Early Season Great Lakes Tactics

The start of the 2006 Lake Michigan Season is just around the corner 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 presentations. 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.

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.

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. Well lets get started. It's always a good idea to check the Wisconsin Outdoor Guide for up to date information on what's biting. I also check at local tackle stores and Internet 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.

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 more important than the type of lure you use.

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 planner boards. Find one you like and run all the same type. I like crank baits, jointed minnow type lures and some spoons. 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.

When fishing early in the season, fish metabolism or body temp is very low. I run my boat speed between 1.0 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 new glow in dark lures are an excellent option. The old rule of thumb applies; bright lures bright days, dark lures dark days.

Good luck from 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 www.bluemaxcharters.com!

By Capt. Jim Hirt

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