Christmas Time is here. What Better gift then a Lake Michigan fishing charter.
We have 2 locations for you to book a trip. Right in downtown Chicago at Burnham Harbor and in Waukegan Illinois at Waukegan Harbor.
You can book or buy a gift certificate here https://stormwarningcharters.com/book-online/
The first boat was a 19′ Triumph that we would run out of the Chicago Harbors. This boat was a great starter boat for salmon fishing. The Triumph was easy to trailer and with the back wide open was easy to setup a full spread of rods ideal for salmon fishing. I had 2 cannon downriggers to get down to the salmon. A basic Garmin Fish Finder that later got upgraded to a Furuno. The boat was fast and used Very little fuel which was good because I didn’t have a lot of money to fish all day every weekend. I took the Triumph 15 miles offshore many times and if the seas kicked up on Lake Michigan the boat did extremely well holding up to what Lake Michigan had to throw at it. I had made several rod holders including DIY Rod trees with Square Tubing for running lots of rods trolling for salmon. I typically went out alone because very few people liked to fish for salmon as much as I did.
What I learned from fishing from a small boat was how to open up the back to minimize tangles and how to make the most out of size. Also on most days the fish never cared how big your boat was. Now that I have the big Charter Boat fishing Lake Michigan isn’t all the different. I still setup the boat similar to a smaller boat but now the back of the boat is WIDE OPEN. I can also fish in much worse conditions in the new boat because of the size and width makes it a tank so the boat in waves fishes more consistently. Either way no matter what size boat its just great to fish out of Chicago for Salmon and Trout.
The 2017 spring and summer fishing charters on lake Michigan was fantastic to say the least. Here is a fishing report looking back at the salmon and trout fishing this year.
This year the fishing charters in Chicago started pretty good right out of the gate. Started fishing in Indiana we had good number of coho salmon and the size of the coho salmon was very good as well. Not the best numbers of coho salmon as the 30 fish in 2 hours days never happened but still good numbers of coho salmon. The water on the south end of lake Michigan off Indiana and Chicago seemed to stay very clear so the warming was slow and then the coho salmon rather then the typical move up the coast from Indiana to Chicago and onto the north along shore instead moved out to deep water. We still did get the coho salmon in close but not like years past fishing in chicago. The lake trout fishing off Chicago however was really really good in the 50 to 80fow area. Mixed bag of some coho salmon and lake trout went on for a while. The Coho Salmon were biting on the typical coho rigs of red 00 luhr Jensen dodgers and peanut flys. Peanut fly color didn’t make a lot of difference this year for me fishing off Chicago. I did get a bit of a late start this year due to rigging all new electronics on Storm Warning. The new Raymarine electronics were awesome. Its always helpful when fishing Lake Michigan to have top of the line electronics.
Then Summer fishing hits off Chicago in May and Massive amounts of bait showed up. Waters were pretty warm. Almost too warm for the coho salmon but the coho salmon started to show up strait east of Chicago in 50 foot of water. Every day the salmon fishing off Chicago got better and better. Game on for the summer season. By June numbers and action was fantastic. Constant action fishing Lake Michigan most days. The Chicago charters produced huge coho and Lots of them. I lost a ton of gear due to the violent strikes from the coho salmon but man was it worth it. We were typically fishing at higher speeds around 3 miles per hour. We lost a TON of fish all summer. Catch ratio was under 50% many days which is very typical when you start to get into bigger stronger fish. The large coho salmon were just ripping the hooks right out of their mouths. Not much we can do about that but at least they were biting. Our Biggest coho Salmon for the year was 14 pounds which is huge for a coho salmon on lake Michigan and even more so caught fishing in Illinois and Chicago waters. Going into July the bait started to move a little further offshore in Chicago and the coho followed right along. I wasn’t alone in these catches. All the Chicago fishing charter boats were killing it. When they got out to 100fow east of Chicago not only where the coho still biting but now the steelhead showed up and were crushing the lures. Now steelhead is my favorite fish in the lake because they are a very strong fighting fish but also require the most skill to get into the boat due to their aerial jumps and high speed runs. Most of them were around 9lbs. We had so much fun fishing for the steelhead. By august the steelhead were still biting but the coho had slowed a bit. We were now fishing around 120 to 140fow. Low light the Kings were also hitting but no king action during the day. This went out throughout August but in August. The fish started to move a little north east of Evanston. Made a little further runs to get to the fish but our charter boat is fast so not a problem. That about sums up our summer.
