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  • #61
    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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    • #62
      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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      • #63
        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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        • #64
          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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          • #65
            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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            • #66
              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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              • #67
                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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                • #68
                  Fishing The Zone For Brown Trout Milwaukee #2

                  Fishing The Zone For Brown Trout Milwaukee #2

                  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 Article number one covered Chinook now let's look at Brown Trout as it applies to Lake Michigan and other big water ecosystems. Get caught up by reading article number one titled Fishing The Zone For Salmon Milwaukee #1. This information is necessary to understand the following article.

                  Zones By Species
                  Lake Michigan Milwaukee 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.

                  Brown Trout Zone By Temperature
                  Big browns are common in the estuary created in the Milwaukee area by three rivers. Brown Trout are a warm water species, so look for them in temperatures above 55 degrees. They will tolerate colder water and temperatures above 65 however my biggest browns over twenty pounds have come at near 55 degrees. Keep your baits in 55-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 trout fisherman cannot be without.

                  Location And Forage
                  The principal types of forage for trophy fish in Lake Michigan are the Alewife and Goby. Look for pods of forage for consistent action. I have caught browns in water as shallow as 5 feet and out to 100 feet. Most consistent action however is in shallow water or the top 25 feet where warm water has accumulated. Early spring in the months of March April And May we find are consistently the best for browns. Over the years 90% of this species are caught when the water is below their preferred temperature. The reason for outstanding spring fishing for this fish is the cold water of Lake Michigan concentrates the fish. The Lake temp is in the mid to high thirties and this causes the fish to stay near the warmer water of the river mouths and harbor gaps. Later in the season the browns disperse along the shoreline. Finding a temperature break is the key to finding fish. A break is defined as a major or minor change in water temperature. At times a small change of a degree or two will hold fish but I have found the greater the change the better the concentration of fish.

                  Presentations For Lunker Browns
                  First light of the day is the best time to catch this quarry. They seem to be more sensitive to light than other types of fish. Light up a Vulcan or Reaper Magnum Glow spoon sold by Badger Tackle before first light for fish in the box ahead of the rest of the pack of anglers. A stealthy approach is necessary for the biggest fish. In definition stealth is a presentation that avoids being notice. Several are used for trolling.

                  I would skip the downriggers as a presentation for browns. I have found this to be the least productive of presentations I have tried. The most successful for me is leadcore. 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.

                  Hot Lures Define The Day
                  Let's wrap this up with my favorite lures. Magnum spoons are my first choice. Use Glow in dark for before first light and in heavy overcast. 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 2009 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 Coho Salmon 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

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Fishing The Zone For Coho Salmon Milwaukee #3

                    Fishing The Zone For Coho Salmon Milwaukee #3

                    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 Article number one and two one covered Chinook and Brown Trout now let's look at Coho Salmon as it applies to Lake Michigan and other big water ecosystems. Get caught up by reading article number one titled Fishing The Zone For Salmon Milwaukee #1. This information is necessary to understand the following article.

                    Zones By Species
                    Lake Michigan Milwaukee 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 their preferences is the best way to find steady consistent action on any fish.

                    Coho Salmon Zone By Temperature
                    Coho offer great action with the reward of some of the best eating of all Lake Michigan fish. Once again the answer to putting them in the box is temperature. Look for them in temperatures above 50 degrees up to 57 degrees. Exceptions to this temp zone are possible but not the norm. As they come in to spawn they will be less sensitive to temperature. They will tolerate colder water and temperatures below 50 however they are less active.

                    Location And Forage
                    The principal types of forage for all fish in Lake Michigan are the Alewife and Goby. Look for pods of forage for consistent action. I have caught Coho at all depths all season long. Don't make the mistake of not running tackle for them they do require a different approach. Most consistent action is in the spring months of May and June. The reason for this is the water is very cold and the top water is the best habitat for them. The shallow water or the top 25 feet where warm water has accumulated is the answer to your best numbers. Early May run your baits in the top five feet and progress to deeper in the water column as the water warms up. The reason for outstanding spring fishing for Coho is the cold water of Lake Michigan concentrates them. Finding a temperature break is the key to finding fish. A break is defined as a major or minor change in water temperature. At times a small change of a degree or two will hold fish but I have found the greater the change the better the concentration of fish. In spring the Coho that have wintered on the southern end of Lake Michigan will migrate north. You will find some action near shore and this is a good starting spot. My experience is deep water can be very productive. I fish out to ten miles off shore in 250 feet of water for fantastic action and limits on this exciting spring fish.

