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  • jim_blue_max_charters
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    Fishing The Zone For Salmon Milwaukee #1

    Fishing The Zone For Salmon Milwaukee #1

    By Captain Jim Hirt
    Let me explain how to be more productive by following some basic rules and using basic tools. Activity and habits of fish are dictated by many variables. A rather basic approach will put you on fish and keep you there. I will cover how to find the most productive zones by species.

    What Is A Zone
    I define a zone as a location where greater concentrations of the target species are found. You may use, as I do, this system for any type of fishing or in fact hunting. The basics are simple. What does your target want? Focus on what you know and do research to find out more.

    Zone Rules
    Pick the type of quarry you are after and make a list of the known environmental preferences for that species. Armed with that information you will have the guidelines or rules to become more successful. Breaking the rules will put you in water with less of the target fish

    Environmental Preferences
    The top of the most important list and what I look for is food and temperature. When you are in a zone with the correct temperature and good forage you will increase your chances. Other important factors are cover, habitat, maturity of fish, light intensity, water depth, weather, current flow, current intensity, oxygen level and fishing pressure. Your ability to measure, monitor and locate the ideal set of fishing preferences for your target is key.

    Zones By Species
    Lake Michigan is an outstanding fishery with many options for anglers. The most popular targets of anglers here are Chinook salmon, Coho Salmon, Rainbow trout, Brown Trout and Lake Trout. Allow me to offer environmental preferences for each of these. Breaking each fish down by preferences is the best way to find steady consistent action on any fish.

    Chinook Salmon Zone And Presentations
    Big Chinook Salmon are a cold water species, so look for them in temperatures below 50 degrees. The exception is when they come into spawn. At this point in their life temperature is not important. Keep your baits in 45 to 52 degree temperature and you will increase your odds on big fish. When I am catching small fish, I know the water is too warm for a trophy. It is time to adjust the tackle to colder water. A temperature gauge is a tool a salmon fisherman cannot be without.
    The principal forage for these bruisers is the Alewife. Look for pods of forage for consistent action. The baitfish will hold Chinook in any area. Keep your fish locator cranked up on the gain to show baitfish along the bottom.
    I have caught them in water as shallow as 10 feet and out to 300 feet fishing near the bottom. There is no limitation on the depth they like. Key in on temp for success.
    Clear water and sunny conditions are the enemy. This scenario will turn off most fish. However, some fish can be had when certain presentations are used. A stealthy approach is necessary for the biggest fish. In definition stealth is a presentation that avoids being notice. Several are used for salmon trolling.
    Downriggers are a popular method to run tackle with many variations possible. In sunny conditions increase your downrigger leads to 100 feet or more. By running long leads you work water undisturbed by noise and turbulence of the boat. Leadcore is another good choice. A weighted line with a Seaguar fluorocarbon leader is attached to a Church Walleye Planer board. The planer board is run well off to the side of the boat out of the travel path. Leadcore is graduated to allow five feet of depth for every color. Five colors will run lures approximately 25 feet down 10 colors fifty feet and so on. This allows you to fish any depth you want and is a killer for huge kings.
    Chinook live four and a half years and it makes sense that they will be the biggest at the end of their life cycle. These monsters will be the most aggressive and easiest to get in the months of July thru September. I have produced Kings over twenty pounds in April, although this is the exception to the rule.
    Weather is as big of a factor as any and when the conditions are favorable you can expect huge fish. Weather fronts, sky conditions, barometer and sea state all play a role in turning on the fish that dreams are made of. I always look for barometer movement. A steady barometer may offer a great chance to get a suntan but it is not conducive to trophy fishing.
    Let's wrap this up with my favorite lures. Magnum spoons are my first choice. Big lures big fish with a consideration to the size of the baitfish and amount of light in the time period you are fishing. When fishing in very bright conditions or with the presence of small baitfish go to regular or small lures. My magnum spoons are about five inches long, regular four inches and small three inches. The two most productive spoons for me during the 2008 season was the Vulcan magnum and Reaper Magnum both sold by http://www.badgertackle.com For a slow 2.0 M.P.H. or slower presentation I use the Reaper. Above 2.0 speeds the Vulcan is best, it mixes well with most big plugs and flasher flies.
    I will continue with Zones for Brown Trout in the next article. Good Luck! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved

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  • jim_blue_max_charters
    replied
    Planner Boards For Salmon Fishing Milwaukee #2

    Planner Boards For Salmon Fishing Milwaukee #2

    By Captain Jim Hirt
    The tool you need and must have for spring salmon fishing is Church Planner boards. There is no simpler and more productive presentation for any time you target fish in the top 25 feet of water. Allow me to explain the how and wow of this tool for spring. The last article covered rods, reels and line now let's discuss getting ready to fish.

    Here's How To Set Up For Boards
    I run a 1/4 to 1 ounce bead chain trolling sinker at the end of the 20lb main line to avoid line twists and get the depth I want. From the sinker to the lure I use 7ft of a 15lb fluorocarbon and a small round cross lock snap. When the fish hits, the board slides down to the trolling sinker. With the sinker in line, it will not knock the fish off as it would if the board ran down to the lure. When setting this presentation, I set my boat speed at 1 to 2 mph and let out my lure about 30 to 100 feet and attach the board. This distance will change with the amount of light, type of lure and depth you want to fish. When action is slow, adjust this distance and see what happens. Once the board is attached, carefully lower the board into the water and let out enough line to allow room for more boards, between that board and the boat. Boards should be spaced about 30 feet apart. Important, put the boards with the least amount of trolling sinker weight on the outside board. When a fish hits, the board releases and it will drop back behind the boat. Land your fish and reset this board by letting out enough line to allow the board to fly back into the same spot it came from. Avoid changing out to many lures if you are getting action because at times one lure feeds off another. By this I mean, a spoon may be attracting the fish but they will hit the crankbait next to it.

    Spring Salmon and Trout Lures By Temperature
    Let's continue with lure selection, colors, boat speed, and lure action for spring. The cold water slows down the metabolism of the fish; this in turn requires you to slow down your presentation. I select lures that are small and work well at slower than normal boat speeds. Your adjustment to these variables is different depending on the preferred temperature of the target species. Brown trout like the warmest water of the five game fish in Lake Michigan and they are looking for above 60-degree water. When you find 60 plus water, fish them as you would in summer. Below 60 degrees the way you fish should be adjusted. Most active Browns in spring will be found in the top 20 feet of water where bright lures like the Badger Tackle Vulcan OL Sherbet or Orange Slush are best. I slow my boat speed to below 1.5 mph. The small lures become very effective and run well at this speed. Does your boat troll at 1.0 to 4.5 mph? If it doesn't, you will find it difficult to produce all the types of fish in all types of conditions.

    Get That Speed Down
    Most boats have trouble trolling slowly. When I purchased my new boat, the Blue Max with two 454 engines, trolling slowly was a problem for me. I then added a drift sock to slow down my presentation. Without this tool you will not be successful every trip out. If you adjust the idle down too low on your motor, you will most likely have spark plug fouling or worse. Slow trolling with planer boards is the way to go in spring or any time the water temperature is below the temp range of the fish you are after. In spring keep it slow, small and bright to be productive.
    I run a mix of minnow type lures, crankbaits and small spoons. The lures you run is all about the amount of light, baitfish size and the size of fish you are looking to catch. Mix it up! When one lure produces I would double up on that lure.
    The Badger Tackle Reaper Peacock, Big Joe and Fish Fry spoon in regular size sold at http://www.badgertackle.com are a popular option. Good luck Captain Jim. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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  • jim_blue_max_charters
    replied
    Planner Boards For Salmon Fishing Milwaukee #1

    Planner Boards For Salmon Fishing Milwaukee #1

    By Captain Jim Hirt
    The tool you need and must have for spring salmon fishing is Church Planner boards. There is no simpler and more productive presentation for any time you target fish in the top 25 feet of water. Allow me to explain the how and wow of this tool for spring.

