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Three Must Read Spring Salmon Tips #1

By Wisconsin fishing charter Capt. Jim Hirt
Don’t know which way to go for spring salmon fishing. Allow me to break it down and offer some suggestions for wherever you fish. Let’s discuss presentation lures and location to jump start your spring. Should you have a question please e-mail me from my Website contact us page I will be pleased to answer. My charter season will be under way soon and it may take a while to get back to you. Read all my articles and see video fish reports at

Top producing presentations
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 outside the cone of your locator’s transducer. However that’s where most of the fish are.

Leadcore on boards first choice
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 and this is the best bet for spring

The basics of leadcore are simple. The most expensive part is the reel. It must have enough line capacity to handle the twenty seven pound leadcore line plus Seaguar fluorocarbon leader and Power Pro 50 pound backer line for a total of anywhere from 300 yards on a half core to 600 yards double core. 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 ( five colors ) 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 200 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 another Willis Knot and 30 feet of a 20-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon to a ball bearing cross lock snap. You will need a medium 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 backer. 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.

Lures for leadcore
I keep talking about Vulcan spoons and more anglers are finding out that this spoon will out produce most spoons in their tackle box. Reasonably priced and nearly indestructible they just keep on producing. The regular size is a good bet for spring. Vulcan spoons are sold by Three Must Read Salmon Tips number two will continue with more lure choices in the next post. 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 web site at Copyright© 2011 James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

Trophy Lake Trout Fishing Lake Michigan

By Milwaukee fishing charter Capt. 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 I will be pleased to answer. My charter season will be under way soon and it may take a while to get back to you. Read all my articles and see video fish reports at

Captain Jim:
I was reading an old article you posted a few years back regarding trolling cowbells and spin-n-glows. I was wondering if you could tell me what your leader setup is on a rig like that.
I made 5 cowbell rigs, 24 inches long, followed by a spin-n-glow on a 24 inch leader as well. I was going to attach that directly to a 3 way swivel but was wondering if I’ll need a greater leader length?

Lake Trout head to tail
Before we get directly into the answer I would like to provide more information on this species and presentations that are effective for them. I would like to explore location, presentation and lure selection for Lake Trout. Fishermen everywhere covet them for their table excellence giving them a nickname of poor man’s Lobster. Lake Trout baked or poached and served with melted butter is a feast fit for a king.

Ecosystem of the Lake Trout
This slow growing member of the Char family can attain a life of over fifty years and have been known to grow to more than 50 inches and reach over 100 pounds. Lake Trout are mature enough to reproduce when they are six or seven years old. Some Lake Trout respond to a homing instinct. They return to the same spawning grounds year after year, while others do not. This trout lives in deep cold lakes. Their preferred water temperature is 50 degrees or below. In the summer they stay deep and can usually be caught by deep trolling. But as the water cools with the fall season and into spring, artificial lures and flies may take lake trout fished shallower, near shore.

Rules of the road
Finding a trophy may be a difficult task although I feel following a few rules will augment your odds for success. I have found that in twenty years of fishing my biggest have come on spoons. I believe the reason for this is spoons will maintain an attractive appearance at very slow speeds. When you think Lakers think slow. This very cold water species has the slowest metabolism of all the game fish. If you have not caught a Lake Trout, you are trolling too fast. The bigger the Lake Trout the colder the water they prefer and the slower they move. A quality large spoon that trolls well at speeds below one mile per hour is required. Keeping in mind that you will be working in deep water below 100 feet.

Don’t forget about color
The color choices should be in the bottom half spectrum of the rainbow. There is not much light down there and green, blue, indigo violet colors will sustain some color at these depths. A silver plated spoon will reflect light better in low light and used in combination with the colors is a good choice. You might try the new Badger Tackle Reaper glow in the dark spoons as well. They were very productive for me this last season. The lack of light has brought me to my favorite presentation. In some cases bouncing the bottom is the only way to provoke a strike.

Set up defined
Use a wire line rod with 30 pound wire terminated with a plastic keel. The plastic keel has three positions to attach to it. One goes to the wire line another directly to the weight. Some anglers use a mono line from the keel to the weight so if you get hung up the mono will break and you won’t loose everything. Use eight ounces to one pound weight for good contact to the bottom. The third position is used for the connection of bait or lure. Use a three foot 40 pound monofilament lead to an 8 inch silver or glow in the dark dodger and a 3 foot lead to the spoon. Cowbells are a similar presentation with a few changes. From the keel attach the cowbells and then two foot leader to the spoon. When you would like to use a Spin N Glow attach a three foot 40 pound leader behind the Cowbells then the dodger and two feet to the Spin N Glow.

