Monday, September 27, 2010

Northern Pike and Salmon Fishing Trip

Sunday morning, Sept 26th my dad and I pulled into Mckinley harbor in Milwaukee at 5 am. We were 30 minutes early so we decided to check the gps for any nearby fast food joints. We found a Mcdonalds just .6 miles away so off we went. 14 minutes, 317 orange cones, and several winding oneway streets later we were at our destination. We found a short cut for out return trip to the harbor and were back in the parking lot 2 minutes later.

Here is a pic of the harbor from our boat in the twilight.

Anyhow professional angler Steve Ryan invited us up for the day of fishing. Steve travels the globe in search of pretty much every species of fish on the planet. He just got back from Venezuela last month and is making plans for Papa New Guinea in the future. Anyhow the empty parking lot and lack of shoreline anglers pretty much gave us a pretty good indicator there werent many fish in the harbor yet, but we still decided to give er a try since we were already there with a nice boat, some good bait, and a Wisconsin fishing license.

It didnt take long to confirm what everyone else already knew. According to the calendar, there should be quite a few fish staged in the harbor, but the 90 degree temps earlier in the week and strong northeast winds just got them salmon all messed up. Oh yeah, the massive cold front that came through and dropped the temps by 45 degrees didnt help open the mouths of the fish either. We knew that too, but still you never fully know until you give er a try.

Oh yeah also, when you go fishing on Lake Michigan in the fall, bring some very warm gear. Even when its warm and sunny at home, bring some warm fishing gear. I had a hunch that it might be chilly on the morning of our trip so I threw in a light jacket, when really I should have thrown in my full arctic waterproof gear!!!

We missed one good fish at the harbor, when I say we really I mean me, just toned down a bit. The only king salmon we saw caught the whole day was by an extreme angler in a kayak. Yep a stinking kayak angler caught a behemoth salmon. Here he is just getting done landing the fish.

After seeing the kayaker land the salmon we thought about sticking around and trying to scratch out a fish or two, but we had better things to do than cast our baits into the fishless abyss. By 10:30 am we were en route to a lake full of feisty northern pike.

Our destination was Lake Delavan which is just right above Lake Geneva in southern Wisconsin. We launched at the lakes only boat ramp and drove across the lake to a secret spot that was shared by about 15 other boats throughout the day. The other boats were doing alot of fishing, but not any catching. I didnt figure we would be doing any catching here either with the massive cold front that brought in the strong northeast winds, but boy was I wrong.

After 10 minutes of fishing I landed this monster Wisconsin largemouth bass. She was down on the bottom in 22 feet of water. A very short, but obese fish!

A few minutes after that and this real nice pike which was nearly 3 feet long was tugging on my line. By this time I was pretty stinkin impressed.

My dad managed to miss a handful of really nice fish over the next hour or so. I missed some too, but wanted to highlight his misses since he hadn't landed anything yet. I gave him a hard time with every missed fish until he shut me up with this walleye on his drop line and northern pike on his float line back to back simultaneously. I plopped the walleye into the livewell for this double pic as he was reeling in the pike.

We were following the outside weedline edge in 20-26 feet of water all the way down the shoreline. All we were doing was dropping big 8-10 inch suckers down to the bottom and bouncing them up and down as we drifted. We also set out a couple big baits on slip bobbers and let them drift behind us. The wind was blowing pretty strong so we had to use a large drift sock to slow us down.

It didnt take long to locate where most of the activity was coming from in our 500 yard stretch of shoreline we were targeting. The big fancy boat house with double blue shorestations was the place to start paying attention as we drifted by. We caught fish all along our drift pattern, but that one spot we often caught two fish at a time.

If you look real close you can see that my fish is quite a bit bigger than dad's on this double we caught in the money spot! I enjoy giving my dad a hard time while fishing.

Anyhow altogether we caught about 15 northern pike and missed another 15. When using the big baits, we would have to let the pike eat the bait for almost one whole minute before setting the hook. It was not easy for us to get the hang of right away, but our hook up ratio got much better throughout the day as our patience level increased. At $16 per dozen you learn the technique pretty quick. Once a bait has teeth marks on it, it doesnt work very well anymore. Here are a couple of the smaller guys, which really weren't that small.

Throughout the day many boats would come up real close to take a look at what in the world we were doing to catch so many fish. It it was me on my home water, I probably would have had a dummy rod rigged up with some insane pink lure to show people when explaining what the secret was, but Steve didn't mind sharing his info. In a prideful sort of way it felt good to be catching fish when no one else on the lake was. Now I know how that kayaker felt in Milwaukee harbor- he had the best fishing day ever!

Here is a sunset shot from the boat ramp of Lake Delavan:


  1. you're kind of a punk to your dad....i would say that you didn't get spanked enough as a child but I know that wasn't the case.

  2. He's a big boy and can handle a few jabs here and there. Plus he doesn't read the blog so he will never know what I say or ever be able to tell his side of the story.

  3. Looks like a great trip. It's your responsibility as a grown son to give your dad a hard time. I doubt he holds back when his fish is bigger.

  4. To me, it looked like a fun-filled trip. However, the fish you caught were kinda strange. I have never seen such species of fish.

  5. Cool stuff Nate! I am also a fishing blogger, check out my blog if you get the chance, also, I can't figure out how to follow your blog...Add a gadget for me?