Salmon fishing techniques

Try casting technique from bridges and jetties where streams meet lakes – works well

Great Lakes salmon fishing is exciting with Lake Michigan in particular being a top spot.


Most Atlantic Salmon are seagoing fish. They don’t usually spend much time in lakes, although they can only be found in lakes at specific times of the year like late summer to early spring unless they’re landlocked salmon as a result of stocking programs. It’s important to know which lakes are stocked as they can be fished all year around.


In warmer waters landlocked Atlantic Salmon hide in deep, cool waters and can be challenging to find. Heavy lead-core line and Davis spinners catch fish in these deep waters.


Landlocked salmon also feed briefly at the surface and this is when you should use a lure or fly resembling a minnow.

Fishing with Smelt

The best way to catch salmon when the ice melts is by following the large schools of spawning smelt as they make their way toward the shallows.

  • Use medium-weight spinning gear.
  • Cast worms, plugs, spoons, spinners and live smelt that are hooked beneath the dorsal fin.


The best place to catch Atlantic Salmon with the casting technique is from bridges and jetties where the streams meet the lakes.


Fishing with live bait is at its best this time of year. Large minnows work well if you’re unable to get smelt.


If you wanting to step up your game, you could lay traps to catch your own smelt for bait.


Spinners and spoons are your best bet for trolling with a planer board to keep the bait at a specific depth where you’ll find the smelt. Use a swivel when fishing with live bait to prevent the bait from moving about in an unnatural way.

Fly Fishing

Trolling with a medium-sized No. 6 or No. 8 streamer fly at the mouth of the stream also works well.


Use a 13-foot fly rod for those smaller rivers and streams and a 15-foot rod for the bigger ones.


After the smelt run is over, use a light or medium-weight fly rod with at least 100 yards of backing to troll the shoreline and shallow bars around islands.


Popular landlocked salmon gear includes ultra-light spinning tackle and a 4lb test line.

Use a long, sweeping rod pattern to create a dart-pause fly pattern that draw strikes as the fly pauses.

  • Atlantic salmon feed near the surface of cool spring waters making weighted flies unnecessary.