                    Presentations For Limits On Coho Salmon
                    Anytime of day is a good time for this quarry. I categorize them as day feeders with angling success all day. Water temperature will dictate your best bait. I will break this down by temperature. Below 50 degrees use small crankbaits, minnow type lures and small spoons like the regular size Vulcan in silver or bright colors sold by Badger Tackle. Above 50 the cold water baits will produce but not as well as six inch orange flashers or dodgers with flies or squids. The distance between the attractor and the fly or squid will vary with the temp of the water. Try one and a half times the length of the flasher or about nine inches up to eighteen inches. Longer lead on the fly seems to work better in colder water. You may catch some fish on downrigger but they are not my first choice for presentation. Church Tackle Walleye Boards are the way to go. I run four or more on each side of the boat working an area over three hundred feet wide. Set up for Coho with a six foot 15 pound leader tied to a 3/8-ounce keel sinker attached to the 20-pound main line to your reel. Baits are attached with a ball bearing snap and run 25 feet behind the planner board. The planer board is run well off to the side of the boat out of your travel path.

                    Hot Lures Define The Day
                    Let's wrap this up with my favorite lures. For spring crankbaits, minnow type lures and Small spoons like the regular size Vulcan or six inch orange flashers and dodgers with flies or squids. Later in the season go to larger 11 inch dodgers and flies along with all size spoons in silver green. Magnum Reaper spoons did very well for us later in the season on Coho recent years. Baitfish size should be considered when selecting your spoon size. Vulcan and Reaper spoons are both sold by http://www.badgertackle.com I will continue with Zones for Rainbow 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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                    • #70
                      Fishing The Zone For Rainbow Trout Milwaukee #4

                      Fishing The Zone For Rainbow Trout Milwaukee #4

                      By Captain Jim Hirt
                      This article continues the series of Fishing The Zone For... Please take the time to read Articles number 1, 2, and 3. This will greatly enhance your understanding of this Rainbow Trout article. Let me explain how to be more productive by following some basic rules and using some old and new 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. Article number one, two and three covered Chinook, Brown Trout and Coho. Now let's look at Rainbows as it applies to Lake Michigan and other ecosystems.

                      Zones By Species
                      Last year was an above average year for Rainbows on Lake Michigan Milwaukee. Our port holds the state record of over 26 pounds for this species. We boated many between fifteen and twenty pounds. This fish can be elusive to some anglers; however, armed with the information in this article you will be on your way to many great outings of this tail-walking acrobat. Allow me to offer environmental preferences for this fish. Breaking each fish down by their preferences is the best way to find steady consistent action on any fish.

                      Rainbow Trout Zone By Temperature
                      Rainbows offer great action. Nothing matches the excitement of being on the rod with ten pounds plus of leaping muscle on the line. Once again the answer to putting them in the box is temperature. A thermal break is the way to find them. Thermal break is a point where water changes temperature. Look for them in temperatures between 43 and 58 degrees. This is a wide range and offers some challenges. My article will provide information on how to locate them as the water goes from 40 to 75 degrees through out the season. The trick to success is mobility and presentation.

                      Location And Forage
                      The principal types of forage for most fish in Lake Michigan are the Alewife and Goby. You will find at times the contents of their gut contain these bait fish. My experience with rainbows may change your mind on bait and presentation. The spring and early summer is the answer to easy pickings on the big pond. The reason for easy rainbow fishing at this time is the abundance of insects. Following the bugs may seem like a crazy way to catch any fish but it is key for rainbows. Any warm spring day will provide an excellent hatch of the diet of all size Rainbow Trout. The location on the water with the most bugs will have the best concentration of fish.
                      When I am on a rainbow hunt, off shore is the place to be. It is smart to start trolling in about 50 feet of water and head out deeper. As action picks up you should note GPS, depth and temp info. This info will be your key to staying on fish. With the water in the forties don't be surprised to find some huge fish in this cold water. When the bite slows troll back to your best GPS numbers. I have found that in deeper water fishing the surface is always better for monster bows all season long. The best months are April, May and June. Work the temp breaks and bugs for hot action.
                      The top 25 feet where warm water has accumulated is the answer to your best numbers. Early May run your baits in the top twenty-five feet and progress to deeper in the water column as the water warms up. Anytime of day is a good time for them. I call them fish with banker’s hours 9 to 5 is the time to get them.

