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DEEP downrigger fishing?

10/16/15 @ 1:14 PM
User since 8/17/13
A few questions for the Lake Michigan salmon and steelhead fisherman in regards to DEEP downrigger fishing:

First, I ask this question because I see a lot of changing conditions with Lake Michigan salmon fishing and am curious what others might have experience with in running lines really deep. so..

When conditions permit (deep thermocline or seeing bait deep) is it out of the question to run your downrigger ball to, 130ft, 150ft or 200ft down?

What is the deepest catch you have had on a downrigger?

Is it even normal for salmon to be feeding down at 150 or 200ft?

I wonder about this just because I personally have experienced a few catches this season running riggers down 110 to 120 ft and I asked myself if I am nuts to think I could run lines even deeper? I have never run a downrigger ball deeper than 120 down.

Thanks for any input and open discussion on this topic.

10/17/15 @ 6:58 AM
Grey Beard
User since 1/27/02
I tell myself 100’ is just a very long putt and 200’ is a short chip shot. However I still have bit of a mental barrier fishing > 100’ down. I just bought a 300’ spool of downrigger cable because I’ve seen so many good catches on Dan Keating’s Facebook page this year fishing deep. Others like Lucky Lyle also plying the deep for great boxes of fish. I’ve read of Capt Mark Chumura’s riggers down >300’ and a recent report from a friend whose buddy was at Port in 350fow taking kings down 250-300’. I also found a You Tube video by Capt Arnie Arredondo ( discussing fishing deep very interesting. Fishing has been so slow I’m desperate and ready to try deep again.

I have limited experience fishing >100’down. I’ve done it mostly in early to late fall when we were stuck with the remnants of a long summer of warmed water. It seems that if you want to catch 2 and 3yo kings you have to get your lures close to if not in water in the 40s. Sometimes that is >120’ down. I agree heavy rigger weights help but I’ve done OK with 12# but now have some 15# for deep presentations.

If my lures are > 120 down I limit myself to 2 riggers because of tangles often caused by the current. Then my wire dipsys will have size 124mags with a 1.5 setting that gets almost 1 for 2 the first 150loc. I will also use a 20oz thumper rod that gets down about 40% of what’s on the line counter. I’ve not used Torpedo’s. On one cannon ball I have two OR 8 releases and use one to run a small dipsy set on 2 out 40-50 ft with a spoon or cut plug and the other whatever I want to run on the other release straight back.

Even though most of the action is deeper than I can achieve with 300’ coppers I will still run two for bows or fish that will come up out of temp. I’ve added 4oz Guppy weights to get them deeper and they’ve taken some nice kings. I’m looking forward to running these on the new Off Shore SST PRO MAG boards. If my crew wouldn’t revolt now I would be able to run a 450 copper a lot easier.

The deepest I’ve taken a fish is with 200’ of cable out, one wrap left on the rigger spool. Much to my surprise a few years ago fishing 180fow I took 4 small browns down 160. One of my fastest limits was in October and riggers were down 90, 120 and 150. (See Picture setting lines at 0600 and taking the pic before 9AM) So I know they can be down there and can be caught. Now I need some decent weather to try it again.

Grey Beard

10/16/15 @ 2:27 PM
User since 8/25/11
simply stated: you can catch salmon VERY deep. Need to make sure you have enough rigger cable. I wouldn't suggest running more than two decently spaced (at least 8 feet) riggers. 15lb weights should be used. You can catch them deep.

10/16/15 @ 1:40 PM
User since 6/23/09
I have no experience fishing down that deep. But the "new deep" got a little recognition a year or two ago. Read about it here:

They talk about tagging salmon that dive down to the bottom in 700 feet. Also catching salmon up to 500 feet down.

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