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Northpoint & Zion 6/15 & 6/16

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               After a couple of weeks of “wishin’ I was fishin’” I was able to put together a L. Michigan trip with a new friend and local Zion resident (name withheld as I did not ask his permission to enter it here – I’ll call him “Gary”) who turned out to be the great outdoorsman that I thought he would be. Lots of great fishing reports over the last few weeks had me anxious to get back out on the water and I made the six-hour drive from my home in Springfield, IL to have a crack at the great fishing out of Zion/Northpoint (near the Wisconsin state line area of Illinois). Here’s how the trip went:

June 15:

We decided to go out deep until we found chilly water and target Chinooks. At 160 ft. of water depth directly East out of Zion we found a great pocket of icy water and a temperature break at 60 ft. down on the FishHawk. We deployed an all Chinook program of flashers/flies on the d-riggers, spoons on the dipsy’s, and spoons on the Cu (I did not have any bait to set out meat rigs). Three hours of working the cold water and the fringes turned up empty and we decided to switch over to Silvers and Steelhead to try and save the day. Lucky for us, the Coho did not disappoint! We found them deep and found them shallow with HUGE numbers of bait balls in the shallower (50 ft.) water.

Wind: Calm conditions early with SW winds @ 5 Kn the whole outing. Occasional rain squalls and wind kicked up till about 0930 hrs., then it cleared up nicely.

Water Temp (at the 160 ft deep contour): 46 deg F at the surface and 42 deg F down at 60 ft down (per my Fish Hawk device). At the 50-depth contour: warmed up to 52 deg F in the shallower water just north of the WI state line (45 deg on the bottom).

Program (with two aboard OPA): Two riggers. Two fixed Dipsy’s. Cu: 200 ft. with 30 ft. Pb trailer;  100 ft. Cu+60 ft. Pb; off of bigger fixed boards with slider clips. 

Best speed: 2.7 mph SOG. We kept the deeper gear going at about 2.2 to 2.4 mph SOG and bumped it up once in a while by turning on the zig zag function on the Lowrance auto pilot. The best hits came when the gear was slowing down.

Best lures:

1.      Crushed Fluorescent Orange Glow (CFO-G; 3.75”) Lexan plastic spoon made by Capt. John King over in Manistee, MI.  The spoon was set on 200 Cu/Pb and 100 Cu/Pb. This rock-solid rig accounted for three nice Coho, with two nice hits that got off. One small Coho was also brought to the boat and was “shook off” (released). The fish really attacked this spoon as we found the hooks all the way down into their gill rakers.  Loved using my big planer boards and clips to fish the Cu/Pb. It was so nice to work the fish without having to worry about battling the damn planer board back to the boat.

2.       Alewife SUV Lexan plastic spoon (3.75”) made by Capt. King. Deployed as a slider approx. 35 ft. down (Est) on the d-rigger. This spoon has a sticker on both sides that looks exactly like an Alewife. The base spoon has a nice UV glow when it hits the water. Two Coho ate this.

3.      00 red 6” dodger with homemade aqua blue/copper peanut fly (12” of 50 lb. leader). Always a nice feeling when your home brew’s take fish. This fly was an inspiration after seeing a number of insects I found with bluish bodies inside some late season (2016) Coho. The wrapping was red thread.  This dodger/fly combo off dipsy’s set at thirty feet deep accounted for two very large Coho. Lost one more that hit this combo off the dipsy but got off early in the struggle.

4.      00 silver 6” dodger with silver/green/blue peanut fly (12” of 50 lb. leader). This fly was borrowed from one of fishing buddy “Gary’s” neighbor as a proven producer. I was surprised at the extra-long 18” light mono leader. But it works great for others who fish the lake every few days, and I can’t argue with that. On this day, this dodger/fly combo off dipsy’s set at 30 ft. deep accounted for one very large Coho. Two more fish also hit this combo but got off before we could bring them to net.

5.      XG Mean Green (4.65”) Lexan plastic spoon made by Capt. King.  The spoon was set down 50 ft. on a d-rigger that had a hard take down and accounted for one Coho.  First time I deployed this spoon. It glows blue and green and has some very cool UV properties as well.

6.      Hey babe spoon (3.5”) made by Michigan Stinger. This spoon looks like a blue dolphin, but has a zig zag tape slash on the front instead of a scalloped slash. One Coho hit this lure 40 ft. deep on the d-rigger off a two color Pb “secret weapon” rig.

Total harvest: 10 Coho.  Seven of the ten fish were loaded with multiple class Alewife from two to seven inches long. Even the fish with nothing in their stomachs had plenty of digested food in their intestines.

