Lake Michigan Ice-Out Action

Pastricks East Chicago Marina For Fantastic Ice-out Action!





This is the time of year to get those planer boards  and flat lines ready for action!

In spring, salmon are coming off a winter fast and begin to increase their feeding range and activity. Once the ice breaks up trolling is superb! Often the secret to catching fish is to fish near the surface. Here the salmon find warmer water and baitfish . Although the water temperature is below the peak activity range for salmon (45-54 degrees) to feed, the fish sense the warming trend and become aggressive. High-flat lines and planer boards are the way to go for fast ice-out salmon action…..Small Great Lakes trolling flies w/flashers and  fish imitation lures like floating Rapalas work great! I recommend a slower trolling speed than used during summer months. The waters that warm the quickest will hold the most salmons that are  searching for baitfish. Often the salmon will gorge themselves on baitfish and a few crippled ones  will swim to the surface. This attracts Sea Gulls, and is a pretty good bet that the salmon are nearby. Savvy lake Michigan trollers know that salmon are not in hugh schools during spring. So, it is important to cover a lot of water while trolling in an effort to intercept scattered pockets of fish. Once lake surface temperatures warm to the 60’s, salmon will migrate to deeper water and form small schools.  This usually begins in late May. The fish are still feeding but they are mostly found suspended over cooler water. This is when downriggers and deep water planers work well. Lead line has become a super producer, as well…..

 Most trollers set lines out as soon as they leave the marina. The Inland Wall holds many fish. Watch for the “First Light”, “Second Light”, and then “the Hole in the Wall”. These are all prime areas. Around the corner to the west is the Shoals. It can get bumpy out there. West of the Shoals is the Shipping Canal which is great spring time fishing. To the east is Buffington Harbor. It’s well protected. Further east, you’ll go past Dean Mitchell, US Steel, and finally Gary Light. These are all great Salmon areas…..If Perch fishing is your thing, the 50 foot deep water outside Gary Light holds lots of monster Perch in spring and fall.

Here again, this port warms up early just after ice out!  This port can be fished all season, with many trophy sized salmon and trout taken every year. This port gets to be kinda busy, but the launches and ramps are in good shape, and well worth the wait….Just outside the ramp is the famous Wall! This is where flat lines and planer boards are super effective, and you can expect action on most days. In early Spring, a two & three man limit is often achieved before noon. Expect a mixed bag of 2-3 pound Coho, 7-13 pound Steelhead and some nice sized Brown trout. This port and the Hammond port are  my best shots in the spring, as they are within an hours drive from my home.  These are perhaps the best places to fish just after ice out. When the water warms up…..Limits of Coho and Steelhead are common. If you only have an Illinois Salmon licence, a”Hot Spot” is the warm water discharges out of the 95th St Calumet Park, just S/E of the boat launch.

Wind speed and direction are super important in early spring!

As usual west winds are best, as you will be protected by the shoreline and have calm waters. South, southwest and even northwest winds are productive, also. Light north and northwest winds are ok as well, if they are not too strong.  In most cases, east winds are generally not productive….. take a pass! Instead,  if the ice is out, take a ride to Michigan City…..It  can be a decent bet if there are light east or northeast winds. Use  flat lines and planer boards at the warmest water you can locate near the shorelines and at the mouth of the river…..

Thanks for looking…..Good Luck!