MCBA Article and Trolling for Salmon & Lake Trout near Bear Bluff

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Following is an article I wrote for the Michigan Charter Boaters Association newsletter as I serve as Port Captain for our local port. After the article is an up-date on trolling in Bete Grise lately and how we are catching fish.

“As a charter operator who targets lake trout in the Keweenaw for many of my clients, I have a deep interest (pun intended) in lake trout… where they go, what they like, where and how they spawn and their migration patterns.

One great resource for me has been a study put out by the GLIFWC (Great Lake Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission). I have printed the study and put it into a 3 ring binder and highlighted the areas of interest to me for later reference. In the study, there were 124 lake trout netted, tagged with sensors and released so that when sport fishermen caught them, the temperature and depth sensors from the fish were tabulated for our learning. The data was then put into a PDF file with all the parameters and results of the study. Of the 124 trout tagged, 15 were returned for the study, 14 of which had good data to use.

Some fish were caught shortly after the tagging so there wasn’t much data to show, but others were caught a year or two later, so we area able to see the temperatures and depths that each fish frequented up until they were caught.

Of particular interest to me was the fact that you will rarely find a lake trout in water of 55 degrees or more, and they prefer temperatures of 51 or less. When they do go into warmer water, it’s only for short periods to feed, then back to the deeper,colder waters.

There is a perception that Lake Superior never gets above 55, but a couple of years back, I remember dropping a temperature probe down to 110 feet (4 miles offshore) and read temps of 66 degrees! It’s not likely to find a lake trout in that water, so we knew we had to go deeper.

Here is a link to the PDF file for those interested in learning more: or just do a Google search for: “lake trout study GLIFWC” and you should find it.”


Local Up-date:

We’re catching lots of salmon, mostly Coho Salmon, but caught a couple kings recently also. There are always lake trout to be caught, as we catch them every time we are out, if we go after them, but lately we’ve been fishing nearer shore, by Bear Bluff up to the Montreal River mouth and catching more species of fish. The last couple times out were 3 species days with a king, several coho and lake trout.

King &Laker

caught these fish, 6 lb King, and 5 lb laker this morning on a lone trip.


All three are hitting on flashers the most. A herring dodger with a fly works, but better than that has been a larger green & white glow flasher with a flashy fly about 1.5 to 2 lengths behind the flasher. We’ve had good luck catching lake trout, kings and coho on this set-up lately. Speeds of 2.4 to 2.6 has been working, but I suspect even a little faster is better for king salmon.

Fish are suspended above the bottom, about 90 to 120 feet down in depths to 150+. We’re still seeing some themoclines with the sonar at those depths, but you need a high definition sonar unit to see them.

Hoping to make a trip to Stannard Rock next week, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for calm weather. In fact the trip includes Granite Rock, Huron Island, Manitou and Gull Rock too… about 145 miles total with some fishing mixed in.




With Bear Bluff in the background, Brent holding a nice lake trout while big brother George looks on. Landed 6 Coho and 4 lake trout in the evening.


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About Brian Helminen

Brian is the owner and Captain of Sand Point Charters, LLC. He also owns and operates Designotype Printers, Inc. with his wife, Margaret. They have a cottage on Lac La Belle that can be rented by the week in the summertime.

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