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Montrose Harbor, Lake Michigan

Montrose Harbor, Lake Michigan

3/6/20 @ 9:55 PM
USER SINCE 4/11/15

Shore or boat ? Plus read some posts fish are there  and In early this year  boat and shore water temp is really close for Coho  and large  browns and steels  good  just go out and fish  do it !! I’m a power liner shore did good 2 nd week in February cold and snow going this weekend on the shoe winds are the key  fishing the shoe  papa G

3/6/20 @ 3:20 PM

Is anybody getting out?  Is anybody catching anything here?  My long time friend has been catching them from his duck boat out of indiana on the nicer days.  

4/22/19 @ 11:14 PM


A few other things is this, I said large dipseys.  I did not mean the magnums.  And dont forget to buy the 8 inch rubber snubbers.  They are shock absorbers so the fish dont break off your line and hardware when they hit.   Rods, DO NOT USE GRAPHITE RODS.  Graphite is sensitive and you are not going to feel a strike.  Graphite also shatters when bent to the extremes of normal downrigging.  And they are cost more.  Fiberglass is more durable and will act as a shock absorber when that king salmon takes off.  They are good for about 5 good runs, each progressively getting shorter as they tire out.  it gets exciting when you are almost out of line and trying to get it in before you do run out.

Somebody once told me that if you want to know what to use then you should walk down the piers and see what is on the charter boats.  I saw Eagle claw starfire sf-400 rods.  I got them at various places and at swap meets etc.from 10 bucks to 40 bucks at that time.  Remember, 15 of everything adds up. Diawa sealine series reels and Penns were the thing of the day but today a lot of good reels are out there.  You do not need line counters and they are usually not accurate depending on the amount of line on the reel and the diameter of the line.  Count level winds. they are more consistent and much faster to put out lines.  I have Diawa sea lines and when I worked at the store I also bought 10 Diawa accudepth reels.  Nice reels but the sealine still has the better drag systems.  Buy on sale or low interest rate credit card etc.  Key thing is to shop around.

Get creative, the more you save by not buying high dollar items saves you money for lures, rods, reels etc.  Will you catch more fish looking good with 4 rods in the water showing off those aluminum downrigger boards or make a really nice one out of a nice piece of finished pine and use 8 rods?

Are you familiar with the chromed 12 inch tail pieces for your bathroom sink?  They have that nice fluted top too and cost maybe 4-5 bucks each.  Dont they resemble the high cost chrome rod holders you see for $80?  Get my drift?  And they dont look like cheaper pvc either.  Pvc works well too.  A 10 ft piece costing 10 bucks makes a decent rod holder for a buck a piece.  They dont adjust but you can drill a hole in your pine board at the angle you want and a large wood screw wedged between them holds them very securely.  The boss wasnt happy at first that we werent selling higher So-and-so's high dollar stuff until I told him that people were buying more rods, line, reels, lures, downriggers, etc and all the lures end up getting replaced.  Not so with the fancy stuff on the rails.  I must admit I had a nice downrigger board that was envied by many.

More on planer boards:  You dont need that fancy mast that gets the line up and out of the way.  The double boards I mentioned have a lot of pull and that alone keeps almost all of the planer board line out of the water, yes, even on my bass boat.

You got a deep v walleye type boat etc with a casting seat in the front?  GREAT!  Leave that seat at home.  Bring the13 inch seat post beneath it.  Throw a 2 inch inside diameter pvc pipe about 2 feet long and throw it over that post.  You can now throw your net in it and it is open, ready, and out of the way when you need it.  You can bungee a salmon cooler to it too if you need cooler space.  Tip can even be used to get that planer board up and out if you still need to do that.  Save your money and buy more of what catches fish.

Run that flatline right out the middle always.  Even in summer you can get steelhead on it.  Put it back at least 50-75 feet.  It will let you know which way the boat is turning when you dont realise it is.  It will help keep from tangling lines.  You can upgrade that to an auto pilot that will do wonders for keeping your liines absolutely straight so you dont end up with spaghetti.  They aint cheap but neither is good equipment getting lost.  it also helps tremendously when netting fish.  keep the fish lightly to the side, like 30 degrees from the back.  You wont drag the fish so much and you will keep fish from running into your lines below.  (and you will get more fish in the boat).  When that fish hits you turn the boat slightly so that  fish is off the back corner of the boat.  Bring the fish in over the side when possible.  MAKE SURE THE TIPS OF RODS ARE POINTED AWAY FROM YOUR FACE IF THE HOOKS COME OUT OF THE FISHES MOUTH.