    Getting Started Basic Rods and Reels
    To start let's cover the basics for one person fishing out of a small boat. In the state of Wisconsin on Lake Michigan we are allowed three rods per person. You could buy three rods although I believe when fishing alone or even with one other person more tackle means more expense and not necessarily more enjoyment or fish on. In recent years the buzzword on the water is stealth. Clean presentations offered a good distance from the boat would take more and bigger fish and that is where planer boards are the right tool. Too much tackle will often turn the fish off

    The Correct Rod Adds To Success
    Purchase two 8-foot medium action trolling or downrigger rods for board fishing. They will give you all the versatility and power you need throughout the season. There are good quality fiberglass rods starting a $30 each. Line counter trolling reels are important to precision and don't cost much more than reels without line counters. Look for a quality based on the amount of times you expect to use them each season. A basic bushing or one ball bearing reel is affordable and will last a long time with good maintenance. Reels that will hold 300 yards of 20-pound test has the capacity for all mono or fluorocarbon set ups you may want to try down the road. A slightly more expensive but worth while option is to try the advantages of fluorocarbon line. The low stretch near invisible Seaguar Invizx will put more fish in the cooler. This is one of the most basic combos for anytime fishing for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan.

    Clean Rigging for Spooky Surface Fish
    Spring in Milwaukee Wisconsin provides world class action on Lake and Brown trout, with the other species available but not as active. Most of my charter trips limit out in spring. Browns and Lakers, this time of year, will come on similar presentation with a preference to different lures. I set up 90% of my lines on planer boards working the top fifteen feet of water. The remaining 10% of my lines are on diving planers or downriggers for deeper fish. The lake will be very cold, well below the preferred temperature of your target fish. I fish the surface down to fifteen feet with planer Boards. My first choice is Church Walleye Boards. I find it easier to run a small board on each line rather than a large board with releases on the towline. I do feel it is important to run all the same type to get a presentation that is easy and productive. On all my rods in spring, I run a 20 pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon. Starting out this way I will have the rods loaded with the correct line for most presentations through out the season. In spring fishing the clear surface water leaves you with a visibility factor to consider, and smaller crank baits do not run well on heavier test lines. I will explain rod set up in the next article
    The new Badger Tackle Vulcan glow in the dark lures sold at http://www.badgertackle.com are an excellent option for first light or stained water board fishing. They are offering a buy 4 get 1 free at this time.
    Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved. Good luck Captain Jim

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  • jim_blue_max_charters
    replied
    Milwaukee Salmon Fishing Heaven!

    Milwaukee Salmon Fishing Heaven!

    By Captain Jim Hirt
    Milwaukee fishing is as easy as it gets. We truly have a world-class fishery. There are three launch ramps for trailerable boats within minutes of dozens of hotels. McKinley Marina 1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, South Shore Marina 2900 S. Shore Dr. and Riverfront Launch 650 S. Water. McKinley Marina 414-273-5224 can arrange transient slips for those who would like to do an overnight. For general information on ramps and fees call 414-257-6100. Shopping abounds for the ladies who prefer not to fish. Excellent dining, in all price ranges, will make your family outing complete. The Milwaukee Visitor Bureau 800-554-1448 is a great source of information. Wisconsin has a generous daily bag limit on Lake Michigan. You may keep five total of salmon or trout over ten inches. Possession limit is two daily limits. You may use three rods per person.
    I would like to share with you some of my keys to finding fish and the hottest set ups for very early presentation. I start my season in early April and the most important factor at this time is temperature. I recommend launching at McKinley. When you come out of the marina, stay inside the break wall. This area is well protected and is always fishable. Proceed south about one mile to the mouth of the river. The best early action will be where the warm river water meets the colder water. The mouth of the river and harbor breakwall gaps is where you want to fish. The most active species will be salmon and Brown Trout in the 5 to 12 pound class with many limit catches.
    Motor trolling is the method I use for most of my fishing, and I will explain one of my basic spring setups. I fish all my lines on planner boards with twenty-pound test line. Use a six foot leader 3/8-ounce keel sinker twenty feet behind the board. I recommend a boat speed of 2.0 M.P.H. Run small crank baits, medium size jointed minnow type lures and some spoons. The color of the lure is dictated by the amount of light and water color. On most days in clear water I use white and black or silver lures. Hotter colors work best in cloudy water. You can’t go wrong with chartreuse in both conditions. The new Badger Tackle Vulcan glow in the dark lures sold at http://www.badgertackle.com are an excellent option. Good luck Captain Jim. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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  • jim_blue_max_charters
    replied
    How Deep Are My Downriggers?

    How Deep Are My Downriggers?

    By Captain Jim Hirt
    I received this e-mail recently and thought it was a good question that more anglers would be interested in. Should you have a question please e-mail me from my Website contact us page http://www.bluemaxcharters.com I will be pleased to answer. My charter season is done and I have time to talk.

    Hi Jim,
    My name is Brian I may have e-mailed you before, but I forget. Anyway, I just ordered some spoons from you. I personally have never fished spoons, we always fish plugs or cut plug herring for Lakers and Browns. I keep hearing that this is the best go to lure for most Lakers and browns in the great lakes, but not many people out here in Oregon really use them (with exception to apexes, and even that's far and few between).
    What do you recommend for set back in the rigger and what is your typical speed? On your Magnum Reaper Spoons, what depth should I assume if I was to set back 300 feet trolling at 2 to 2.3 mph if I have the lure in the clip at say 40 feet? Would my lure be at 45 feet?
    We typically go anywhere from 1.8 to 3.2 mph, depending on what's triggering the bite. You may think we're a little nutty for throwing the lure back 100 yards, but our lakes up here are VERY clear (at least the ones that hold the big fish) and as we target trophy browns mostly, and they're so wary, that's why.
    Hello Brian:
    I thank you for your spoon order. I have over 60 articles that should answer some of your questions. The http://www.badgertackle.com website has all my articles posted. Your question about downrigger setback and speed is rather complex. Your speed will vary for type of fish. Lake Trout like cold water and slow speed of 1.5 to 2.0 is always best. At slower speeds downrigger blowback is not too much of an issue. Blowback is the amount of loss to depth from the weight not hanging straight down when the boat is trolling. This is how I usually adjust for loss in depth. If you use a setback of 50 feet at 100 down the spoon will run at 90 feet or about a 10 percent loss. The variables here are weight of downrigger ball, direction speed of the water current and speed of the boat.
    Here is the answer to your specific questions..
    What do you recommend for set back in the rigger and what is your typical speed? On your Magnum Reaper Spoons, what depth should I assume if I was to set back 300 feet trolling at 2 to 2.3 mph if I have the lure in the clip at say 40 feet? Would my lure be at 45 feet?
    This is how I would do it.
    My set back is usually 50 feet
    Day in day out my most productive speed is 1.8 measured at the ball. The Reaper Magnum Spoon will produce consistently between 1.0 to 2.8 MPH
    The depth set as you described would be about 35 feet
    This time of year I Have lots of availability for questions please call me.

