Lake Michigan Salmon Fishing: All You Need to Know

Studying Time: 7 minutes

Wish to know why a Lake Michigan Salmon fishing journey commonly makes it to the highest of freshwater anglers’ bucket lists? All of it begins with the lowly Alewife. In case you haven’t heard of this fish earlier than, you’re not alone. However we’ve rather a lot to thank it for – it’s the explanation why Salmon had been launched to Lake Michigan within the first place!

The Alewife is a small bait fish that bears some resemblance to Herring. It’s additionally extremely invasive. It made its strategy to Lake Michigan within the ’60s, and its presence led to industrial overfishing, the disappearance of leisure angling, and heaps of fish washing up on the seashores. An image-perfect fishery? We expect not!

With a purpose to management the booming inhabitants of Alewife, Salmon varieties had been launched into Lake Michigan – and never solely did they survive, however they thrived. Over time, they blossomed, turning Lake Michigan into the first-class Salmon fishery anglers know and love in the present day. 

However which forms of Salmon, precisely, are you able to catch right here? And the way do you have to go about catching them? Don’t fear – we’ve coated all of this and extra beneath…

What Salmon can I catch in Lake Michigan?

Chinook Salmon

The undisputed “Kings” of Salmon are additionally Lake Michigan royalty. When summer time hits and these legendary fish begin to present up in enormous numbers, you understand you’re in for some severe rod-bending motion. Additionally they style unbelievable and might weigh in at a hefty 30+ kilos. It’s simple to see why Lake Michigan’s anglers rely down the times till King Salmon season!

Though these fish tends to enter the lake’s deep waters wherever from Could to early June, the most well liked time for Chinook chasing is often between late July–September. Why? It’s the annual Salmon run! You’ll discover these fish bustling all through the lake as they make their means in direction of the Muskegon River.

Throughout this time, the fish aren’t simply plentiful – they’re additionally enormous and aggressive, so that they’re the right angling opponent. Their annual run continues into October, with the season often cooling off in November. Trolling within the lake’s deep waters is a well-liked means of chasing Chinook, however you may also battle ’em on gentle sort out for an unforgettable expertise.

Coho Salmon

If Chinook Salmon fishing on Lake Michigan is all about measurement, then it’s honest to say that Coho Salmon actually deliver it relating to sheer amount! They is probably not as large as their royal brethren, however they do present among the most fun angling motion pound-for-pound. They’re not too shabby relating to style, both!

Much like Chinook, there are particular occasions of the 12 months when Lake Michigan’s inventory of Coho Salmon is much more plentiful. They spawn throughout spring and fall, with October–November being particularly fish-filled months. You’ll additionally be capable of goal an enormous variety of Coho from Could–early June. They are often present in barely shallower waters than Chinook, too.

Though trolling is a Salmon-fishing staple approach on Lake Michigan, native anglers are likely to desire battling Coho on gentle sort out. Why? As they’re smaller than Chinook Salmon, gentle sort out will allow you to actually really feel the pull of your Coho when hooked.

Lake Michigan Salmon Fishing Methods

You’ll be able to goal Lake Michigan’s Salmon species both on foot or from a ship. Throughout sure occasions of the 12 months, Salmon might be discovered near shore as they observe bait fish into shallower waters, which means shore fishing is a risk. If you wish to discover the offshore waters of the lake, the place Salmon wish to lurk, hop aboard a Lake Michigan Salmon fishing constitution.


This system has stood the check of time as Lake Michigan’s most favored strategy to hook Salmon. It’s simple to see why, too. Throughout the summer time, when Salmon are at their most plentiful, they head straight for the deeper, cooler waters of the lake. Trolling permits you to unfold a number of traces all through this huge fishery, protecting loads of floor.

Whereas Coho Salmon typically cruise close to the highest of the lake’s waters, Chinook desire to move deeper. Due to this, you’ll need to implement downriggers when concentrating on ’em. Strive setting them to the mid-depth vary of the water column you’re fishing in. Mainly, set your downriggers midway down, e.g. set them 30 toes deep if you happen to’re trolling in 60 toes of water.

Downriggers enable you discover the depths of Lake Michigan, however how about protecting extra floor space on the identical time? No drawback – planer boards are a standard boat addition right here, and can enable you attain spots you by no means dreamed of.