God, I miss getting out there.  Come sept 1 you have a choice.  There are lots of small fish out deep or you can HUNT.  Come in shallow and work for large spawning kings.  You can catch a bunch of smaller fish like you caught all season or you can target the big ones.  I go for the big ones.  When I chartered I gave my clients their choice.

By the way, Keep a good marine radio with you and maybe even a spare.  Wire it directly to the battery so it works until it cant work anymore.  Same goes for the automatic bilge pump.

Got a kicker motor?  Great!  Dont use it.  Fire it up at the dock and shut it off.  A little motor running at 3,000 rpm is not fuel efficient.  A motor that pushes from the side wants to turn the boat, again, not efficient.  A big centered motor with a large prop pushes more efficiently and there is less wear when you run at 500-600 rpm or so.  USE THE KICKER TO GET BACK IF YOUR BIG ENGINE DIES.  Keep that little motor as new as possible.  My 26 StarCraft has/had a 30 hp Johnson with an oil injection kit running off the 100 gallon tank to get me back.  I learned fast that the auto pilot corrected by 30 degrees to go straight when the kicker was running.  The 30 pushed me at just under 10 mph. Slow but not too slow and a lot faster than blowing across the lake to Michigan.  Keep that motor fresh for when you need it.

That custom downrigger board I made in the picture not only raises the riggers to where I can get to them easier but keep keeple from feeling like they may fall overboard with the short freeboard.  The adjustable Anglers Pal rod holders on the sides were screwed to the starcraft downrigger board.  I took a 3 foot  piece of 2x2 angle aluminum  and I screwed 4 holders to a 3 length.  I attached it to 2 rail mounts each bought at the store I worked at and mounted them to the rails on each side.  My planer boards worked fine off it.  They were tied to the second stanchion on the bow rail.  No mast needed.  The line ran down the gunnel to the rear cleat and was wrapped back and forth around a rod holder I fastened ahead of the rear cleat. zoom in on the starcraft picture and see the orange line.   No fancy real needed and it deployed and retrieved faster.  Tie a heavy string and a hardware store snap clip like shown and you can clip it to your planer board line to pull it to you when you have to re-rig.  Tie it under the gunnel so you have it handy.  Fasten a screw where the clip ends under the gunnel so the system is snug and it will stretch and stay there out of sight until you need it again.  Same system works for leaders made with palomar knots once you know the secret to getting them all the same length.  They can hide under your downrigger board along with your 4.5 foot dipsy leaders neatly tucked out of the way forever.

The point is that once you are efficient then you can spend your money on the nicer fancier stuff if you so desire.  There is a lot you can do on a budget and still look good and be effective.  The idea is to have fun.  You will spend a lot of money week after week in gas, tolls boat launch fees, food and beverages and ICE.  You gotta have ice for the cooler to keep your fish.  Early in the season the water in your livewell may stay at a refrigerated temp but dont leave your fish in there to spoil over night or forget about them.  They are good if the eyes are black.  Gone if they are gray.

I can ramble.  Good night.

4/22/19 @ 11:31 AM
USER SINCE 4/17/19

Thanks for the info!

4/22/19 @ 6:21 AM
USER SINCE 1/18/19

This is great info, extremely helpful!! Thank you very much! 

4/21/19 @ 10:31 PM

I miss fishing the big lake.  I used to run charters out of Waukegan.  I gave seminars at a well known major outdoor store.  Written up in Outdoor note book.  There is so much to do and learn.  I assume you are fishing from a boat.  

For water about 42 degrees and cooler you should keep everything high, very high.  Top 10 feet or so.  Stay away from dodgers and flies until you get used to them and the water warms a lot more.  I love sport fishing and I stay away from them anyway unless they just arent biting.  Instead of dodgers and flies I like to use dressed Mepps spinners so that you get the "fly" type lure with the spinner giving flash.  Spin and glows are popular too and provide kind of the same effect.

