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Fishing Lake Superior: A complete guide to stream, shoreline, and open-water angling

Illustrations by Jeff Sonstegard
Copyright Date: 1994
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 176
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  • Book Info
    Fishing Lake Superior
    Book Description:

    A complete angler’s guide to fishing Lake Superior. Experienced fisherman Shawn Perich provides proven tactics for catching steelhead, lake trout, salmon, and walleye, as well as accurate information for boaters, shorecasters, and stream anglers. Fishing Lake Superior gives clear advice about when, where, and how to hook the big one. Let veteran outdoorsman Shawn Perich be your personal guide to the challenge of fishing Lake Superior. “Written by an accomplished angler, Fishing Lake Superior is an informative and entertaining reference to all aspects of Lake Superior fishing.” Mike Toth, Sports Afield “Fabulous! A lot of good advice, even for people who have been fishing a long time.” Kevin Bovee, Lake Superior Steelhead Association “I’ve been a steelheader for 50-odd years, and I’m surprised that a young fella knows this much about it. His information is accurate and concise.” Jim Keuten, Owner, Jim’s Bait, Duluth, Minnesota Shawn Perich is a free-lance writer and avid angler who lives on the North Shore. His first book, The North Shore: A Four Season Guide to Minnesota’s Favorite Destination, is a carry-along guide for planning trips along Lake Superior’s magnificent North Shore. Shawn has served as the editor of the Cook County Herald in Grand Marais and as the editor of Fins and Feathers magazine. His work has appeared in Sports Afield, Fly Rod and Reel, and Outdoor News.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9513-3
    Subjects: Physics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-x)

    I remember a sunny April day when my father picked me up from kindergarten at noon. On his way home from steelhead fishing, he’d discovered that spawning smelt were running literally bank to bank in Duluth’s Lester River, so we went to dip-net a pailful. At that time, the mid-sixties, vast schools of smelt—and few other fish—swam in western Lake Superior. I can still see the black schools of smelt holding in the Lester’s clear currents, and remember running along the bank to scoop up extra-large smelt with my hands. Then my father picked me up and waded...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Changes In the “Big Pond”
    (pp. 1-4)

    The old lake trout heard the click of the cannonball bouncing along the bottom long before she saw the flash of the dodger, a spark of light in the murky depths. Deliberately, the laker turned toward the flash, rapidly closing the distance with a few strokes of her powerful tail. She smelled the powerful lure of fish-attracting scent and saw the small plastic squid undulating behind the flasher. She swam toward the squid and then abruptly turned away. Perhaps the three herring she’d captured that morning had sated her appetite, or maybe during her four decades in the lake she’d...

  6. The Fish of Lake Superior
    (pp. 5-22)

    From Pacific salmon to native walleyes, Lake Superior supports a diverse sport-fish population. Most species are indigenous to the lake, but many others were introduced over the last century. While anglers welcome the steelhead and other game fish to the lake, some exotic species—such as the deadly sea lamprey—are upsetting Lake Superior’s ecosystem.

    Lake trout are the most common game fish in Lake Superior, available to everyone from shore-casters to offshore trollers. A native species that supported commercial, subsistence, and sport fisheries from pre-Columbian times until the 1940s, the lake trout was nearly extirpated from Lake Superior through...

  7. Shore Fishing
    (pp. 23-36)

    Many anglers first meet Lake Superior while standing on its shore armed with a spinning rod and a heavy spoon. The lake’s immensity overwhelms, and the chance of actually catching something seems minuscule. Nevertheless, shore-casting provides an inexpensive, accessible, and effective way to become acquainted with the lake and the fish it contains.

    Beginners will find that an inland spinning rod and reel combo spooled with 6- to 10-pound-test monofilament is sufficient, even though serious shore-anglers use customized tackle. Spoons and spinners for shore-casting are available at every shoreline fishing shop. Ask the clerk to show you the local favorites,...

  8. Small Boat Trolling
    (pp. 37-44)

    Lake Superior has ways of making you feel insignificant, and none know this better than small boaters. After all, this lake sometimes challenges even freighters and ore ships. Yet centuries before the St. Lawrence Seaway was constructed, canoes provided transportation on the lake. At Grand Portage, Minnesota, a cedar tree at least four hundred years old clings to a shoreline rock—mute veteran of centuries of storms and winters. Early European explorers reported that native people left offerings there before making the twenty-mile passage to Isle Royale in bark canoes. Later the voyageurs left offerings when they headed for Montreal...

  9. Outfitting a Lake Superior Rig
    (pp. 45-58)

    Stay in the Lake Superior fishing game long enough and eventually you’ll start shopping for a bigger boat. The size of your pocketbook determines your definition of “bigger”—the boat you want is always a little more expensive than the one you can really afford.

    Shopping for a craft suitable for Lake Superior is more complicated than buying a new inland fishing rig. You need a boat that is seaworthy, roomy enough for fishing gear, and—in most instances—trailerable. Although many anglers choose to base at a marina during the fishing season, marina space on Superior is limited. A...

