Fall Surf's Up Salmon(8/27/03) [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: Fall Surf's Up Salmon(8/27/03)

10-07-2003, 09:17 PM
Labor Day weekend I had a blast chasing early salmon in a few surf destinations in northern Michigan. Late summer/early fall is a great time to hit the beach and look for early kings staging off thermal breaks and shoreline discharges.

When I arrived late Friday night, I decided I would check the area out. Nothing around, really. Although we did get a strong east wind for about 3 days causing a thermal updwelling of cooler water in the bay. I was right at the end of it, and the first day was by far the best. Many fish were staging outside in the bay and I hooked 2 of them. Fresh kings that smoked me. I was throwing an 8" smelt imitation. I looked at a few other destinations with no fish seen.

I went back the next morning and ended up landing one. A nice chrome hen of about 8-9lbs that was already spawned out. It took a 5" Dan's GL CLouser imitation. She must of entered one of the nearby tribs and came back out to the lake. I have seen this many times.

Overall, I had a good time. Fall colors were just about turning and the fishing was still in the early stages. The area I fished recieves a great run of fish every year.

I have another trip with pics coming soon!

9lb hen nookie (http://us.f1.yahoofs.com/users/f6ecf8da/bc/Fishing+pics/__sr_/Surfs+Up+Salmon+1.jpg?bcGHFh_AoxPa7nGc)

Remanants of last year's run! (http://us.f1.yahoofs.com/users/f6ecf8da/bc/Fishing+pics/__sr_/Leftovers.jpg?bcGHFh_A5VXuB_DJ)

10-08-2003, 01:16 PM
what is a Dan's GL CLouser? can you post a picture ? Thanks in advance.

10-08-2003, 02:15 PM
I will have a pic availible ASAP. It is one of my own patterns I tie for our GL region. Acutally I have quite a few that I tie for salmon, steelhead and browns in the surf.

10-08-2003, 02:56 PM
I am curious.. was that 'spawned-out chrome hen' a salmon or steelhead? Atlantic?

10-08-2003, 03:10 PM
That was a spawned out King Salmon hen. The area I was fishing does recieve steelhead, but typically they do not spawn until spring time and that is the best time to target them. Our salmon can look different from the ones out west. In northern Michigan you can expect kings as early as late July at times, then usually coho start showing up in October. Atlantic salmon are few and far between, although you might find one here and there unless you are fishing for them in the St. Mary's river, Salmon River in NY, or a few select other tribs.

Hope this helps.

Juro, let me know if you are up for some surf fishing anytime. If you still plan on attending this year's spey clave, if you want to stay an extra day I might be able to put you on some fish out in the open lake. It is very unique, and is well worth the effort.

10-08-2003, 05:39 PM
Didn't know chinook could get chrome again after spawning.

Beach fishing... I got the rods for it! Might be a plan... what is cruising the shore in early spring?

10-08-2003, 07:56 PM
Never saw one get chrome after spawning either.

Always thought they starved to death due to the increase of internal organs related to spawning which caused their throats and stomachs to shrivel.


10-08-2003, 08:59 PM
I have seen this happen several times in short, type II streams across the region. Fish will enter creek mouths and spawn at night, then right back out to the lake. This act is just because of the cautious nature. Can you see that it is spawned out? The stretch marks are apparent. The fish slammed the fly. As you both know, kings tend to be aggressive. I have seen darker kings staging attack patterns. That was just one of the 4 I hooked that weekend. Most fish were out of my casting distance, even with a spey rod I couldn't get there!

Let me know, I can show you guys the ropes. Juro, we need a date. I learned from the best in the business, I'll tell you that!

Early spring brings lake run browns, salmon and steelhead near shore right after ice out. If we target it right, fish should be staging in thermal breaks along shoreline and near creek mouths. Usually, the steelhead will draw into pods as they come closer to spawning and begin to look into entering tribs. If you are fishing the shorter, type II streams that might only be a few hundred yards long...you will see what was seen with the salmon being spawned out yet chrome beacause the lake is so close.

Hope this helps. Juro, I have to send you some pictures of my patterns. They are awesome, I sell them in a few flyshops and my friend who pioneered surf fishing in the GL region taught me several ways to make the patterns better for imitating the baitfish. Check your PM's.

10-08-2003, 10:12 PM
Always thought the act of spawning darkened the fish no matter how close the lake is.

The fish do not activly spawn until their eggs and milt ripen and loosen up. During this wait the fish darken and basically rot to death. The protective slime coat disappears and the skin gets leather like, exposing them to all the nasties that live in the water.

A chrome spawned out nook would be a thing to see, hopefully I will see one soon. The odds have to be in my favor, since I must have seen close to 5000 Chinook in the past 24 years. I'll be sure to take some pix to share.

10-09-2003, 04:11 PM
Surfs up my friend, I think I know what I am talking about. I got a witness or two along the way, although I don't need one as I can tell myself.

Type II streams, very short distances, close vacinity of the lake....fish was caught in late August(Labor Day)....all I can tell you.

I have seen this with steelhead too. If you fish the surf nearly as much as me, you might know.

Not saying anyone is wrong or right here!

10-09-2003, 05:53 PM
A Steelhead will chrome up after spawning, never saw a nook do it.

I have seen them in spawning in warm water discharges 20' from the lake. Never once saw a chrome post spawn nook. Just old tired moldy fish.

Those ones I saw must have been an anomaly.

10-15-2003, 01:16 PM
Basic biology would leave me to believe that once a Mature Salmon spawns it has a very short period of time until death and is about as inactive as it has been in it's entire life.