    . Good Luck Captain Jim. Let's go fishing!! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2009, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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  • jim_blue_max_charters
    replied
    Fishing Month by Month on Lake Michigan #2

    Fishing Month by Month on Lake Michigan #2

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    A common question I have received is what's biting each month of the Lake Michigan season. The key to success to fishing is to target the most active species. Please allow me to give you and overview month by month July thru October. Article #1 covered April, May and June. There are opportunities for late Fall and Winter however I do not get a chance to fish at that time.
    July all species are finding their summer homes.
    The water temperatures will change day to day so your focus should be on finding the correct temp for your target. The good news is all five Lake Michigan fish are active this month. Locate the temps and you will catch fish. The most common and best action is on large Chinook. Vulcan Spoons trolled in or near the thermocline are the way to go for trophy kings. Work the shallow water for Browns and deep water for Lake Trout and Rainbows. Surface presentation is my first choice for surface feeders like Rainbows. Lake Trout are deep water fish found on or near the bottom. You must fish the temp breaks. My go to bait for July is Vulcan Spoons in bright colors or glow in the dark.
    August aah!! Warm Weather lots of fish
    A very predictable month for all species. There will be a lot of fish each in there own zone based on temperature. Your best friend will be your temp gauge. Here are the temps by target species. Brown Trout are the upper end of the spectrum with the highest preferred temp of 62 degrees. Rainbows also like 60 degree water frequenting the surface over deep water most of the time. Coho can be a large part of the catch in August when you fish 55 degree water. Chinook start the month in 52 and colder water and as they come closer to maturity will move into the warmer water of the harbors and rivers. When action is slow on the other types of fish work the bottom in 50 degrees or colder water for Lake Trout. Follow the temperature break for some of the most exciting action of the season.
    September fish in or fish out?
    This month is a month of decision. Spawning Chinook are in the harbor and just outside the harbor gaps. Mature Coho will light up the rods when fished in the same area later in the month. Two and three year old Chins will be active in the cold water off shore along with Lake Trout. Rainbows will also keep you busy but a long ride over 12 miles off shore may be needed. A staple to fall fishing and predictable target is the Brown Trout. We see these fish in excess of 15 pounds. A true trophy and many of our customers will hang one of these monsters on the wall. If eaters are your goal run small spoons. The Vulcan and Reaper in the regular size are all you need for great action.
    October wrap up on big and small fish.
    There are some similarities of fishing action from October to September. The big spawning Chinook have now become inaccessible to boat trollers and off the map. Browns are still available to shore and boat anglers when fished near shore. My first choice are the tasty fish in the 5-10 pound size you will find in good numbers just a short ride off shore. Most of these fish will be 2 and 3 year old Chinook with an occasional Brown or Lake Trout.
    Wow! Another exciting year has come to and end.
    For those of you that have not enjoyed the excitement of the big waters of my favorite, Lake Michigan I urge you to give it a try. I would recommend a charter trip to get a feel for this sport. All months offer exciting fishing on charter or with your boat. Remember to work the most active fish and follow good fundamentals. You may want to join on of the many Great Lakes fishing clubs. I have been a member of the Milwaukee Great Lakes Sport Fisherman for over 20 years. Invaluable information is exchanged and camaraderie is had by all, come join us. Please visit http://www.glsfclub.net/ for meeting location and times. You may find the lures discussed in this article at http://www.badgertackle.com Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2008, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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  • jim_blue_max_charters
    replied
    Fishing Month by Month on Lake Michigan #1

    Fishing Month by Month on Lake Michigan #1

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    A common question I have received is what's biting each month of the Lake Michigan season. The key to success to fishing is to target the most active species. Please allow me to give you and overview month by month April thru October. There are opportunities for late Fall and Winter however I do not get a chance to fish at that time.

    April Brown Trout start the season
    Do you want fast action Spring Browns are for you. This is my favorite time of the year. I really get spring fever and April Browns are the answer. The good news here is a simple presentation will do the job. Motor trolling is the method I use but still, shore or drift fishing will work. Pay attention to temperature look for the warmest water you can find. The most productive areas are where the water transitions. You must fish the temp breaks. My go to bait for spring is small Reaper spoons in bright colors or glow in the dark work well. Crank baits and minnow type lures will also fill the cooler. The latter will work in the colder water and as the water warms, spoons will crank up the action
    .
    April's a month for Lake Trout
    Typically every year good numbers of Lakers are taken in April. Trolling the colder water just outside the harbors and in the shallow waters along the shores will put you in fish. Go with Magnum Reaper spoons and minnow type lures fishing the top 20 feet. Life is good and fishing is easy in April enjoy!

    May Coho, Rainbows and Chinook
    The water starts to warm and all species become active. The most active is the Coho Salmon. The silver salmon or Coho is my favorite for the table. With a 3-4 pound average and non-stop action most trips limit out. In May Rainbows will walk on their tail for you. May and June are the best months for this prize. Follow the surface temperature break for some of the most exciting action of the season on all varieties of Rainbows. Size will range from 3 to 14 pounds. For anglers that have not caught Rainbows I would recommend you give them a try. Chinook are also starting to become active. Not the most active although we do have time periods during May with Chinook to 18 pounds.

    June the water stratifies and action moves off shore.
    This month is about the same as May with continued Coho the first half of the month. This is also a great month for Rainbows. The best way to find them is go off shore and look for 48 degree and colder water. Coho like about 50-degree water. I fish exclusively surface presentation down to 25 feet. Light action rods with flasher flies for Coho and Magnum Reaper spoons in green, blue and silver for Rainbows. Chinook are starting to find the water temps they desire. This helps anglers find them and they are easier to target. This is an opportunity for a nice mixed bag of all Lake Michigan fish.

    All months offer exciting fishing on charter or with your boat. Remember to work the most active fish and follow good fundamentals. You may want to join on of the many Great Lakes fishing clubs. I have been a member of the Milwaukee Great Lakes Sport Fisherman for over 20 years. Invaluable information is exchanged and camaraderie is had by all, come join us. Please call me for meeting location and times.
    The next article will continue with July a fantastic month for all species. You may find the lures discussed in this article at http://www.badgertackle.com Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2008, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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  • jim_blue_max_charters
    replied
    Monster Lake Trout!

    Monster Lake Trout!

    By Captain Jim Hirt
    I received this e-mail recently and thought it was a good question that more anglers would be interested in. Should you have a question please e-mail me from my Website contact us page http://www.bluemaxcharters.com I will be pleased to answer. My charter season is under way and it may take a while to get back to you.

    Captain Jim:
    I was wondering if you could help a novice out. I go up to Ontario to a Walleye/Trout/Pike lake each summer. We have been using Dipsy Diver #1 trolling it at about 50'. We have had a lot of success catching Lakers between 23-29" but no monsters. We like the Dipsy diver because we fly into this lake and it's a lightweight way to get down. After reading your article I think we have 2 problems.
    1) We are trolling too fast 2-3 mph
    2) we still aren't deep enough
    3) I'm unsure how to use cowbells - can you use them behind a Dipsy? Or should we abandon all of that and replace it with your 1 lb weight method.

    Any tips you could provide I would appreciate.

    Hello Mark:
    Sounds like your doing well on the Lake Trout. Two to three MPH is usually too fast for Lakers. I have attached my articles on Lakers and divers. Cowbells will work with divers, however, Reaper spoons in the regular or magnum size out fished all my other presentation last season. My best colors were Peacock/silver, Big Joe/silver magnum or regular. For low light or down deep use Magnum Fish Fry Glow. I would get several of each. Get your speed down to 1.5 MPH. Run the magnum diver with Power Pro braided line for maximum depth. A one-pound weight requires wire line to work best and the diver presentation described is easier to run and requires very little special equipment.

