What We Will Fish For...
Chinook (King) Salmon
Chinook Salmon is the top of food chain and is generally the most prized gamefish across the Great Lakes. We typically catch Chinook in the 10-20lb range over the course of the summer but fish over 20lbs are not at all uncommon. When reaching about 12lbs and more, Chinooks are famous for their line screaming runs of 100 yards and more when hooked. The Chinook (and also the Coho) is the same kind of fish you see fishermen (and grizzlies) catch in the streams of Alaska and the Pacific Norhwest. The Illinois State record for Chinook is 37lbs and was caught in these waters of Lake Michigan in August of 1976.
Coho Salmon are the smaller cousin of the Chinook which we catch in huge numbers during April, May and June. We will catch Coho in the 3-6lb class in April and May and will often be tangling with Coho in the 9-12 class by June. While smaller than Chinook, 12lb Coho are very hard fighters and would easily give a Chinook of the same weight a run for its money. The Illinois State record Coho is nearly 21lbs and was caught in these waters of Lake Michigan in late May of 1972.
The only real native gamefish to the Great Lakes, the Lake Trout has made a huge comeback after being nearly wiped out by the parasitic Lamprey Eel in the 1960's and are again being caught in large numbers. Lake Trout are a unique fish and are native only to North America and nowhere else in the world. You would have to travel well into the Canadian wilderness to experience the same kind of trophy Lake Trout fishery we now have on Lake Michigan. We will experience decent Lake Trout action over the summer but it is best during their spawning season in October. During the Lake Trout spawn in the fall, we may specifically target Lake Trout on the deepwater reefs that aren't far from Illinois shores. Growing only about a pound a year on average, they are generally the longest living fish in the Great Lakes. It is in this regard after being nearly wiped out by the 60's, that consecutive state records began being set and set again during the 1990's with the Illinois State record being caught in these waters of Lake Michigan in August of 1999 and weighing in at over 38lbs.
Steelhead (Rainbow Trout)
In recent decades, the Steelhead fishery in Lake Michigan has taken off, providing anglers with another almost as equally entertaining an adversary as the Chinook can offer with many line peeling acrobatic jumps out of the water when hooked. The Steelhead in Lake Michigan now are not the same species as those your father or grandfather may have caught. In those days, more colorful football-shaped Rainbows were caught and they didn't jump as much. These days we catch far more silvery, ocean run strains of Steelhead with dark blue backs that are generally longer and more narrow. We catch these hard fighting, acrobatic fish in the 8-16lb class throughout the season when the schools show up at the southern end of the Lake. On average though, we will catch more Steelhead during June and July. The Illinois State record Steelhead was caught in these waters of Lake Michigan in early July 1993 and weighed more than 31lbs.
The variety of Brown Trout we fish for and catch is hard to beat anywhere. Because of the forage base they feed on, Lake Michigan Brown Trout grow far heavier than their close cousins that fly fishermen fish for in the mountain streams out west but they are essentially the same fish. A very beautiful fish, our Browns take on a stocky physique and can be consistently caught in the 7-14lb range with heavier fish not at all uncommon. Inhabiting far shallower and warmer water than any other species on the lake, Browns are usually more of a bonus fish for our customers as we usually do not find ourselves exclusively fishing for them outside of April & October when larger catches can be expected. The Illinois State record Brown was caught in June of 1997 in these waters of Lake Michigan and weighed close to 37lbs.