The Great Lakes are true natural wonders of the world. These massive bodies of water define the borders of states, playing an important role in American history and our economy, both for commercial fishing and shipping.
Anglers from all over the country visit the Great Lakes, seeking species like walleye, smallmouth bass, trout, and perhaps the greatest of the Great Lakes fish: salmon.
The various species of salmon that live in the Great Lakes are some of the most popular fish around, both for sport and table fare. If you are seeking these fun and active fish, you need the right information and the right strategy.
Know Your Great Lakes Salmon
If you told someone familiar with fishing on the Great Lakes that you are going salmon fishing, the first question would be “What kind?” Knowing the difference between the species will help you have a more rewarding fishing experience.
It’s also important to note that trout and salmon, while related, are different species. They are both member of the salmonidae family, but trout, like the steelhead, brown, and lake trout, are not salmon.
There are four important salmon types in the Great Lakes:
- Chinook: The chinook, or king salmon, is a native of the Pacific Ocean but has been stocked in the Great Lakes for roughly 30 years. They have spots over the entire tail, black mouth with black gums, and a greenish tint across their backs.
- Coho: Often called the silver salmon, the coho also came from the Pacific Ocean. They have spots on the upper part of their tail, white gums, and a distinct gray or silvery back.
- Pink: Another carryover from the Pacific, the pink salmon was first introduced to Lake Superior in the 1950’s. They go through dramatic changes through their lifecycle, with males developing a large hump, promoting the name “humpback salmon.”
- Atlantic: As the name suggests, this salmon came from the Atlantic Ocean. They are among the largest of the salmon species and can be identified by the lack of spots below the lateral line and the tail.
Salmon Fishing Tips and Tricks
So how to you catch these fish? While specific techniques will vary by species, there are some general strategies for every type of salmon.
Before you head out on the water, make sure your hooks are nice and sharp. If you are using old hooks, take a fine file and give them a good edge. Salmon have a thick, tough jaw that can keep hooks from setting, so a razor-sharp edge is essential.
If you are choosing a day to go salmon fishing, try to go out during low-light or overcast periods. Salmon are generally low-light hunters, so a cloudy day is usually more productive than a clear, sunny afternoon. If you are out on a sunny day, fish deeper, as most salmon will stay low, where the light is dim. You can also use light to your advantage by fishing during the early morning and late evening, when light is low and angled.
When choosing tackle for salmon, most people will go with live bait, although lures are also used to attract these fish. One of the most common types of bait is “roe,” which is hard or fully ripened eggs, similar to caviar. Many salmon anglers will use roe bags, wrapping up this material into small-netted balls and threading a hook through the bait.
For lures, spoons are one of the most popular options. Large spoons, often with a silver coloring, are a favorite among salmon anglers. Flashers or weighted flies will also attract salmon of all sorts. Salmon are visual predators, so just about any vibrating, visible lure in the water will attract these fish.
Wear Performance Gear for Great Lakes Salmon Fishing
Fishing on the Great Lakes requires a reliable boat and high-performance apparel. Make sure you are wearing the best possible gear by visiting the online store from Huk. You’ll find jackets, long-sleeve shirts, fishing masks, and more, so stop by today.