This season started off slow with the late melt, in fact I have yet to launch my Fishin’ Mission… it’s all ready after spending the whole day there yesterday cleaning and making some minor repairs.
About a week ago Ken and I fished at South Entry, then neighbor Kurt and I went again. I have also fished Bete Grise and Lac la Belle and will be out there again tomorrow.
We’ve had a hard easterly blow for a few days, but it should be calm tomorrow for son Dan, neighbor Kurt and I on lake superior. We’ll troll for splake, then go deep for lake trout, maybe try at the mouth of the Montreal for steel-head.
See my video here: Brian’s Video of the Stern Planer on YouTube
The reason I bought them is to enable me to fish a specific depth from the surface down to about 20 feet – far behind my boat. With this device, I can set the depth that I want to fish, then let my line way out behind the boat and still maintain that pre-set depth. In other words, I’ll use a snap weight (see pictures below) 25 to 30 feet in front of the lure and let out the proper amount of line to take it down to 10 feet, then clip on the stern planer. Now, I can feed line out as far as I want… perhaps 300 feet or so, and my bait will still be at 10 feet.
With this set-up, I can fish water where the fish have forgotten the disturbance of my boat passing by. This is especially important when fishing during the daylight hours when the water is calm or when fishing skittish species.
They only weight 3 oz and create very little drag on your line, so little that, often, you can still see the action of the lure at the tip of your rod.
There are a couple different ways to set them up for use and the directions that come on the label show it pretty well.
The cost of this trolling device is about $20
I’m always striving to increase our take of Lake Trout, Steel Head and Coho salmon. (and Small Mouth Bass and Pike too) At the fishing show in Grand Rapids over the weekend, I spent 2 days wandering the floor and attending seminars and workshops to pick up new gear and fishing tips. I did a video on a trolling weight that I’m sure will help to catch more fish for our Keweenaw chartering business. Here is the video:
Here is some info on the device, in case you don’t get it from the video: It’s called a Torpedo Diver, made in Canada by Cuda Sinkers, Inc. Their website is www.torpedodivers.com and they come in 2, 4, 8 and 12 oz sizes. I bought mine from http://www.fishonshop.com/ at the Grand Rapids fishing show, but they don’t have them listed on their website yet.
Here are some videos on the torpedo site that are worth checking out to understand them better: http://www.torpedodivers.com/videos.asp
What can you learn at the Ultimate Sport Show in Grand Rapids this coming weekend? You might ask, what if I just like to fish for walleye? Or small mouth bass? Or lake trout? Or salmon? Or what if I just like to fly-fish?
You can learn quite a lot, actually… even the most seasoned fishermen go there to pick up some pointers from others in the same boat. (not usually literally, but sometimes they do fish from the same boat). There are charter fishing guides and professionals in every specialty, giving seminars and workshops, walking the floors and freely giving tips and advice to anyone asking questions and willing to listen.
Even if you don’t target walleye or bass, the pros all talk about the electronics, rods, reels, fishing lines, hooks and equipment that are universal to most fishing. You can pick up techniques that work for one specie and modify it to your own style of fishing, so it’s worthwhile to attend as many seminars as you can fit in.
Even if you feel like you know enough to catch your fill of fish, the fishing gear on display (with great sales) is enough to make a fisherman/woman salivate. By the way, there is a pro FEMALE walleye tournament pro giving a workshop or two… Marianne Huskey, from whom most fisherman can pick up some valuable pointers. See: http://www.showspan.com/USG/Seminars.aspx I listened to her in Novi last January and got a few tips on more effectively using my sonar, which can be used for any fishing… she’s a good speaker, a good fisher-woman and good looking, too. (I don’t think my wife would mind me saying that).
I like to attend this event every year and plan to go again this weekend. It’s been pretty tough to find fishing buddies that are serious enough to drive the distance (about 400+ miles each way), so I have to take my wife again. At least she’s always willing and able, even though she doesn’t fish.
I stopped by my second love, the Fishin’ Mission, at Lac La Belle, and knocked off the snow, took a few pictures and grabbed a (missing) tackle box of gear that I need to go through before the trolling season. Recently, I had 4 of my 5 boxes on the kitchen table and noticed one was missing. Wish I thought of taking a photo inside, but I was taken over by nostalgia as I visualized being on the water again.
Back to the venue… There is entertainment for the whole family too, so you don’t have to leave your wife and kids home. See Lake Ultimate events, including water dogs doing demonstrations and kayakers showing their stuff.