                      What baits are best?
                      Water temperature will dictate your best bait. I will break this down by temperature. All season long use crankbaits; minnow type lures and small spoons like the regular size Vulcan in silver or bright colors sold by Badger Tackle. Eight-inch flashers and dodgers with flies or squids are a staple as the water warms up to 60 and above. The distance between the attractor and the fly or squid will vary with the temp of the water. Try two to three times the length of the flasher or about sixteen up to twenty-four inches. Longer lead on the fly seems to work better in colder water. You may catch some fish on downriggers but they are not my first choice for presentation. Church Tackle Walleye Boards and leadcore are the way to go. I run three or more on each side of the boat working an area over three hundred feet wide. You should set up for rainbows with a 1,2,3,4,5 color leadcore. This will give you coverage from 5 to 25 feet. The Church Planer Board will run well off to the side of the boat out of your travel path.

                      Hot Lures Define The Day
                      Let's wrap this up with my favorite lures. For spring crankbaits, minnow type lures and small spoons like the regular size Vulcan or 8-inch flashers and dodgers with flies or squids. My best spoon color is chartreuse/silver/green. Magnum Reaper spoons did very well for us in July and August on Bows in recent years. Baitfish size should be considered when selecting your spoon size. Vulcan and Reaper spoons are both sold by http://www.badgertackle.com I will continue with Zones for Lake 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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                      • #71
                        Fishing The Zone For Lake Trout #5

                        Fishing The Zone For Lake Trout #5


                        By Captain Jim Hirt
                        This completes the series of Fishing The Zone For... Please take the time to read Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4. This will greatly enhance your understanding of this Lake Trout article. Let me explain how to be more productive by following some basic rules and using some old and new 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. Article number one, two, three and four covered Chinook, Brown Trout, Coho and Rainbow Trout. Now let's look at Lake Trout as it applies to Lake Michigan and other ecosystems.

                        Zones By Species
                        Lake Trout are a staple and are relatively easy to catch on Lake Michigan Milwaukee. A twenty-five pound fish is huge in our area for this species. We boated many between eight and twelve pounds and some over twenty. This fish can be easy to find and catch for most anglers; however, correct approach must be followed. With the information in this article you will supplement your daily bag limit on most waters where this fish is found. Allow me to offer environmental preferences for this fish. Breaking each fish down by their preferences is the best way to find steady consistent action on any fish.

                        Lake Trout Zone By Temperature
                        Lakers are considered the Bulldog of the lake. They get this reputation from the way they fight. They are not known for long runs or acrobatic jumps. Typically found in deep cold water most of the season this may present a challenge on presentation to anglers.
                        Once again the answer to putting them in the box is temperature. A thermal break is the way to find them. Thermal break is a point where water changes temperature. Look for them in temperatures between 38 and 50 degrees. The trick to success is presentation.

                        Location And Forage
                        The principal types of forage for most fish in Lake Michigan are the Alewife and Goby. You will find Lakers on or suspended near the bottom feeding on this forage. Early spring and late fall is the answer for most anglers because the water is cold and they will be in the upper part of the water column. This does not mean you cannot produce a limit most anytime of the year.
                        I will talk you through the season for most productive water. As our season starts in early April, the lake is 38 degrees and this moves Lakers to the surface. When May arrives they are on their way out to deeper colder water hanging near the bottom and this is the place to find them the majority of the season. Fall fishing can be prime time for monster lunker Lakers as the water cools and the fish move in for spawning.

                        What baits are best?
                        In spring when fishing the top fifteen feet use crankbaits, minnow type lures and small spoons like the regular size Reaper in silver or bright colors sold by Badger Tackle.com. Visibility is a factor when the fish move to their summer deep water haunt. The slow metabolism of this fish is dictated by the cold water and requires a very slow 1 to 1.5 mph boat speed. A solid approach of magnum spoons will be your best bet to steady action. Reaper Magnum Glow spoons will afford you the performance and visibility necessary. Eight-inch flashers and dodgers with glow flies or squids are a staple and also work deep in the water column. The distance between the attractor and the fly or squid will vary with the temp of the water. Try two to three times the length of the flasher or about sixteen up to twenty-four inches. A Longer lead on the fly seems to work better in colder water. In summer downriggers are the way to get presentation 80 to 250 feet down. On the surface use Church Tackle Walleye Boards and leadcore are the way to go. I run three or more on each side of the boat working an area over three hundred feet wide. You should set up for Lake Trout with a 1,2,3,4,5 color leadcore. This will give you coverage from 5 to 25 feet. The Church Planer Board will run well at slow speeds and off to the side of the boat out of your travel path.

