Spring time Splake Fishing!

By Captain Marty Papke - April 1, 2005

It's a few weeks away but won't be long and open water will greet us. The Great Lakes can provide some early season "Splake!" fishing.

What's a Splake, a hybrid cross of a Lake Trout and Brook Trout. This species with it's characteristics is unique indeed. Summertime found in deep waters and springtime found shallow making it a sure target for the shallow water angler working the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines.

Within 2 to 3 weeks of "ice-out" is the time to be getting out and chasing these Splake. Ideally water temperatures for some of the best bites should be between 40 to 50 degrees as fish will remain in the shallow water through a time frame between first ice out and possibly through the end of May. Remembering too that these shallow, sandy water shorelines will warm from the early solar heat of spring bringing in active fish. Schooling splake can be seen shallow at this time, Polaroid glasses can be an effective tool in seeing fish. You must also remember that Splake are very spooky fish meaning we need to use several types of fishing methods. Preferred mostly is trolling using minnow style baits, spoons and even spinner harness rigs. Another method, for taking good amounts of fish, especially when they are schooling, is casting.

Trolling approaches and we'll set up using light action seven to eight foot rods, 10 pound XL lines followed up with a snap. In line planer boards allow us to spreading lines covering a lot of water area. Shallow water shorelines should be picked ranging from 4 to 20 feet of water. A good rule of thumb is working the shallows to the first break line. Trolling speed should be varied but in general we'll start at about 2 mph. Casting methods prove to be a fun bite as well, spinning rigs with seven foot medium action rods and 8 to 10 pound XL line with a snap allow for long casts. At times we'll have one of our clients casting off the boats bow while we troll along, non-spooked fish many times will aggressively strike a minnow bait or spoon cast ahead of the boat.

Splake, in the spring of the year, are hungry fish. Splake stomach contents can include of a variety of lake foods including minnows, gobies, merging insects and small perch. In fact small perch seem to be the preferred diet many times. Bait color selections should concentrate around perch and fire-tiger variations whether being in minnow style baits or spoons. In mentioning spinner harnesses; try nose hooking an emerald shiner or sucker minnow with a flashy perch colored blade. This method can bring active fish boat side in a hurry!

Identifying Splake can be easy as having the squaretail of a Brook Trout with a slight forked tail. Best recognized is when first out from the waters they have there brilliant colors most noted the bright orange on the fins. Fun to catch, growing to big sizes and some great tasting fish to eat, Splake are a first rate sport fish for the angler in the spring.

Locations for fishing Splake this "springtime" bite we will cover the waters from Marinette/Menominee up and past the Cedar River right up into the waters of Little Bay de Noc itself. The "key time" remember is right after ice out! Key fishing locations and lake shore points, sandy shores having connection with a weed bed close by holding minnows and perch, some rocky and gravel areas also will hold spring time Splake. Be versatile and mobile this spring and you might get that Splake "Ice-out" fever!

Author Captain Marty Papke

Captain Marty Papke
Captain Marty Papke is the owner of Little Bay De Noc Fishing Charters. Captain Papke wears many hats as a full-time fishing educator, communicator and guide. Marty authors dozens of articles annually for fishing publications, and is frequently used as a source of information by other outdoor writers. You can get a hold of Marty at 1-800-708-2347 or email him at martyp@littlebaydenoc.com. You can also get more information about his guide service by visiting http://www.littlebaydenoc.com.