    Fishing Lures for Trophy Lake Trout

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    In this article we will complete the series on catching trophy fish. I would like to explore location, presentation and lure selection for Lake Trout. Fishermen everywhere covet them for their table excellence giving them a nickname of poor man’s Lobster. Lake Trout baked or poached and served with melted butter is a feast fit for a king. This slow growing member of the Char family can attain a life of over twenty years and have been known to grow to more than 50 inches and reach over 100 pounds. Lake Trout are mature enough to reproduce when they are six or seven years old. Some Lake Trout respond to a homing instinct. They return to the same spawning grounds year after year, while others do not. This trout lives in deep cold lakes. Their preferred water temperature is about 50 degrees. In the summer they stay deep and can usually be caught by deep trolling. But as the water cools with the fall season and into spring, artificial lures and flies may take lake trout fished shallower, near shore.
    Finding a trophy may be a difficult task although I feel following a few rules will augment your odds for success. I have found that in twenty years of fishing my biggest have come on spoons. I believe the reason for this is spoons will maintain an attractive appearance at very slow speeds. When you think Lakers think slow. This very cold water species has the slowest metabolism of all the game fish. If you have not caught a Laker, you are trolling too fast. The bigger the Lake Trout the colder the water they prefer and the slower they move. A quality large spoon that trolls well at speeds below one mile per hour is required. Keeping in mind that you will be working in deep water below 100 feet. The color choices should be in the bottom half spectrum of the rainbow. There is not much light down there and green, blue, indigo violet colors will sustain some color at these depths. A silver plated spoon will reflect light better in low light and used in combination with the colors is a good choice. You might try the new Reaper glow in the dark spoons. They were very productive for me this last season. The lack of light has brought me to my favorite presentation. In some cases bouncing the bottom is the only way to provoke a strike. A one pound lead ball sinker will allow the contact needed. Use a wire line rod with 30 pound wire terminated with a plastic keel and lead ball. The keel provides a three way connection for wire, ball and monofilament. At the end of a two foot mono leader run an 8 inch silver or glow in the dark dodger and a 4 foot lead to the spoon. Troll with the bottom contour letting out enough wire to allow the ball to bounce on the bottom. A word of caution, some bottoms have lots of hang ups and it takes a constant vigilance on your part to avoid hanging up and still keep constant bottom contact.
    As you read earlier, when the water cools in fall they return to the same spawning grounds year after year. The eggs are deposited over a boulder-strewn or rubble bottom structure, in depths from 40 feet to about one foot. This affords the angler another opportunity to get into some serious laker action. Work this shallow water with the same wire line rod. Go with 8 ounces of weight no flasher and standard Reaper Big Joe red/green or Reaper Peacock blue/green spoons. Motor troll the shallows while hand holding the rod bouncing the bottom as you go.
    Let's wrap this up with my favorite Lake Trout lures. Dodgers and magnum spoons are my first choice with dodger Spin n Glows a close second. The two most productive Lake Trout spoons for me in recent years are the glow in the dark Reaper Green Fox Glow and Fish n Chip Silver both sold by http://www.badgertackle.com The standard Reaper in the silver combinations are best for shallow water.

    Lake Michigan Diving Planers

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    The tools out there are endless. It is a fisherman with a full arsenal of presentations that finds action when fishing gets tough. It is my experience that on any given day one presentation or other will produce better than the other. Most boats run diving planers like Dipsy Divers, Slide Divers, Deep Sixes and similar divers. This is a very simple tool that is not run to its full potential by most fishermen. Start with a clear mono or fluorocarbon 25-pound line one and a half times the length of the rod you are using. On one end tie a size 5 cross lock snap to attach the lure. Tie the other end to a snubber. They come in many colors. I prefer a clear product made by Opti-Dodger. The snubber will absorb the shock of the strike and set the hook. The snubber is then attached to the diver. On the release side of the diver tie your line from the rod. You can use a variety of different lines. The standard set up is 20 to 30 pound mono. Some other options are 50-pound Power Pro Micro-filament, and stranded wire. The benefits of these options are the smaller diameter of this product allows the diver to reach greater depths. An 8 to 10 foot medium heavy action rod with a line counter reel completes this rig. They are often called poor man's downrigger. When asked by beginning trollers on what to buy I always recommend two diver rigs. They will take lures to a prescribed depth and repeat it over and over again. The disadvantage to this rig is it does not have a release and offers some resistance when reeling in fish. All divers come with a sheet of paper to tell you how many feet of line to let out to attain the depth you wish to fish. There is also a base plate adjustment to make the diver go to the side of the boat out of the boat’s path. When fishing calm days in clear water divers offer a stealth presentation. Line counter reels give you total control of depth for repeatability. For those who do not have line counters I would measure the distance from the reel to the first eye on your rod. When setting lines pull line from the reel to the first eye. If it is 2 feet multiply the number of pulls by 2 to calculate your amount of line out. Then refer to diver depth chart to figure diver depth. Good Luck Captain Jim. Let's go fishing!! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2006, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    What The Heck Is A SWR?

    What The Heck Is A SWR?

    By Captain Jim Hirt
    I received this e-mail recently and thought it was a good question that more anglers would be interested in. Should you have a question please e-mail me from my Website contact us page http://www.bluemaxcharters.com I will be pleased to answer. My charter season is under way and it may take a while to back to you.
    Hello Capt. Jim Hirt:
    I really liked your informative article on using SWR's on the http://www.badgertackle.com web site!!! I am asking for some additional info on using the SWR. I only have one year of trolling under my belt having gone out 12 times last year. I am rigging up a larger boat with 4 riggers and other stuff and wondering how to incorporate SWRs into my set up using your format as I have been reading a lot of your instructions posted various places on line.

    I am trying to switch over to the V-Spread pattern together with the three mini set patterns as you describe. These two patterns were not mentioned in the same article as each other but I just assume that you blend these two approaches together. Many people who run SWRs run two on opposite corners thinking it is far enough from each other that they won't tangle. At the same time others claim they only run SWRs at the lowest position in the spread, or just one at the that position. If I ran two at the lowest position from the middle of the bottom of the V, then would they be too near to each other and apt to tangle since all my riggers are 50"s apart? Let me ask it this way: In the 3-minnie set V-Pattern where and how are the best spots to run 2 SWRs in the spread in relation to the other lures to prevent tangles as best as possible. In fact how many SWRs can I run in a spread? Thanks

    Hello JC;
    Thanks for reading my articles. I hope they add to your fishing enjoyment. The SWR is a long presentation for days when more conventional methods do not work. When I go to SWR’s one on each side of the boat will usually not get into trouble. As I set up downrigger leads (the distance from the ball to the spoon) the bottom or deepest lines are the shortest at 15 feet. Swr's are then run on one or two of the highest lines. In a four downrigger set up the two center downriggers are the deepest. They are separated by no less than 25 feet. One of the corner downriggers are run 25 feet or more above the highest center rigger and the other corner rigger 25 feet above the other SWR. In low light situations short leads are the most efficient. Save the SWR for calm water and bright light conditions they are not practical to run in heavy seas. The thing to remember is placement and presentation is more important than quantity.
    SWR Rigging?
    SWR or secret weapon rig is a rod with two or three colors of leadcore line. The advantage to this set up is it runs 8 feet below the downrigger weight to offer a lure in an quiet environment 100 feet behind the boat. When loading this reel, start with 300 yards 50 pound Power Pro for a backing line then strip the lead out of the end of the leadcore and tie a Willis Knot to the leadcore. Finish with a Willis Knot and 30 feet of a 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon to a ball bearing cross lock snap. To run this rig, snap on your favorite lure I like Reaper or Vulcan Spoons by Badger Tackle. Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2008, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Key Presentations For Invisible Fish #3

    Key Presentations For Invisible Fish #3

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    Day to day anglers are looking for more action. This past season we came up with a system that increased our numbers dramatically. When you are looking for fish suspended in open water this technique will put more fish in the cooler. Fish locators never tell the complete story. The cone of the transducer will not show shallow fish. Most anglers will not work tackle for fish they cannot see. A proven fact is, when motor trolling, shallow fish go around the boat to avoid the turbulence and noise.

    The challenge of the elements.

    Please let us continue with presentations for deeper than fifty feet. Article #1 and #2 of this series explained a dynamite answer for fish in the top fifty feet. Reread these articles if you can. On Lake Michigan and many large lakes the cold water is always available. Wind and currents move it up or down to create the constant challenge of finding the location of your target species preferred temperature. When you find a temperature break below fifty feet, that is the time to present your fishing spoons on copper wire fishing line. You could use longer leadcore lines, however, the amount of line and the time it takes to retrieve them becomes a laborious task and not much fun.

    Stealth below fifty feet

    You made your temperature check. The fifty two degree water preferred by Chinook salmon is at fifty five feet. In this situation when fishing midday downriggers may not work. The waters of Lake Michigan are very clear and light penetrates down and this turns fish off. This scenario is common in waters everywhere. The answer to consistent action in these tough conditions is fishing copper wire in a stealth presentation. If you don't fish salmon this same system will work on all species.

