GRAND HAVEN — Every fishing trip is different and that’s especially so in the Great Lakes, where changing weather patterns and winds have a much bigger impact than they do on inland waters.
Things change quickly on the big water and that much became apparent when I joined up with Don Carlsen and his buddies the other day on Lake Michigan.
Carlsen started out just where he’d left them two days earlier — when he and a couple of his pals boxed 15 fish — in 70 feet of water on a westward troll. But the changing winds had warmed the water dramatically and it didn’t take long for Carlsen to acknowledge the difference.
“We had a triple on in the dark the other day,” he said, as the sun poked out behind us.
It was bumpy. The wind, though calming as the morning wore on, had blown pretty hard all night. It took quite a while to find the 50-degree (or less) water that Carlsen was looking for.
We were in 110 feet of water before a fish hit, when a downrigger went off, but the king salmon shook the spoon before we could bring it to net. Still, it was the start of something; we had four more strikes within the next 30 minutes as we continued on our westward troll.
Only two of the biters — a nice king in the 15-pound range and smaller guy (who also turned out to be a mature male when he cleaned him) — saw the net. The fish can come on spoons off a downrigger (56 feet down) and a 10-color lead-core. Both were deeper than Carlsen caught the last time out when all his fish came from 30-feet down or less — high in the water column. Obviously, the wind had delivered a layer of warm water near the surface.