Salted with Sharks

How to Catch a King

In Open Season on August 31, 2011 at 2:19 pm

By Westley Allen

HELLO AGAIN, FELLOW readers. I do hope that my last article [“July Fishing Preview,” Elberta Alert no. 5, June] was helpful in your quest of catching fish. In this article I will be outlining the necessary tactics to catch the elusive King salmon. The majority of Frankfort’s fishing attraction is held by this marvelous fish. Drags screaming, lines snapping, and fish jumping are all part of the program.

In September King salmon start their spawning ritual. They swim from Lake Michigan and stage in harbors and river mouths before starting their journey upstream. During this phase of their lives the salmon should be quite easy to catch. In the first few weeks after entering the river the salmon are still able to be caught, but the difficulty increases. Most anglers will have a head start fishing for salmon from the beginning of the summer. Though they may not be catching them in great numbers, anglers will slowly pick off a few at a time. The real action doesn’t start until August, right before the fish go upriver. Depending on the water temperature the fish can be caught in anywhere from 20 feet of water to well over 300 feet of water.

As the salmon start to move closer to shore they can be caught off either the Frankfort or Elberta pier. Most anglers cast glow spoons early in the morn and live bait such as alewives at first light. The setup for this requires a 9 to 10 foot rod lined with 10 or 12 pound test if throwing spoons and a 10 to 12 foot slow action rod lined with 8 to 12 pound test for casting live bait. Though casting bait will be productive throughout the day, early morning and late evening will be the most productive times.

When the salmon move into the inner harbor they will stage at the old ferry hole in Elberta. From here anglers cast out the same setup as used on the pier with the exception of a bait change. Now anglers will be using spawn bags tied from salmon eggs. These bags have small multicolored floaters to keep the bags off the bottom. The salmon will viciously hit these. Again, the best times will be in the morning and evening. I have always found the morning to be the best time. Here is a small warning though; anglers trolling in the harbor may at times be highly inconsiderate, so watch out for them trolling close to shore. You may tangle lines, which may entail an argument. PLEASE, I repeat, PLEASE be courteous to your fellow anglers. There is nothing more disconcerting than to watch your pole bounce and your drag start to scream only to find that someone else has tangled lines with you. If you are confident in your casting skills then this should not be a problem. If not, then you should pick a spot with a little more room for error, if at all possible.

As the salmon begin to swim upstream they can be intercepted once more in Elberta. On M-22 in between Elberta and Frankfort there is a small bridge off the bike trail that sits over the mouth of the Betsie River. This is the only entrance for the salmon so it makes sense to fish this area a lot. Whenever there is a cold front or rain a run of salmon will make their way up the river. So fishing the bridge during the rain will produce some great fishing. And don’t let the absence of people deter you from fishing there. Not a whole lot of people fish it. Most anglers skip right by the bridge and begin fishing in the river. The majority of anglers that do fish there drift large amounts of salmon skein under a bobber with the current. Some use fresh skein while others cure their eggs before using them. Remember that enough split shot to get the skein down to the fish is very crucial in fishing the bridge. You can also use a pier setup with spawn bags on 2 foot leaders. Fishing here can be a hit or miss experience, so if you get at least one you are doing great!

Well, I hope this information will be helpful to any angler that just so happens to pick up a copy of the Elberta Alert. If any readers would like to ask me any questions or fill me in on their own experiences and tips, contact me at: westleysallen@gmail.com. Thank you for reading, and to all tight lines! Ψ

Westley Allen is an incoming junior at Benzie Central High School.

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