Advanced Salmon Fishing Tactics On Lake Michigan

An artist’s rendering of a Chinook, or king, salmon.

A number of salmon species inhabit Lake Michigan, which is the only Great Lake entirely within the United States. These include pink salmon, Atlantic salmon, coho salmon and most famously, Chinook salmon, which many people in the area refer to as king salmon. If you are serious about fishing for salmon in Lake Michigan, there are several advanced tactics that can help.

Take an Early Morning Troll

One of the best methods for catching salmon on Lake Michigan is to troll, or to drag lures behind a slow-moving boat. This makes the lures appear to be live bait-fish swimming in a school, which is appetizing to predators. Wwhile trolling on its own is by no means an advanced tactic, trolling at the proper time can be. According to Lake Michigan Angler, if you are seeking salmon on Lake Michigan, you need to get out on the water early, before sunrise. Ideally, you should have your trolling lines in the water while the sky is still pitch black. Early morning, particularly in the summertime, is the peak time for salmon feeding, and is when they are most active. To ensure that you can navigate and operate your fishing gear safely, always equip your boat with proper lighting when fishing in the dark.

Planer Boards

Using planer boards is a popular fishing practice in all of the Great Lakes. Planer boards are floating sections of material that you can tow behind your boat while trolling. They serve two main purposes: to separate lines, so you can troll more lures than you otherwise could, and to angle lines outward, so that the lures do not travel through the boat’s wake, but rather out to the side of it. Using planer boards can be a bit tricky if you have no experience with them, so make sure to review the instructions of your particular model carefully, or have someone help you your first time.

Use the Right-Colored Lure

While the color of a lure may seem insignificant to the amateur fisherman, according to Game and Fish, it can make a huge difference when it comes to catching salmon in Lake Michigan, particularly Chinook. If you are in a section of the lake with particularly clear water, try using a lure that is hot-red or a pale yellow-green. These colors tend to stick out and salmon can distinguish them easily. When there are a lot of bait-fish, like minnows, swimming around in the area you are fishing, try using a color that is vastly different from theirs. If the bait-fish are a light silver, try using a rich purple lure. When fishing for salmon in the early morning hours when it is still dark, you can use a glow-in-the-dark lure.