                        Hot Lures Define The Day
                        Let's wrap this up with my favorite lures. For surface to 25 feet crankbaits, minnow type lures and small spoons like the regular size Reaper. In deep presentations 8-inch glow flashers and dodgers with glow flies or squids. My best spoon color near the surface is the Reaper purple/chartreuse Big Joe Silver regular size. Down in the deep dark water Magnum Reaper Green Fox Glow blue/green/white glows the best and glows the longest. Baitfish size should be considered when selecting your spoon size. Vulcan and Reaper spoons are both sold by http://www.badgertackle.com 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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                        • #72
                          Planer Boards As Your Primary Trolling Tool.

                          Planer Boards As Your Primary Trolling Tool.
                          By Captain Jim Hirt
                          Water in our ecosystem has gone from low visibility to extremely clear. With this change of environment the angler must evolve in his presentation to produce consistently. This article will talk you through a very effective way to meet these demands for sunny conditions with spooky fish.

                          Hello all: I consider it a privilege to be a member of your fishing community and pass on ideas and knowledge to everyone. Most of my articles talk about products which I believe will make you a better angler. Some I sell and some I find of a quality level worth my endorsement. My goal is to always serve the community and enrich your fishing experience.

                          Now is the time to move to the next generation of presentations. If you find yourself behind the pack when it comes to putting fish in the cooler, a system of planer boards will improve your learning curve.

                          Allow me to outline and give details of several options in planer board fishing. This will provide some ideas you may want try in the upcoming season. I highly recommend them.

                          Equipment for getting started

                          While there is some expenses involved the rewards will be great. Initially two boards will get you going. Expect to pay between $25 and $35 each for individual board with many more or less expensive choices. I will give details on my first choice and then offer some others.

                          There was a time when long lines with weight were the standard for getting the baits well behind the boat. This is a system of inline weight attached to the line about four feet ahead of the bait. By changing the weight size you will raise or lower the spoon or bait in the water column.

                          The function of a planer board is to increase your odds by moving the bait off to the side of the boat. By presenting lures outside of the boat’s path in undisturbed water you will find them more likely to bite. Each board is made in a way that when trolled behind the boat it will move to left or right of your travel path. Some boards, like the Church Tackle TX 22, are reversible allowing you to run them left or right.

                          Rigging is simple. After you have let out the line to the distance you would like, attach the board with the clip provided by the manufacturer. Once the board is attached lower the board into the water allowing it to run off to the side of the boat. When the fish strikes you may do one of two things. Do not release the board just reel the board to the rod tip and hand release it. Then finish reeling in your fish. A second option is to release the board, which slides down the line toward the inline weight and stops. The board is reeled in with the fish and the fish is netted.

                          Up to now we have talked about individual boards that go on each line. You can also go with a large board towed on each side of the boat pulled by a heavy monofilament line. The line is let out the same as before and then attached with a release to the heavy mono line to the large board. As you let out additional line the release will slide down the mono toward the board. You may stop the release any time along the way to the large board. When the fish strikes the line pulls free of the release and the fish is reeled in. Then the line is reset and attached to tow line again. The draw back of this system is it requires a tall mast to pull the large boards and is not transferable boat to boat. The advantage to individual boards is less cost and I find them more efficient in setting line and cranking in fish when on a hot bite.

                          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© 2010, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved

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                          • #73
                            Salmon On Spoons And Why!

                            Salmon On Spoons And Why!

                            By Captain Jim Hirt
                            With a few pointers and the reason behind them you may find spoons as a great addition to your salmon fishing arsenal.

                            Over twenty-five years in the pursuit of salmon has brought me to the conclusion that no single approach is the answer to salmon success.

                            Defining Success.

                            My days are long and my customers are many. I run upward of one hundred seventy five salmon charters per season with a wide variety of conditions.

                            I must be on fish each and every day offering opportunities and excitement non-stop. This puts me in a different situation in the terms of what I consider a successful outing on the water.

                            Whatever you consider a great day, I believe for most anglers that are trolling for salmon spoons are the way to go. Spoons are deadly at the correct speed and will out produce all other lures even when not at their optimum speed. This makes them a perfect choice for the novice and master angler.