This year was unbelievable. Lots of other ports in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana struggled to get fish and we had one of the best years in recent memory. No idea what makes fishing off Chicago so consistent but I’m not complaining. We have incredible Chicago skyline to view and year after year the most consistent fishing. I Can’t wait until next year. I really feel its going to be even better.
We still have some dates open before the season ends. We stop fishing in October but we start right back up in November once the water has cooled enough for the great lake trout bite to turn on and that lasts all winter long.
The Steelhead were biting Far offshore Sunday. Waters were flat calm. Water looks almost fake. Great group and great fishing. Doesn’t get any better then this!!
With all the huge coho and huge Steelhead I was expecting big kings but sure didn’t expect to get a king over 30lbs tonight. Not really sure how big it is as my IGFA Certified Boga Grip is only a 30lb scale. It was caught in 103 fow east of Chicago during sunset. It was part of a triple with one fish being pretty small. another was big but this one seemed to run the most. I tried to horse one of them in to make room for this one but ended up breaking off which is fine. The one that broke off was at least a 15lb king.
Was a unexpected trip with my wife and kids. Early in the season I gave my daughter a coupon for a free charter. Last night she came to me and said she wanted to book one. Tonight with the fireworks and smooth seas was perfect. Headed out at 6:30 and fished to 9:00. Lots of lakers. Managed a few coho and one steelhead before the monster came over the rail.
I was fishing Indiana a month or so ago, it was dark and big storm was rolling in. neither of the 2 radar apps would work. Luckily one of the people onboard had a app that would work but worked VERY slowly. We were only a mile offshore so it’s not like we had bad signal.
So I got to reading about radar apps on my phone for a few reasons. First why is there a difference in the size of the storm from one app to another, second why sometimes the apps are very slow or don’t work at all and third they are 10 to 15 minutes behind.
I figured I would share as this I think is really going to help me on the water.
Short version is the professional storm chasers use the apps PYKL3 and RadarScope. Both cost about $10 but both provide images that are only a minute or two old. Also both much faster than normal apps so will likely work better when you are offshore with low signal.
Longer answers to my 3 questions for those that are interested in reading more. Now I may be wrong on some of this as I am learning but so far all seems to be true. Please correct me if anything is wrong.
Why the size difference. Well that’s because there are 4 angles a radar looks at a storm. From the ground and 4 levels up. Apps can choose to use any of these angles or a Composite that is all the angles together in one picture. So the view of the rain hitting the ground may be much smaller than the view of the entire storm. This called Reflectivity Tilt 1 to 4 and composite reflectivity is all 4 combined
Why are some slow or don’t work at all. So the way each of these apps work is there is a server for the app. The server first downloads small files then processes them to make them look nicer and then sends that new processed image out to the phone apps as it is requested. This file is very large so takes time to transfer plus when there are a lot of storms and a ton of users are all trying to access the same area it can slow down the apps server to the point where it stops working or close to it.
Why are they 10 to 15 minutes behind. This is because of this processing that is done on the server before it is sent out to the app. The server first grabs the Radar Data file from a nexrad radar then processes the radar image look smooth so it’s easier to read I guess. Nicer looking yes but not easier I don’t think. But this processed image is actually a very large file that takes more time and data to download
The Storm Chasers solution. The 2 apps PYKL3 and RadarScope are both paid apps. Rather than processing the image and sending it to your phone these apps (and there are probably more apps that do the same) send over the raw file directly from the Nexrad radar stations which is a very small file and the processing is done on your phone which is very fast and is also images that are only 1 or 2 minutes old. These apps also let you see all sorts of radar data from wind speeds and direction to radar as different levels to god knows what else. Way more than I ever care to see. I look at 3 things.
