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The Greek    43
Manistee Aug 1 to Aug 3

After a year of waiting, it was finally time for my trip to the famous Manistee area to chase the “monster of Manistee”; the huge Chinooks that stage in the area this time of year. With high hopes, my son Nik and I made the 9-hr. drive from Springfield, IL to give it a go for a few days. I predominantly fish the West side of the lake near the WI border. While we do well on very large Coho, Lakers, Steelhead, and Browns, I don’t get many Chinooks testing my gear like they would on the East side (even though I try for them aggressively every time I go out). The goal was to fish the late afternoon/night bite every day, but the wind/waves/weather dictated otherwise.

Here’s how it went:

August 1: 
Wind: SW wind 10 kn in the morning, changing to NW by 1100.
Water Temp: 68 deg F at 0500 at the surface when we dropped lines at 100 ft. depth. FishHawk read 42 deg F at 50 ft. depth, and the magical 50 deg F was found at 40 ft. down so we worked that depth.
Program (with two aboard): Two riggers. Two slide divers. One Cu and Pb off 2 big double planers (Cu: 200, 300, 100+30 ft Pb, and 50 Cu).
Best speed: 2.1 to 2.7 mph SOG
Best lures [All Captn John King Lexan spoons and meat rigs]: 

1. “XG Ghostbuster” (3.75”) off D-rigger was the stud for the day taking one smaller Chinook (10#) and one nice Coho. Depth was 100 ft back and 40 ft down. Was hit hard 2 more times, but the hits didn’t stick.

2.  “XG Ghostbuster” (11”) meat rig with three twinkies and a matching meat head. Set at 50 ft down and 50 feet back. Deployed off the D-rigger, this set up accounted for one 13 lb Chinook.  

3.  “XG Frog” (11”) meat rig with three twinkies and a matching meat head. Set at 30 ft down and 70 feet back. Deployed off the D-rigger, this set up accounted for one small Lake Trout.

4.  Clean magnum meat head with silver ice tape head with no flashers or twinkies deployed off slide diver (120 ft back on a #3 setting). This rig accounted for one 12# Laker.     
Best fishing location: 150 to 300 ft depth S of the Port.  
Best direction: S to N  
Best Depth: 40’.

Notes: All fish had no clipped fines. In hindsight, I probably would have had better success if I had not deployed the meat rigs and spoons together. However, Captn King’s Lexan spoons have such great action at all speeds that I don’t worry about it. I need to do a better job of using the right gear for the right speed. My Lowrance Autopilot has a great function called “zigzag” which does what it says: it zigzags the boat side to side which activates the lures differently on either side. This allows me to use meat rigs and spoons at the same time more effectively.
 

August 2: 
Wind: SW wind at 12 kn early, then changing to NW and building to 25 kn by 1100. This brought on eight ft swells at two seconds apart. A very dangerous situation.
Water Temp: 67 deg F at 0500 when we dropped lines at 70 ft depth. FishHawk read 42 deg F at 25 depth and the magical 50 deg F was found at 15 ft down. We saw a plethora of bait in the harbor, and outside the harbor the entire time we were fishing. Fish arch symbols were very thick, but very shallow from 25 to 35 feet deep.

Program (with two aboard): Two riggers. Two slide divers. One Cu and Pb off 2 big double planers (Cu: 200, 300, 100+30 ft Pb, and 50 Cu).
Best speed: 2.1 to 2.7 mph SOG

Best lures [All Captn John King rigs]: 

1. “XG Ghostbuster” (4.65”) off of the slide diver and wire set at #3 setting 75 feet back and estimated at 30 feet down. A hard hit and a short battle resulted in one nice 10# Chinook.

2.  “Mountain Dew Glo” spoon (3.75). Set at 40 ft down and 60 feet back on d-rigger. This spoon also had a vicious hit that stripped 300 ft of line off the counter reel. After a brief battle, the mono leader broke and the fish was gone. This same set up had one more hard strike that came unbuttoned approx. 10 seconds later.  

3.  “Smurf SUV” spoon (3.75”) set on braid slide diver set on #6 setting and 120 ft on the counter. Got a solid strike and approximately 200 feet of line peeled off when the fish suddenly got off from a broken leader. Very hard to take that kind of loss.