                            Selection by size

                            Match up the bait! Size is as important to productive fishing as any of the other variables. The rules are simple: match lure size to the forage of your target and if fishing is slow or dead go to smaller size spoons. For example the first light bite was fantastic and you were on your way to a limit catch. Then the sun comes up bright in a clear blue sky and all the action stops. I believe the reason for this is too much flash produced by large lures can turn off fish. This is time to scale down to smaller lures. This approach can be applied any time you find yourself in bright conditions.

                            Selection by light intensity

                            The marriage of light and color is essential! Light is the number one consideration in your lure color selection. 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.

                            There are exceptions to every rule. 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.

                            A relatively new and much improved addition to spoon colors is the glow in dark colors. After charging up the glow paint on the spoons with a bright light, they will take fish in the dark or stained water. You will find several manufactures with this product. I have found the glow on Badger Tackle spoons will last longer than most of the spoons being sold.


                            Temperature will define the spoon action

                            The preferred water temperature of your target easily defines spoon action. In the times of the year when the fish you are after cannot find the temperature of the water they like you must adjust to meet conditions.

                            For instance, you are looking to hook up with Brown Trout and the water temperature is 40 degrees, twenty degrees below their preferred range of 58 to 66 degrees. A slower lure action is required for this cold water.

                            This can be achieved by a slower retrieve rate when casting or a slower boat speed for trolling. The problem with a slow speed is many spoons loose their fish attracting action. A spoon that solves this problem is the Nestor Wobbler made by http://www.badgertackle.com The crankbait action of this spoon is deadly in slow presentations. This spoon also has multiple holes in the lip that will allow you to change from a wobbly baitfish action to a vibrating high-speed action. I recommend the Nestor Wobbler for most salmon, trout, bass and pike. It has been a consistent producer for me. Any time your target is in cooler water than they like slow down.

                            On the other end of the scale use a spoon with a fast erratic action when you find your quarry in their preferred and or above water temperature.

                            Summary

                            Consider all three, action, color and size to become more productive. Fish come in a wide variety of sizes and attitudes and one thing is common to all. You must get their attention if you expect to catch them. Adjust to meet conditions and you will become a better angler. 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 © 2010, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved

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                            • #74
                              Salmon Fishing Puzzle Solved!

                              Salmon Fishing Puzzle Solved!

                              By Captain Jim Hirt
                              Salmon in particular and many other species can be especially finicky and difficult to catch. As all types of fish are unique in their habitat there is some common threads in their DNA. The common factors and threads are the parts of the puzzle that, when fitted together, will solve some of your most difficult questions. Now let's explore the common threads.

                              Forage is huge!

                              Forage relates to what your quarry likes to eat and in some cases will eat when necessary. Your research in this area must include local anglers along with bait shops and Internet or magazines. The season, water temperature and ecosystem are all important in your decision. Focus on size, color and location for the best results.

                              Seasonal patterns

                              All fish have different preferences as they go through their annual life cycles. Pay special attention to this part of the puzzle. Most anglers know when their target spawns but there is much more to this equation. Each locale will be different and if the second week in April is the time for the bass to be on the spawning beds in your area this may not be true if you are fishing three hundred miles north or south of your location. Observation is key. Look to where you usually find fish and without satisfactory results expand your search.

                              Temperature is everything

                              When I do my seminars I constantly harp on temperature as a major player in productive consistent angling. Consider your fishing target much like an opponent in a sport. By knowing the temp preference of the target you will be a leg up on the other anglers. This knowledge will eliminate tons of non-productive water. Temperature will tell you about the attitude and most likely location to fish. A temp that is near the optimum or ideal for your species can be approached with your most aggressive baits and presentations. On the other hand warm water fish that are in cold water will require a slower and perhaps smaller lures or baits.

                              Summary

                              Consider all three forage, seasonal patterns and temperature when trying to solve the fishing puzzle and you will be on your way to becoming a better angler. The next article will continue with more parts of the puzzle to complete or at least give some shape and direction to the sport of angling. Adjust to meet conditions and you will become a better angler. Do you like to blog? I have just launched my fishing community at http://www.jimhirt.com Come offer your comments, knowledge and please ask questions. 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 © 2010, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved

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                              • #75
                                Catching Moody Fish

                                Catching Moody Fish
                                By Capt. Jim Hirt
                                From time to time we all can use a little help. These changes in thinking or additions to your fishing arsenal will improve your success. The speed of your bait whether it is a spoon, jig, or crankbait is important. The right lure at the wrong speed will be less productive.