    The why and how of copper line fishing

    The most expensive part is the reel. It must have enough line capacity to handle the copper line plus Seaguar fluorocarbon and Power Pro 50 pound for a total of up to 400 yards. Forty five pound copper wire is very bulky and requires a large reel. I run my copper on a reel that will hold 530 yards of 25 pound test mono. Line counter reels are not necessary. Forty five pound copper sinks at a rate of 7 to 9 feet per 30 feet of line at two miles per hour boat speed. Three hundred feet will run about 80 feet deep. By working with these numbers you can get any depth you target. When loading this reel, start with 300 yards of Power Pro 50 pound then use an Albright knot to the copper and Albright knot to 30 feet of 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon to a ball bearing cross lock snap. You will need a heavy action 8 to 9 foot rod to work with copper line. You must run this with a planer board if you are going to use multiple set ups. Snap on your favorite spoon (the Vulcan or Reaper from Badger Tackle is a consistent producer for me) and let out all of the line to the Power Pro. Then install your board so it does not release. I usually run three or more boards off each side of the boat. Very wide turns and low boat traffic are a must to avoid tangles and getting ran over. I set my drags light. When the reel starts to scream, adjust the drag as necessary. Reel in the line until you can reach the board and hand release it. Now the line is clear to bring in the fish. Some of my biggest fish are caught on this presentation.
    You may find the lures discussed in this article at http://www.badgertackle.com Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2008, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Key Presentations For Invisible Fish #2

    Key Presentations For Invisible Fish #2

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    Day to day anglers are looking for more action. This past season we came up with a system that increased our numbers dramatically. When your looking for fish suspended in open water this technique will put more fish in the cooler. Fish locators never tell the complete story. The cone of the transducer will not show shallow fish. Most anglers will not work tackle for fish they cannot see. A proven fact is, when motor trolling, shallow fish go around the boat to avoid the turbulence and noise.

    The challenge of the elements.

    Please let us continue with presentations deeper than ten feet. Article #1 of this series explained a dynamite answer for fish in the top ten feet. Reread this article if you can. On Lake Michigan and many large lakes the cold water is always available. Wind and currents move it up or down to create the constant challenge of finding the location of your target species preferred temperature. West wind on the west shore moves warm water out and the cold water from deeper depths moves in. Even in the hottest months of the year we find cold water near the surface. The thermo cline or layer of water with acceptable temperatures for Chinook salmon may be anywhere in the water column. If you don't fish salmon this same system will work on all species.

    Electronics part of the puzzle.

    When the fish locator does not show marks in the thermo cline it may be the fish are going around all the tackle you are running behind the boat. Downriggers and most other tackle set up a field of turbulence and electrical energy directly behind them. This may turn the fish off. My answer to this is determine the layer of water you wish to work and run stealth tackle at that depth to lessen the turbulence and noise. You must know the exact depth where you expect to find your fish of choice. Allow me to tell you of a tool I have used for the last two years with great success. A great product out in the market place for this purpose is the Depth Raider. This unit offers a probe that you connect to a special downrigger cable giving you speed and temp at the lure to depths of 200 feet. This information is sent to an easy to read display. I was very impressed with Curt Kell of Kell Laboratories the innovator of this product. His attention to quality and customer satisfaction sets him apart in the industry. The Depth Raider will set the standard for this type of product for years to come. To get information on this product call Curt at 262-534-2202.

    Back to ten to fifty down presentation

    The depth of your target has been located now let's get on the action! Fortunately I can run over 14 rods, which offers me the opportunity to work water from top to bottom. When the angler is limited to three rods then focus on the targets favorite temperature. If you have additional rods run them above in the warmer water and below in the colder water. To attain precision control of all your lines I recommend two methods. For depths from ten to fifty feet leadcore is the answer. This presentation will work when all others are dead. The basics of leadcore are simple.

    What do you need?

    The most expensive part is the reel. It must have enough line capacity to handle the leadcore line plus Seaguar fluorocarbon and Power Pro 50 pound for a total of anywhere from 300 yards for a half core to 600 yards two cores. I run my half cores or five colors on a reel that will hold 300 yards of 20 pound test. This is the smallest reel a half core will fit on. Line counter reels are not necessary. Leadcore sinks at a rate of 4-5 feet per color. A half core will run about 24 feet deep. By working with these numbers you can get any depth you target. When loading this reel, start with 300 yards of Power Pro 50 pound then strip the lead out of the end of the leadcore and tie a Willis Knot to the leadcore. Finish with a Willis Knot and 30 feet of a 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon to a ball bearing cross lock snap. You will need a heavy action 8-foot rod to work with lead. You must run this with a planer board if you are going to use multiple set ups. Snap on your favorite spoon (the Vulcan from Badger Tackle is one of my favorites) and let out all of the line to the Power Pro. Then install your board so it does not release. I usually run three or more off each side of the boat. Very wide turns and low boat traffic are a must to avoid tangles and getting ran over. I set my drags light. When the reel starts to scream, adjust the drag as necessary. Reel in the line until you can reach the board and hand release it. Now the line is clear to bring in the fish. Some of my biggest fish are caught on this presentation.
    The next article will explain effective stealth presentations for depths over fifty feet. You may find the lures discussed in this article at http://www.badgertackle.com Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2008, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Key Presentations For Invisible Fish #1

    Key Presentations For Invisible Fish #1

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    Day to day anglers are looking for more action. This past season we came up with a system that increased our numbers dramatically. When your looking for fish suspended in open water this technique will put more fish in the cooler. Fish locators never tell the complete story. The cone of the transducer will not show shallow fish. Most anglers will not work tackle for fish they cannot see. A proven fact is when motor trolling shallow fish go around the boat to avoid the turbulence and noise.

    All species all conditions

    Trolling for fish is without a doubt the most productive method for all species. This system will be your answer to more fish in difficult cold front and all environmentally challenging situations. I use it everyday with great results. You may never get the skunk again no matter what type of target species you are after.

    Waters missed by many reap huge rewards.

    What's the tip? Always present stealth tackle for fish near the surface and systematically down through the water column. Don't omit the water that appears on your locator to be void of fish. This series of articles will describe several key presentations effective where ever and what ever you fish for.

    Flat line fishing leads to problems.

    Flat line fishing has been around for a long time. It involves tying a lure to your line and letting it out at long distance directly behind the boat. While this may net a few fish the pit falls of this method are many including tangles, no accurate control of depth and an inefficient slow presentation. More refining is necessary for this to become an effective tool.

    Taking it from the top.

    Starting from the surface follow these easy directions for exciting controlled depth fishing. Spring fishing in cold water most often moves fish to the surface to find their comfort zone. For this reason among others always work the surface and here's how. I fish the surface and down to sixty feet with a variety of planer board presentations.

    Tools for productive fishing.

    Some of your choices for boards are, Yellow Birds, Church and Off Shore. I’m a little hesitant to recommend a particular brand because what works for me may not work for you. I will say I find it easier to run a small board on each line rather than a large board with releases on the towline. I do feel it is important to run all the same type to get a presentation that is easy and productive. On all my reels I run a 30-50 pound test Power Pro Super Braid line. For surface and shallow water fishing the clear water leaves you with a visibility factor to consider, and smaller spoons do not run well on heavier test lines. I run a 1/4 to 1/2 ounce bead chain trolling sinker to avoid line twists and get the depth I want. From the sinker to the lure I use 8ft of Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and a small round cross lock snap. The weight of the Fluorocarbon and snap is dictated by the size of your target and lure.

    Make it happen here's how.

