April/May/beginning of June – Limit catches of 20-30, 3-6lb Coho Salmon are common. Very fast action. Brown and Lake Trout numbers can be world class in April ahead of the arrival of Coho schools. We will often orient some of our gear towards large Chinook (King) Salmon as well when fishing overlapping waters. Bags and bags of many, tasty Coho Salmon fillets!
Late June and into July – Variety time – Large Chinook Salmon and acrobatic Steelhead usually beginning to congregate – Coho getting larger and good numbers can still be caught. Lake Trout catches usually remains excellent. Best overall chance to catch all five salmon & trout species in a single trip
July/August – Large, mature Chinook (King) Salmon in the 12lb-20lb+ range. Trophy-size salmon time. Single fish fillets worth hundreds of dollars alone in market price of wild King Salmon. Excellent Lake Trout catches remain. Steelhead, Brown Trout, and Coho Salmon usually available.
Sept/Oct – Transition time. The most beautiful time of season to be on the water. Best time for large, spawning Lake Trout on secret, offshore rock-reef structures. Brown Trout, Steelhead, and non-spawning Chinook Salmon available.
In Further Detail:
Windycitysalmon kicks off the season on Lake Michigan in April as massive schools of Coho Salmon assemble 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 you can expect to hook into and catch, sometimes in just few hours, can be truly amazing. We will often have 2-3-4 fish on at the same time and our record was 10 fish on at once!
These Coho typically run about 3-6 lbs (18″-24″) with limit catches of 20-30 fish not at all uncommon. Gorging themselves on baitfish, Coho are putting on weight quickly after a long winter and usually by sometime in June – with the numbers of Coho diminishing a little, but the catch including other species of fish – Coho can approach weights of 7-10 lbs+. Windycitysalmon crews can also hook into a fair number of large Chinook Salmon and Steelhead (Rainbow) Trout during this time of year as well when we find ourselves fishing deeper, overlapping waters inhabited by all three species (Coho, Kings, and Steelhead). In this regard, Captain Rick will try his best to give you a shot at these other fish as well when the conditions arise.
Each spring is different though. Some seasons there are big schools of Coho off Waukegan in early April and other seasons it begins in early May. But if there is one kind of fishing that you can count on in the spring, is excellent Coho fishing near Waukegan in May. For those seasons where we don’t yet have large numbers of Coho in April, Captain Rick will orient the spread in the direction for Brown and Lake Trout. Many April trips have resulted in outstanding, limit hauls of heavy Brown and Lake Trout. These are hard fighting fish in frigid, shallow water and are outstanding for the smoker. If you have ever wished to exclusively fish only for Brown Trout, April is the time.
Moving into later June, the lake usually 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 starts to yield more mixed catches of fish from Coho in the 4-8lb class as well as continued, good Lake Trout numbers as well as Steelhead being caught in the 5-16lb 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 very nice too.
By early July fewer Coho are usually caught but hauls of nice Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) and Lake Trout are usually available. Large Chinook (king) Salmon are beginning to congregate and cathces of them usually improve.
Starting near the second half of July and most of August begins the best time to catch large Chinook (king) Salmon in the 12-20lb+ range. Chinook (king) Salmon are the pinnacle of the Great Lakes food chain, largest of all salmon found anywhere in the world and these very aggressive, large fish are usually the most sought after and prized by captains and anglers alike.
It is during this time when Chinook begin to stage and school 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.
If good numbers of Chinook Salmon are not available, excellent hauls of Lake Trout are normally seen and Steelhead (Rainbow Trout) are available. Brown Trout can also be caught this time year as well as larger Coho salmon. 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.
Fall season – September and October – offers outstanding fishing opportunities for large, spawning Lake Trout on Waukegan’s offshore reefs as well as possible Brown Trout in shallow water. Catches of Steelhead and non-spawning Chinook Salmon are available at times too. The Lake Trout fishing in late September and October can be hard to match anywhere in the world, offering anglers the chance to tangle with some monsters in the 15-30lb+ 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 Captain Rick urges you to consider coming in September and October as equally as you would any other time during the season.
As you can see, there are many different times of the season to consider salmon & trout fishing during the spring, summer, and fall. And when we don’t encounter a hot bite, fishing is still usually good, offering an exciting “mixed bag” of fish to be caught. Many seasoned Windycitysalmon customers come fishing several times each season to target specific species at their best times.
Excited? Let’s go fishing!