Tricks For Taking Lake Michigan King Salmon

By: Terry Leverett

lake michigan king salmonSome of these tricks aren’t for everybody and some are not easy to use but they have all worked for me when other methods aren’t working. Some of you may have seen my forums post about “the catch of the day”,.. well I was using some of these tricks when I caught that diver rod with the fish still on it.

As most of you know King Salmon relate to structure and even more so this time of year. What I was doing was working a bank (shelf). I go in and hit bottom with weights make a sharp turn off of it, raise weights and go back over the same spot. It stirs op the sand and the fish will come to see what is doing it. After two or three passes with no hits move further down the shelf and start over again.

Alternatively, I drag what my dad calls a #9 wire. It’s about 3/16 stainless diameter and two feet long.

Just it let drag bottom. With the zebra mussels these days, this is less hassle. This also works got on lakers… just use a big magnum spoon about 30 ft. behind the weight.

Everybody uses Dipsys but another trick is to add a line above it. The hard part is using a rubber band (half hitch it) so the spoon is directly above the diver. Its a real pain to use and get in the water with out tangling it, but for some strange reason steelhead love it and if a really big one hammers it don’t be afraid to loose some tackle!

When I used to charter out of Grand Haven, which I think is one of the hardest ports to catch fish out of because there is no real structure and all the fish except fall spawners are traveling, the only thing to do was dazzle them. That’s where I learned about tape. I still carry a box full of tape, scrolling shears, pinking shears, and different size paper punches. This is the port where I started taping both sides of the spoons and it still works great especially glo tape (we call it double glo). We even tape chrome #4 J-Plugs and did real well with them last weekend.

Another thing that works well for the small boat anglers is using a two pound drop weight (don’t drop it, rig it up with two pinch releases). Let out about 100 ft. of line, hook on the weight then let it out till it hits bottom, then raise it up a couple feet off bottom. This is effective when the kings are in front of the piers. They tell me they can mark this ball on a graph. I have never fished like this but I have seen the pictures of limit catches of kings when they are rigger shy in shallow water.

Now that everybody is running double divers and double lead core on both sides of the boat, we are using a one pound drop weight (again you don’t drop it). Tie it on with a swivel and a short piece of line and hook it to the swivel that you hook the diver to. This is not to make it run deeper, but rather it’s to get it deeper yet closer to the boat so a big king can run around with out getting tangled in other long lines. This you will have to experiment with to get the right length out for the same depth. Say instead of running a regular diver 250 ft. back with a pound of lead you may only have to run one hundred back.

Another trick we used to use before line counter reels, was pulling chain singers (1/2 up to 4 oz.). Let the line out, count passes on the reel or let it out a rod length at a time and then tie a rubber band on the line just before it goes in the reel. Then if I hit a fish I let it out the same length to where the band is. Simple but it works well and is a lot cheaper than a line counter.

A trick that works really good when your fishing (tournament fishing) lake trout deep is to turn your graph off ( just use your G.P.S). Lakers are called the bread and butter fish of the great lakes because unless there is a big weather or water temp change they don’t move and stay in the same area unless you keep going over them. Your sound waves from your transducer keeps rattling their swim bladder. Have you ever wondered why fish shut off in deep water? It’s not boat or rigger noise that turns them off! I learned this from a biologist from the fish and wild life service.

When I had an outboard or I/O boat I would drive it so the prop was just in the water. The spring coho sure love to swim the bubble line it makes, but they tell me its not real good on drive shafts.

I don’t pack fish but even on the weekends (everybody including me is pulling lead core). This time of year if the pack is working north and south, I’m the guy going east and west.

Earlier I told you in Grand Haven you had to dazzle them. This is the same idea. Do something different than everybody else to make your bait different than the pack. In my port, working east and west usually takes the most fish, its usually cross currents and its cross structure.

I don’t claim to be an expert, but these are things that have worked for me and won me money tournament fishing. As I have said these tips may not work for you, and if you use the slider above the diver don’t say I didn’t warn you!

And thanks to all those that e-mailed me on the last story.

email Terry Leverett

1 Comment on Tricks For Taking Lake Michigan King Salmon

  1. Terry thank you I fish out of Pentwater and am trying to learn out to catch fish and can catch 1 to 3 but that’s it I hear about divers at 100 and 150 I have a wire diver but I didnt know you can run them past 100 foot out why do they do that and not just use down rigger is it to get it away from boat.i also have one lead core rod should I buy another or would you suggest I buy a copper. I try to run nice spread but I just need a little help with out to spread all lines on the boat. Thank you for the article and any other help.FISH ON

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