Working it
Troll with the bottom contour letting out enough wire to allow the ball to bounce on the bottom. A word of caution, some bottoms have lots of hang ups and it takes a constant vigilance on your part to avoid hanging up and still keep constant bottom contact.
As you read earlier, when the water cools in fall they return to the same spawning grounds year after year. The eggs are deposited over a boulder-strewn or rubble bottom structure, in depths from 40 feet to about one foot. This affords the angler another opportunity to get into some serious laker action. Work this shallow water with the same wire line rod. Go with 4 ounces of weight no flasher and standard Reaper Big Joe red/green or Reaper Peacock blue/green spoons. Motor troll the shallows while hand holding the rod bouncing the bottom as you go it‘s a blast.
Let’s wrap this up with my favorite Lake Trout lures. Dodgers and magnum spoons are my first choice with dodger Spin n Glows a close second. The two most productive Lake Trout spoons for me in recent years are the glow in the dark Reaper Green Fox Glow and Fish n Chip Silver both sold by The standard Reaper in the silver combinations are best for shallow water.
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 web site at Copyright© 2011 James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

The Three R’s of Fishing #2

By Lake Michigan fishing charter Capt. Jim Hirt
This is article number two of a two part article. Look for part number one for rigging tips. This article will focus on reacting to change. Read all my articles and see video fish reports at

Reacting to time of year
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 at locating the depth of the preferred temperature level for the fish species you’re seeking.

Thermocline Explained
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 anywhere 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.

Temperature by species
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. The only exception is when fish are spawning. 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 like the regular size Vulcan Spoon exclusively sold at Badger Tackle 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.

Keep good records
I cannot stress record keeping too much. Your ability to document good and bad days will be your magic rabbit in the hat. This info will shorten your learning curve and should be reviewed before every fishing outing. Record the date, location, weather, lures or bait, presentation, for each type of fish you catch. 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 web site at Copyright© 2011 James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

The Three R’s of Fishing #1

The Three R’s of Fishing #1

By Lake Michigan fishing charter Capt. Jim Hirt
As with all sports and activities basics and fundamentals are the foundation from which a sound well played game is achieved. The name of this article could have been the twenty five R’s of fishing because many small details will make or break your day on the water. However I decided to focus on only three of the fundamentals, rigging reacting and record keeping. Read all my articles and see video fish reports at

This is a vast subject with a different definition to most anglers. To me it means assembling the correct components in the best way to meet the current conditions. Let’s get into specifics. The rod, reel, line and terminal tackle are the foundation to success. In my earlier days of fishing the selection of a fishing rod was confusing. The more people you talked to the worse it got. My experience over the years has lead me to a simple conclusion, heavy weight rods for big fish with high test line. Light weight rods for small fish on light test line. Following the recommended line weight marked on the rod will put more fish in the cooler. A rod that is too stiff will not bend with light line. The result will be lost fish from failure to maintain a tight line to the target. You will also be able to use smaller snaps and terminal tackle on light line with a light action rod. This will enhance the lure action with improved presentation.

Reacting to changes 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 and adjust to the conditions. 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. For these types of days a slow spot on the spot presentation is key. Work your favorite location with precise boat and lure control. Inactivity is normal, when this happens pick your favorite locations on any body of water and look for your target species in the next break to deeper water.

Baits, speed and location
Work smaller spoons, lures or baits in a slow systematic 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 1.5 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 you won’t be disappointed. 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 web site at Copyright© 2011 James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

Great Lakes Lure Set Ups 2011 Part #2

Great Lakes Lure Set Ups 2011 Part #2
By Lake Michigan Fishing Charter Milwaukee Capt. Jim Hirt
Current information is critical to being at the top of your game in any sport. Fishing is no exception and perhaps more critical than other sports. This article will focus on what to use and where for the 2011 season. Read all my articles and see video fish reports at

Mini sets what goes where?
On the deepest lines in the coldest water I fish for Lake trout. All the deep lines are matched for speed, color and preference of the target. This is a good time to talk about color as it relates to the amount of light. You may or may not remember learning the colors of the rainbow in school. The colors are remembered by this acronym “ROY G BIV”. These letters mean red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. 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.
Now let’s get back to setting our deep lines. Go with colors for low light that work well at a speed you intend to run and in the size of the baitfish. Large Reaper magnum glow spoons, dodgers or flashers with flies, or spin-n-glows and lake trolls work most days. Look for temps below 45 degrees for the biggest Lake Trout. This presentation is usually on downriggers working below 100 feet deep. I will get into downrigger presentation in another article.

Midway down the water column
The next mini set will run in water above the deep lines. Fish the 48-53 degree water spreading the lines to run about every ten feet of depth. Here we are looking for Chinooks and Coho salmon. I like a mix of dodgers, flashers flies and spoons. Of these three choices spoons are the easiest to present and most productive. There is a variety of ways to work the middle of the water column but, without a doubt lead core and copper lines on planner boards will be the most successful.

High lines
The balance of my lines will run in 54 degrees or warmer water looking for rainbows and browns. Depending on how much warm water you have to work with you can cover it with long lines, diving planers and lead core. The mini set in the warmest water with lots light should have the lures with fastest action and brightest colors. Minnow type lures are a great productive choice with their fast action.

Run Mini Sets for all your targets in the temperature zone you expect to find them. Temperature is the key to success with the correct color and action in the depth of water you are fishing.

Check out for Reaper, Vulcan and Nestor Wobbler spoons proven and tested by anglers worldwide. 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 Copyright© 2011, James J. Hirt, All Rights Reserved.

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