Spring keeps teasing us, and the water is warming up. Small boats have already ventured into Lake Michigan from Ludington primarily for browns, but have also caught steelhead, lake trout, and a few small kings. The DNR keeps increasing the plantings of browns in our harbor. Last year they planted 61,600 up from 56,000 in 2014. My first trip to fish on Lake Michigan every year reminds me of what a beautiful place the big lake is to spend the day.
This time of year pier fishermen have success with browns as they lurk near the rocks eating gobies and other baitfish. Typically, anglers catch the biggest browns later in the month of April or into May when the alewives enter the harbors to spawn and when the water temperature is about 55 degrees inside the piers. Lures for pier fishermen can vary from casting spoons like a Crocodile or Cleo to floating spawn bags with pyramid sinkers or better yet live alewives if they can catch them. During first part of brown trout season, south winds will produce by warming the water up. As summer progresses, a north wind will cool it down, and you can catch them well into July off the pier.
Our typical brown trout trolling set up is to run shallow diving lures on planer boards from 75-150 feet back and troll from 7-20 feet of water. Clear water is often tougher to catch browns, muddy often means warmer water from the river or a creek entering the lake and will concentrate fish. Rocks along the shoreline often indicate you are in a good area. A lure that is already producing in Ludington and will stand out this spring is Rapalas Shadow Rap Shad, shallow diving from 3-4 feet and a great color selection. The Rap also comes in a deeper diving model also running only 5-6 feet so it should work well too for later in the season or later in the morning when fish tend to hold in deeper water.