Here is the daily schedule of events from Thursday through Sunday: http://www.showspan.com/USG/Schedule.aspx
Here are many of the Features and Attractions : http://www.showspan.com/USG/Attractions.aspx
Hope to see you there.
More Fishin’ Mission:
Have you ever caught lake trout or salmon on a charter and took the fish home, or back to your hotel and wished you had a way to cook and eat it when it’s still fresh? After all, that’s the best time to consume any fish. Or have you tried to cook your small-mouth bass or walleye yourself and had less than stellar results?
Recently, the Michigan Charter Boaters Association worked with the DNR, Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Michigan Restaurant Association…to set up the Michigan Catch and Cook Program. It enables fishing charter boat operators to have local restaurants that are registered on their website to legally cook fish brought in by the charter. So now you can have the professionals of the local registered eateries cook your fish for you. They have the experience, recipes and facilities to serve up a fresh meal of your catch while you are still in the area and enjoying your fishing vacation.
There are some requirements of course that the charter captain and restaurant need to abide by. There is a waiver,(click here for waiver) provided on the micatchandcook.com website, that each patron will sign, releasing the facility from liability. There are also sanitary requirements and other guidelines for the captain and crew and the restaurant to insure that the fish are kept cold (below 41F) from the time of catch until passing it on to the cook.
The next time you book a Michigan fishing charter, make sure your captain is registered with micatchandcook.com and has some good restaurant affiliations.
Since the Spin-n-Glow has been one of my preferred lures for trolling, I wanted to show how I put them together. A video is the best way to demonstrate and explain so I recorded one and put it up on You Tube here. I like to use the spinner instead of just a fly, or skirted hook, because it gives it a little more flash and pulsations, therefore it attracts the fishes attention in two ways… sight and sound. You may have a favorite smelling attractant to add the olfactory sense too, but I don’t use them. I’ve experimented with some sprays and pastes, but I don’t use them on a regular basis, so I can’t recommend them.
For lake trout colors, I like the white with prism chartreuse or blue combinations. If going after steel head, I’d use orange colors a lot and for coho salmon I like to run with pinks.
I always run these behind some kind of attractor like a Luhr-Jensen herring dodger and try to match the color with the spinner color… or just use silver or “trash can” color.
Some of these can be purchased from Northwoods Sporting Goods in Hancock. They have a few on hand, but not shown on their website.
For more variety try: Cabalas
One of my favorites online is Jannsnetcraft, but they don’t have the spinner part, but have lots of skirts, hooks and beads.
Since I run a fishing charter on Lake Superior, there is always the possibility of getting hooks embedded into flesh… human flesh, that is. I’ve been lucky out on the water, however, I’ve had to remove a couple on shore, one on a 4 year old boy and one on myself.
The youngster was on Schlatters Island (at the end of the Keweenaw Peninsula, 12miles east of Copper Harbor) a couple years back, when I heard the kid crying as his dad looked at it, wondering what to do. Coincidentally, just a few days before the fishing trip I had watched a YouTube video that showed and explained exactly what to do, so I was anxious ti try it out, but a little nervous that the first chance came on such a young kid.
The hardest part of the whole ordeal was finding someone who had a pair of wire cutters to cut the barbs off of the 2 barbs that weren’t buried in his finger. The rest was quick and easy, and once done, we put a band-aide on the small puncture and he went back to playing.
The second time was on myself when I was moving a rod at the dock in Lac La Belle and it slipped from my hand and there happened to be a lure that found its way into my hand. With my teeth, I bit the 17lb line to separate the 8 foot trolling rod from the lure and leave the #5 spoon (one of my favorites for Lake Trout) hanging onto my hand. I then found my diagonal cutters and managed to cut the other 2 barbs off, but I still had the weight of the metal lure hanging there. I tried to cut the main shaft of the hooks, but being a double wire, I couldn’t quite do it. Just then a friend came by and helped. I did the rest by myself somewhat easily, but it was painful until the operation was complete. I won’t try to describe the procedure, but here is a video on how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTUQXpg76xQ
Last summer, a potential charter client called and said he wants to do a charter,… “but does not want to fish for lake trout.” When I asked him why, he said because he doesn’t, and won’t, eat them. I questioned him further and found that he had trout from Lake Michigan and they were very oily and didn’t taste very good. I went on to explain that the trout we catch in the Keweenaw are very lean and excellent to eat.
