Author of university improvement books, Bill, contacted me recently about trolling for Lake Trout. He had never fished on Lake Superior before, so he and his life-long buddy, Phil made the drive from Rhinelander, WI (after flying from Massachusetts) and got dropped off at the Lac la Belle marina for a day on the water.
Expecting to find some salmon close by the channel, I set lines and trolled the drop-off, which proved to be un-productive, so we pulled our lines to go out deeper for trout. We picked up a couple on some structure, but really didn’t find much until fishing near Bare Bluff in 120 feet of water where we caught a king salmon and a bunch of lake trout.
“You can net this fish,” I said to Bill as his partner brought in the third lake trout. I always net the first fish or two, so that we can “get the skunk out.” If we loose the first fish in the netting process, I can only blame myself for the loss. On the other hand, if I allowed my clients to try netting it, and knocked it off then I’d feel bad if it was our only fish of the day. (I did have a “one fish day” a few years ago, but we have not been skunked on a charter on Lake Superior)
Bill learned how to set his own down-riggers with much practice and a few common mistakes, which, I assured him, is a requirement to learning how to do it right. I always offer to teach my clients how to set lines on my boat, if they are willing, and to do as much as they desire, or feel comfortable doing. Later, I offered to teach them how to “gut” a fish, but they both declined, so I gladly did them all myself. Some people want to get totally immersed in the whole fishing, line-setting, netting and gutting processes, so I show them how I do it all, or as much as they want.
We finished the day by catching 13 lake trout and 1 king salmon, much more than they wanted to keep for eating.
P.S. By the way, I have been skunked many times, by myself and with some friends, but never yet on a Lake Superior charter. I know it’s coming, though, and when it does, I’ll offer it for free… who wants to pay for fishing trip that doesn’t produce any fish?
P.P.S. I was skunked on a Lac la Belle charter, where we didn’t land any fish, but had several fish on, but due to in-experienced clients, they lost the fish before I could net them.