Fishing the Transition and 6/9/23 Fishing Report from Waukegan Harbor

Waukegan Harbor Fishing Report 6/9/23 and Fishing the Transition

Fishing has been consistent, however the fish have been moving around the depths based on prevailing wind patterns. This morning we fished 70’-90’ and went 17/31. Lots of short strikes or fish coming off half way in. This week we’ve worked the water between 120’-145’, 90’-110’ and the catches have all been coho of various sizes. We’re getting very few Yellow Bird bites and they are coming first thing in the morning before full light. Our best producing presentations have been running in the 35’-55’ foot of the water column:

  • Chrome dodger/white fly down 35’ on a rigger - Very consistent
  • Moonshine RV Bloody Nose down 40’ on a rigger with a 2 color SWR - stud.
  • 5 Color lead with orange stubbie and a 2’ slider blue/green/gold
  • 6 color lead with a Michigan Stinger Sunkist spoon
  • 7 & 8 color leads are running moonshine RV Green and Blue Flounder Pounders respectively but have been slow
  • 10 color leads on each side with the Moonshine RV Bloody Nose matching the downriver has been a stud
  • Wire Dipsys back 85’ with a Chrome dodger/white 4’ fly
  • Wire Dipsy back 120’ with a white glow/lead flasher and a bullfrog fly

Hopefully we have a good weekend and this information helps to put fish in the boat. 

If you’d like to read this weeks blog on fishing the transition geared toward recreational anglers checkout it out below. 

Fishing the Transition

Fishing the transition is simply knowing the pattern of the fish given the time of day and movements based on prevailing winds and finding the thermal-cline. Once we have an understanding of that, we can maximize the catch. We also must carry a bit more equipment in the way of combos on the boat too. {If you do not have down riggers yet, buy a couple Luhr Jensen Double Deep Six’s. These are very effective in achieving depth of 135’ and will run straight behind the boat. They can be run on a MH rod with 40-50 pound braid. They are a hell of a lot cheaper than down riggers and will work nearly all season as we rarely run riggers deep than 135’ anyway.} 

Predawn and First Light

It’s not uncommon to pick up a king or two predawn and going into first light running glow spoons in the bottom half of the water column. Here’s a secret, if you’ve been fishing 70’-90’ as we were today, we set up in 50’ of water and place glow spoons in as many places as possible (lead cores and riggers). Second, we’re going to set-up a couple Yellow Bird combos on each side and run them until light is up. The surface temperatures are rising too high to hold coho there for long.

Sun Up

We should be well into the 70’-90’ of water by now and begin making some changes. The yellowbirds are coming out as we know from experience they will be dead sticks. We drop the riggers by 20’ of depth from where we originally set them. Drop the dipsys back to match the depth of riggers once the bites start coming or vice versa. In place of the Yellow Birds we’ll add a couple lead cores to each side. One shallower lead like a 4 or 5 color and then the 10 color to the inside of the lead core spread. If we don’t pick pick up fish through the 70’-90’ of water we just keep heading out deeper until we find them.

The bite will die for a period of time mid morning. Don't make the mistake of leaving the area, stick it out because they should turn back on within the hour. If not, then move a little deeper or North or South depending on the wind.  Use information from the network of other anglers on the water if you are struggling. VHF radios on channel 68 and cellphones can be useful tools on tough days. 

Once the sun is up we only change out lures that are not producing for lures similar to those that are. If cloud cover comes in, it may require a color change of the entire spread except for a couple stud lures. 

Finding the Thermal-cline

Finding the thermal-cline can be done a couple ways. If you’re using a good graph as most newer graphs are, it’ll show up as pixels in say 50’ for example. That’s because the water is colder and denser. The second way to find the thermal layer is with a depth probe. Once the thermal layer is defined, place the lures just above and below. Bait fish (unless your marking large masses) will typically be in the vicinity of the thermal-cline. If you are marking big masses of bait, that’s where you want the lures… running through and above the depths those bait ball are best. Fish always strike up so running baits below the bait balls we most likely be unproductive. 

Sunset and Sun Down

We reverse everything to the morning set-up and make our way back into the shallower water. Kings that have been cruising around will often move to shallower depths at night as the coho and steelhead will begin to rise up in the column again as the sunsets. Sun down we pull the Yellow Birds as the coho typically bite when light is present. 

Prevailing Winds

The water in the lake is like a conveyor belt. If we have winds blowing from the west shores to the east for a sustained period. The surface waters head to Michigan and rolls under pushing cooler water from depth back toward the east shores. Therefore, if we were fishing 110’ foot of water yesterday and the winds have blown all night as mentioned we will start in 70’ because this fish will most likely be found between 80’-100’ based on the water movement. Similarly would be a North or South wind. Say we fished in front of the harbor yesterday and we had a North or South wind develop during the day and sustain overnight, we will start a mile or so toward the direction of the wind rather than right back in front. 

Lure Sizing

This time if the year the peanut flies are given way to 2” slider flies behind 00 or stubby dodgers…or 3”/4” flies behind 8” dodgers or flashers. Our preference in flies turns toward Rapture Trolling Flies as they seem to consistently produce and will last all season. If you can afford a few, the staples would be the Original Hypnotist, Oceana UV, Last Supper, and Silver Hypnotist. Our spoons will be downsized from magnum to standard size Moonshines, Michigan Stinger Standard and even Stingray size is a good choice too, along with Dreamweaver Super Slims. If you are targeting lake trout continue to use the magnum spoons. 

Alright - Go get your Fish On!

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