Best fishing location: 30 to 50 ft depth N and S of the Port in the milky water right next to the dirty brown river plume getting blown around by the NW wind.  
Best direction: N to S  
Best Depth: 30’.

Notes: I screwed this day up pretty good by ignoring the shallow fish symbols all over the sonar and fishing too deep and below the fish with meat. Thanks to Captn John for the mid-morning phone call slapping me to my senses and telling me to run an all spoon program and chase those shallow fish. The wind caught us by surprise 5 miles from shore. We fought eight foot swells all the way back to the harbor. Thanks to Agios (St.) Nikolaos for bringing us back safely and thanks to my C Dory OPA for running the waves effectively.

August 3 (morning foray): 

Wind: NW wind at 12 kn early, then settling down to a consistent 10 kn coming out of the NE. The swells had settled down from the previous days madness, but the conditions were still pretty tough on Nik, my trusted first mate.
Water Temp: 67 deg F at 0630 when we dropped lines as we came out of the harbor and headed N in 40 ft of water. FishHawk read 45 deg F at 25 depth and the magical 50 deg F was found at 15 ft down. The water temp varied wildly on an ongoing basis and we did our best to stay on temp.

Program (with two aboard): Two riggers. Two slide divers. Two dipsy divers.
Best speed: 2.5 to 2.8 mph SOG

Best lures: We stayed with an all spoon program trying to make up for my screw up yesterday, and to cover more water with the higher speeds [All Captn John King Lexan spoons]: 

1. “XG Ghostbuster” (4.65”) off of the slide diver and braid set at #3 setting 90 feet back and estimated at 30 feet down. No fish caught, however, a solid fish hit and stripped 400 ft of line in seconds as shown on the counter. After the fish stopped, and a brief battle, the fish got off. Had two more hard hits on this set up that made short runs but didn’t stick.

2.  “Mountain Dew Glo” spoon (3.75”). Set at 40 ft down and 60 feet back on a SWR Pb on the d-rigger. This spoon also had a vicious hit that stripped 300 ft of line off the counter reel. After a brief battle right at the surface, the 30 lb mono leader broke and the fish was gone. This same set up had one more hard strike that came unbuttoned as well 10 seconds into the battle.  

3.  “Smurf SUV” spoon (3.75”) set on braid slide diver set on #6 setting and 120 ft on the counter. Got a solid strike and approximately 200 feet of line peeled off when the fish suddenly got off.

Best fishing location: 30 to 50 ft depth N and S of the Port in the milky water right next to the dirty brown river plume getting blown around by the wind.  
Best direction: N to S  
Best Depth: 30’.

Notes: Did not get out on the water till 0630 due to the continued higher swells. For safety’s sake, I wanted to be able to see the swells coming at me. We chased fish without success, but learned a lot about how to stay in close and work the temperature, water, and bait!!! Man, there were a LOT of bait balls everywhere (in the river plume, milky water, and clean water as well). We’d go through a ball and they would erupt on the surface all around us. WOW. All the bait we saw jumping was very small (3”). With the previous days bouncing around still making him sick, my son wasn’t feeling well out on the water, so we hung it up early with no fish. I guess you can’t catch fish every time…

August 3 (afternoon/night foray): 

Wind: E wind at 10 to 12 kn early, then settling down to a consistent 10 kn minus. The water finally settled down from the storm the day before.
Water Temp: 68 deg F at 1900 when we dropped lines right in the harbor. Did not deploy the FishHawk so I don’t know the temp at depth.  
Program (with two aboard): Two riggers. Two slide divers. Two Cu or Pb lines at various times.
 

Best speed: 2.6 to 2.8 mph occasionally to 3.0 SOG
Best lures: We stayed with an all spoon program searching the water for fish and hoping to come back through and work the fish after dark [All Captn John Lexan spoons]: 

1. “XG Ghostbuster” (4.65”) off of the D rigger set at 80 ft back and 20 ft down. Hit by a solid fish right before dark. After a lengthy battle, we brought a fabulous 15 lb Chinook to net. Caught a second fish with this great spoon off the braid d rigger set up (do not remember the settings). This fish was a fantastic 16 lb Chinook that gave us a memorable battle. Had three more fish hit this spoon off various rigs but came unbuttoned shortly after hitting.  

