|Chicago's Big Catch|
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By Capt. Kevin Bachner
On a late spring day earlier this season a group of five had chartered my boat for a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. The morning was overcast, the air was cool, and a light rain sprinkled the water. I arrived in late morning, when the wind was still strong and a few flashes of lightning brightened the sky. The weather was unfavorable for taking the Kingfisher out, and the local weather service was predicting continued wind and rain.
The guests waited in the salon, dressed in raincoats. While I prepared the boat, in case we needed it, I watched the Doppler radar. A break in the clouds was approaching, and I decided this was the opening we were looking for. We headed out of the harbor. Once we passed the breakwalls, I programmed our course into the GPS and powered up the engines.
At about 10 miles from shore, or a depth of approximately 100 feet, I began to set the lines. The first lines to go in the water were downriggers. Each has a heavy weight at the end of a heavy metal line to hold a lure at a specific depth. The fishing line is tied to the weight with a rubber band and lowered to depth with a mechanical or hand-crank spool. When the fish strikes, the rubber band breaks, and the fish is reeled in. I set three downriggers at about 90 feet, and the other two at 50 feet. This is to cover a wide range of the possible locations where the fish may be.
The next lines I set were the dipsy rods. As I did this, the rain continued, and the customers went inside the salon to stay dry. I placed two dispy rods on each side, one at 90 feet and the other at 50 feet.
I use baits based a little more on whims. I have spoon baits in 2-inch super slims, 4-inch regular and 6-inch magnum on the boat. About half of the lines get different spoon baits, and the other lines get dodger spins, fly or glow. This day I went with dodger spin and glow, which works well for lake trout.
I called out, “Fish on!”
The customers hurried out of the salon, no longer worried about the rain. Another downrigger popped as soon as I got the first customer set reeling in the fish.
“Fish on!” I yelled again. I could see out of the corner of my eye, one of the dispy rods was waving with a fish on. All the of lines were being hit at once. “Holy cow!” I said.
The first fish came to the surface thrashing. I leaned over the edge of the boat holding the net and scooped up the fish. It thudded onto the deck, flipping and flopping. The second one had almost reached the boat, and I hauled it in with the net. The first two were 20-pound lake trout.
I took the first two fish off the lines and placed them into the holding tank. As the third fish jumped out of the water, I could see that it was silver. After it was on the deck, I discovered it was an 8-pound Coho salmon. The rain had stopped, and the sun was pushing through the clouds.
Then there was a small break, and I was able to reset the lines. Just after they were set in the water, fish began striking again. By the end of the trip, we had caught 22 fish.
I set the GPS to take us home and cleaned the fish while Mason, one of the customers, stood nearby and watched over my shoulder.