    To run this presentation let out about 40 feet of line and attach the planer board. Once the board is attached, carefully lower the board into the water and let out enough line to allow room for more boards. The boards are directional for running on the port and starboard side of the boat. Boards should be spaced about 30 feet apart. When the fish hits, the board slides down to the trolling sinker. With the sinker in line, it will not knock the fish off as it would if it ran down to the lure. Lures you run are all about the amount of light, baitfish size and the size of fish you are looking to catch. Mix it up! The Vulcan and Reaper regular size has been a consistent producer for salmon and trout. When a fish hits, the board releases and it will drop back behind the boat. Land your fish and reset this board by letting out enough line to allow the board to fly back into the same spot it came from. Three or more boards can be run on each side with good success. This rig will work when you want to cover the top 10 feet. The next article will explain effective stealth presentations for deeper water. You may find the lures discussed in this article at http://www.badgertackle.com Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2008, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Go To Fishing Lures For Fall And Winter

    Go To Fishing Lures For Fall And Winter

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    For years I have investigated through trial and error to find bait for all species of fish in all conditions. Twenty plus years of tournament and charter fishing has led me to one conclusion. There is no one bait that will take you through the year with all variables of weather and mood of the fish. In this quest I found it would take a variety of lure actions to be successful. Allow me to help you approach each season of the year and weather conditions with the optimum tool for productive fishing. I fish salmon and trout more than any other species, however, these techniques and variables apply to all fish that go through continuous environmental changes. In the last article spring and summer tips were discussed, let's continue throughout the balance of the year.

    Warm water of the fall season offers split decision.

    Fall can be tough with water temperatures above the active range of most fish. I approach this time of the year with twin presentations. Most of my fishing is motor trolling and in this scenario half of my twelve rods are set up in an aggressive pattern of large spoons. With the other six baits I pick and peck at fish with a variety of colors in three inch and smaller spoons.

    Color can be key for consistent action.

    Color is critical here work with color based on the amount of light as discussed in the last article. Remember bright lures for cloudy water or bright light. Silver or darker lures in clear water on overcast days.

    The game plan for casting or jigging.

    For those of you who don't troll try casting with a larger spoon to start and go smaller if necessary in a stop and go action. Work the shallow water in low light and deep water in bright conditions. The small Vulcan spoon has been hot for anglers casting or jigging. The glow in the dark colors offered on the Vulcan is getting great reviews.

    Winter fishing may be hot or cold.

    Location is the real question for the winter season. The water temperature changes dramatically over the course of winter. Changes in temp move fish not only up and down in the water column, but from shallow to deep water. Try the small lures in shallow water in a post spawn or pre spawn scenario. However large spoons like the Reaper magnum will trigger spawning fish. Knowing your target location will increase your productivity. Move, move and move again don't beat a dead horse. If it isn't working be flexible in location, spoon size and color. There is a definite advantage to the angler that's out on the water frequently. Bait shops and other anglers may provide good information to narrow your quest. A temperature gauge and notebook is also reliable data for future trips. You may find the lures discussed in this article at http://www.badgertackle.com Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2008, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Fishing Lures For Spring and Summer

    Fishing Lures For Spring and Summer

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    For years I investigated through trial and error to find bait for all species of fish in all conditions. Twenty plus years of tournament and charter fishing has led me to one conclusion. There is no one bait that will take you through the year with all variables of weather and mood of the fish. In this quest I found it would take a variety of lure actions to be successful. Allow me to help you approach each season of the year and weather conditions with the optimum tool for productive fishing. I fish salmon and trout more than any other species, however, these techniques and variables apply to all fish that go through continuous environmental changes.
    Let's start with spring or directly after ice goes out, if that happens in your area of the world. The problem with this time of the year is water temperature. Fish become lethargic and inactive. Cold water means temps well below the active range of your target. Apply this method whenever a more aggressive approach fails. The answer to cold water is a slow methodical approach. Small spoons are the answer. They offer more flash and visibility than live bait or combinations of jigs and live bait. This deadly presentation is most effective when slow trolled, jigged or offered in a stop and go action. Small spoons allow better lure action at slower speeds. Matching the size of the forage is the key. When you don't know the best size to use, start with spoons under two inches. This should offer some fish catching action on all size game fish. Bigger spoons will rule out the small fish and the larger game fish may not be active. Bright colored spoons of chartreuse, orange and red in combination with silver or gold has always worked for me. As action on small fish picks up try a bigger spoon to test the water for larger quarry.
    As spring water warms up closer to your favorite game fish preferred temperature, that is when the real fun gets into gear. Action will pick up for all anglers. Don't hold back! Get out the bigger spoons and more aggressive tackle. Pick up the speed of your presentation for more strikes. The color of your spoon at this time of year is dependant more on water color, amount of light and the depth of your target. This is a good time to talk about color as it relates to the amount of light. You may or may not remember learning the colors of the rainbow in school. The colors are remembered by this acronym "ROY G BIV". These letters mean red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Most of the time I run lure colors of red, orange, or yellow when that lure is presented in the portion of the water column with the most light. The other end of the rainbow blue, indigo and violet are used in darker or low light situations. You may ask what about silver and white? I consider these as neutral or they will work in any type of light. All the other colors fall into either bright or dark. Bright lures are used in bright light conditions dark lures in low light. In most cases larger spoons will net the more aggressive feeders.
    Specifics on the exact spoon for your location are and always will be a difficult task. Please allow me to tell you of a product I developed over the last five years. It added 40% more fish to our catch based on 1950 miles of motor trolling during the last season. I am on the water from early April to late October and I needed a
    go to spoon to meet the ever changing conditions. Daunting as this may seem three spoons evolved. For early spring the small size Nestor Wobbler is productive. Now you can have crank bait action in a spoon. Unique wobble action is the key to catching finicky fish. No other spoon offers this vibrating action. With genuine silver plate fish scale finish, this spoon reflects more light to attract fish from greater distances. With multiple holes in the lip you may select a wobble from fast to slow. It's perfect for trolling, casting or jigging. The bigger size works well for large game fish and faster presentation. You may find this lure at http://www.badgertackle.com I will continue with the rest of the year in the next article. Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2007, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Salmon Fishing, Rigging An Eighteen Foot Boat #3

    Salmon Fishing, Rigging An Eighteen Foot Boat #3

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    This article continues answering a recent question asked by a reader of my articles. It will cover the basics in what you need for fishing tackle and proper boat set up. We have already covered in article #1 the boat, electronics, downriggers and rod holders. Article #2 rods, reels and diving planers. Let's now go into tackle not previously covered.
    Planer boards are a definite must for trolling any kind of fish. I use them April through October. Being flexible on the slow days is the answer to more fish. It is a fisherman with a full arsenal of presentations that finds action when fishing gets tough. The hot rig for the last several years has been leadcore. With the influx of Zebra Muscles the waters of the Great Lakes have become very clear. In my opinion the toughest conditions are calm clear sunny days. On these types of days leadcore is the way to go. I do not recommend this presentation for first light it is far to time consuming to run during a hot bite. After the early morning bite or about two hours after sunrise I break out the leadcore. The basics are reel, rod, line and planer board. The cost of a rig will start at about $150.
    The reel you use is based on the amount of leadcore line you want to run. The rule of thumb is 4-5 feet of depth to every color of leadcore. When your target fish is 15 feet down you should run 3 or 4 colors of leadcore. Some of you may be thinking why is there a variation of 4 to 5 feet per color. The factors that affect this are type of lure and boat speed. This line is graduated in 10-yard sections each having a different color. When selecting a reel purchase one large enough to handle the amount of colors you would like to run. Leadcore is a bulky line and most likely will not fit on the reels you are currently using. Find a tackle store that deals with this product to ensure a correct purchase. Popular set ups are 3 colors, 5 colors and 8 colors.
    Rods for leadcore need to have plenty of backbone. I use a medium action 8-foot rod. This should give you the power needed to reel in 500 feet of line, planer board and 20-pound kings.
    The line comes in many test weights. 27 or 36 pound is what I run it all has the same sink rate. You will also need a backing line of one of the super lines like Power Pro. From the leadcore to the lure use a 20-pound fluorocarbon line.
    To avoid tangles when running multiple leadcore you will need a planer board for each rig. The purpose of a planer board is to move the line off to the side of the boat away from other lines. Several manufactures have boards for leadcore. Church has a walleye board also you may use Offshore boards.
    When loading this reel, start with 300 yards 50 pound Power Pro for a backing line then strip the lead out of the end of the leadcore and tie a Willis Knot to the leadcore. Finish with a Willis Knot and 30 feet of a 20-pound fluorocarbon to a ball bearing cross lock snap.
    To run this rig, snap on your favorite lure I like Reaper or Vulcan Spoons by http://www.badgertackle.com and let out all of the line to the backing. Then install your board on the backing so it does not release. I usually run them 150 feet off each side of the boat. Very wide turns and low boat traffic are a must to avoid tangles and getting run over. I set my drags light. When the reel starts to scream, adjust the drag as necessary. Reel in the line until you can reach the board and hand release it. Now the line is clear to bring in the fish. Some of my biggest fish were caught on this presentation this year. The good news is it produces fish all day long. Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this Website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2007, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    New Electronics The Answer To More Fish