Best fishing location: 60 to 75 ft. depth directly East of Northpoint and into WI waters (yes, we took the sliders off in WI waters). This is approximately 7 to 8 miles out. The 160-ft. contour we started off at accounted for three Coho.

Best direction: Both N and S.  Underwater current was flowing S.

Best Depth: 35 to 40 ft.

June 16

               Woke up to a very windy morning. Launched at Northpoint and tried to work our way out to the 120-ft. depth as we heard reports of lots of bait in that area. Five-foot wind waves made it impossible to set gear so we worked in closer to try and find some bait and fish. We found a HUGE bunch of bait strung out over a one mile area directly north of the de-commissioned nuke plant in the area. Along with the bait balls we saw a lot of fish arch symbols on the sonar unit associated with the bait. Some of the bait balls were 20 ft. high. Unfortunately, we got no hits on any spoons, peanut fly’s, or regular sized flasher/fly rigs. At this point, we were fishless after working the area for hours and we were both scratching our heads wondering if we knew how to fish. The radio chatter confirmed our situation with few fish being caught by those that were talking. We finally picked up a fish on a dodger/peanut fly and the fish began to cooperate late in the morning.

Wind: 15 Kn winds early, then sustained winds of 25+ for a couple of hours. Then it calmed down to 10 Kn the rest of the morning.

Water Temp: 55 deg on the surface, with 45 deg water down 50 ft. Found occasional pockets of colder water near the WI state line at about 70 ft. deep.  

Program (with two aboard OPA): Two riggers. Two fixed Dipsy’s. Two large planer boards and release clips with Cu and Pb (Cu: 200, 100 ft Cu+60 ft Pb, and 5 color Pb alternated throughout the morning).

Best speed: 2.5 mph SOG. The zig zag function on the autopilot kept the baits moving at various speeds, and I reckoned that the most hits occurred when we were slowing down.

Best lures:

1.      00 red 6” dodger with homemade green/blue/copper peanut fly (12” of 50 lb. leader). Again, nice feeling when your home brew ends up the stud rig for the day. This fly pattern was an inspiration from the colors of insects that I found inside the Coho we harvested last year in late August (except that I added the copper tinsel for visibility). This fly pattern was wrapped onto red #2 hooks with black thread. This dodger/fly combo off dipsy’s set at only 70 ft. on the line counter (Est at 25 feet deep) accounted for four fish (and several that got off): three chunky Coho, and a ten lb. Chinook! Surprise, surprise. We’ve been chasing Chinooks for two days and end up catching a respectable one on a peanut fly? Really? I Shoulda known the final fish was a Chinook when it ripped off 100 feet of line at the hit and made some major runs before coming to net. Kinda forgot what even a small Chinook can do when it’s pissed off. The fish “ate” this fly meaning the hooks were deeply stuck into its gill rakers. 

2.       Crushed Fluorescent Orange Glow (CFO-G; 3.75”) Lexan plastic spoon made by Capt. King set on 200 Cu/Pb. Two fish. One Coho and one small 22” Chinook. Lost one more fish off this spoon.

3.      “Alewife SUV” (3.75”) spoon off dipsy 35 ft. deep. One Coho. I guess ya’ll are tired of reading that this is my favorite spoon. Yep, it is.

Total harvest: 5 Coho and 2 Chinooks.  We pulled 32 - 1.5” to 6” long alewife out of the stomachs of these seven fish. Some of the Coho were also stuffed with many black beetles as well. The larger Chinook had seven alewives in his stomach alone. As with yesterday’s trip, even the fish with nothing in their stomachs had plenty of digested food in their intestines.

Best fishing location: 50 to 60 ft. depth very near (but not in) WI waters.   

Best direction: N. Very little underwater current detected on the FishHawk.

Best depth: 35’

               I am so thankful for my new local (Zion, IL) fishing partner in “Gary” and appreciate his great outdoor skills. I continue to be even more thankful (as we all should be) to the DNR’s throughout the great lakes for using our license fees in a way that helps us to enjoy one of the top fisheries in the USA.


fish cleaning station 6-16-17.jpg

King 6-15-17.jpg

salmon 6-15-17.jpg

fish box 6-15-2017.jpg

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Thank you Blue and Fishon. I keep accurate records out on the boat and post these reports afterward to help others develop a strategy for success. It also helps me as these are part of my log book. Helping each other helps the sport.

As for Capt. King....his gear, and the deployment of same has made me a better fisherman. Even the big 16 lb. Laker in my avatar to the left was caught in 20 ft of water on one of his spoons called a "hot red panties" (HRP) in March out of East Chicago.  Not sure there's much else to say.

Tight lines!!!:rolleyes:


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