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How To Catch Coho Salmon On Lake Michigan

Fishing For Coho Salmon

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Spring fishing season on Lake Michigan to most means only one thing Coho salmon fever. This article is my run and gun approach to some of the hottest fishing action you will find anywhere. The season for us starts about mid April with limit catches on Brown Trout but that's another story. Coho salmon action heats up the early part of May. These 3-5 pound scrappers are excellent table fare. The groups that charter with me come back year after year. Of all the fish I catch, they are my favorite for the table.

My spread of tackle is four Dipsy divers, twelve planer boards and four downriggers. Coho salmon like the commotion of a lot of tackle. This is no time to be conservative. Max out the number of legal lines you may run. The only problem with my presentation is the same tackle you run for Coho will also catch Rainbow Trout, if you can call that a problem. The problem is a fifteen pound Rainbow dancing out of the water in between all those lines can give the Captain heart failure what a way to go!!

Let's go into detail on each presentation to give you an idea on what works for me. When setting lines I usually put out the planer boards first. I run all the same type. There are a variety of brands, styles and sizes. Yellow Bird, Offshore, Church and others make them. My first choice for Coho is small Yellow Birds. They are small, light and easy to rig. They do require some tuning to perform at their best. On the back of the bird attach a split ring with a size 5 cross lock snap. You will appreciate this when rigging on cold days when your fingers are numb working with cold water and fish.

For a release you may run Red Devil or Offshore. I run Red Devil releases but you may find them a little difficult to work with. Whichever release you run, attach it with a split ring and install it at the tip of the V formed by the wire on the side of the bird. They must stay in this position all the time so I wrap a rubber band around the wire to hold the release in place. The trick to running birds is the adjustment to get them to run all in a row. You accomplish this by bending the wire on the side where the release is attached up or down to get them to track in a line.

I would number them once you have them running right. On each rod I run a 1/4 to 1 ounce bead chain trolling sinker at the end of the 20-25lb mono to avoid line twists and get the depth I want. From the sinker to the lure I use 15lb mono and a small cross lock snap.

When the fish hits, the board slides down to the trolling sinker. With the sinker in line, it will not knock the fish off as it would if it ran down to the lure.

I put out as many boards as I can handle, with equal number of boards on both sides of the boat. When setting this presentation, I set my boat speed at 1 to 2 mph and let out my lure about 30 to 100 feet and attach the board. When action is slow, adjust this distance and see what happens.

Once the board is attached, carefully lower the board into the water and let out enough line to allow room for more boards, between that board and the boat. Boards should be spaced about 30 feet apart.

I run mostly 6 inch orange flashers and Silver/blue, silver/green or purple flies. The distance from the flasher to the fly is 9 to 18 inches. When a fish hits, the board releases and it will drop back behind the boat. Land your fish and reset this board by letting out enough line to allow the board to fly back into the same spot it came from.

Dipsys are run as you normally do. I like to let out just enough line so you can't see the flasher. A good way to check your boat speed is to watch how your flasher on the dipsy is running. It should rock back and forth five times and then make a complete revolution. Downriggers are run with flashers and flies about 10 feet behind the ball. This produces the best action on the flasher. As with all flashers speed is critical.

Have a great fishing season.
Good Luck
Captain Jim.

Copyright© 2006, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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