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King Salmon

November 20, 2012

October 9, 2012

Over the years I had heard from co-workers and others about the great salmon fishing on Lake Michigan.  Since I was headed to Milwaukee, WI, for a business conference I decided to look into the fishing opportunities.  At first, my search showed lots of nice catches on various charters that primarily trolled deeper waters. While intriguing, I hoped to find a charter or guide that allowed you to cast or jig.  Nothing against trolling as it can be very effective at times.  There is just something more alluring about casting on your own and feeling the strike and having the opportunity to set the hook.

It took me awhile, but I found a guide by the name of Eric Haataja and checked out his webpage.  The photos and videos of the giant Kings and Brown Trout caught by Eric and his clients on light tackle are simply amazing.  Casting jigs, crank baits, or fishing with salmon eggs, the ability to catch and land one of these beasts on light tackle was what I was looking for.  I was hooked.

Having set up the trip several weeks in advanced, I met Eric at the McKinley Marina and headed out in the harbor where we were protected from a howling wind out of the SE.  I was glad to have booked this trip rather than a main lake charter, as it would have been too rough.  Finding a spot out the wind we soon had lines in the water that were baited with skein (a home brewed concoction of salmon eggs, preservatives and flavors). Looking down into the water was like looking into a fish bowl filled with giant salmon that returned from the main lake to spawn and ultimately die.  Within minutes my slip bobber disappeared from sight and it was fish on.  The runs and strength of a King Salmon is simply amazing and it took me awhile to get the first one in.

First King Salmon – Ever

I thought maybe the pod of fish would spook as the result of the runs and ruckus in landing the first fish, but there were still fishing splashing around.  About fifteen minutes later I landed my second fish.

Check out the teeth on these things.

I was surprised by the fact that despite the ferocity of these teeth, they rarely cut the line.  They are unlike the razor edged teeth of a Northern Pike or Musky in that regard.

For the next several hours we established a pattern of catching a few fish before the pod migrated elsewhere forcing us to move and find another school of fish.  All in all I managed to catch 9 kings and broke a couple off before we decided to chase Brown Trout.  The Brown Trout grow to extraordinary sizes in Lake Michigan and we hoped to tie into one of those beasts.  Throwing an assortment of crank baits, it wasn’t long before Eric tied into a 20″ brown.  Not quite the giant we expected but a nice fish nonetheless.

For whatever reason, the Browns were not as active as the Kings.  Eric managed another nice brown on a jig, while I nailed another King on a crank bait.

All in all it was an incredible experience and I highly recommend it.  Eric is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide who most importantly puts his clients on fish.

– Hats

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