It's that time of year again when the south end of Lake Michigan starts to clear of ice and the feisty and tasty coho start to feed heavily. The time to cash in on this great action is now.
There are several places to take advantage of the Spring Coho bite, both from shore and from a boat. Shore access can be found at Portage at "Burns Ditch". The same goes for boat access as well. Another harbor that offers good access is East Chicago Marina.
The Coho are making their way North and on their way they are gorging themselves on all the food they can find. It is not uncommon to clean a fish that may have 2 or 3 baitfish in its stomach on top of the bait it struck that you presented.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to get out on the water via boat there are a couple of options to search out these glittering silver fish. You are able to cast jigs and twisters as well as crankbaits in the warm water discharges of the local steel plants. You may also pick up some nice big browns while you are doing so.
Trolling can be quite effective and allow you to cover a lot of water. Typically the best presentation will be utilizing planer boards and long leads to get the baits out and away from the boat. However, often times these fish will hit baits run right in the prop wash of the boat.
Some of the baits that I like to troll with include: Red/Black thinfin, Rapala Taildancers, J-9 Rapalas, OO dodger and peanut fly, and smaller Stinger spoons. Typical stretches behind the board often run between 60 and 80' and if downriggers or dipseys are used they are typically only down 15' to 20' as you are only fishing 25' to 35FOW.
Look for dirty water and clear water transitions. The fish will use these as ambush points for an easy meal. The dirty water also warms faster in the sun and will concentrate these fish into good schools.
If you catch one, mark it on your GPS and go back over that spot. You are likely to catch multiple fish in one area.
Light line, light gear, and a whole lot of laughter is what you can expect when you are able to get out and catch some of these glittering fish. In my opinion they make the best table fair of any fish in the great Lake.
Don't waste time. Get out and have some fun. Please use caution when on the big water and use your head. Make sure all your safety equipment is in good working order and that you do not try to take on waves that are too big for your craft. The South end can get rough this time of year so pick your days and be safe!