2.  “Smurf” spoon (3.75”). Set on a 5 color Pb on a big planer board with a rubber band attachment line to clip. This was a fabulous take down that stripped a tremendous amount of line and the fish was in complete control right to the end when we finally brought it to net 20 min later. This 19 lb bruiser was the trophy of the trip.    

Best fishing location: SW of harbor in 160 to 200 ft depth on a S to N troll. Distance was approx 4 miles out.  
Best direction: S to N   
Best Depth: 15 to 40 ft.

Notes: This evening foray’s success was the result of fishing with a master angler and fantastic on the water teacher in local Todd Bialik. I have no words to describe the depth of his knowledge, training, and experience in the art of chasing these big Chinooks. I can only say that three hours on the water with him was like multiple days of fishing on my own trying to dial in a program. I can only say THANK YOU to both Captn King and Todd for their mentorship and patience. As Captn King told me (paraphrased): “you can catch all those easy Coho on the West side you want, but when you come over here for the King’s everything is different”. My biggest takeaways: 1. Make sure you check every knot, every leader, and set up before deploying (or you’ll lose more fish than you’ll catch like I did), 2. Adjust your program quickly or go fishless. 3. Troll faster with spoons in a search mode for the fish, then come back through them after dark with same or with meat rigs.

  
I am supremely thankful and indebted to Captn King for his sage advice and direct critique of my techniques and efforts here in Manistee. How can one get better at this great sport without listening to more experienced fisherman? Sometimes the outside analysis of your approach can be hard, but I’m smart enough to know that it is meant to help. I hope to return in a couple of weeks to have another go at the “monsters of Manistee”.

8-3 salmon photo (2).jpg

fish box 8-1-17.jpg

manistee 8-2.jpg

sunset 8-3.jpg

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FBD    142

Try your own thing.  Local advice is killer, sometimes, but the last time I fished Manistee we trolled down the beach all by ourselves running six planer boards with J plugs and rapalas and wailed on the kings.  We had to jink around the swim buoys at Orchard beach we were so tight to shore, and there wasn't another boat within miles.

 

This was a tournament that Captain King put together for members of his board, begging me to come as the fish would be in the harbor as I love to fish in close in traffic, and then changing the rules the morning of the tournament to say no one could fish in the harbor.  No vote was held, he just made that choice and told us how it was.

 

He caught one fish that day.  And I lost a lot of respect for him.    Several boats that came 3-4 hours to fish it said screw it and fished the harbor any way.

 

Fish in close, in the mud around the piers I'll take spinnies with flies, and plugs, over spoons any day.  You know the fish are there so you can just sit on the and grind them out, instead of looking for them.

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FBD    142

Love the detailed report, even if we don't share friends 

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The Greek    43

FBD: Thanks for the great advice. I really appreciate it. Bottom line is: these great fish are a blessing to us all, and we should share info like this to help each other out just as you did with your awsome tips. Sounds like you got this Manistee thing figured out. I'm learning and will continue to be a student of the art and sport of chasing the "monsters of Manistee".  Tight lines for the rest of your season, and safe returns to port.

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FBD    142

I don't have the Manistee thing figured out at all.  There's structure and currents up there that we don't get in the flat lands around the southern end of the lake that I call home.  But when the fish come up the beach or harbor on cold water, then it's all the same regardless of port.

Glad to see some heavies in these reports.  The last two years have been slim pickings for me at least.  Would love to put some 20's in the boat, regardless of where and how!

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The Greek    43
19 minutes ago, Mega Byte said:

Love the sunset picture.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G870A using Great Lakes Fisherman Mobile App
 

GREAT! We are so busy setting gear and all that, that we forget to look up at the real reason we go fishing: to be out...

 

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Martin1950    133

"D", how the heck do ya keep all that info in your head? I can't keep it straight even with a note book.:confused:

Not that I'll ever fish up there but thanks for the pic's.

Martin

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The Greek    43
11 hours ago, Martin1950 said:

"D", how the heck do ya keep all that info in your head? I can't keep it straight even with a note book.:confused:

Not that I'll ever fish up there but thanks for the pic's.

Martin

I do what I can to share info to help all. I keep my info in a notebook out on the boat so that I can make a good post later.  One for all and all for one!

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