Fishing Lake Michigan - Temperature Is Key

In the last article, we started with the Importance of location, tackle, temperature and good record keeping. I also covered some of my key ways to find fish in early spring on Lake Michigan and the hot set ups to keep the rods dancing. Let us now go into more detail on location of temperature breaks and how to work them.

The first and perhaps most important is how to find these sometimes subtle temperature changes. Your primary tool, and one you cannot do with out, is a surface temp gauge. I use the one built into my fish locator. It also has a graph to show the temp history over the last hour. This may not be necessary but it can help when mapping temp over a given area.

The big pond is very cold in April and May also some years even into June. Your ability to monitor temp and stay in as close to the target species preferred temp will make or break your day on the lake. Let us assume most of the lake is in the forty-degree range and your target species is Coho, browns or Chinooks. All of these fish are looking for two things, temperature as close to their preferred range and food.

I will go into food and or forage in another article for now let's focus on temperature. Out of Milwaukee we are fortunate to have several rivers flowing into a large harbor. The rivers warm earlier than the lake and the mouth of a river is a place to start with a temp check. In addition, you should be checking each of the three gaps in the break wall that creates the harbor.

A south wind will push the warm water out the north gap. This will turn the fish on in this area while the south gap is too cold for productive fishing. The way I start any day is to work the warmest water or water nearest to preferred temp I can find. After working this water, I move to cooler water. Sharp temp breaks are usually better at holding fish then gradual changes.

Always consider the wind direction, not only when you are fishing but what it has been doing over the last several days. A light east wind on our western shore moves warmer surface water on shore and contributes to a rise in temp and a good bite close to the shoreline. All harbors with rivers have some current flow and the wind determines the direction that warmer water will flow when leaving the harbor. Fish that warmer water and into the cooler lake water keeping an eye on your temp gauge. When you get action note your location by land sightings and temp. Stay with that temperature to find active fish.

If you have worked the harbor and gaps with no or slow action, look for temp breaks on the lake created by shifts in wind direction. Another option is to check tight along the shoreline in protected bays. At times I will run my lures in the shallow warmer water on side planners keeping the boat out in the deeper cooler water. Another area to check out is any warm water discharged from power plants. We have this opportunity south of Milwaukee by twelve miles at Oak Creek.

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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