Use small spoons, my fave is the blue and silver little cleos in about 2/3 and 3/5 oz size.  Some days other colors work better so dont get stuck on that color only..

Crank baits work great too but again, shallow divers only.  as the water warms you can go deeper.  Shad raps and similar baits work extremely well.  Standard Rapalas and jointed number 5 or 7 or 9 works well too, since they are feeding on alewife and smelt.

since you are staying high at this point there is little need for divers at this point as they will go deep.  When you start using them in May, set the large Dipsey divers on the 2.5 settings and put them out 2-3 level winds.  line counters are not necessary for this at this level.  It is far enough to get the bait away from the boat and not too deep.  Play with line counters later in the year although I have not really needed to go more than 5 level winds out in the past.  Yes, I have done this a long time and we have not needed line counter reels, but to each his own.  You asked for someone who knew what was going on.

Planer boards:  Most use Yellow Birds.  I like sport fishing so I use the large double planer board that you can find commercially available.  I have used and made my own and bought some from others but do yourself a favor and get the good stuff that wont let you down.  They pay for themselves again and again.  

They use release clips that allow you to fight the fish and not the board. It wont add extra drag to your line and cause a break off where you lose line, hardware, tackle, lures and fish..  These will get up to 4 lines per side away from the boat and you can use them with high flat lines or deep diving crank baits to get deep.  This same set up should be your first thing you set up in summer with deep divers as they set up fast and you can get steelhead on the surface to 20 feet down, then set your deeper lines for kings, etc.  

You can get a lot of cohos and king salmon early in the year when conditions are right just by fishing the water cribs or from crib to crib. I remember several times when I was new at it and caught lots of kings off the Wilson crib during low light hours. 

Tip. get quality electric downriggers and you wont be sorry later.  Electric because even 8 pound weights get heavy cranking up and down.  Large reels crank up lures faster with more leverage and less fatigue.  Electrics will make it a lot easier.  You will come across times when the fish down bite and you should change lures but the dread of cranking will often prevent you from doing it and you will catch less fish.  You get what you pay for and in this way electrics will catch you more fish.

Open reel downriggers. such as big jon or walkers will have the cable unravel if you accidently let it go slack.  Riggers like cannon have a guide that keeps the cable where it should be.  DO NOT GRAB THE CABLE IF YOU DROP THE BALL OVERBOARD!  It will cut off your hand like a meat cutting saw.

Your best fish locating piece of equipment is your vhf marine radio.  It will tell you what they are currently catching them on and where.  It is more valuable than your sonar in that sense.  

Another thing about sonar, when the fish are very high like that you probably wont see many on the sonar as they will go around the boat or just wont be in the sonar's viewing cone.  They will also be lost in the surface clutter on the unit.  keep in mind that they are there.

I wish I could get out there again.  I primarily fish from a bass boat these days but I often take it out on the big lake when ever it is safe enough. in the picture is my 26 ft starcraft.  We ran 15 rods from it normally.  Five riggers with sliders half way down would run 10 lures.  You see 4 rod holders on the side for the planer boards sitting on the downrigger board on the back of the boat and a dipsey rod holder right behind them on the side.  I still have it but I havent used it in many years. 


4/18/19 @ 8:12 AM
USER SINCE 1/18/19

Hi All,

New to coho fishing, but excited to start!  Just looking for some guidance on setup/presentations.  I’ll be running some flatlines, boards and slide divers. Any feedback on crank baits vs spoons vs J plugs, preferred colors, depth, ect. would be greatly appreciated!

thabks much!

4/18/19 @ 6:19 AM
Winter fishing2
USER SINCE 1/27/18

Parking is free and not bad if you get there early enough and will determine how far you have to walk 25 to 200 yards depending on where you park and were there's an open spot to fish good luck

4/17/19 @ 2:26 PM
USER SINCE 4/17/19

Haven't been to Montrose in many years. How is the parking and the walk out? Thanks!

4/13/19 @ 8:47 PM
40° - 45° F
41° - 45° F

Set up my powerlines at 1:30 this afternoon.  Caught a limit of Coho. Nice to see active fish. Missed a lot fish. Going to switch to circle hooks for a better hookup. 

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