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Au Gres - Saginaw Bay Walleye Fishing Travel Guide
Special note on Lake Michigan Salmon Fishing
After fishing at Manistee on Lake Michigan for the last two weeks of August in 2013, I am sad to report that the salmon fishing there was just poor to fair at best. Actually, the number of adult salmon was only down perhaps 40 to 50 percent from last year. What was terrible though was the extremely low numbers of younger salmon, which typically make up half or more of our catch. I would estimate that the younger, sub-adult salmon numbers are down over 90 percent from last year. That lack of young salmon is what really worries me, because those young fish are the future of the fishery. I am very worried that next year, the Lake Michigan salmon fishery will crash big time. What really makes me mad about the situation though is that it is entirely being caused by the DNR. The main forage fish for salmon are alewives. The DNR was concerned that the alewife numbers in Lake Michigan were too low, so they began a salmon stocking cutback plan of epic propositions. A 50% cut was made seven years ago and then three years ago they decided to cut stocking by another 75%. The low Great Lakes region water levels though impacted natural salmon reproduction in recent years big time. The huge reduction in both natural salmon reproduction along with the DNR's slashing salmon stocking have created a crash in the salmon populations. This year, for the first time in decades, dead alewives washed up on Lake Michigan beaches in mass requiring the beaches to be cleaned of the stinking mess. Alewife numbers are at very high levels completely due to a lack of salmon in Lake Michigan that kept their numbers in check. It's a sad situation and unfortunately, I will not be offering any salmon charters next year as a result of the low salmon numbers and I will not run any future salmon charters until the DNR restores the salmon population to an abundant level. Luckily, Saginaw Bay's walleye and perch populations are at all time highs and have shown no signs of slowing down. Those populations are also 100% the result of natural reproduction as there are no fishing being stocking in Saginaw Bay at all. I will be offering even more walleye charters for 2014 on Saginaw Bay to take advantage of that world class fishery. Starting in 2014, I will also be offering perch charters for the first time on Saginaw Bay too during the late summer period.
Manistee is where it all began: The first successful salmon program on the Great Lakes began at Manistee and since that beginning Manistee has been considered by many to be the Great Lakes salmon capital. Lake Michigan's kings are kicking-ass in a big way and the port of Manistee leads the way among Michigan's salmon ports during August. In fact, Manistee has produced more Master Angler Chinook salmon than all other ports in Michigan. To help you land the big ones, Trophy Specialists has over 40 years of experience catching Manistee's magnificent kings. Manistee is Captain Mike Veine home waters where he grew up and he began fishing for salmon there in the 1960s. In fact no other charter captain can truthfully claim to have more years of Great Lakes salmon fishing experience than Captain Mike Veine. In recent years, Manistee's king fishery has been simply phenomenal during August with good catches of silvery kings being very common on most outings. We typically troll with spoons, plugs, Hoochie-Mamas/flies, meat rigs and dodger/squids using downriggers, diving planers, outriggers, lead and in-line planer boards. Besides kings, a mixed bag of steelhead, lakers, coho and browns are also taken on many trips. This fishery must be seen to truly be appreciated. There's no fishing experience on the Great Lakes that compares to hooking a big, adult king in the open waters of the Great Lakes. They earned their nickname of "screamers" for good reason. This title was bestowed on kings due to their powerful runs that cause the drag on reels to scream. They provide thrills unmatched anywhere in Michigan.
Meeting Place - Capt. Mike will meet all customers at the prescribed time by the Manistee city boat launch on First Street across the big parking lot from the Lakeshore Motel. To get there take U.S. 31 to 1st Street and proceed west. Take 1st St. about one mile to the Manistee Boat Launch. This is one of the biggest and busiest boat launches in Michigan, so get there early as there might be traffic backups (boats pulled on trailers) and congestion early in the morning. We will meet customers next to the fish cleaning station, which is on the north side of the boat launch parking lot right across the access street from the concession stand. The Trophy Specialist boat is a big, red, Lund Barron with a white top pulled by a blue/gray, regular cab Chevy Silverado 4X4.
