Taking A Trip On Lake Michigan

My name is Shawna Stowers and I am the Senior Adventurer Success Manager here at Captain Experiences down in Austin, TX. No matter how many times I attempt to say “y’all” or cheers with a Lone Star, I’m still a born and raised true Wisconsinite at heart. If there’s something our region is known for other than being Midwest Nice and loving cheese, it’s our Great Lakes.

On a trip up to Wisconsin for one of my best friend’s wedding I had the opportunity to hit Lake Michigan with Shane our resident Kenoshan guide to see what trolling on salmon and trout was all about. Believe it or not it was my first time out on Lake Michigan when it wasn’t covered in ice, and if there’s one thing I learned, it’s definitely not bass fishing on Grandpa’s pond. I’ll tell you that for free.

Fishing With Captain Shane

Wake N’ Lake

The team was myself, my dad Allen, his girlfriend Shannon, and Joey Two Beers aka our Captain Experiences content writer. Being that we were there for a limited time, we had to squeeze our trip in on maybe the perfect storm of the day. Not weather wise, but the morning literally after the wedding we had attended. Which on paper, doesn’t seem terrible, but a four am alarm bell ringing hurts especially bad when you spent the evening before with an open bar.

Nonetheless, like phoenixes from the ashes, we arose at the sound of the alarm clock. Well some of us did, others had to be WWE slammed into consciousness. Shane had given us a game plan and we knew he’d be waiting at the dock, and we weren’t there to disappoint. Away we went into the dark from the hotel, forgetting behind a shoe, a pair of cufflinks, a bag of venison sticks and maybe a bit of dignity, and soon we were at the dock.

Going Deep

A few days before our trip, Shane reached out to let us know with all of the recent rains that the fish had been heading to deeper water. We had the option to either try our luck at river mouths to hit the runners in between, or could head out to open water and try to get 'em out there. Of course, we chose to head way out to get the big guys.

We packed on the boat with our coolers, got cozy, and ripped out of the dock to the cold, deep waters of Lake Michigan. It was a smooth, but quiet ride since we were all still a bit groggy. Except Shane of course, who turned on some country music on the radio and started rigging the second we got out there.

Shy Morning Bite

Towards the beginning of our trolling, things were a little light. We got a lot of hits, even bringing some all the way up to the surface, but could not get a fish to latch. Not to fret though, in the meantime we had some Busch Lattes to wake us up, some Uncrustables, string cheeses, and chips to fuel, and plenty of good company.

We listened to music, ate and drank up, and listened to Shane explain the ins and outs of Lake Michigan. Turns out the deepest point of the lake is over 900 feet deep, and we were fishing with 400 feet of line out. Which made sense why it felt like it took hours to bring in the line, especially with a fish on. The day started to warm up, jackets started to be shed, and soon the bite was on.

Fish On

When I say the bite was on, it was ON. We just started hammering them, one fish hitting the net after another, sometimes two people reeling at once. We each had one or two in the boat when JTB brought in an absolute toad of a salmon. It was a long fight to bring it up from the deep water and he was certainly, and rightfully, feeling himself as bringing the first big gun to the deck.

The next fish was mine, and as soon as I started reeling Shane said “that’s going to be the biggest fish of the day.” I believed him the second I started reeling. Along with two people switching off to help me hold the rod and keep it from turning upside down, I had one leg up on the side of the boat for leverage, and was slowly cranking the reel trying to get it up 400 feet that felt like an inch at a time.

King Salmon and Lake Trout On Lake Michigan

It was absolutely ridiculous, and was definitely a sign I need to start lifting some weights. It definitely didn’t feel nearly as ridiculous though once Shane grabbed that net. An absolute slab of a lake trout was lifted out of the water to the deck and I couldn’t get my hands on it fast enough.

Bringing the biggest beast of a fish on the boat has its hardships and responsibilities with the reign, but I simply could not let Joey out do me. Not on home turf at least. After that we brought in a couple more midsize fish and by the end we had seven fish on board including Coho and King Salmon as well as some Lake Trout.

Sleepy Time

With the waves rocking and the bite slowing again, we settled in to sip on some more beer, have a couple more snacks, and get in some more chatting. After a while, I dozed off, given that I had just wrangled with a trout for what felt like three hours. I was pretty tired. With the lull of the boat motor and hum of soft country music, I was out.

After 20 minutes or so of dozing, I woke up to the boys discussing the trip back. With the slow bite and time starting to run out, it seemed like the perfect time to head back, clean the catch, and grab some lunch. Shane brought in the lines, and we ripped off back to the dock, recounting the absolutely excellent day.

Winding Down

We soon hit the dock and unloaded our coolers off the boat and most importantly our bag of fresh salmon and trout. Shane scanned our QR code, shook our hands, and off we went to go grab some lunch and take on the rest of our weekend.

Shane was an absolutely fantastic guide. He’s fished Lake Michigan for over 25 years and most certainly knows what he’s doing. We will absolutely be back, and looking forward to our next trout and salmon run!