salmon fishing Lake Michigan

Chinook generally follow a thermal range of 53°F/11.6°C degrees

Google search for Chinook and you’d never believe that the Chinook Salmon would be found in a lake habitat unless it was placed there by a stocking program.


The general pattern for Chinook Salmon is to migrate from their headwaters downstream to the estuary before heading out to the ocean. They\ then return to spawn several years later in the same stream they were born in.


However for those Salmon that were introduced to the Great Lakes, they don’t migrate to the St. Lawrence estuary or the ocean. Great lakes Chinook Salmon spend their entire lives in fresh water, which makes winter fishing a little easier.

Great Lakes Habitat

The Great Lakes variation in depth is considerable from Lake Erie with the deepest part being 210 feet/64 meters to Lake superior being over 1332 feet/406 meters deep. Lake Superior acts more like an ocean in terms of storm conditions having waves bigger than 30 feet/10 meters at times.


The lake bottom of most lakes is silty with some areas being rocky.


Very few Chinook Salmon spend any time at depth with Lake Trout being one of the few fish species that spend time down as deep as 200 feet/61 meters or more.


Chinook will generally follow a thermal range around 53°F/11.6°C degrees. This thermal range depth varies from season to season because of weather conditions and lake charring.


Some anglers claim that the best lakes for catching Chinook Salmon include *Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. While we can’t verify they are the best, we can confirm that they are good lakes for catching large Chinook Salmon. The amount of data required to back up a local claim like this would be large.

Charter Fishing Tips

Renting a charter boat is a great way to catch Chinook Salmon if you like to troll or cast.

  1. However check with the charter before booking which methods they’ll employ. If you hate trolling and find it boring, you won’t want to sign up if the other anglers want to troll. The best bet is to rent the charter with your friends so you have complete control over the methods and destination.
  2. Another tip is to look out for charters that guarantee a good catch or your trip is free. Only those captains that know the lake and the location of the fish will dare offer this option.
  3. Check if they provide all the tackle and bait. This is a great option if you’re flying in. For those arriving to the docks by car, you can save the extra cost by providing your own gear.