    New Electronics The Answer To More Fish

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    New electronics come into the market place all the time. Most are a duplication of other products that you already have. Once in a dogs age a truly innovative addition to your fishing arsenal shows up. Now is the time for you to get ahead of the pack. I truly believe the "Acoustic Lure Tracking" System is the answer to total control of your fishing program. Please read this article for details of this new exciting product.
    This fishing season I had an opportunity to fish out of Milwaukee, with Darrell Huff and his team of technicians. The fishing was excellent and all caught a good number of salmon and trout. We had a great experience exchanging fishing stories and enjoying the time on Lake Michigan. The reason Darrell came out to fish was to introduce me to the ALT (Acoustic Lure Tracking system) and I was impressed. It was simple to use and very accurate. In 26 years of motor trolling for salmon and trout I have seen many advances in electronics. The ALT will revolutionize the way you fish and keep you in the most productive zone for more fish. In the process of motor trolling for salmon I use twelve to sixteen rods in various presentations and depths. The problem with motor trolling with this amount of tackle is keeping track of all the lures. You must know their position relative to your target species and keep them from hanging up on the bottom when following a bottom contour or any other fish holding formation or temperature. Most anglers have a fish locator to show them fish, but the quest is precise tracking and locating of lures in the most productive temperatures and fish rich zones. Finally the answer has arrived to make everyone an expert in lure control whether you fish with one or many fishing lures. The ALT is an electronic system that will tell you exactly how deep and at what temperature you are trolling a lure, cut bait or live bait. This system has the ability to monitor one lure (if used with one transmitter) or two lures (if used with two transmitters) and is very easy to use. Simply attach the hydrophone and planer to a cleat ten feet or so ahead of the transom and lower the end attached to the planer into the water. Then plug the hydrophone into the receiver. The acoustic transmitter is attached in line between your leader and lure, cut bait or live bait. The transmitter is so small (0.6 inch diameter) and virtually weightless in water that it does not affect your lure action or the feel of the lure and is not noticeable at all when fighting a fish.
    Here is how the Acoustic Lure Tracking system works. The acoustic transmitter incorporates tiny sensors and circuits that monitor the water pressure (used to determine depth) and the water's temperature. Every 10 to 15 seconds the transmitter sends an encoded acoustic signal through the water to the hydrophone. The hydrophone converts it to an electrical signal the receiver reads the electrical signal and displays the transmitter's depth and water temperature data as feet and degrees Fahrenheit. Since the transmitter is attached to your fishing line you can fish straight off the back of the boat or attach your line to a downrigger, diving planer, outrigger or planer boards in the usual manner. It works great at depths down to 300 feet and speeds of up to 4.5 miles per hour and with over 100 yards of line out.
    My experience with the Acoustic Lure Tracking System has convinced me that without it you are fishing blind. Now is the time to get in on cutting edge technology and a step ahead of the competition. Tournament, charter, professional and everyday fishermen will find this is their best tool to track their lures and keep them in the fish rich zones. To see pictures and purchase this exciting product go to the ALT Web site at http://www.acousticluretracking.com or call Darrell at (443) 262-1269 to ask questions or purchase this exciting new product. Good Luck let's go fishing! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. Jim can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2007, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Salmon Fishing, Rigging An Eighteen Foot Boat #2

    Salmon Fishing, Rigging An Eighteen Foot Boat #2

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    This article continues answering a recent question asked by a reader of my articles. It will cover the basics in what you need for fishing tackle and proper boat set up. We have already covered in article #1 the boat, electronics, downriggers and rod holders. Let's now go into tackle.
    Tackle includes the rods, reels and all the support equipment to offer a wide variety of presentations for all fishing conditions. All anglers have a limitation of the amount of tackle they can purchase and keep on the boat. The right mix to cover all situations is key to success. In the state of Wisconsin we are allowed three rods per person and would max out to that number whenever possible. All planer board or leadcore presentations will catch fish every trip out and this is worth considering. This method of fishing calls for long lines behind the boat, which is very effective but cannot be run in heavy boat traffic. I will cover that in the next article. A downrigger and Slide Diver set up will offer many options in all fishing conditions and may be a better choice.
    Purchase four 8-foot medium action trolling rods. They will give you all the versatility and power you need no matter which directions you go. There are good quality fiberglass rods starting a $35 each. Line counter trolling reels are important to precision and don't cost much more than reels without line counters. Look for quality based on the amount of times you expect to use them each season. A basic bushing or one ball bearing reel is affordable and will last a long time with good maintenance. A $50 reel that will hold 300 yards of 20 pound test has the capacity for a half core of lead and all of the mono or fluorocarbon set ups you may want to try down the road. For the budget minded, spool up with 20 lb Berkley Trilene XT ($7) monofilament. A slightly more expensive but worth it option is to try the advantages of fluorocarbon line. The low stretch near invisible Seaguar Invizx ($20) will put more fish in the cooler. Types of presentations are endless and the average fisherman couldn't include all the options. The key here is where the fish are located. You must be able to fish at all depths. Many anglers are now fishing with super braid it is very expensive but worth the money. If your budget allows, rather than mono, set up all four rods with 50 pound Power Pro super braid. Going this direction will allow the most flexibility and adaptability going forward through the season.
    Support equipment includes the tools necessary to offer spoons, bait or lures at all potential depths. Most boats run diving planers like Dipsy Divers, Slide Divers, Deep Sixes and similar divers. This is a very simple tool that is not used to its full potential by most fishermen. Start with a clear mono or fluorocarbon 25-pound line one and a half times the length of the rod you are using. On one end tie a size 75 pound cross lock snap to attach the lure. Tie the other end to a snubber. They come in many colors. I prefer a clear product made by Opti-Dodger. The snubber will absorb the shock of the strike and set the hook. The snubber is then attached to the diver. On the release side of the diver tie your line from the rod. You can use a variety of different lines. The standard set up is 20 to 30 pound mono. Some other options are 30-pound Microfilament, Uni-filament and stranded wire. The benefits of these options are the smaller diameter of these products allow the diver to reach greater depths. An 8 foot medium heavy action rod with a line counter reel completes this rig. They are often called poor man's downriggers. When asked by beginning trollers on what to buy I always recommend two diver rigs. They will take lures to a prescribed depth and repeat it over and over again. More on support equipment in the next article. Good Luck let's go fishing!! Come back to this website often to read all my articles. Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094. Summer I will be out on the lake fighting fish, however, I would appreciate a call over winter to chat about whatever questions you may have or just call and say hello. You may also visit my web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2007, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Salmon Fishing, Rigging An Eighteen Foot Boat #1

