I’ll make this a short story:
Walleye guys limit every night from 18 to 28″s. Bass are moving onto the beds and you can catch a couple of dozen in hours on the flats averaging 3-5 #s, but it’s better weekdays when there are not many boats. Bass tourny here this weekend, so don’t come to fish them then.
Now the salmon report you have all been waiting for. I have fished salmon on Lake Michigan for more years than I can count and I can tell you that this is the first year I have fished salmon in May. This is an unusual year to say the least, 15 salmon in three hours at the dock, 15 salmon in four hours leaving the dock at 6am, 20+ salmon and can’t close the cooler lid so we quit and came in. Two guys couldn’t carry the cooler with just fillets in it, we had to wheel it off the dock.
This is as good as it gets and if someone can tell me how to get my Motorola smart phone videos in a program that you can view I will send them out.
Well, it’s off to the boat to get things ready for tomorrows trip on a friends go fast boat. It doesn’t get any better than this, so I will fish every chance I get.
Salmon have never been here this early, I’m not going to let these opportunities to fish slide by, you shouldn’t either.
Light winds and tight lines to you and yours…………Capt Bill
Well, it has been awhile since I have a fishing report, so I will recap the winter and let you know what is going on now.
Warmest winter on record left us with little ice on the Bay this year and what we did get tended to move around a lot. I never sent out a report or called many people about the “whitefishing” because ice conditions were so bad. We were forced to stay in the bays where the ice was locked in instead of going out to the more productive waters, so the fish had to come to us instead of the other way around. We caught fish, but it was a slower winter fishing for all and you needed to be very careful when you ventured out. Had a few friends that had to be rescued when they ventured out onto unsafe ice. Several idiots more than once, but we did not lose anybody. Numerous shacks were lost, along with 4 wheelers and a lot of fishing gear, a few cars and trucks, but thank God no bodies. I will never call you to come under these conditions, so you got no calls last year from me. I will let you know next year if it is normal and we can drive right out to the shacks.
March was exceptionally warm, but April has been cooler, so we are only a couple of weeks ahead of a normal spring now. But with the warmer than normal winter and early ice melt the water temps are warmer than a normal spring, so:
Walleyes…….Really good early bite just after ice out, then it cooled off post spawn, now they are biting really good again. The limit is only one per person until the opener next weekend and the best bite is after dark, but if your dedicated you can catch that one in a lifetime walleye over 10 or 12#s.
Brown Trout…..We have been struggling to catch Browns for years. We believe it is because the DNR planted many more walleyes these past years. The Browns are planted just about the time all of the walleyes move close to shore pre-spawn, so the predation rate has been huge on these little guys. The DNR is now planting these Browns deep water from a moving boat to spread the fish out. This means the birds and predator fish don’t just step up to the buffet line, they at least have to work for there meal. Seems to be working, because there were more Browns caught this year than in the past several. Baileys Harbor held their Brown Trout tournament this last weekend and the winner was 31#s. I don’t know the quantity of fish caught, but this is a huge Brown!!
Whitefish…..Typically our fish of choice through the ice, but decided to try them from a boat this past week. Was very surprised at the quantity and quality of the fish we caught. We use the same gear and tactics as with winter fishing and surprisingly to me it was easy to see the bite and the fish pulled harder than in winter. I will be fishing these more this week to see if the bite continues or see if the fish are moving to. I will let everyone know on this fishery in a week or so, have some guys coming over this weekend and I think we will try fishing them from the big boat.
Salmon…..As I stated earlier the water is warmer than normal on Lake Michigan. Normally we would be seeing water temps in the 40s close to shore and still in the 30s in deep water, but it is already in the 40s on the bank reef and beyond. Several boats ventured out and did really well this past weekend. Is it a fluke or are the Chinooks here in numbers this early? We will be fishing the Lake more this week also and I will certainly let everyone know what is going on. Might be the year where you can fish an early trip with record catches and come back up for your normal trip a second time. Pictures and numbers will be sent as soon as we get back from our first trip later this week.
Tight lines and light winds to you an yours………Capt Bill
It’s been almost a month now since the last report, so I thought I had better send another before this salmon and trout season comes to an end.