With regards to bait, the aforementioned Alewife is a well-liked selection, however most native anglers suggest getting your arms on shiny spoons. These lures are vibrant and flashy, which means they’re excellent for attracting your goal fish, particularly in deeper and murkier waters.

Spinning or Casting

Seeking to attempt your hand at hooking Salmon from shore? It’s time to return to fundamentals! Sure, it’s true that “spinning” and “casting” have develop into catchall names for a wide range of fishing strategies. Nevertheless, if you happen to’re heading to one in every of Lake Michigan’s piers or shorelines to focus on your catch, all you really want is your primary spinning or casting rod.

Fishing Lake Michigan from a ship provides up alternatives that you just gained’t get from shore. If the timing of your on-foot fishing go to is excellent, although, you’ll have each probability of experiencing a Salmon-filled day. And fortunately, there are a number of occasions when each Chinook and Coho depart the deep waters of the lake to gap up across the piers and harbors.

Go to throughout spring and also you’ll discover Lake Michigan’s harbors, piers, and jetties teeming with Coho Salmon. Throughout the fall, you’ll expertise the annual Salmon run and spawning season. This implies an enormous variety of each Coho and Chinook species journey all through the lake, congregating round shoreline construction.

With regards to bait, native anglers suggest a barely distinctive – however extremely efficient – kind of lure. Seize a spoon, ideally coloured blue and silver, connect a small streamer fly a few foot forward of it…after which dip the entire thing in Alewife. The infamous bait fish has a novel scent that’s irresistible to Salmon.

Lake Michigan Salmon Fishing Spots

Whereas the lake itself is clearly residence to a thriving fishery, it’s additionally surrounded by an entire host of Salmon-filled tributaries, creeks, and hotspots. Listed below are a few of our favorites, protecting Lake Michigan itself and past…

  • Milwaukee River: Head to the mouth of the river, the place it feeds into Lake Michigan, throughout late fall. You’ll be in for a Chinook Salmon bonanza! Hop on a constitution boat, or deliver alongside your rod for some shore-fishing motion.
  • Sheboygan: This Wisconsin metropolis lies immediately on the banks of Lake Michigan. It’s residence to a marina stuffed with constitution boats, a formidable fishing pier, and a gradual Salmon inhabitants from late Could by November.
  • Port of Manistee: Situated in Michigan, this port is known for the unbelievable Salmon fishing it provides. Between July–September, you’ll be capable of goal enormous, hard-fighting Kings, with Coho making an look in late August.
  • Sturgeon Bay: Head to this “arm” of Lake Michigan from July–September. Regardless of its title, it’s not simply residence to Sturgeon – it’s a primary Salmon fishery, too. Round 4–5 miles from shore, you’ll encounter the “Financial institution,” the place the ground drops immediately. It’s a King Salmon magnet!
  • St. Joseph River: This Lake Michigan tributary has develop into a red-hot Coho Salmon fishing location lately. Go to throughout late fall, when these fish begin their spawning run alongside the river.

Guidelines and Laws

Lake Michigan is surrounded by 4 US states. There is no such thing as a current particular Lake Michigan fishing license, which implies that realizing what that you must deliver with a purpose to legally hook Salmon might be complicated!

Usually, each angler must buy a legitimate freshwater fishing license issued by the state they’re fishing from. You are able to do this by heading to the web site on your state’s Division of Wildlife and Fisheries or Division of Pure Sources. In case you’re fishing from Illinois, Michigan, or Wisconsin, take a look at our useful guides to getting a license.

What number of Salmon you may catch or hold differs relying on the place you’re fishing from. In Indiana, you may hold a most of 5 Salmon per day. This is similar in Michigan, however every fish should measure no less than 10 inches. These guidelines are topic to vary, so we’d suggest keeping track of your state’s native rules.

Lake Michigan Salmon Fishing: Nice Lake, Even Higher Fish!

So there you might have it: the story of two Salmon species, and the way they turned essentially the most beloved angling opponents on this Nice Lake. All that’s left is to seize your rods and reels and head out on an unforgettable Lake Michigan Salmon fishing journey!

Have you ever ever been fishing for Salmon on Lake Michigan? Any suggestions, methods, or strategies you need to inform us about? Go away us a remark beneath. We love listening to from you!

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