  10. The Temperature Game
    (pp. 59-66)

    Rarely, except in sheltered nearshore areas, does Lake Superiors water warm up for comfortable swimming. Even in midsummer the waters stay frigid enough to make a polar bear shiver. The icy cold water affects trout and salmon activity. For that reason, the most essential piece of equipment thatanyLake Superior angler can own is a simple thermometer or a temperature gauge. You must know the water temperature in order to plan your fishing strategy. Water temperature will determine how you fish, where you go, and what you use for bait. Think of water temperature as the “structure” you’ll be...

  11. Deepwater Fishing
    (pp. 67-76)

    The extreme depth of Lake Superior boggles the minds of most inland anglers. On Minnesota’s North Shore, for instance, you can find depths over two hundred feet within a mile of shore. Understandably, the fish you seek, especially lake trout, may be one-hundred feet or more beneath the surface. And you may have to troll at depths ranging from twenty to eighty feet to find the “surface-oriented” species such as coho salmon.

    Fishing deep water presents a special challenge to the sport angler. You need enough weight to bring your lure to the depth where the fish are located, yet...

  12. Old-timers’ Tricks
    (pp. 77-82)

    Although the advent of downriggers and planer boards marked the beginning of a new era for Lake Superior fishing, these tackle advances did not render techniques the old-timers used obsolete. For instance, in the Upper Peninsula many lake trout anglers don’t carry a fishing rod. Instead they have a short, wooden bobbing stick wrapped with strong Dacron line. On most days, the effectiveness of bobbing puts modern techinques to shame. The same is true of other old-timers’ tricks.

    Lake trout are suckers for the quick lift and flutter-down action of a well-fished jig, especially if it is tipped with some...

  13. From Pike to Panfish
    (pp. 83-88)

    Some anglers are just leechers. They’re not panhandlers or parasites, they just like walleyes. After all, the walleye reigns supreme on the inland lakes of the Lake Superior region. On the Big Pond, however, fishable populations occur only in estuaries and relatively shallow areas. But in these places you can find terrific action for everything from large sport fish like northern pike, walleyes, and smallmouth bass to various panfish, including yellow perch, crappies, and menominees.

    In fact, the old adage about big waters producing big fish certainly holds true here. The average walleye, northern, and smallmouth is heftier than its...

  14. Ice Fishing
    (pp. 89-94)

    It takes an exceptionally cold winter for Lake Superior to become completely covered with ice. Freeze-up for inland waters arrives in November, but the big lake resists winter’s onslaught for months. Large, sheltered areas such as Chequamegon Bay and Thunder Bay usually have ice that is safe to walk on around the first of the year. The main lake may not begin making ice until late February, usually when the weather is cold and calm.

    The ice floes move with the winds and the currents. Even a slight shift of wind can cause this pack ice to break away from...

  15. Marinas and Other Access Sites
    (pp. 95-112)

    From major ports like Duluth, Minnesota, to tiny hamlets such as Ontario’s Rossport, Lake Superior offers a variety of places to launch your boat. While some towns are equipped with full-scale marinas, others provide only a launch ramp for small craft. Whatever size boat you plan to take out on the Big Pond, rest assured you can put in close to where you expect to find fish. A map indicating the major access sites of Lake Superior is on pages 104–105.

    Minnesota’s North Shore is exceptionally scenic, even by Lake Superior standards. High, forested ridges rise boldly from the...

  16. Stream Fishing
    (pp. 113-130)

    Anglers—and everyone else—in the Lake Superior country welcome spring. After a long winter, warm days and the sound of running water are welcome indeed. Perhaps that’s why spring steelhead fishing in Lake Superior tributary streams is so popular. Steelhead make their spawning run into the streams shortly after ice-out, which makes them one of the first fish species available to open-water anglers. Because nearly every creek and river flowing into Lake Superior has the cold water and habitat necessary to support trout, steelhead are easily accessible to anglers all around the lake.

    This doesn’t mean steelhead are easy...

  17. The Major Tributaries
    (pp. 131-148)

    Hundreds of rivers and streams feed the greatest Great Lake, and they also provide a natural spawning ground for salmon and trout. Consequently, you will find some of the best fishing associated with Lake Superior on these tributaries.

    The streams along Minnesota’s North Shore are noted more for their scenic beauty than for their fishing potential. Nearly every tributary stream has within a mile of its mouth a large waterfall that blocks the upstream migrations of anadromous fish. In past years, the Minnesota DNR dynamited pockets into the rocky cascades of some streams so that strong leapers such as steelhead...

  18. An Angler’s Calendar
    (pp. 149-155)

    Fishing Lake Superior successfully depends not only on knowing where and how to catch fish, but knowing where and how to catch fish throughout the year. Weather patterns on the Big Pond shift dramatically over the course of a year, continuously challenging anglers to adjust their methods for success. Below is a calender to help you adapt to Superior’s ever-changing weather conditions.

    The new year usually marks the beginning of the “hardwater” season on Superior, when solid ice begins to form in the large bays. Try shallow-water fishing for splake and brown trout in Chequamegon Bay just after first ice....

  19. Resources
    (pp. 156-156)
  20. Index
    (pp. 157-163)