Article published in September 2006 Issue of Great Lakes Angler
Diehard trollers will find plenty of hungry kings offshore right into winter.
That’s just way too soon, because fast action with immature kings in the 3- to 14-pound range can be found throughout the fall. Most places, these fish may never see a lure after Labor Day. Yes, this is a weather-sensitive fishery, but if you pick your days you can fill the cooler well into November.
Late season kings are highly mobile and will move around. Some years they will come into relatively shallow water of 30 to 60 feet. Other years finds the biggest schools offshore suspended miles from shore.
If high winds and unstable weather dominate your region, then stable offshore waters will hold the kings. Alewives and kings suspend out there. These kings will use the entire water column and at times will be way deep-like 100 to 170 feet down on Lake Michigan; sometimes deeper in Huron, Superior and Ontario.
Matching the hatch is critical in fall when fish key on particular sizes of bait. Check a fish’s stomach as smaller spoons may be closer to what you find. From left are mags from Moonshine, Savant, regular-sized Silver Streak, Dreamweaver and Stinger, a Northern King NK 24, a small Glowmate and a Stinger Scorpion.
Check the stomach contents of fish to determine what size bait they’re eating. Often, young-of-the-year alewives and perch migrate offshore in large schools. These small baits, less than one-inch long, are a favorite food of late season kings. If kings are feeding on small baits, you must use small spoons and well-worn flies to score. Start with the standard size Michigan Stinger and Grizzly spoons. If these don’t work, drop down and use smaller spoons such as the mini-Streaks, Streak Juniors or Stinger Scorpions.
For flies, use the well-worn flies that you are thinking about throwing away. I often take the beads off the leader and use a sliver of tinsel.
Again, hunting is a major component of success. If you want to hit a home run, you need to pick up the bat and step up to the plate. If you want to extend your fishing season and catch a bunch of nice fish, you need to put in some time on the water.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATIONLocation is everything during the fall. Share information with other diehard trollers in your region, report the locations of success, and failure and everyone wins. Networking helps determine schooling patterns of late-season fish. A great place to find and share info is on our own GLAngler.com in the various lakes’ fishing reports forums.