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Where to drop lines?

3/11/18 @ 6:31 PM
User since 2/15/12
I think I understand the concept of targeting temperature ranges once water stratifies, and before that Spring means working top 25 feet or so. I typically just head east out of the Milwaukee north gap and drop lines around 130’. Since there’s no structure, where I start other than depth is pretty much random chance.  Are there factors to be thinking about when deciding where to set up the troll?  I’m wondering how others decide where to start?

3/15/18 @ 11:18 AM
User since 2/3/08

Great info here so far.  Watch and talk to anglers on where they are having luck and use the graph.  I normally head out of the harbor and set-up when I start seeing good archs and circle back to start.  Trolling heading out to the east till you get a hit or see some marks then troll N II to the shore while still s curving to speed up and slow down different rods to see what it takes to get bit.  If your not getting bit turn to the east and go deeper or west to go shallower.  No need to go too deep and drive over fish to get fish.  That being said late last season I was 10 miles out in 380 FOW to put fish in the boat and those who didn't go deep mostly had nothing to show for it.  Waves were minimal and I have a 19'9" AL Crestliner.  I got my first two fish both outings right at sun-up.  King and Coho.  Having rods in the water before sun up is very productive for King bite.  

I don't have very good luck trolling S, don't have speed on prob yet either so if I am on the fish and goes cold I pick up and run back and re-do the set-up.  Last season on a friends walleye boat we did 5 pick-up and runs to put more fish in the boat on a late run to the lake over what others had to show for the outing.  If something is working stick to it, even if it is extra work to re-deploy all the gear and pick it up.  

3/15/18 @ 11:09 AM
User since 12/22/04

I have always gone by principle for kings that you need at least 10 Feet at bottom of lake of ideal temperature to hold fish.   So if thermalcline is 50 feet down, you would not want to fish shallower than 60 at minimum.  

Out of McKinley there is a distinct break after 60-65FOW, so that is effectively where I start for glow bite and head out from there most days unless reports are showing significant catches at another depth 

3/15/18 @ 8:56 AM
User since 6/9/06

Well I'd have to say that there isn't a hard and fast starting depth at anytime of the season. You might catch fish in 130 FOW but you may also find them in 40 FOW.   

So read the fishing reports and ask around at the launch before you go out what depth has been producing. If the fish are in the top 25 FOW try to keep away from the boat traffic as best as you can. In the early season fishing the mud line or where there is a distinct water color change produces too.   

Learn how to set the sensitivity on your graph and then watch as you travel out for bait fish and target fish. Find fish check the temperature where you're marking fish.   

Get some device that'll show the water temperature at various depths. Finding a temperature break helps but isn't always productive, however a 2 degree difference on some days makes a difference. In the '70's I used a handheld Fishhawk temperature gauge before the downrigger probe units came on the market. Trolling speed and temperature at the bait are good to know at any depth, trolling speed is the most important of the two.   

Last thing is to not set the baits too deep. All fish have a lateral line system that detects vibrations in the water column. Salmon and trout mainly look upwards to feed. These days Lake Michigan water clarity is amazing, active fish will move in and out of desired water temperature to feed, 10' above the break will usually still produce fish.    

Good Luck   


3/14/18 @ 9:02 AM
User since 1/9/03
  • 130 is pretty deep.  In spring we normally set up right in 70 feet and troll north @ 1.9 mph at the ball.  Top 20 feet of water.  Cohos are what is biting. We've caught them right out of the launch at south shore while letting lines out even before we hooked up a board.  

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