                                The correct speed is dictated by many variables.

                                Always consider the mood of fish and the environment they are in. This will help you find the best speed. Mood is defined by weather and the time of year. High and low barometric pressure are a part of the weather question. They both have a significant impact on the mood of all fish. Activity level in fish will change with the movement or lack of barometer movement. You must know what the weather has been preceding your fishing trip. This information will set the stage giving you the information you can use to your advantage. A clear blue high sky after a low pressure front is every anglers nightmare. Fish get spooky, neutral or negative in these conditions.

                                A slow spot on the spot presentation is key.

                                Inactivity is normal, pick your favorite locations on any body of water and look for your target species in the next break to deeper water. Work smaller spoons, lures or baits in a slow presentation. If motor trolling is your method of fishing use small spoons. Present them at slow speeds and fish them near the bottom. On the other hand steady barometric pressure for an extended period of time with overcast sky conditions is time to grab your pole and to head for the water. Don't miss these ideal days. The fish will be up on the shallow flats, near shore and active. Pound these fish with big baits and fast erratic actions.

                                Work hard, work fast and cover a lot of water.

                                This sets up a great opportunity for trolling big water. The correct lure color for overcast will put more fish in the boat. Silver or gold has long been the standard until resent years. Cutting edge anglers are now going to glow in the dark lures. The visibility of glow spoons far exceeds the old standards. Badger Tackle has great line up of glow spoons. For the anglers that run a boat speed from 2.0 to 3.5 MPH I would recommend the Vulcan magnum. This is a tough heavy weight spoon with a slim profile that fits well with most freshwater and saltwater forage base sizes. The other one I like is the Reaper. Run the regular size on clear calm days and magnum at first light, overcast or whenever you are down deep or in a low light presentation. The Reaper is a wide spoon with a crippled baitfish action for trolling at speeds of 1.0 to 2.5. The Striper and Salmon fishermen say it is a perfect match to the Shad and Alewife forage. Both are exclusively sold at http://www.badgertackle.com/ you won't be disappointed.

                                Time of year is also to be considered.

                                Time of year is also to be considered when trying to catch moody fish. As the seasons change so do the temperatures of the water. Fish are cold blooded and their metabolism changes as their body temp changes. Most anglers know there are cold and warm water species of fish. Which means all fish if given a choice will find their preferred temperature range. In fact too high or too low beyond their limits will cause stress and eventual death. In large fresh water lakes, the time of day isn't nearly as critical as locating the depth of the preferred temperature level for the fish species you're seeking. Lakes layer into three separate layers of water in the spring and stay that way until cold weather. The middle layer, where there is a larger concentration of dissolved oxygen, baitfish and therefore predator fish, is called the thermocline. It can usually be found any where from ten feet to the bottom. This is a temperature layer as well as an oxygen-saturated layer and fish will relate to it as both a comfort zone and one where their body metabolism functions the most efficiently. These fish will be suspended and feeding on alewives, smelt or other forage fish.


                                The peak feeding and optimum temperatures

                                The peak feeding and optimum temperature for Coho and Chinook is 52° with an active range from 44° to 58°. For lake trout, the peak feeding and optimum temperature is 51° with activity from 43° to 53°. Fish will rarely venture out of these zones, once stratification has taken place, except to catch a meal and then will quickly return to it. One thing to remember when fishing the thermocline is that its depth can change from day to day because of wind and wave action. It may be several feet deeper or shallower from one day to the next so you'll have to relocate it each time you go out. Having said all that, when fishing in water temperatures near the bottom of your target species preferred temp, adjust to small spoons in a slow presentation. At their optimum temp go aggressive with large baits in quick presentations. Most anglers under estimate the speed of their quarry. 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© 2010, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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                                • #76
                                  Fishing Leadcore Presentation Is On Fire!!