All of us midwesterners still remember how late a spring it was, fishing didn’t get going till June 23rd (6 weeks late). Then we had a good couple of weeks and then mid July was slow (way too much bait) and now it’s the middle of August. Have not seen better fishing this year than the last two weeks and the last three days have been great. Never less than a teen count and many days in the 20+ and can’t close the cooler lids with all the big fish.
Some of you know Denis, he and I went out a morning last week and had two fish out over 600′ at the same time. I think there was almost a curse word or two used before these fish were landed, but you guys know I don’t hang with Denis because he’s the brightest bulb right. He also is not that good with math as I noticed when we started cleaning fish on the way in.
No one even tells you about a big fish if it isn’t over 25 lbs now or even over 30 lbs there have been so many fish caught in the 20’s.
The huge schools of alewives we were seeing earlier have disappeared and most of us believe this is the reason the fishing has gotten so good. A month ago they would gorge themselves on the billions of alewives that were on the bank reef, why eat your fly or spoon? However, now with only an average number of bait out there they are hungry when you come trolling over them, thus the large coolers coming in.
The only question now is with the season starting 6 weeks late, how long will these larger fish continue to feed until the urge to spawn takes over and the spawning fish quit feeding? (mother nature doesn’t want these spawning salmon to eat their own eggs, to insure that they will quit eating weeks before coming into the rivers to spawn) The questions is when will that be? Years ago we fished these spawners in November, but it’s normally Oct now. So my best guess would be we will have three to four weeks yet with these big fish biting before staging to run the river, spawn and die.
Doesn’t mean the season ends then, just that the spawning fish are harder to catch. At that time of year we will fish for 3 year olds on the bank in the early hours and then come in to try for some of the larger staging fish to give the fishermen a shot at their own personal record largest fish. Also at this time of year the rainbows are closer to shore, so you get two good things happening. One the number of fish can be greater with the colder waters coming in to shore bringing with it the rainbows and the number of fishermen is much less, so you have a greater chance of catching the hungry fish.
So in a nutshell, if you want to get here for the best big fish fishing yet this year, come in August or very early September. If later than that we will probably be fishing 10-15 lb salmon and 5-15 lb rainbows on the lake and then back into the canal for a pass or two at the big guys.
Our biggest fish this year was 29.85 lbs, would certainly like this to be in the 30 lb range before year end!!!!
Tight lines and light winds to you and yours…………Capt Bill
I was actually cancelling trips a few weeks ago for lack of fish, that has all changed again. We are not seeing the numbers we have in past years, but the fish are really big.
In the past two weeks, I know of a 34.5lb ,a 32lb a 29.75lb and common 20lb fish coming on almost every trip.
We had a mini tournament that ended yesterday where we could all weigh in 5 fish. It was a 5 day tournament, but we only fished three days and our combined weight of the 5 fish was 89lbs or an average weight of 17.75lb per fish, the largest being a 28lb ‘er. So it has gone from good to poor to good to very good fishing again this year. How long it lasts we won’t know, but I can tell you the guys that have been fishing recently have been excited.
If you have the urge to tackle one of these monsters you only need call, but I would call soon. I will also update again a little later in the month.
Check out facebook, we add pictures almost every day……..Capt Bill
Thought I had better inform all again about the fishing changes that are taking place here towards the end of June.
Finally I can say it “They’re heeeeeeerrrrrre!!!” We are seeing full coolers now and have been for the past few days. Fishing over the weekend was just OK, but by Sunday night all hell broke loose. Had three fathers and sons out and they experienced several triples. Monday morning a little slower, but we filled the box and were in an hour early.
Too windy to fish yesterday, but today they bit like piranhas again. All quality fish also. One group fished two days and went home with $2,400.00 worth of salmon which is priced here in our markets at $12/#, so needless to say they won’t need to buy fish for awhile. Catches are mostly King Salmon with a few Rainbows mixed in and an occasional Laker. Largest fish we have caught this year so far is 24#, but heard of a few fish being caught which were approaching 30#s. All the fish we are seeing are great looking and they are making reels scream coming from the cold waters, so don’t hold off any longer, get your calendars in hand and give a call.
Walleye slowed a little bit last week , but the fisherman are now taking them in good numbers again on crawlers slow trolled behind bait walker rigs. With this technique they are also getting some really nice perch.
