Outdoors: Trophy chinook caught in Michigan

This monster, 41.48-pound chinook was caught at Muskegon, Michigan on Tuesday.

I'd be happy with a salmon half this size.

A whale-like 41.48-pound chinook was caught by Great Lakes Guide Service in Muskegon, Mich. on Tuesday. It’s the first 40-pounder I've heard in years.

The beast of a fish dwarfs the typical mature king of 12 to 18 pounds. The Michigan state record, caught in 1978, is 46.06 pounds.

All salmonid species are running large in Lake Michigan this season due to what appears to be a resurgent alewife population. Or it may be there are fewer fish eating the ales out there. Most likely its a combination of both, but more on that another day.

The glory is a slew of 30-plus chinook have been winning contests in the northern two-thirds of the lake this summer and a brute weighing 37 pounds was also caught in Ludington on Tuesday.

The Great Lakes Guide Service guys (www.glguidesevice.com) landed a season-best, 33-pound bruiser on Monday aboard captain Kyle Bach's Fight Club before the 41.48 was defeated on the 2 Bucks with captain Brendyn Thorsen on Tuesday.

"It (41-pounder) came on a Big Weenie (flasher) and fly on a 'rigger 160 feet down," Bach said. "We've been averaging about 16 bites a trip and the catch includes steelhead, lake trout and coho, along with the chinook."

Sounds similar to the action Michigan City's best charter boats are having over 90 to 150 feet of water in recent weeks, although there always seems to be more lakers around here than anything in August. And we typically miss out on the really jumbo kings.

Bill Wiesemann (Cloud Nine) did have nearly 40-pounds of chinook on the lines at the same time on Wednesday, landing a doubleheader of kings weighing 17 and 22 pounds.

"One hit a Mt. Dew (pattern) Spin Doctor and fly, the other a magnum Smurf (purple and chartreuse-edged spoon)," Wiesemann said. "We had another big one break off on a ladderback J-Plug."

Wiesemann mentioned he has been getting five or six king bites some days.

"You have to get down 80, 90 feet to find cool water," Wiesemann advised.

Indeed, excessive north winds in the past month have piled a mass of 70-degree water reaching depths of 70 feet on this end of the lake. Those mature, spawn-bound kings would surely be near the harbor if there was a favorable thermocline, say like the typical 50-degree water, 50 feet down in August.

Not this year, and not in the foreseeable future with more north wind in the weekend forecast.

The lack of thermocline and warm water have perch scrambled, too. Summer perch normally bunch up at the depth temps break into the mid-60s.

Most Michigan City perchers are getting skunked, if they're going out at all. At New Buffalo, Captain Cook's bait shop reports poor perching with the guys that are getting a few, sorting through six to 10 small ones to find a keeper.

A fine batch of fresh Skamania steelhead surged up Trail Creek last weekend and early this week, which was more or less expected with air temps dipping into the 50s for several nights along with the effects of a full moon.

Top anglers mentioned double-digit hook-ups at many location throughout Trail Creek. Shrimp, spawn and spinners were the top baits.

The Springland Avenue weir has been in open passage since the end of July, although Skamania readily leap over the barrier. Trail Creek water temp is in the mid 60s.

Inland, I caught my best batch of bass last weekend — 13 total with five in the 14-17 inch range in an hour or so of flipping a four-inch Keitech swimbait on a 1/16-ounce jighead. The bigger ones grabbed it on a slack-line drop along under cut banks or those "black holes" in the deep weeds.

Surprisingly, a few days prior, the same swimbait (green pumpkin color) with a 2/0 hook was eaten by 15 fat crappie while the only bass to cooperate were dinks.

Bluegill, perch and crappie have been best eight to 15 feet down along the deep weed lines. Crickets and wigglers for 'gills, minnows or jigs for the perch and crappie.

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