As for the "Pioneer" business... Don't know if that is RM selling you that line or a label that you gave to him. But, I can show you literature about stripping streamers in the surf from when RM was in grade school. It's not new. And a Clouser Minnow by any other name.....


10-15-2003, 01:21 PM
What about JK? He's been in longer than you, and he taught Russ and myself alot.

Come on anyone with the info he has can't compare. It is his life, you should see some of his fish he has gotten.

My clouser isn't a typical one...I got a pic coming. Wait until my article is published, I will send you a copy.

10-15-2003, 03:17 PM
MS, TL, RM and now JK?!?!? Wow! YOUR THE COOLEST!
If only you really knew about some of your heros... you'd be so heart broken. Yeah be sure and let everyone know when that article comes out.


10-15-2003, 03:35 PM
Maybe they were black chrome, used to throw black chrome spinners in the surf on fall nights and early spring mornings.

Those hog browns would tear them up.

10-15-2003, 04:00 PM
Fishing for chinook and steelhead at the mouths of small creeks opens up some possibilites. I've tried this once but with out some intel, it seemed pretty fruitless.

Time of day, weather conditions, wind direction, temperature change (air and water), water conditions, etc. all seem crucial to hitting it right. Any sources out there on this?

BTW, what's with the alphabet soup?

10-15-2003, 06:25 PM

To Lipripper, no hard feelings just making a point. Some of the guys in the industry have been doing this, most guide for it and many excel at it. Also, three of them have competed in the world casting chamionship and I know they are FFF certified...it is not like they are dummies. :D I am trying to get the article published, it still is being written and I am getting all my best pics in it.

MJYP, my buddy Russ fishes for browns in the surf more than steelhead. He did very well last year, this year wasn't too good. Action should be picking up soon. I don't throw anything but flies though.

To Peter S-C, it is a hoot....I live for it. If you can find the fish at the proper time, it is well worth the effort. It depends on everything you mentioned. Usually I know now when is best to go and where, and what to target specifically

10-15-2003, 06:38 PM
My comment was pointed towards black chrome like those post spawn chrome chinooks.

Now thats a hoot.....

Bad thing about surf fishing is that you wait for the fish to come to you, not like river fishing were you have to find the fish.

Different game, if the surf is empty you are shot. The river is another story. Odds are there are fish present 99% of the time, its the chess game of getting them to hit that draws me.

Quantity is for guides, quality is for fishermen.

10-15-2003, 07:01 PM
But I find alot more solitude in the surf, and it is more of a challenge looking for fish sometimes. I do not know about you, but the rivers here can bring crowds...I do have a few select streams with nobody, and a few private ones that get runs.

Quality is better than quanity, you are correct.

10-15-2003, 08:26 PM
Your missing MY point. Names in this business are just that...names in this business. I am sure if you asked around the board a little you could come up with names of aquintances and friends and fishing partners that would knock your socks off. Most don't wear them around like badges of honor and respect. Some of the best guides I know are NOT household names and if you asked them I'm sure they would prefer it that way. Casters too... some of the greatest could care less about being certified. There is something to be said for humility. Especially in a brave new world of ESPN "Flyfishing Championships" and "getting articles published".


10-15-2003, 09:07 PM
Yeah you are right, there are several lesser known people who are good people and follow in the same path...but if you have ever been out with some of these guys, then you don't understand. They are fish magnets, not saying that someone else isn't. They are great people, and you know what I do business with them because they always help out in anyway, and I know them. It is like relying on family versus a stranger. If I need anything I can go to them, especially if I am in tight squeeze of time.

It isn't always about what you know, sometimes it is about who you know.

Anyways, back to the surf topic...I got more pics coming of a recent trip.

10-15-2003, 10:49 PM

I'll admit the prospect of fishing for staging salmonids before they enter the river is an interesting one. I've spent many days in saltwater chasing the elusive winter steelhead in saltwater around Puget Sound and although I've caught 4 of the 5 American pacific salmon (no sockeye) I've never caught a steelhead in the salt.

I know the big lakes are not salt but they are freshwater oceans. How big are the waves you deal with? What line weights are best? How far do you need to cast?

thanks in advance.

10-16-2003, 04:05 AM
Waves can vary from gentle rollers to 30' tall monsters. It all depends on the direction and speed of the winds.

I would hazard a guess that 80% of the surf fishing in the great lakes is done by plunking spawn or tossing harware.

Most of the river mouths (bigger more popular rivers) have a peir or harbor. This prevents one from truly fishing the mouth. People then fish the flume or river water flowing out into the lake.

Winds then really affect the way it goes out into the lake, sometimes hugging the shorline other times it will flow straight out into the lake.

You can also fish the lessor known streams and creeks, which will offer true river mouth access. They are a real hit and miss affair since they were rarely if ever stocked and rely heavily on H2O from the sky to draw the fish.

Some surf fishing is done at the mouths of warm water discharges or on a shoreline near deep drop offs. Most times it is a hit and miss affair, but if you hit it right you can experience some good fishing.

The spring smelt run is probably the best time to tangle with some hog fish stuffed full of smelt. I have caught browns stuffed full of smelt their stomachs bulging from the feeding frenzy. If you manage to hit the alewive spawn you can also rip into some nice fish.

They are some greedy fish when they put on the feed bag.

One thing of note is that the food chain bio-mass has been declining the last few years. this is a result of over stocking from the GL states. Lake Michigan has 4 states surronding it. Each one of those states pump tons of game fish into her. As of late the biologists realized the error and have reduced stocking levels to allow baitfish rebound. Couple that with the lake being way below normal levels (last I heard it was 5') makes one wonder how long the bounty will last. After all everything changes sometimes it is not for the better.