Another woman that I took out said she probably won’t eat the fish we catch and when I asked why she said the same thing… that she doesn’t like oily or fishy tasting fish, she only likes walleye, crappie and ocean fish – like halibut. After explaining and sending her and her husband off (after a successful day on the water) with several bags of trout fillets, she said she’d try it and report back to me. Several days later, she called and said they had two meals of the tasty lake trout and had nothing but praise for the lean lake trout meals!
There is a myth out there in many people’s minds that lake trout are not good to eat… that they are too oily, or fishy tasting and the only way to make good table fare is to smoke them and some people just don’t like the smoke taste either. Those beliefs may be true of some lake trout caught in certain waters and depths, but it’s not true for all lake trout and I am writing to dispel that hogwash.
There are basically 2 different species of lake trout (See: lake trout facts) in Lake Superior that we fish for in the Stannard Rock Lighthouse area and in Bete Grise (just north of Keweenaw Bay.) One is the Siscowet, which is about 60 to 70% fat content and they live in the deep (250 feet and deeper) parts of the lake. The meat of these “lakers” is an off-white color, because of its high fat content and isn’t as good to eat, unless smoked.
The other species, lean lake trout, have only 10 to 15% body fat and sometimes, depending on their feed, can have a very pink to orange color meat. Don’t be fooled by the meat color, though, because it can be a lighter color and still be a lean. For example, the lean lake trout that has been mainly eating fresh water shrimp, will be pink to orange color. Some will almost be as orange as Chinook or coho salmon flesh.
So where does the belief come from that lake trout aren’t good to eat? I suppose it’s from those that have eaten (or talked to someone who has) a Siscowet – fat lake trout, and thus had a bad experience. Perhaps the lake trout caught in the lower great lakes have a different taste too, whether fat or lean, because the waters aren’t as cold and clean as Lake Superior. Any fish can taste bad if the waters that it lives in is polluted. Even a speckled trout, which is among the best tasting fish, can be bad if caught from a stagnant pond.
So, don’t judge a lake trout by here-say or a bad experience, eat the fish that we catch at Sand Point Charters and you’ll eat it again and again. By the way, there are heath benefits to eating fish like lake trout that are high in omega 3 fats, but that’s another story in itself.
A couple years ago, I posted some pictures and text about how we jig for lake trout at Isle Royale and Stannard Rock. (Here is that post) Today I did a video on it to explain the set-up a little more in detail. How to jig for lake trout with a hand line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaxmgltJ3x4
It’s an effective way to fish, especially when ice fishing or drift bobbing, or even anchoring. The most productive has been to drift, if the wind is light and the current is not too strong. In those cases, you have to anchor and hope you end up over some fish. We’ve caught trout in the 20 lb range with this method, but the trophy size lakers will break your line… the mono.
Perhaps a better way is to use a short jigging rod with non-stretch line and a good level wind reel, with the drag set, not too tight. That way you have a fighting chance on the big ones, but the disadvantage is it’s harder to feel the bite, if the fish is smaller.
My son Leo caught this lake trout at Isle Royale on a hand line.
We’ve had a mild winter up here in the U.P. and most ice fishing anglers (including yours truly) are still waiting for ice to form on their favorite spots. Copper Harbor has had ice, but not enough and now with the warm temps, it’s gone again. Keweenaw Bay is ice-less, so the only places to fish are inland lakes. Gratiot Lake has produced some walleye and pike, although the walleye are small, with few 14 inches or more.
Last summer’s and previous plants of Splake in Copper Harbor (over 32,000) and Marquette County (about 28,000), have drawn anglers to this fun to catch and very tasty fish. Plants have been in the 7 to 8 inch range and with higher growth rates than the 2 parent fish (brook trout and lake trout) they can reach the legal size of 15 inches just one year later.
Walleye fishing has been disappointing in our area, except for Gratiot lake in Keweenaw County, where the fish are small, but plentiful. Our local fishermen have joined forces (Copper country Walleye Association) to bring back the fishery by planting 1 million fry last spring and more planned for the future. The DNR has also planted over 500,000 walleye last year in Houghton County. See the Marquette fish hatchery here: Marquette State Fish Hatchery.
It’s been many years since we were able to ice fish for Lake Trout in Rabbit Bay since the ice has not formed up very well, but one of these years, we’ll get out there again.
We are still looking for guys interested in going to Detroit for the big boat show at Cobo Hall.