    Salmon Fishing, Rigging An Eighteen Foot Boat #1

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    This article addresses a recent question asked by a reader of my articles. It will cover the basics in what you need for fishing tackle and proper boat set up. I will avoid as much as I can any brands of equipment and let you be the judge. As with all equipment quality and price go with the passion and budget you have for the sport.
    Finding a good heavy duty eighteen foot boat and motor should be no problem as there are many manufactures to choose from. Go with a brand name and do your homework. Make some contacts with the local salmon fishing club. This is invaluable information on one of the most important purchases in your quest for trophy salmon and trout. Be sure to ask several anglers how long they have owned their boat how often they fish and the lake conditions they fish in. It will give you an idea of the limitations of this vessel. The number of anglers they fish out of their boat is also good to know.
    I would like to approach what I call the minimum requirements and split it into two subjects. First we shall discuss hardware this covers electronics, downriggers and other items attached to the boat.
    A staple on every salmon boat is undoubtedly the downrigger. Two four foot manual units are all you need mounted one on each corner of the transom. Four foot will give you a better spread of tackle and avoid tangles. Mounting of this and all the hardware can be a rather daunting task. Some anglers like an aluminum board permanently mounted with the end result a very clean look of all necessary components. For first timers to salmon fishing and a cost saving use a 2x6 piece of outdoor lumber. Mounting is easy and you may reposition hardware at will until you come up with an efficient system.
    Some may disagree but in my opinion the fish locator is not the most important electronics on the boat. For this reason don't spend a wad of cash on one. A basic unit with enough power to operate at depths to three hundred feet is all you need. Find one with large numeric display of depth for easy reading in low light and when running at high speed. Mount this unit on the transom board for easy access to information, which is necessary in positioning downriggers and other tackle.
    Rod holders are a necessity. The number of them is relative to how many rods you intend to run. Downriggers usually come with two rod holders each and two additional heavy duty stand alone units will get by.
    Lets now talk about what is considered by many the most important electronics for producing fish. The speed and temperature gauge is a must have. By installing this gauge on the downrigger cable you will know the exact speed and temperature at your lure. I will offer what is now the best reliable tool for this purpose it is made by Depth Raider. These two factors for trolling for salmon are the most critical to presentation and catching fish. The best spoon at the wrong speed will not work. On the other hand twenty five years of salmon fishing has proven that most lures will catch fish when run correctly. Temperature of water your spoon is in will make the difference of a heavy cooler or the skunk.
    A marine radio in a hand held or permanently mount unit is a good way to get information on weather or where the other anglers are finding fish. It will also give you a way to call for help if needed.
    More on this subject in Salmon Fishing, Rigging An Eighteen Foot Boat #2. Good Luck let's go fishing! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2007, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Midday Salmon Fishing Techniques Milwaukee #2

    Midday Salmon Fishing Techniques Milwaukee #2

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    When the sun goes up the fishing action slows down. If this is the way fishing outings go for you please read on to discover some of the proven techniques used by charter captains. Chartering with six people on board is a numbers game. Steady action will entertain the group and more happy customers will follow.
    Allow me to share a few presentations for a midday or late morning. Don't get me wrong you won't rock n roll like a first light bite but steady action will increase the numbers in the fish cooler. Two setups come to mind when fishing bright light, calm waters and clear blue bird skies. Lake Michigan Milwaukee water is gin clear and the action can die in a hurry on the clear sky days. First and foremost you must get away from the boat to water undisturbed by conventional tackle. Stealth is the way to go for an all day bite here's how.
    The last article was set up and use of leadcore. For the angler with out the budget or space on the boat for 15 rods as I do here is a very simple and inexpensive answer. Some of you may use this technique to some degree of success I have taken it to a new level. This method of presentation will improve your catch by fifty percent.
    Downriggers are one of the oldest most used and most productive tools used for salmon and trout on the Great Lakes. Their potential for putting fish in the cooler is undisputed. As with any tool proper usage is the answer to success. A common question I receive from fellow fishermen is how long do you run your drop back leader? This is the length of line between your lure and the downrigger weight. This one item will make the difference of a few fish or steady action. The variables on the length of drop back leader are dictated by many factors. The four most important that I consider are type of lure, amount of light at the presentation, the color of the water and the mood of the fish. The main types of lures fall into three categories spoons, rotators (flashers, dodgers) and plugs. Each of these has it’s own qualities that come out when run with the proper leader length. Spoons are the most forgiving and will do their job on a leader as short as 10 feet although I seldom run them that short unless I am fishing in stained or very deep water. On average 30 feet is a good leader length depending on the other variables. Rotators are another animal. Each type has its own characteristics on average a 20 foot leader is best. The leader length on plugs like spoons aren’t as critical. Twenty feet is a good place to start. The amount of light at the lure will also change your leader length. As a general rule the more light the longer the leader. On calm clear days midday with lots of sun 150-foot leaders will catch fish when a short leader presentation is dead. Fluorocarbon fishing line will also greatly enhance the total number of fish in the boat. I recommend Seaguar Invizx twenty pound for a soft durable fishing line invisible to fish. Mood of fish is also to be considered. Short leaders produce a more erratic action and may turn fish on or off. When setting tackle try some short and some long to get a feel for the mood of the fish. When the bite slows down, change the leader length of the best producing lures to keep the rods dancing. To run this rig, snap on your favorite lure I like Reaper or Vulcan Spoons by http://www.badgertackle.com Good Luck let's go fishing! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2007, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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    Midday Salmon Fishing Techniques Milwaukee #1

    Midday Salmon Fishing Techniques Milwaukee #1

    By Capt. Jim Hirt
    When the sun goes up the fishing action slows down. If this is the way fishing outings go for you please read on to discover some of the proven techniques used by charter captains. Chartering with six people on board is a numbers game. Steady action will entertain the group and more happy customers will follow.
    Allow me to share a few presentations for a midday or late morning. Don't get me wrong you won't rock n roll like a first light bite but steady action will increase the numbers in the fish cooler. Three setups come to mind when fishing bright light, calm waters and clear blue bird skies. Lake Michigan Milwaukee water is gin clear and the action can die in a hurry on the clear sky days. First and foremost you must get away from the boat to water undisturbed by conventional tackle. Stealth is the way to go for an all day bite here's how.
    A major improvement and steady producer for me is leadcore on boards. I do not recommend this presentation for first light it is far to time consuming to run during a hot bite. After the early morning bite or about two hours after sunrise I break out the leadcore. The basics are reel, rod, line and planer board. The reel you use is based on the amount of leadcore line you want to run. The rule of thumb is 4-5 feet of depth to every color of leadcore. When your target fish is 15 feet down you should run 3 or 4 colors of leadcore. Some of you may be thinking why is there a variation of 4 to 5 feet per color. The factors that affect this are type of lure and boat speed. This line is graduated in 10-yard sections each having a different color. When selecting a reel purchase one large enough to handle the amount of colors you would like to run. Leadcore is a bulky line and most likely will not fit on the reels you are currently using. Find a tackle store that deals with this product to ensure a correct purchase. Popular set ups are 3 colors, 5 colors and 8 colors.
    Rods for leadcore need to have plenty of backbone. I use a heavy action 8-foot rod. This should give you the power needed to reel in 500 feet of line, planer board and 20-pound kings.
    The line comes in many test weights. 27 or 36 pound is what I run it all has the same sink rate. You will also need a backing line of one of the super lines like Power Pro. From the leadcore to the lure use a 20-pound fluorocarbon line.
    To avoid tangles when running multiple leadcores you will need a planer board for each rig. The purpose of a planer board is to move the line off to the side of the boat away from other lines. Several manufactures have boards for leadcore. Church has a walleye board also you may use Offshore boards.
    When loading this reel, start with 300 yards 50 pound Power Pro for a backing line then strip the lead out of the end of the leadcore and tie a Willis Knot to the leadcore. Finish with a Willis Knot and 30 feet of a 20-pound fluorocarbon to a ball bearing cross lock snap.
    To run this rig, snap on your favorite lure I like Reaper or Vulcan Spoons by http://www.badgertackle.com and let out all of the line to the backing. Then install your board on the backing so it does not release. I usually run them 150 feet off each side of the boat. More information on this subject in Midday Salmon Fishing Techniques Milwaukee #2. Good Luck let's go fishing! Jim charters out of Milwaukee, WI. with Blue Max Charters. He can be reached at 414-828-1094 or visit his web site at http://www.bluemaxcharters.com Copyright© 2007, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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