What’d You Catch On A Charter?

The Great Lakes region is home to some great fishing with over three thousand miles of shoreline. The title question is one we get a lot from our customers during the year. We thought it’d be good time to provide a quick primer on the fish you might expect to catch when you book a charter. We target several species throughout the year with the Chicago fishing season generally running from April to October.

Here are some of the species you can expect to catch:

King Salmon:

King Salmon (or Chinook) are the ultimate Lake Michigan sportfish and are highly sought after. These fish are heavy and fight all the way to the boat. They congregate at stream mouths and shallow water during early spring and summer. They then sit near the bottom until the late summer spawning season. Their tail looks like a canoe paddle, and you can identify them by their teeth set in black gums.


These cousins of the salmon are the only Lake Michigan species that will jump out of the water during a strike. These energetic fish will definitely make you fight to keep them as they dart toward the boat and then back away. It’s not uncommon to lose a good percentage of steelhead as their aggressiveness ends up in a lost fish. You can find them mainly in spring, as early as March, but they will bite all season. Their entire tail area is spotted and flat.


This species is small yet abundant. When you pass a school of coho, it’s not uncommon for 2-3 rods to go off at the same time. While they look like a steelhead, they are differentiated by their forked tail.

Brown Trout:

These are near-shore fish and you can catch them by surf casting, pier fishing and shallow water trolling. Their mouth is entirely white (inner part) and have large large round spots on their back.

Lake Trout:

Lake trout are the main indigenous species of Lake Michigan. They grow slowly but live much longer than their salmon neighbors.  The average lake trout tends to be 8-15lbs with the big hauls being in the 20lb range. Some of these take over 10 minutes to bring in.

Posted on: July 8, 2016, by : Captain Neill