sites on Lake Michigan,” says to Nick Legler, the lead DNR fisheries biologist working on the project.
“Another 9% originated from Michigan DNR’s Lake Huron stocking sites, 11% originated from Illinois, and 5% originated from Indiana,” Legler says. “These tag returns will give us a much better understanding of how much of that mixing is occurring.” Legler cautions that it’s important to remember that the information biologists have so far is based on a few years’ tag returns. “We expect much better information once we have four to five year-classes tagged and those returns analyzed.”
Importantly, the tags will also eventually help better document just how many fish are naturally reproduced and how many come from hatcheries. That’s a key question because in the 1960s, when Wisconsin and other states first began stocking Chinook to control alewives, an exotic fish, 100 percent of the Chinook caught in the lake by anglers were from hatcheries, Legler says.
In more recent decades, natural reproduction has come on strong in Michigan tributaries and a study started in 2006 and continuing in 2012 suggests that on average 55 percent of the 1-year-old fish in the lake were naturally reproduced. More of these tag returns and the information they provide are expected in coming years because the tagging machines, brought to Lake Michigan hatcheries by the FWS starting a few years ago, will continue to mark all hatchery-raised Chinook salmon. Those fish are now becoming big enough where they can be caught by anglers or are making their spawning runs up the tributaries where DNR biologists collect eggs.
Legler says that tags from Chinook making their spawning runs up Lake Michigan streams will enable DNR and partners to know whether most of the fish stocked in Wisconsin return to the water in which they were stocked, or whether they stray from that site. This winter, DNR and USFWS biologists also will be analyzing tag returns in Chinook processed at DNR’s Strawberry Creek egg collecting facility. More than 800 Chinook heads were collected for analysis at that facility, as well as at DNR egg collection facilities in Kewaunee and Racine.
“The tags that we collect from our spawning facilities during the fall will allow us to learn more about straying rates,” Legler says. “They also can allow us to determine the exact age of a marked fish, and we can then compare each fish’s age to its weight to evaluate growth rates, ecosystem predator-prey balance, etc.” In the future, Legler expects DNR will ask anglers who harvest Chinook in the fall during the salmon runs on the tributaries to donate Chinook heads to DNR for analysis of the tags in the fish.
“By collecting heads from anglers during the fall, we hope that we’ll be able to acquire data that will help us to determine when and where mature salmon begin staging, before the fall spawning event.”

Rough water stops fishing most of the week. (Sep-24-2012)

Five days of high winds and high waves limited fishing to two days this past week. With gale force winds and wind out of the west one day, north the next, south the next, and then repeated the lake has had the waters mixed with no real temperature break. Friday we fished the morning and found surface water was 65 degrees and the water 120 foot down was 61 degrees out in 150 foot of water. We started fishing in 100 foot of water and tolled out to 225 foot of water. We did catch 8 fish ( 3 two year old chinook, 2 three year old chinook, 1 four year old chinook and 1 lake trout) out in 180 to 190 foot of water, however every fish hit below 100 foot with two caught on the bottom in 185 foot. There are some fish up at the Allegan dam, and there are a few fish being caught in front the piers, however fishing here is very slow with water temperature in the high 60´s. The fish we caught hit flashers and flies on the downriggers 100 to 180 foot down, dipsy divers at 350 foot out and 240 foot out and on 450 feet of copper. The best combination was the 11 in Pro Troll white fishscale flasher and the 8 in white fishscale flasher with the Oceana fly (these two had 6 hits). The Stinger frog flasher and the Pro Troll silver fishscale flasher with a green hypnotist fly each produced 2 hits. For fishing information and charter reservations, email me at

Warm water delays the run (Sep-17-2012)

68 degree water has slowed the salmon run. There are still salmon out in 100 to 160 foot of water with the best being 130 to 140 foot and there are a few salmon being caught infront the piers. We have caught a few salmon in 12 foot of water on Hot n Tots (gold) and Ace Hi plugs (white black dots and green splatter back). Fishing out in the deeper water produced fish from 60 to 120 foot deep. The most consistent lures have been the Pro Troll super frog flasher and green hypnotist fly on the low diver at 160 foot, silver fish scale Pro Troll with a wild fern fly on one high diver and all silver Pro Troll flasher and wild fern fly at 280 and 300 foot. On the downriggers the best combination have been a Pro Troll silver UV green side with a green hypnotist fly and a white mountain dew with a purple No See Um. With the cold front due to come in tonight, maybe we will have some cold water in by the weekend. For more information and/or charter reservations, email me at,

Pulling Ace Hi plugs for big salmon (Sep-03-2012)

The salmon are still staged in the 80 to 100 foot depth, however there are a few salmon being caught from 40 to 60 foot of water. With the strong east winds last weekend, we were limited to trolling east and west which limits the time you can fish in the staging area. Boats took any where from 8 to 20 fish with the majority of the creel make up of salmon. In that 80 foot depth, the temperature broke at about 50 foot and dropped from 57 to 47 degrees and then 41 degrees on the bottom. The 150, 200 and 300 copper produced very well with Ace Hi plugs (green glow, green glow black ladder back, green splatterback, pear black dot and pearl pink dot) on all of them. On the downriggers and dipsy divers we ran the following Pro Troll flashers (11 in white fishscale, 8 in. chrome, 8 in. white mnt. dew, 8 in white dble glow) with Rapture flies (oceana UV, wild fern, green no see um and white pine) pulled behind them respectively. Downriggers were run from 50 to 80 foot and the dipsy divers had 100 and 150 foot of wire line out. For more information or charter reservations email me at

Warm water slows the salmon fishing (Aug-28-2012)

The water is warm all the way to the bottom and most of the salmon are being caught in the bottom 15 to 20 foot of water from 80 to 130 foot of water. As the water warmed, the fishing slowed and we went from taking 12 to 20 fish per trip to 6 to 12 fish per trip. The last couple of days we caught some nice salmon in 80 to 95 foot of water 70 foot to the bottom and today we found that the water had cooled a little with the temperature change at 60 foot instead of 75 foot. Dipsy divers at 300 and 200 foot with Pro Troll and Stinger flashers (white fishscale, super frog, white mountain dew and silver fishscale) with Rapture trolling flies ( green no see um, hypnotist, green glow no see um and second wish) was the most consistent producer. We also ran the 11 in white glow Pro Troll with the hypnotist fly every day on the middle downrigger near the bottom. 300 copper and 400 copper in the shallower water (100-80 foot) and 400 and 450 foot of copper in the deeper water with a variety of flasher and fly combinations. Yesterday and today we did have some action on 300 and 200 copper with green glow and green splatter back Ace Hi plugs. For more information or for charter reservations, email me at