Lake Michigan Charter Fishing Milwaukee Wisconsin Salmon

       This picture of Chinook salmon from a fall Milwaukee charter fishing trip shows the type of salmon caught in September while fishing the Milwaukee harbor. These four fish along with several others came in the last hour of this trip. That is some fast action with big fish. The mature Chinooks come back to the harbor every year to spawn and eventually die a couple months later. So this is the last time of the season to battle these outstanding fighting salmon.

       The Chinook "King" salmon start to change color and shape as they get ready to spawn. This period of time is when salmon are staging to spawn. The fish turn bronze in color and the males develop a hooked jaw. The females bellies begin to grow as their spawn or fish eggs develop. The average size of a four you old salmon is 12 pounds but Silver King Charters has taken many fish in the 20 pound class. This fall action can become very intense as rods are releasing with Chinooks that are exploding at the surface seconds after hitting.

       The Chinook salmon are for the most part stocked in Lake Michigan. Each spring around the lake these salmon are released from the state hacheries. The fish are called fingerlings because when they are released they are no more than 6 inches long and most are about 4 inches. It is amazing that in less than four years some of these fish weigh 20 to 30 pounds. Chinook salmon are very aggressive fish that have a ferocious appetite and there are few times during a the year were it is not a good time to eat. In Milwaukee these fish are put in net pens that float in the water. Captain Kurt Pokrandt is directly involved in setting up these pens and then releasing all the Chinooks for the Milwaukee area. The net pens give these small fish a higher chance of survival by letting the salmon become acclimated to the waters. We also release them at night, giving the fish time to swim out into safer waters so birds and predator fish have less chance of eating them. These net pens are set up 100 yards away from were Silver King Charters docks and over 100,000 Chinook salmon are released in Milwaukee every spring. This is one of the largest releases for any port in Wisconsin making Milwaukee a fantastic port to fish out of.  

       Charter fishing Milwaukee Chinook salmon on Lake Michigan is solid all season long and until winter really gets going there are die hards fishing these salmon deep into December. When you are on a charter for Lake Michigan Kings you will here the terms shaker, 2 year old, 3 year old and four year old. Depending on the time of the year a shaker is 12 inches to 2 pounds. These are basically one year old fish. The two year olds will run from 3 to 6 pounds and are a greart eating fish any way you want to cook it. Three year old Chinooks are some very good fighting fish and range from 7 to 15 pounds. The most mature 4 year olds run from 10 to 20 pounds and can weigh over 30 pounds. When a 4 year old hits it is an explosion and the captain and first mate will usually let everyone aboard know that it is a mature King salmon almost immediately.

        These four year old salmon begin to stage outside harbors around Lake Michigan in late August and early September as they get ready to spawn. The Milwaukee harbor is set up perfectly for these salmon in fall. The harbor has lots of structure with over two miles of breakwall. There are three gaps for the fish to enter and the habor is deep compared to most. In some spots it is close to forty feet deep. There is also a major river system that flows into the harbor, which fish are attracted too. But the most important reason these fish come back to the habor in hords is because they are stocked just inside the north part of the habor. Salmon are stocked at a certain age so that they become imprinted to the area they were released. This means they will return to that exact spot when it comes time to spawn. Each fall Milwaukee has a good return from the 100,000 Chinook salmon we released from net pens three and a half years ago during the spring. When Silver King Charters pulls out of the dock you are literally 5 minutes away from when we set lines and you having a chance to hook up with these excellent fighting fish.

         We are located in the ultimate spot for fall four year old fishing and Milwaukee charter fishing starts to turn into combat fishing. Because of tight quarters and really good fishing there are many boats located close together. This is not your concern but the captains must be alert at all times. We are experts at this and have been fishing September salmon for 30 years. The other reason it is called combat fishing is because when these fish hit in shallow water, with breakwalls surrounding them they literally go insane. This is what makes this fishing so much fun.

         The salmon begin to stop feeding while they are staging to spawn but after a lifetime of aggressively eating it is hard for them to pass up striking a lure that swims right passed them. We primarly use bright colored j-plugs with a rattle inside them. There is one attached to a rod in this picture. We usually run only 4 downrigger rods with 4 j-plugs and have four more rods with the exact same set ups for backups. On the lake we usually run 10 to 14 rods but for the harbor Kings less is better. Silver King Charters has taken 10 to 15 of these Chinook salmon on many September evening trips and many of those the fish came in 2 hours or less. Our record is 30 for 42 in 2 hours and 15 minutes. That is serious action! 

        Once we turn the corner into the harbor we set lines. It takes about two minutes and we have four downrigger rods set. Then it is a matter of time before a rigger rods pops and the reel starts to screem with a big King on it. These fish will run very fast in all different directions and jump out of the water several times. They will never give up. A typical night will see a couple of fish in the first half of the trip but as the sun starts to drop the hits begin to accelerate. During the last hour of the trip double and triple headers. When this happens fish will be crossing over each other and the crew some how turns it into organized chaos. We tell our clients to enjoy their beverages early because they will be standing at the back of the in anticipation of the next explosion off the downrigger. 

        These September trips will almost always net fish but water temperature and wind can shut the bite down. If Silver King Charters does not believe that the harbor will be productive then we will go out on the lake or if you came to fish habor Kings we will reschedule. If the water temperature is above 59 degrees Charter fishing Milwaukee salmon in the harbor becomes very challenging to say the least. The fish become very slugish. Wind change will effect fishing no matter were you fish but the wrong wind change will completely shut down the harbor for several hours. The good thing about September in Milwaukee is that we have a good deal of west winds, which cools the water and is a great wind for active fish. This has made the Milwaukee harbor very consistent year after year. Even though the 2009 season saw some of the worst water temperatures in years for September we still produced fish like in this picture.

        Milwaukee charter fishing for fall four year old Chinook salmon begins at different times each year but by the last week of August is a good time to call Silver King Chartes and ask when a good time would be to book a trip to try fishing the Milwaukee harbor. We offer an oustanding rate at $400 and we leave the dock at about 3:30PM and fish until dark. There is virtually no travel time so you are fishing almost from the time you leave the dock. The seas are usually calm in the harbor and the fights you have bring in a four year old will be a memory you will never forget. You will also have a great view of the city of Milwaukee Wisconsin.  Call us at 414-460-1467 to book your fall trip.       


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