This weekend was looking pretty good. Temperatures around the pier heads were in the low to high 50’s with winds on Friday being NW switching to the east. Calm winds all weekend with some rain in the forecast. Some solid reports from buddies that past couple days and the Internet that fishing on the big lake looked to be pretty good for a first this summer. My buddy Rob and I were pumped up and ready to rail on some King Salmon.
…and then we got up north. Before setting up camp I looked on my phone and seen the surface was in the high 60’s and the thermocline was down 55 feet. What the heck happened during the 4-hour drive? Still, we were excited to get out there and the calm winds were going to allow me to take my small boat wherever I wanted on Lake Michigan. Reports also were that fish were coming on 20 to 100 feet down even with the warm water.
After absolutely no sleep because of my excitement, we slipped the boat into the water at 4:30 in the morning and headed north where I had heard of some good reports. We dipped lines in at 5 with a couple hundred boats and started trolling.
After 4 hours of trolling without a hit, I started making some calls. Turns out fishing was not just tough for me but the majority of the people out there. Needless to say, we never took a hit☹
After grabbing a few hours of sleep, we checked out one of my favorite early season river holes. That hole was void of fish so we motored back up to the ramp and put the boat on the trailer. We headed to the inland lake where we had seen the bottom was full of fish from our earlier trip. Slipped the boat in again and trolled baits that had worked very well for me in the past. Once again, nothing worked and it was a bust.
The morning resulted with the same success; a whole lot of nothing. The waves were to much for my little bit so we were stuck in the inland lake again. These fish were really lethargic and I guess had been beat on a little too much. There was no point of wasting any more gas. After two hours of trolling in bath water, we decided to put some time in the river. Playing bumper boats was getting a little old and I was ready for some peace. We boon dogged a lot of the river and casted cranks. Stopped at a few deep holes to cast skein under a bob without a nibble. I finally decided to head way down river to fish a hole I had done pretty well out of a few years ago.
After 30 minutes of floating skein I was starting to think it was time to throw in the towel and take the skunk for the weekend. Then the bob went down and I felt the feeling of a head throb. Wow, I have missed that and finally I get to tangle with my first king of the year. After tugging back and fourth, I started to bring the fish back to the boat and then I could not reel anymore. Something was wrong! I quickly released the Anchor Wizard and floated down to the fish. When I got close to the fish, I opened my bail and the fish took off. The fight was back on. After a few minutes, the fish was in the net. Only took 19 hours to find a biter.
Since I started to figure these fish out, I would have to say this was the toughest weekend of fishing I had ever had. We fished like mad men, beats our selves up and finally prevailed. It was a good feeling to finally put a fish in the boat. Hopefully we get to put a few more in the boat this weekend.
After talking to fisherman and buddies all weekend, I have to ask, what the heck is going on? The big lake has struggled all year. Is it because the water has just been cold or is it because there are few fish this year? Has the DNR cut the plants so much that barely any fish are around anymore? Where are all the big kings? Last I checked, they are supposed to be staging for the run we all look forward too. I talked to a worker at a bait shop and slow river fishing this time of the year is the norm, which is understandable. It’s kind of weird that the rivers are so slow with all the cold water we have had but nothing has been normal this year. However, the big lake being so slow does not make any sense.
I’ll be honest, I am a little afraid to see what is going to happen this fall. The good thing is, the 4 year olds that are being caught are good size. However, I am not sure there are so many of them. What do you guys think? I would love to hear others comments about this years salmon fishery!