Lure Selection vs. Available Light & 5/25/23 Fishing Report from Waukegan, IL.

5/25/2023 Fishing Report - Waukegan Harbor

The past couple days have been a wash for us with the wind/waves as they’ve been. Our latest report comes from Tuesday. Fish have been scattered about the waters, but 80’ to 110’ have been producing the best for us. We are catching nice mixed bags with a number of kings, steelhead, coho, and lake trout getting caught. We did target Lakers one day upon customer request. Yes, believe it or not, a lot of us do like the lake trout! We were fishing 2 yellow birds per side w/ 00 dodgers and fly combos as the majority of the coho have moved north already. Inside of those we are running leads. 5 and 6 - 10 color lead cores are optimal. Riggers between 30’ to 50’ down. We’ve broke out the wire-line dipseys with mag-divers as well. Dipseys running back between 70’-120’ are producing w/ 8” Flasher and 4” Fly combos. The yellow/orange spoons like the Michigan Stinger Grouper and Jordo are firing on the 5 and 6 color lead and a favorite of the coho and steelhead. Blues and greens on the deeper lines. RV Blue or Green Flounder Pounder, UV NBK, UV Happy Meal and Wonderbread are working well. After these winds, we’ll be starting over in 30’ foot of water and trolling NE adding deeper running lines and adjusting depths as we go until we find the fish again. There’s a good possibility we’ll find fish in shallower water following a North/Northeast wind. 

Lure Selection vs. Available Light 

Note: When performing seminars, this is probably our favorite topic to discuss. In short order, we are going to try to deliver our in-depth knowledge of this topic. Although we could spend hours on the topic, we will offer some key information in the next 5 minute read.

What Salmonoids See - Salmon basically have the same vision as humans with the exception of UV Light. They have rods and cones in their eyes just as we do. Rods distinguish and sort the colors of the visual light spectrum, whereas cones allow for visual contrast in low light environments and is considered visual purple. UV light is not distinguishable by the human eye, however useful to salmon as it penetrates the water column up to 500 feet and can refract off a lure at depth for just as far. The use of UV tapes and paints on spoons and in the material of flies has become so popular and effective because of the salmon’s ability to use UV light in their underwater environment. Spoons and flies with Yellow UV properties drive the steelhead wild.

ROY G BIV - If anyone remembers back to science class, these letters represent the distinguishable colors of the light spectrum. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet (ROY G BIV). These are the colors of a rainbow as light refracts off water particulate in the air. Why is understanding this so important in lure selection? Because as light becomes less available, these colors become indistinguishable in the order they are represented as we move deeper into the water column. More to come on this.

Available Light - Light penetration in the water column is effected by multiple factors. 

  • First and foremost is the sun or moon producing light. Particularly the sun as moonlight only produces enough light to observe contrast. 
  • Second is cloud cover, which obviously reduces available light on a cloudy day. 
  • Third is wind, which causes waves. Waves refract light at the waters surface and does not allow light to penetrate as deep into the water column as it would on a calm day. 
  • Finally, water clarity is the last factor. Stained (turbid) water does not allow for light penetrations as the molecules that are cause turbidity absorb the available light. Chartreuse is a great color in stained water.  

Once the available light is gone, color is no longer viewed and only the contrast is present. The best comparison for this is when we drive a road everyday at different times. During the daylight we see the vibrant colors and begin to know to look for different things along our path. Yet, driving this same road at night we cannot see colors. All we see is the contrast of the tree line, houses, etc., at night. Unless… we put light on it. In our vehicle we can still distinguish colors within the lights of the vehicle and beyond that only contrast. With one exception, if an object is producing it’s own its own light. Lets say for example, a fire fly. We’d never see that critter at night if it didn’t produce it’s own light. Think glow spoons, flashers and flies. 

Putting it Together, we can choose the best color of lure based on where we are fishing in the water column and the conditions we are fishing in. Lake Michigan is a rather clear body of water. Our rule of thumb is 15 foot per color of the ROY G BIV scale on a sunny calm day fishing outside of any turbid waters. What’s this mean captain? Every fifteen foot of depth we are fishing we eliminate the colors in the visible light spectrum. Red is good in 0-15’, Orange will be visible 0 - 30’, Yellow 0 -45’, Green 0 - 60’, Blue 0 - 75’, Indigo 0 - 90’, and Violet 0 - 105’ feet of water. Therefore, the color of red spoon is of no use in depths below 15’ of water as it color is not visible, but the contrast of the spoon will remain… and so on. Purple, such as the Kevorkian spoon is an excellent choice for deep fishing because it falls into the purple vision portion of the eyes ability to distinguish color. Black and White are considered contrast colors and can be used at any depth. This is why the use of UV is so effective. If our lures have UV properties, their colors remain more visible in altered light conditions. Glow spoons work wonders at night and in low light environments. At low light/no light fishing we start with or switch to all glow lures and recharge them regularly.

A basic understanding of these factors should allow an angler to not only purchase appropriate colored lures for the water they are fishing, but to place them appropriately in the water column. Glow and UV lures are hands down going to out produce anything in the tackle box on most days as there is almost always a factor limiting available light. Hopefully this information is a new tool in the scientific tool box of salmon fishing and helps you to produce more fish. That is certainly our goal. 

Welcome to Spendthrift Charters!

Frequently called the "Best Chicago Fishing Charters" in Chicagoland and proudly serving the Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois areas for over 40 years, Captain Jerry Nied has been chartering the finest of fishing trips. Spendthrift Charters is one of the largest fishing charter fishing vessels available on Lake Michigan today. We currently have three 39-ft Tiara ships to satisfy every fishing need, no matter the size of the group. Captain Jerry is a full time U.S. Coast Guard and licensed captain. Fishing charters are available 7 days a week. Call now for the next available Chicago fishing charter departure time!

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