With 2015 officially in the books and everyone looking ahead to what the 2016 Lake Michigan fishing season will bring I’d like to take one last look at what worked for the Poseidon Crew during this often challenging year. As I’ve done in past seasons I’m going to open up our daily fish logs and breakout by species what worked for us.
First a few thoughts on the year in general. In 2015 if you wanted to fill your box you really needed to work on a having a good multi-species program! The years of a complete King dominated fishery in the southern half of this lake are over (at least for the time being). Lakers were available in huge numbers throughout the entire season, we had trips where without even targeting Lakers we’d catch 10-20 of them. Cohos were around for a short period of time off the waters of Racine and Kenosha starting in late May and trickling to one here and there by about June 20th. Cohos never seemed to make an appearance in any sizable numbers north of Wind Point. Rainbows were great filler fish on any trip with the best fishing for them being in late July / early August of last season. We only made a few attempts at Browns and did catch them when we tried in their usual near shore haunts.
Over all it was a great season for the Poseidon tournament team which I mainly attribute to hard work with constant adjustments and tweaks to our program during the course of the season to make sure we always find a way to fill the box. On the year we had the following finishes:
Racine Salmon Unlimited Open – 6th Place Overall, Big Coho
Kenosha Classic – 5th Place Overall, Big King, 1st Place Southwest Salmon Series
Geoffrey Morris Tournament – 2nd Place AM side, 4th Place Southwest Salmon Series
Brew City Salmon Tournament – 2nd Place Overall, 2nd Place Southwest Salmon Series
Kings – 87 Total (39 on Flasher Flies, 21 on Spoons, 15 on Plugs, 14 on Meat Rigs)
Kings continue to be tough, it been the same story since 2013 with our catch dropping compared to 2014. The size of the kings have shrunk as well with our largest King on the year being a respectable 22.5#, though that was the only 20+# King we landed. The vast majority of Kings were in that 8-15# range with only a few in the 16-18# class. The largest share of our kings came on Flasher Flies, but Spoons, Plugs and Meat Rigs all kicked in there fair share as well. It was more about depth then anything, if the kings were in the 70+ range down 50 or more feet attractors pulling flies or meat worked best. Shallow water kings bit the spoons and plugs for the most part. Half way through the season in an attempt to get our fly program cranking we were trying all our favorites along with new variations of them, but nothing was pulling more then a king here or there. We just couldn’t get any consistency on the Kings until we tried our Glowing Leprechaun Fly, except we replaced the glowing tinsel with a blue glow rubber. Once we did that we had a winner that caught kings every trip for the rest of the season for us. This fly became a staple on our wire divers behind a bunch of different flashers. The great successes we had with the new Glowing Leprechaun Fly led us to officially replace the fly on our website with the 2015 Frog version going forward.
Best King Flasher Fly Combos 2015:
- Pro-Troll “White Supercharge UV” w/Glowing Leprechaun
- MI Stinger “Black Jeans” w/Naughty Leprechaun
- Pro-Troll “White Double Glow” w/Glowing Leprechaun or UV LBB
Coho’s – 49 Total (40 on Flasher Flies, 5 on Spoons, 4 on Meat Rigs)
Well it wasn’t the best year for Coho in Wisconsin waters. They were around in good targetable numbers for a month or so starting in mid to late May. The best Coho action seemed to stay in Illinois waters for most of the year. The few times we specifically targeted Coho they were unsurprisingly all over the Orange Jensen Dodgers paired with Peanuts or Mini flies. The rest of our Cohos came on the larger flasher flies randomly throughout the season. Year after year Cohos show a stronger preference towards flasher/dodger and flies then any other salmonid in the lake.
Best Coho Flasher Fly Combos 2015:
- 6″ Orange Jensen Dodger w/Sidewinder Peanut
- 6″ Orange Jensen Dodger w/Milwaukee Minnow Peanut
- 8″ ProKing Dragon Slayer w/Purple Mirage King Fly
Lake Trout – 68 Total (27 on Spin n Glo’s, 26 on Flasher Flies, 12 on Spoons, 3 on Plugs)
Lake trout fishing was as good as I’ve ever seen it. It was consistent from the day we put our boat in the water until the day we took it out. At times they’re seemingly all you could catch, and trust me you don’t have to try to catch Lakers most days they’ll find you. As with all fishing there are days they are off the bite but more often then not they’re biting whether you’re targeting them or not. The nice thing about Lake trout are they are amazingly consistent biters day to day and are easier to track down compared to other species if that’s what you’re after. On our boat besides tournaments we don’t really target Lakers as we don’t like to eat them so most get thrown back. They are often maligned as not being great fighters and while true with the smaller trout the big ones put up quite a tussle and can challenge even experienced anglers. Spin n Glo’s behind Dodgers tipped with various Mini Flies took most of our trout at least the ones we were targeting. To make this combo just take your Mini fly and slide a couple glow beads down the leader, then slide your Spin n Glo down the same leader so it runs in front of the Mini Fly. Tie your normal 26-28″ leader and you have a super Laker taker.
Best Lake Trout Lures 2015:
- Luhr Jensen Trash Can Dodger w/ UV Chartruse Spin n Glo in front of a Green Dolphin Mini Fly
- Luhr Jensen White Pearl Dodger w/ Chartruse Orange Dot Spin n Glo in front of a Naughty Leprechaun Mini or Peanut Fly
- Pro-Troll “White Super UV” w/Super Frog
Steelhead – 34 Total (16 on Spoons, 11 on Plugs, 7 on Flasher Flies)
The Steelhead fishing was pretty solid for us in 2015, nothing crazy but most days we were able to put a couple of these chrome beauty’s in the fish box. Steelhead are crazy and will hit just about any presentation so I always struggle to give you what worked best…most likely it’s just what we had in the water when we trolled over a wolf pack of steel.
Best Steelhead Lures 2015:
- ProKing “Magic Man” Spoon
- Michigan Stinger “UV Pickle Seed” Spoon
- 6″ Orange Jensen Dodger w/Steelie Stomper Mini
Brown Trout – 16 Total (13 on Spoons, 3 on Plugs)
Brown trout are fish that can often be targeted near shore throughout the summer months, they are a structure fish and a blast to catch. This is another catch and release fish for us unless in a tournament, though I always vow to spend more time chasing Browns, maybe next year.
Overall the season was tougher then what we’ve grown used to, but still what an incredible resource!!! For now I think this is our new normal, though rumor has it the Alewife were able to pull off a respectable hatch this year, and with the warm winter so far it bodes well for their survival and the future of Lake Michigan Salmon and Trout fishing. Good luck next season and make sure to say hello if we see you on the water.