9 Rod Super Spread - Great Lakes Angler Magazine
After a 20-minute run through the pre-dawn darkness out of Saugatuck, Michigan, Capt. Dave Engel switches on the Raymarine autopilot and starts setting rods with Capt. Bill Bale. It doesn’t take long to get six Shimano Talora/Tekota rod and reel combos out with wire divers and copper on boards; classic Charter Special reels with Talora rigger rods are on three Vector downriggers. Within two minutes, Bale is handing a bent diver rod to a charter client; less than four hours later, they’ve landed a seven-man limit of 21 kings, plus two lakers and a fat coho and the 36-foot Tiara Best Chance Too heads back to port.
Great Lakes Angler magazine - Best Chance Too - Captain Dave Engel uses copper to catch Lake Michigan Salmon, Steelhead and Trout Fishing - 550x365

This is a summer spread, when kings are deep, and Engel said while it’s often important to be near the  thermocline, sometimes most of the kings—especially the larger ones—will come from water warmer than their preferred temperature range in the low to mid 40s. He watches the Raymarine sonar carefully for bait and fish and sets the spread accordingly.

The spread couldn’t be more basic. The Vector riggers lower 15-pound balls with big flasher/fly combos 12 to 20 feet behind. Rigger depths are 10 feet apart vertically, the middle one with the Fish Hawk speed and temp probe is right at the temp break (which this August day is about 90 feet down).  One ball goes 10 feet lower than the chute rigger; the other is 10 feet higher. Two wire divers are on each side of the boat; the inside one set on “11⁄2” and, this day, let out 200 feet; the outside ones set on “3” and let out 300 feet. All the divers have big flashers and flies, too, and the Best Chance Too captains prefer the largest-size, 124 mm Walker Deeper Divers’ tops, mated with the 107-mm bottom with its lighter weight, which helps keep wires from tangling with each other. (A standard Dipsy with the largest magnum ring duplicates this delivery device.)

ImageOn-line Offshore boards take 300 feet of 45-pound braided copper wire line to either side of the boat. Behind a 35-foot leader of Gamma 30-pound copolymer go either J-Plugs or Silver Hordes. All of the copper is in the water before the boards get attached; sometimes the duo lets out extra 30-pound Gamma copolymer backing to get these outside lines deeper.

The leader length on flies might surprise some anglers. It was at least 30 inches of 40-pound Gamma Fluorocarbon—some of the 11-inch Dreamweaver Paddle flashers and 10-inch Spin Doctors carried leaders of more than 40 inches.

Other keys for these kings? Troll fast. At the helm, Engel kept the down speed on his new digital Fish Hawk X-4 display at no less than 2.7 mph and sometimes as high as 3.5 mph. Also, charged glow flashers and Action Flies in Pickled Sunshine with glow beads are in the water until the sun comes up. On a clear, sunny day, flashers with metallic finishes without glow replace the glowing flasher array.

It’s a spread to keep on file and employ when the kings are deep. GLA

Article By Dave Mull, First printed in Great Lakes Angler Magazine, January 2009. To subscribe, log on to www.GLAngler.com .


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Learn all about Lake Michigan charter boat fishing for King and Coho Salmon, Steelhead, Lake Trout and Brown Trout on board the Best Chance Too.  If you are looking for the absolute best Lake Michigan charter fishing experience, a trip on Best Chance Too is for you.  Captain Dave Engel and Captain Bill Bale of Best Chance Too are the winningest Salmon and Trout tournament fishing team on Lake Michigan.  Best Chance Too is the only team to win tournaments in all four states surrounding Lake Michigan. They travel the entire Lake Michigan tournament circuit and fish from Michigan City, Indiana at the south end of the lake to Manistee, Michigan in the northern part of the lake.  Charter with them out of their home port of Saugatuck, as well as Michigan City, St. Joseph, South Haven, Holland, Grand Haven, Waukegan, Muskegon, Ludington and Manistee.  Purchase the Best Chance Too instructional fishing DVDs and read all about their fishing exploits.