Bass are still on or around their beds and in the spawning areas (even with it being so late in the year) and the guys fishing them are also having record days. One bass fisherman was complaining he caught so many bass one day that he had to put on a wrist brace, Gary asked me not to tell anyone, so I won’t unless he changes his mind.
Also for you fishing enthusiasts, go online to “The Lodge at Leathem Smith” website in the next few days. We have a dock camera and when you bring it up it is a live feed and looks right at my Nooo Problem boat. You can look at this anytime to see what is going on at the dock, with most activity at 4am 10am 1pm and 6pm. Saturday around 10-11:00am we will be shooting a You Tube video of the fish and fishing for that morning. So that will be a video that you can look at anytime.
The Lodge has been remodeled and reopened and I had a Salmon BLT there today and Eric had fish taco’s, both excellent, so we have another place to eat now and we can walk there. Also the boat is on the left dock now and in the first slip. Got to move because the docks were dredged, so remember that when you get there, don’t walk all the way to the end of the right dock and then have to walk back and over to the left dock and out to the boat like my last customers.
Many changes at the docks and the lodge, we are excited and our thanks go out to the new owners and their staff, they have spent a lot of money with these upgrades and it is all coming together now. Thank Chris and Paul next time you see them, and if you don’t know them stop in they are here all the time!!
We will also have a fishing report for you updated 5 days per week. I believe you will access this report by calling Leathem Smith Lodge (920-743-5555), but not ready yet. They think it will be up next week, so I will send more info when available. This will be a great way for you to get your fishing information and I will guarantee it’ll be an honest and accurate report.
I know I just sent a fishing report last week, but with the changing conditions out on the lake it’s time for another. Salmon/Trout The fish are now staging in deep water off the reef in record numbers along with the alewife’s. (We see them on our very expensive sonar units) You can watch them come up to look at your baits and head back down to the bottom again without a bite!! Most fish being caught are in the 120-140′ depth and they will be spitting out alewife’s when they reach the boat. You ask why, well, they want to eat, but the water is still so cold they cannot metabolize very well, so they still act like winter fish. They feed and then virtually go dormant while they digest. Imagine what’s going to happen when the water warms, these fish need to eat to grow, so eat they will and we should be out there.
The warmest water is around 50 degrees now, so it’s starting to warm. This week we’ll experience 70 degrees every day, calm winds will also help let the lake warm. As this happens the fish move up in the water column and get active, so it’s time for you to look to your calendars.
Normal season of late has been May through July into August, this year’s season will be late June through August into Sept and maybe even Oct. This year’s will be just like what we had years ago, so will I have all my hair with no gray and will Eric be chasing teenagers? Wait Eric still does chase teenagers! So now through August is when you should book and as the season progresses we’ll even be looking at Sept for some of the monsters to be biting.
I also realize in talking with you guys that the economy is having a big impact on your businesses and your fishing groups. You guys tell me that in your group of six guys two are on reduced hours one is laid off and two more don’t know day to day if they will have a job. You guys have all been loyal customers, I realize this economy is an issue, so please call me and we will work something out.
Bass fishing remains second to none (how many do you want to catch in a day), walleyes have slowed some and drum have moved into the traditional walleye trolling areas. People say they eat freshwater drum, I haven’t tried them, but catching these 10-15# fish on light tackle is a ball. My bud’s caught 23 of them this weekend before they had had enough! A few perch being caught yet and good sized drifting with minnows off the shelves in 20′ or so water.
Bout all for now, good fishing and tight lines to you and yours………..Capt Bill
It’s been two weeks since the last update and many of you are calling, so thought I had better send another update out.
The salmon and trout fishing on Lake Michigan waters has not changed much over the past two weeks. We were starting to see 7-8-10 fish per trip two weeks ago, then the winds came, stirred up the water and the fish went away. Now we are seeing 3-4 fish per trip again this week, but it has been very windy and not many guys are getting out. When they have ventured out the rough seas have made it difficult to get what fish are out there to bite and a lot of the bites are coming 120-140′ down where the water is warmer, so the hook ups have been less than you like also. Water temps still in the 40’s, so we need heat and calm winds for a few days to warm the water and bring the fish in and up.
