Our Fishing Seasons and When to Come
April/May - Limit catches of 20-30, 3-6lb Coho Salmon are common. Very fast action. Brown Trout and Steelhead numbers can be very good too and we will often orient some of our gear towards large Chinook (King) Salmon as well when fishing common waters. Bags and bags of many, tasty Coho Salmon fillets!
June and into July - Variety time - Large Chinook Salmon and acrobatic Steelhead starting to congregate - Coho getting larger and good numbers can still be expected. Best overall chance to catch all five Salmon & Trout species in a single trip
July/August - Prime time for large, reel-screaming Chinook (King) Salmon in the 12lb-20lb+ range. Trophy-size fish time. Single fish fillets worth hundreds of dollars alone in market price of wild King Salmon.
Sept/Oct - Fishing for large spawning Chinook can still be excellent depending on conditions and catches of non-spawning, 5-14lb Chinook can be outstanding. Otherwise, best time for big spawning Lake Trout and Brown Trout.
In Further Detail:
We kick the season off on Lake Michigan in April as massive schools of Coho Salmon form in the southern basin of the lake between Chicago and Waukegan. While these fish aren't the kind of monsters that we tangle with later in the season, the shear numbers that we can expect to hook into and catch in a period of a just few hours can be truly amazing. We will often have 2-3-4 fish on at the same time and our record was 11 fish on at once!
These Coho typically run about 3-6 lbs (18"-24") with limit catches of 20-30 fish in a few hours not at all uncommon. Gorging themselves on baitfish, Coho are putting weight on quickly after a long winter and usually by sometime in June - with the numbers of Coho diminishing a little, but including other species of fish - the Coho can be approaching weights of 7-9 lbs.
Pound for pound it is difficult to find a harder fighting fish anywhere when Coho reach these weights. We will also be hooking into a fair number of large Chinook Salmon, Steelhead (Rainbow) Trout, Lake Trout and Brown Trout during this time of year as well but this is the time of year that we specialize in large catches of Coho and fast action.
As we enter June, the lake begins to stratify with cold water - which salmon and trout primarily inhabit - descending deeper and fish tend to be less concentrated. This time of year will start to yield totally mixed bags of fish from more Coho in the 7-9lb class that we just talked about to the addition of more Lake Trout and Steelhead being caught in the 7-16lb range. Chinook Salmon are starting to be caught in increasing numbers as well. This is the time of year when you can expect to catch a large variety of bigger fish and the weather is often the best too.
By July we catch fewer Coho but far more and larger Chinook in the 10-20lb+ trophy class range as well as Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) and Lake Trout making up for the difference. Our catches this time of year are getting larger still both in numbers of fish caught and in size.
Starting near the second half of July and throughout August begins the primetime for big Chinook Salmon in the 12-20lb+ range and is usually the most anticipated time of year on the Great Lakes overall by anglers and captains alike. Chinook Salmon is the pinnacle of the Great Lakes food chain with these very aggressive but intelligent fish feeding vorachiously ahead of their spawning season in the fall.
It is during this time when Chinook begin to stage several miles off of and eventually move into the home port from which they were originally released. Waukegan is one of those ports were releasing occurs.
We typically catch a fair share of Lake Trout and Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) this time year still as well as an occasional Coho and increasing catches of Brown Trout. This is an exciting time to be on the lake fishing for trophy, line screaming Chinook! For most people, these fish - along with our Lake, Brown, and Rainbow Trout - will be the largest and hardest fighting fish our customers have ever caught in their lives.
Depending on several factors such as timing of the Chinook run and weather, we will usually catch Chinook well into October. However, the Fall season also offers outstanding fishing opportunities for spawning Lake Trout on Waukegan's offshore reefs as well as Brown Trout in shallow water. Both trout fisheries in September and October can be hard to match anywhere in the world, offering anglers the chance to tangle with some monsters in the 10-20lb+ trophy class. It is in this regard that September and October can usually offer some unique versatility in terms of what species we choose to target on any particular day and weather can often be downright gorgeous too. Many people and even many charter captains alike overlook this fishery in the fall in the belief that the good fishing ends as the days get shorter and the air feels a little cooler. It is simply not true and we urge your to consider coming in September and October as equally as you would any other time during the season.
As you can see, there are several different 'hot' times to go salmon & trout fishing during the spring, summer, and fall and when we don't encounter a hot bite, fishing is still usually very good, offering an exciting "mixed bag" of fish to be caught. Many of our customers will come to experience more than one of these 'seasons' each year.
Excited? Let's go fishing, we'd love to have you!