Manistee Information and Lodging - The famous fishing port of Manistee is the salmon capital of Lake Michigan during August. Manistee has a population of about 7,000 and is located about 200 miles north up the Lake Michigan Shoreline from Chicago. If you're planning on flying in, it is suggested that you fly into Traverse City located about 60 miles north/east of Manistee. It may be possible to obtain a better airfare by flying into Grand Rapids located about 120 miles Southeast of Manistee. From both airports, a vehicle can be rented and driven to Manistee. Trophy Specialists Fishing Charters has worked out a special lodging deal with Skully's Manistee Outpost Motel, 12150 M55/Caberfae HWY Manistee, MI, www.manisteeoutpostmotel.com, 231-723-7500. If you mention that you are fishing with Captain Mike Veine when you make your reservation, you will receive a special discounted price that will by far be the best lodging rate in the Manistee area. Skully's is a newer motel with clean comfortable rooms. It's located about 10 miles from Manistee in the heart of the Manistee National Forest. The Big-M cross-country skiing and mountain bike trail system and a new Frisbee golf course are just a few minutes away. A nice golf course and restaurants are also close by too. The North Country Trail (hiking trail) is very close to the motel. There are many access sites to the Big Manistee River, Pine River and Pine Creek for world class trout/salmon fishing within a short distance. Amenities include: 125 channel satellite TV, free unlimited local and long distance phones, wireless internet, hot tub and fire pit, continental breakfast and free coffee, laundry, and plenty of pull through parking for trailer/boats. There is also a free shuttle service to the Little River Casino to and from Skully's. If you desire lodging in the city of Manistee (expect to pay a lot more than at Skully's) then check out the Lakeshore Motel, 101 S. Lakeshore Drive, Manistee, Michigan 49660, 231-723-2667. If you mention that you are fishing with Capt. Mike Veine when you make your reservations at the Lakeshore, you will receive a special lodging rate (weekdays only). There are many restaurants, bars and shops in Manistee to satisfy all budgets and tastes.
Licensing - Customers will be responsible for obtaining the proper Michigan fishing license prior to the prescribed meeting time. Michigan offers a one-day license for a nominal fee. You will either need a one-day license or an all-species license. Youths under 17 do not need a fishing license. MI licenses are available at Meijer, Walmart and Kmart stores and also at several bait shops located in Manistee. Keep in mind though that you will not be able to obtain licenses early in the morning before your charter in Manistee, so plan ahead. You can also purchase licenses on the Internet at: Buy Fishing Licenses On-line.
Bring Along - your fishing license, proper attire, rain gear, brimmed hat, sunscreen, camera, sun-glasses, food and beverages. Drinking alcoholic beverages is allowed on board the boat, but only in moderation. Only small coolers that can fit under the seats are allowed on the boat. Basically, if your cooler is too large to be allowed on an airliner as carry-on baggage, then it shouldn't go on the boat either. A larger cooler should also be available off the boat for transporting your catch home. If you're flying into Michigan, be sure to check with your airline for any rules pertaining to transporting fish. To prevent spills and stains, coffee can only be consumed on the boat in a spill resistant container. Michigan law states that all youths under 16 year old must where a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times on the water. In addition, Trophy Specialist's encourages everyone to wear a PFD when the boat is underway and above trolling speeds. Trophy Specialists will make available comfortable life vests in various standard adult sizes (small to X-large) along with the required type III - PFDs. It is required that parties with children or adults smaller or larger than standard adult sizes (30" to 50" chest) bring their own Coast Guard approved PFDs.
Seasickness Precautions - If you're prone to motion sickness, standard over-the-counter medications such as Dramamine might be a good idea. When taken as directed at least one hour prior to the scheduled departure time, those nasty symptoms can usually be controlled. If you've suffered from sea-sickness in the past or have never been exposed to big water fishing, it's recommended that acidic or alcoholic beverages be avoided and eating in moderation both before and during the trip is also a good idea.
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