Fishing 411 with Mark Romanack Episode 11 Lake Huron Lake Trout
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Posted On January 07, 2013
Fishing 411 with Mark Romanack
HARBOR BEACH LAKE TROUT, EPISODE 11
MARK ROMANACK, FISHING 411
HARBOR BEACH LAKE TROUT
in Michigan’s “Thumb Region” is the quiet port of Harbor Beach. No one goes
here except to go fishing and one trip to the area will confirm why on both
fronts. First of all Harbor Beach is not on the way to anywhere. If you end up
in Harbor Beach, either you took a lot of wrong turns or your intention was to
end up here.
known as a Great Lakes port rich in sport fishing history, Harbor Beach is
arguably the lake trout capital of the Great Lakes. Not only is this port well
known for producing lots of trout and big trout, the action is close to shore
making this fishery a favorite with charter boats and weekend warriors alike.
addition to lake trout, Harbor Beach has bonus steelhead, brown trout, coho in
the spring of the year and also pink salmon. Interestingly enough, the State of
Michigan has not stocked coho or pink salmon in this region of the lake. Those
fish are wild reared on the Ontario side of the lake. In the spring these fish
join forces with the salmon, steelhead and browns making a northward migration
up the coast.
lake trout on the other hand are year around residents of Harbor Beach. Early
in the year these fish are found close to shore feeding on spawning smelt.
Later in the summer the trout drift a little further off shore to find the cool
waters they require.
Fishing 411 crew rolled into Harbor Beach on May 20 right on the tail end of the
coho, brown trout and pink salmon run and right at the start of the prime lake
trout fishing action. Lake trout were clearly our target species, but we came
prepared to target kings, coho, browns, steelhead and pink salmon as well.
THE LAKE TROUT BITE
among Great Lakes ports as the “trout capital” I was confident we were going to
find good trout fishing action. On our side helping with this particular
episode I had two of the region’s top open water trollers, Bruce and Nick
DeShano of Off Shore Tackle. Born and raised in the thumb, together this father
and son team have over 70 years of experience catching lake trout.
two downriggers I have mounted on my boat would become “dedicated trout lines”
as fishing lake trout in this part of Lake Huron requires an angler to set the
downrigger weights close to bottom and to monitor them constantly.
one rigger Nick took the lead and on the other Bruce took up residence. The
method used to catch lake trout in this area is simple but must be adhered to
perfectly to be successful.
the terminal end of the downrigger rods both anglers were equipped with a 000
size Trout Dodger by Wordens in the frosted silver pattern. Attached to the
back of the dodger both lines featured an 18 inch leader of 40# test Vicious
Fluorocarbon with a No. 4 Yakima Spin-n-Glo body threaded on, plus two beads
and terminated by a No 1/0 treble hook. The beads add more color and allow the
Spin-n-Glo to spin properly.
rig is set about 10-15 feet behind the downrigger ball using an OR-1 Off Shore
Tackle line release and then lowered until the weight crashes bottom. The
forward movement of the boat soon causes the downrigger cable and ball to sway
a little, lifting the ball up off bottom. This process takes a few seconds. Once
the downrigger weight has lifted up off bottom, the weight is lowered a second
time until it hits bottom again.
in this manner the downrigger weight will fish along bottom occasionally making
contact with bottom and stirring up sediment. The trailing dodger also contacts
the bottom providing an enticing target for hungry trout that do the majority
of their feeding right on bottom.
the depth fluctuates, it’s best if an angler stations himself right next to the
downrigger and rises and lowers the ball as needed to keep the bait making
contact with bottom occasionally.
delicate balance is accomplished by watching the rod tips. When the downrigger
weight contacts the bottom, the rod tip jabs upwards, making it easy to
determine when the weight is on bottom. It’s okay for the weight to hit bottom
once in awhile, but the weight should not drag on bottom.
the downrigger weight doesn’t come in contact with bottom the rod tips won’t
jab upwards, indicating the rig isn’t making contact often enough.
The moral of the story is he who works the hardest catches the
most trout. That delicate balance of keeping the bait in occasional contact
with bottom is the magic it takes to produce consistent results. Anglers who
get a little lazy and let the bait work above the bottom won’t catch nearly as
many lake trout.
RIGGING FOR OTHER SPECIES
Nick and Bruce kept the downriggers targeting lake trout, I manned a set of
diving planers set to run in about the middle of the water column. I also set a
pair of lead core lines on each side of the boat including one 5 color set up
fishing down about 20 feet and one 10 color set up that was fishing down about
four of the lead core lines were fished in conjunction with Off Shore Tackle
Side-Planer boards to spread out these lines and cover more water.
Collectively, this eight rod set up covers the water column literally from top
to bottom and targets a wealth of species.
wasn’t long before we started catching fish both on the riggers and on the
higher lines. The first couple of trout came on the downriggers as expected,
but it wasn’t long before the diver lines and lead core lines started producing
bonus steelhead and pink salmon.
both the diver lines and lead core rigs we fished Wolverine Tackle Silver
Streak spoons in the Mini and Standard sizes. Spoons are the “go to” lures for
bonus steelhead and pink salmon out of Harbor Beach. Because pink salmon are on
the small side, it’s best to fish Mini sized spoons on at least some of the diver
and lead core lines.
the dust had settled we boated half a dozen quality lake trout, a steelhead and
several pink salmon, landing fish on all the various presentations we started
with. Harbor Beach is an amazing multi-species fishery that somehow got labeled
as a lake trout destination. There is little doubt that lakers are abundant at
Harbor Beach, but what the Fishing 411 crew discovered is there’s a lot more to
IF YOU GO:
We launched at Off Shore
Marina in Harbor Beach, 5 Lytle Avenue, Harbor Beach, MI 48441 Phone:(989)
www.catchmorefish.com Silver Streak Spoons
Spin-n-Glo bodies, Trout Dodgers