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This week's Feature Blog

Salmon Season

By: Mark Romanack

Summer time is “salmon season” all across the Great Lakes.

​ Technically speaking there is no official “salmon season” in the Great Lakes, but for my family the months of July and August have always been about chasing down silver fish. It’s during this time frame that salmon, lake trout and steelhead are widely available in a host of ports all across the Great Lakes region.

​ There is just something special about those balmy early mornings on the big pond. I love the anticipation that comes with the promise of big fish and that rush when a monster chinook crushes a bait and starts screaming out drag.

​ I’ve had the pleasure of fishing just about every noteworthy port in the Great Lakes that routinely puts out excellent summer salmon fishing action. Here are a few of my favorites everyone who enjoys summer salmon fishing should put on the “must do” list of fishing adventures.


​ Sheboygan, has quietly become the “Ludington” of Wisconsin. This port is consistently delivering the best catches of chinook, coho, lake trout and steelhead in Wisconsin waters. Sheboygan reminds me of Ludington because the fish are found scattered over large deep water flats, much like we find in Ludington, Michigan. The biggest difference is Sheboygan in recent years has been producing more fish and a better mix of species that just about any port in Lake Michigan.

​Anglers who routinely fish Sheboygan are typically doubling down by running some lead core lines with spoons high in the water column for steelhead, while at the same time running diving planers, downriggers and weighted stainless steel wire rigs deep for coho and chinook. The deeper fish are routinely taken using flasher/fly combinations, but flasher/SpinFish combinations and flasher/meat rigs are also productive.


​One of the most quiet and beautiful ports in the Great Lakes is the tiny community of Presque Isle on Lake Huron between Cheboygan and Alpena. This out of the way port offers up a good mixed bag in July and August consisting of lake trout, Atlantic salmon, steelhead and a spattering of chinook, coho and pink salmon.

​Most anglers who fish Presque Isle are fishing flasher/Spin n Glo combinations for lake trout deep and spoons on lead core higher in the water column for salmon and steelhead. Most days an angler is going to catch a quick limit of lake trout and spend the rest of the time targeting those coveted silver fish.


​Back in the day Oscoda was one of the most popular and busy ports on Lake Huron. After the alewife crash in the early 1990’s chinook salmon numbers plummeted and without the chinook salmon anglers started abandoning many ports in Lake Huron.

​ While many would argue that Lake Huron has never completely recovered, these days a mixed bag of species are regularly caught in Oscoda including chinook, lake trout, steelhead, Atlantic Salmon, coho, pink salmon and even walleye. Often on any given day an angler is going to boat three or four different species with lake trout, steelhead, Atlantic salmon and walleye being the most common catches.

​ Walleye are regularly taken on lead core/spoon set ups running in the top 40 feet of the water column. Steelhead and Atlantic salmon are often taken on these same rigs, while lake trout and the occasional chinook salmon are regularly taken deep running flasher/fly, flasher/Spin n Glo and flasher/meat rig set ups.


​The port of Wheatley Ontario is located on the north shore of Lake Erie about 40 miles southeast of Detroit. In the summer months the waters from Wheatley east to Erieau are teaming with steelhead and also walleye.

​The steelhead are taken on lead core and spoon set ups, set to fish 25-60 feet down. Diving planers with spoons are also popular for targeting steelhead in the 40-60 foot depths. Thirdly, downriggers again with spoons are going to be essential for anyone targeting steelhead at Wheatley, Ontario.

​Standard and mini sized Silver Streak spoons have produced very well on steelhead for our team over the years at Wheatley. The most popular colors are Orange Crush, Orange Chilly Willy, Mixed Vegetables and Candy Corn.

​The walleye are generally found higher in the water column and can be taken trolling deep diving crankbaits or smaller walleye spoons on lead core. The Wolverine Tackle Jr. Streak and the Mini Streak are the ideal size for targeting walleye.


​Lake Ontario continues to deliver some of the most consistently excellent salmon fishing found anywhere in the Great Lakes. The sleepy port of Olcott located about 20 miles east of the Niagara River mouth dishes out limit catches of chinook salmon and steelhead daily. In the summer these fish are taken off shore in 300-600 feet of water with the steelhead typically coming in the top 50 feet while the salmon are regularly found 60-80 feet down.

​ Flasher/fly rigs and flasher/meat rig combinations and magnum spoons fished on wire divers and downriggers take the majority of the salmon while lead core and standard sized spoon set ups take the steelhead.

It’s amazing how many big steelhead like this can be caught in Lake Erie at ports including Wheatley, Erieau and Erie, PA. Brightly colored spoons like this Wolverine Tackle Mini Streak are the ticket.


​Everyone thinks of Lake Erie and they think walleye. Actually the eastern end of Lake Erie coughs up great fishing for steelhead, lake trout and of course the ever popular walleye. The port of Erie, Pennsylvania is located near a submerged structure known locally as the “Mountain” that routinely attracts steelhead and lake trout in the deeper water and walleye higher in the water column.

​ Spoons on divers and downriggers get the majority of the steelhead and lake trout, while spoons on lead core are popular among walleye fishermen. Some walleye guys also troll single strand Monel wire with crankbaits to get a little deeper.


​Every one of these ports are worth a visit. The magic of fishing the big pond is hard to beat. During the middle of the summer the weather is typically very good and stable weather promotes exceptional fishing. If you’re looking for a way to beat the heat, capitalize on some of these off shore Great Lakes fisheries that rarely disappoint.


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