Wisconsin, (along with a good portion of the country) has been colder and wetter than normal for 5 or the last 6 months and this has pushed back spring a minimum of 4-5 weeks. They say La Nina is now weakening and will allow normal temperatures to soon return and will also reduce the amount of storms and winds we have been seeing all spring. We certainly don’t need any more tornadoes!!!
Please remember we have been canceling the trips in early June and pushing their dates back due to “lack of participation by the salmon”, so the later calendar is filling. Better call and at least pencil in a date so you aren’t left in a quandary later in the season. We can always make changes later!
This late spring has done some good things. For one it has prolonged the walleye and perch bite. This week the guys are catching limits of both when trolling with crawlers in shallow water (8-12′). Or they are fishing perch with minnows on the bottom in 18-25′ of water and doing well.
I don’t think this bite could get any better. A friend of mine has caught over 200 bass in the last several days on tubes and grubs. When you catch that many color doesn’t really matter does it, but the darker colors have been good.
So tomorrow morning, depending on the wind I will be going walleye/perch or bass fishing. I will let you know and send you pictures.Tight lines and following seas to you and yours…………………Capt Bill
Ice has gone away, but some mornings this spring I think it could be making ice again. It is now just getting close to normal on temperatures around here, but the water in the bay and on the lake is really cold yet. At the dock at Leathem the water temp is 54 degrees, 2 1/2 miles off shore it is 44 degrees and drops like a rock as you go further out………Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!! Spring is about 4 weeks behind last year and we have only had a few days in the 70’s so far. It has to get warmer soon right??
Bite was really good just after ice out and lasted through the spawn, now it has been hit or miss for the trollers, the day time troll isn’t very good right now, but the night fisherman are doing pretty well. We couldn’t get em trolling last weekend so we spent an evening fishing with minnows and got some.
They are biting well for the guys fishing them in deeper water. They need about 55 degrees for the males to start making beds and then the females can be coaxed in when the temp is around 60. Under my boat at the dock it was 54 degrees yesterday, so they should be thinking about the spawn, but it’s again less than 60 degree air temp and has rained all day, so they’ll be put off a little more I suppose. Guys are fishing the staging bass on the drop-offs near the flats where they are wanting to go to spawn.
Trout and Salmon
What you are all interested in I am sure, we started salmon fishing May 15th last year and I called and moved many of you up in the season so you were fishing the best times, which was late May into August. This year we were all hoping to see an early start, but not to be. I just read an article dated April 19th and at that time we had only (3) 60 degree days, a cold snap of epic proportion if it was to continue, and it has.
Three boats fished last weekend for a few hours on fun runs and although it’s hard for these fisherman to admit how slow it was I know the truth, one boat had no bites, one boat had one bite, one fish and the other one lied about having multiple doubles because it’s hard to have multiple doubles when you come in with two fish.
One boat out of Algoma ran 5 trips last week. He was bragging about how many trip he was booking this early in the season and he has yet to take out his fillet knife. That’s right, 5 trips zero fish and he was going out again the next day.
I am so happy that I made my living before I started fishing, so I can fish for fish and not fish for money like so many of these other idiots.
Can you tell I am a little miffed at these guys telling people to come on up knowing full well they aren’t going to do well and quite possibly won’t catch a fish!!!!!! I don’t know yet how I can fix this unethical even immoral behavior but I will be working on it, so stay tuned.
The Lodge at Leathem Smith
Some exciting news around the lodge/marina, we have new owners Chris Jeancourt bought the marina and Paul Meleen purchased the motel/bar and hotel. Chris has dredged the marina, so we have moved the Nooo Problem to the first slip on the south dock. Measured it the other day, you will save 134 steps and that is a lot when you consider the beer you bring out and the fish you take back down the dock.
Paul and Chis are working feverishly to get everything ready for a great season and will be catering to fisherman. I know you will like both these fellows and their crews and we now won’t have far to go for a burger and a beer or a dip in the pool or a hotel room.
They will be installing cameras on the docks, so you can see your friends or hubby coming and going on the boats and see the fish we catch. I will let you all know more about this when it gets close to being up and running (a few short weeks we think). I know this will be an awesome service for fisherman.
So we are excited about the changes and look forward to a great season. Many boats will be out over the Memorial day weekend on fun runs, so if the fish show up we will be waiting for them. I will be calling or emailing as soon as we see fish in record numbers.Light winds, tight lines and following seas to you………….Capt Bill