Silver king salmon assail the coastlines of the Great Lakes this time of year. They come in from the deep to stage near beaches, piers, and harbors. They run upriver under cover of darkness and low-light conditions. A rain squall or just a small rise in water level can send hundreds of silver bullets into a river anytime between late July and early October.
So you have a choice. You can pursue the tackle-rending, line-snapping beasts into the forest, like Mark Chmura (above), or line up a charter, or take your own boat out onto the big, bright, blue waters of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, or Lake Ontario. Normally Lake Huron would be in the lineup, and while you can catch kings out there, the salmon fishery has experienced recent downturns. She'll bounce back, but Lake Michigan was on fire this year, according to Chmura.
That's his ship I'm posing on. Chmura goes both ways, you see. For salmon. (What did you think I meant? He's a happily married man.) Tell him your preference and he'll take you upriver on the Big Manistee with his jet or out on Lake Michigan in his 33-foot Tiara. I can honestly say I've never experienced a bad day with Mark.
This is the time of year to get out there, when the fish are concentrated. On the other side of Lake Michigan, the Dawidiuk Fishing Team slips out of beautiful Sturgeon Bay at dawn every day this time of year. A short ride puts you on The Wall, where depths change quick, allowing salmon to stage in or near deep water. Captain Tim Dawidiuk might be busy with Fish Door County TV these days, but he's trained some of the best salmon captains in Wisconsin.
On Lake Ontario, call the Troutman to get out on the big water. Captain John Oravec has been one of the most dependable and knowledgable salmon captains anywhere for three decades. And if rivers are more to your liking, head up the Niagara this time of year with Captain Frank Campbell of the Niagara Region Charter Service.
These are my salmon buddies. I've spent some of my most memorable salmon outings in their company. Any one of them can find salmon in the dark with sunglasses on.
River or sea, salmon are always on my mind between August and October. If these guys are booked, contact the tourism councils of Wisconsin, Michigan, or New York for a backup plan.
Next up: Float-fishing tactics for kings.