School is almost back in session for a lot of areas around the country. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder. Farmers are spending hours out in their barns prepping their combines for harvest.
All this means one thing to most outdoorsmen across this country; deer season is right around the corner.
Don’t get your compound sighted in just yet, because there is still some amazing fishing to be had if you know where to look when the time is right.
Starting at the beginning of September and running all the way through the end of October, king salmon will be making their annual trip up the rivers and streams that connect to Lake Michigan. If you are on the water when the salmon are pushing up river, you will be in for a ride like nothing you have ever experienced before.
If you are up to the task, and live within a day’s drive of Lake Michigan, these king salmon will be ready to test every muscle in your body and pound strength of your line. If you live more than a day’s drive from the area, just plan on a little longer of a trip and be rested and ready to fight.
For several years now, a few good friends and I have made this annual trip following the king salmon run and it seems to get better each time we go. Normally we bounce around fishing here and there, while searching for salmon that might be a little less spooky from fishing pressure. Through some solid dedication though, we have found a few honey holes and the salmon are always there to oblige.
We pay special attention to the State of Michigan DNR fishing reports, particularly to the Northwest Lower Peninsula, to follow the action as these fish hold out in the mouths of the rivers in the main lake before rains and cold nights push them by the thousands into shallow streams where they go to spawn. We encounter fishermen from all over the country on every trip and it seems that every one of them has a story of a salmon so big they had to cut the line because they were too exhausted by the fight and forced to surrender.
As far as the tools of the trade, all you really need is a pair of waders, some warm clothes, and a 7’ medium heavy baitcaster with 20lb fluorocarbon. A longer medium heavy spinning reel with as heavy of fluorocarbon as it can take is also a preferred option.
Almost everyone on the water is using some sort of egg pattern for bait. Sometimes I will even use a weighted egg on a 9wt fly rod if I’m especially looking to punish myself with a 20 minute arm wrestling match against pure muscle and adrenaline trapped in the body of a three foot fish.
There is still one month of planning left to be had before the make or break limit arrives to take this trip. A few Google searches will reveal plenty of parks and campgrounds where a tent can be pitched for some very inexpensive lodging. Gas stations and small town grocery stores dot the landscapes where a resourceful fisherman can create a buffet of wonders all waiting to be cooked on a campfire, or eaten cold right out of the can if required.
A little bit of gas money and firewood is about all that may stand between a boring weekend in September before bow season even gets started, or a weekend that may be the best trip of the year.
King salmon only run one time each fall. This year, make this one run that you don’t miss.