                                  Fishing Leadcore Presentation Is On Fire!!
                                  By Jim Hirt
                                  Here are some ways to present lures in spring. This time of year look for most of your fish in the top 50 feet. Keep your eye on your locator and also work deeper marks when you see them. My experience this time of year is the deeper fish are less active and tend not to bite. Most often you will not mark well above 30 feet because those fish are out side the cone of your locator’s transducer. The primary presentations I use at this time of year are Church Tackle Walleye boards, Slide Divers and leadcore. If your budget allows, I would recommend trying a leadcore line set up. This presentation will work when all others are dead.
                                  Basics
                                  The basics of leadcore are simple. 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 half core to 600 yards two cores. I run my half cores or five colors on a reel that holds 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.
                                  Loading the reel
                                  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 may run this with a Church Tackle Walleye planer board if you are going to use multiple set ups.
                                  Presentation Tips
                                  Snap on your favorite lure and let out all of the line to the Power Pro. Then install your board 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. I don’t fish lead early in the morning. I use it when the early bite is over. Some of my biggest fish are caught on this presentation. 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© 2010, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved

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                                  • #77
                                    Fishing Milwaukee Cold Start Finding Fish

                                    Fishing Milwaukee Cold Start Finding Fish
                                    By Capt. Jim Hirt
                                    Resources
                                    In previous articles we covered basic leadcore. I would recommend trying a leadcore line set up. This presentation will work when all others are dead. In this article I would like to explain where to start if you have not been out for awhile. I find Internet fish reports invaluable for up to date information look for the most recent reports. If you do not have that option, ask at the local sporting goods stores or the other fisherman at the launch ramps. Marine radio is also helpful if you have one.
                                    Tools
                                    What if none of these options are available? Then follow the steps I recommend. The tools you will need are depth gauge, temp gauge and fish locator. I key on temp and food. In most cases when you find them you will catch fish. Start with a temp check on the surface. If it is too warm for your target species, you must take a temperature check from the top to the bottom in the water you are in to see if it is cold enough for your target.
                                    How To
                                    East wind will bring warm water into Milwaukee. The result may be water that is too warm for your target. When you find this scenario move out to deeper water and check again. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the temp. Look for a sharp break in temp from the warm surface to the colder water. I work tackle both slightly above and below the break. Having said that, there are exceptions to every rule. I would also run one line well above and below the temp break. This may be out of the temp you expect to catch fish, but at certain times of the day they will be there.
                                    Lures
                                    Run your most aggressive lures with the most action on the warm side of the break. In contrast, use slower less aggressive tackle on the extreme cold side. Baitfish are a very important ingredient to this mix. Always fish schools of baitfish when you see them. When you are under power on the way out and see baitfish on the locator get the lines in. 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© 2010, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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                                    • #78
                                      Lures For Spring Salmon And Trout

                                      Lures For Spring Salmon And Trout
                                      By Capt. Jim Hirt
                                      I have written over eighty fishing articles for the web during the last seven years. Now is the time to revisit some of these articles and review them for the most current information. All things evolve and our tactics and skills should improve and change. I hope you enjoy the revisited articles and perhaps find some information you may have missed. Best wishes for the 2011 fishing season
                                      Keys For More Action
                                      The start of the 2011 Lake Michigan Season will be here before you know it and now is the time to think about early location and tackle. In this article, I would like to share with you some of my keys to finding fish and the hottest set ups for very early presentation. I have been a charter captain for over twenty years and these techniques have produced year after year. I am confident that you will achieve success applying these classic tips.
                                      Tools You Will Need
                                      I start my season in early April and the most important factor at this time is temperature. I recommend a must item for you is a temp gauge for the surface and a notebook. Your gauge can be a simple hand held thermometer or a unit built into your fish locator. The notebook is all about what’s working and what’s not. I find if I can avoid duplicating non-productive techniques, I will improve my catches and enjoyment. Keeping record of your bad and good days is key to moving to the top of the list as an above average in your sport. I write down the date, time of day, conditions, cloudy, clear, calm, rough, port or lake G.P.S. numbers if you have them. Record this on every fish or at least at the end of the day. On a hot bite, I usually get caught up on my notes as soon as I can to avoid lost detail.
                                      Temperature Temperature Temperature
                                      Spring action can be hot. Think about it, the temperature of the water is in the 40 degree range, and with a few exceptions, the fish we will find the most active are on the top five to ten feet.
                                      Resources
                                      Well lets get started. It’s always a good idea to check local phone hot lines for up to date information on what’s biting. I also check at local tackle stores and Internet reports. You may also call me at 414-828-1094 and check http://www.jimhirt.com for my fish reports. If these resources were not available, I would then start with temperature. This holds true if you are in a boat or on shore. Find the warmest temp you can. Sometimes I am fishing a temp break of only a degree or two. Don’t rush this process. Haste to get your lines in non-productive water is just a waste of time. You will find these temp breaks at mouths of rivers, power plants and protected bays.
                                      Wind Direction
                                      The wind direction will be a major player in warm water location. The surface warms first and wind will move this water around. On Wisconsin’s shore, a light east wind does wonders to improving spring action. The reason I used most of this article on temp is it helps eliminate a lot of slow fishing time. Temperature is almost more important than the type of lure you use.
                                      Set Ups
                                      Motor trolling is the method I use for most of my fishing, and I will explain one of my basic spring setups. If possible I would max out the number of rods, because more is better this time of year. I fish all my lines on planer boards. Find one you like and run all the same type. For lures I like spoons crank baits, and jointed minnow type lures. These will cover most fish. The water is too cold for flasher flies and they will be used when the water warms to over fifty degrees.
                                      Speed & Color
                                      When fishing early in the season, fish metabolism or body temp is very low so a slow presentation is required. I run my boat speed between 1.5 and 2.0 miles per hour. 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 glow in the dark Vulcan or Reaper spoons sold at http://www.badgertackle.com in regular size are an excellent option. The old rule of thumb applies; bright lures bright days, dark lures dark days. I cannot cover all the bases in this limited space so I will go into more detail in future posts. 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© 2011, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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                                      • #79
                                        Milwaukee Salmon Fishing Heaven!