Reflectivity Tilt1 which is rain at ground level
Composite Reflectivity which is the rain in the entire storm. This helps to see the front as that can be several miles infront of the rain.
Velocity Tilt 1 which is wind direction and speeds at the ground. Im still figuring this one out.
Food for thought.
Chicago has had excellent coho fishing and a LOT of bait. We even caught a monster 18lb Brown trout. What’s interesting is the fishing is pretty shallow and well out side the typical temperature range but there is some cold water. Lots of missed fish and I think for several reasons. First the coho are typically 5-6lbs and the want they fight makes big holes in their mouths and that coupled with the rolling action pops the lure out. Also I am getting a lot of fish hooked in the tip of the nose which tells me they are smacking it rather then biting it so poor hook sets.
The name of the game lately seems to be find the bait you will find the fish. There does seem to be fish everywhere but staying on the areas with lots of bait defiantly produces the most fish.
Speed seems to be a big factor and they have been liking it fast. 2.8mph has been very good. Yesterday they wanted 3.0 but then it shut down so kept playing with the speed and found they wanted it at 3.6mph. problem with that is you will get more breakoffs and lots of misses especially with Coho. And these speeds are at the ball. Not much of a current. Probably given the shallow water.
S turns have been producing a lot of fish. Reaction bites.
Hot baits for me have been smaller spoons until yesterday when they were also taking mag spoons. Best by far has been just a standard Coho rig. 00 Orange dodger and small fly. Peanut flys were good and still are good but the 2″ flys are doing a little better. I have been running these off riggers down 20 to 30. 2 color, 4 color, 5 color. Dipseys out 75. And surprisingly enough just mono with a 5/8oz weight which has probably been the most consistent rod on the boat.
Steelhead I have been getting maybe 1 a trip. I would love to get on them and if I had to guess they are not far away but its hard to leave the coho to search for steel.
My biggest coho so far is 9lbs. Everyweek they are getting bigger and bigger. 2 weeks ago they were 4 to 5lbs. Now they are 5 to 7 and starting to get a few 8’s on each trip.
They have been moving up and down infront of Chicago but now seems south is best. The bait is holding down there.
Depths have been 45 to 55 for the last few weeks
Colors. Fly colors I have been using a lot of greens but blacks are also producing. Really not sure it matters a whole lot. Spoons in green and blue have been good for me. White I have all but abandoned. Orange is also taking some hits but the steel I have gotten have all been on a 00 dodger fly.
Browns. Being in this shallow there have been some nice browns taken. I had a 18lb brown Sunday.
For the guys who don’t like to venture offshore these fish have been holding 5 miles form the harbor so its a easy run to get there.
Storms have had a impact but not so much moving the fish but rather turning them off and on.
Well there are my thoughts on what’s been happening off Chicago. Most of the time I will post some pictures on facebook of that days catch and also include a picture of where I was fishing and the coordinates. Don’t have a lot of time for reports.
Chicago AM and PM.
Morning started at 41.59 in 70fow. Got a few hits in 80fow but then dead for a while. Went out as far as 110′. Turned back in and once inside of the 80’s lots of marks and started popping fish. Mostly coho but 2 lake trout and 1 steelhead. ended with right around 15 for 25ish. Everythign in the top 50′ hit. leads, riggers down 40. Dipseys out 75. No real pattern. Speed 2.2 to 2.9 at the ball. Really just all over.
Afternoon tried same area but stayed in t…hat 80fow and trolled north. had 13 for 16. Didnt loose nearly as many fish. Same program as the morning. No fast fishing just one here and one there. When the storm popped up as soon as the rain hit the water we got a triple. Ended up coming in a little early because the antenna was loudly humming as a second cell was coming through. I kept the speed right around 2.6mph. Got lakers, coho, and a nice steelhead.
Got 4 coho right around 7lbs today. Very little bait in the bellies if any.