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.