                                        Milwaukee Salmon Fishing Heaven!
                                        By Captain Jim Hirt
                                        I have written over eighty fishing articles for the web during the last seven years. Now is the time to revisit some of these articles and review them for the most current information. All things evolve and our tactics and skills should improve and change. I hope you enjoy the revisited articles and perhaps find some information you may have missed. Best wishes for the 2011 fishing season
                                        Where do I go?
                                        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.
                                        How do I catch fish?
                                        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.
                                        Presentation?
                                        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© 2011, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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                                        • #80
                                          Ultimate Salmon Boat Part #1

                                          Ultimate Salmon Boat Part #1

                                          By Lake Michigan Fishing Charter Capt. Jim Hirt
                                          Most major cities have boat shows starting in January and running all the way through March. I have had boats in all sizes shapes and colors. My biggest dilemma at the shows is trying to decide what will work best for my type of fishing and is within my budget. I am not sure how to address budget in this article but I will say a mllti purpose boat for fishing skiing cruising is an easier sell to the family. Of course they’re some of you who do not have to deal with that issue. You will find however a multi purpose boat will get more use. For the hardcore fisherman you will still be in a quandary over a boat that will work for all the types of fish I fish for and what will fill the bill for the waters I fish. I have two boats and would not have it any other way. My small boat is a 14-foot aluminum with a 10 horse. I only have a couple thousand into it. There is plenty of room for two people with gear. I have a fish locator lights and an anchor that’s it. I keep it small here for several reasons. The most important is portability. On some the lakes I fish in northern Wisconsin you will never get a bigger boat in the water. This boat is light enough to lift off the trailer and carry to the water. At times we will carry it through the woods to gain access to waters very seldom fished. I love this boat but it will never work on big water like the Great Lakes. Read all my articles and fish reports at http://www.jimhirt.com
                                          Salmon slamming boat
                                          On the big pond you need some freeboard, room for equipment and protection from the elements. How big is big enough? This depends on the size of your crew. Two guys with a little knowledge of the water will do just fine in a well equipped deep 18 footer with a 90 horse motor. This boat does present some good and bad trade offs. The good news is an 18 is perfect for Walleyes on rivers and big lakes. On the other hand you need to watch your weather before and during a trip on the Great Lakes. Wind direction, wave heights. Safety is always an issue and the big waters of most salmon fishing lakes must be respected.
                                          Basic equipment
                                          There are dozens of ways to go and your budget will be the guide to how complete you boat will be. Essentials for safety should be your first concern and are required by law. I won’t go into them as they have different laws every where you go boating.
                                          Let’s go into fishing needs
                                          To start let's cover a very limited budget 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.
                                          Rods
                                          In recent years the buzzword on the water is stealth. A clean presentation offered a good distance from the boat will take more and bigger fish. Too much tackle will often turn the fish off. Purchase two 8-foot medium action trolling rods. They will give you all the versatility and power you need. There are good quality fiberglass rods starting a $30 each.
                                          I will continue this article with the next post. This package will offer the opportunity to catch reel screaming Chinooks, dancing Rainbows, huge Brown Trout, tasty Coho and rod bending Lakers. Have a great fishing season. 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© 2011, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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