Trolling For Muskies In Lake Michigan


Perhaps the most important aspect of trolling for muskies in Lake Michigan is finding the best electric trolling motor for sale online. Next up is proper boat control, which is to say keeping your musky lures at the proper depth and in the right place, and running the boat at the correct speed to ensure that you cover lots of lake surface efficiently. Spending ample time out on the lake practicing controlling your fishing boat is really the best way to learn how to properly maneuver your boat to get your desired results.

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The most effective way to remain on proper depth settings is to utilize two sonar fish finder units simultaneously, with one transducer mounted on the bottom of trolling motor at the front of the boat, and the other at the stern. This method enables you to read the depth on the front fish finder 14 to 21 feet and a few seconds before your musky lures get to that spot. This time allows you to make critical adjustments to your lures to keep them functioning properly along bottom edges.

Best Electric Trolling Motor For Sale Online

For my money, the best electric trolling motor for sale that I found was the Minn Kota Endura C2 30. This electric trolling motor starts at only $99, which makes it’s value hard to beat. It has 5 forward speeds combined with 3 reverse speeds which have proven to provide great boat control while trolling. This electric trolling motor boasts of having an “indestructible composite shaft” and is backed by a lifetime warranty. If you have a little higher budget than I did however, you may want to get a trolling motor with a few more features. One place that I found helpful with lots of electric trolling motor reviews was

While it is true that the majority of the muskies that I catch while trolling are swimming along some sort of edge, like the edge of a rock bar, or a weed edge. However, I also catch hungry muskie out in the middle of what seems like nowhere, but odds are good that a school of smaller baitfish and/or some type of structure is close by. By maintaining the ideal course that keeps your muskie lures working right along the edges that you find, you are sure to catch muskies consistently while trolling. Having the best electric trolling motor for sale makes this task far more simple.

Trolling Locations

During the summer months I typically focus on tiger muskies roaming in the open water along the shores of Jean Klock Park, where there are schools of small baitfish. When fall rolls around, however, I focus on areas that have a little more current, which I have found usually attracts baitfish. Causeways and bridges also tend to attract fish. Having a good electric trolling motor makes it easy to troll both downstream or upstream from any position, while you look for the best areas which hold the most baitfish.

Trolling Water Temperature

Lastly, as fall approaches and water temperatures start to drop near 45F, I have more success trolling for muskies at nighttime near baitfish-rich areas, and trolling at a speed of about 1 mph. Granted, trolling for muskies on Lake Michigan at night should only be left to anglers with many years of experience.

Check out this neat video I came across of two guys explaining some of the basics of trolling for muskies.

HID Headlights Vs LED Boat Lights


HID Headlights Vs LED Boat LightsThis past summer, we have been doing a lot more research and fishing in Lake Michigan at night. While we don’t recommend night fishing on Lake Michigan for beginner anglers, experienced muskie fishermen with a properly equipped boat should be OK.  By properly equipped, one of the things that we are referring to is your boat’s lighting. We have recently been comparing HID headlights vs. LED boat lights for use on our boat. At this point, we tend to be leaning more towards some of the LED boat lights for sale.

LED Boat Lights

A fair amount of interest in LED boat lights has been generated within nearly every aspect of the sport boating community, from casual fishing boat skipper to the commercial fishing fleet captains. There are a lot of solid reasons for this, although possibly the most important of those reasons is the efficiency of LED boat lights. While any homeowner willing to try new energy efficient lighting solutions which will likely save them some money, boaters like us have an even greater need for energy efficient lighting, such as LED boat lights.

Out on a boat, unlike your office or home, electrical power is not as readily available. As most of you know, the electrical power on board of a boat needs to be generated by burning gas and supplied by battery banks. Sure, some electricity can be harnessed by alternative means such as wind and solar, these alternatives are not yet to the point of being capable of fully meeting a boat’s entire electrical demands.

Battery technology has come a long way in recent years, but they too need to be closely watched when operating electrical devices out on the lake. Most boats have multiple items running off of their spare batteries, such as radios, fish finders, and trolling motors. With all of these things draining power from the batters, there is very little juice left for marine lighting.

Improvements in LED Boat Lights

LED boat lights offer significant efficiency improvements thanks to their ability to emit a good deal of light while using very little power. Traditional incandescent light bulbs can at most produce about 18 lumens of light per wattage, good quality LED boat lights can generate in excess of 65-85 lumens per wattage, and some LED boat lights now even exceed 95 and 110 lumens per wattage. Clearly, this is a significant improvement over traditional incandescent boat lights, and this allows boaters to generate more light while using only a tiny fraction of the power.

It used to be that a modest 30 foot boat might have had 8 halogen deck lights burning up 800 watts to produce 6200 lumens. Today, three LED boat lights using only 245 watts can generate over 16,000 lumens! It’s pretty clear why LED boat lights have become so popular with boaters.

LED boat lights have made significant advancements in the past five years. When LED boat lights first came onto the market, people complained about the color of the light that LEDs produce and their overall lack of brightness. Today, however, LED boat lights easily beat the quality of light which is produced by fluorescent lights, and definitely out shine incandescent bulbs by every measure. A key characteristics of today’s LED boat lights is that they produce well focused, high intensity light.

Some of the more interesting LED boat lights are being produced by HydroGlow.

HID Headlights For Boats

If looking at pure light power, few sources are able to rival HID headlights for boats. High Intensity Discharge, or HID, bulbs use a set of contacts which are in a glass, gas filled tube to generate an arc which ignites a chemical reaction with the gas and then produces a plasma reaction. Once started, this reaction is easily maintained with low voltage electrical current and emits an intense flood of light. A combination of specially designed housing and reflectors, HID headlights are great for use in a large variety of applications where an efficient and intense source of light is required. Available in nearly most all configurations imaginable, HID headlights are used in industrial, automotive, agricultural, and marine applications on an ever increasing basis.

Perhaps the top benefit of HID headlights for boats is their energy efficient nature. HID headlights emit a good deal more lumens per wattage than their traditional incandescent cousins, thus enabling them to generate more light with much less power. While they do require a high initial amp drawing at startup, as soon as the arc has been started, HID headlights for boats require very little power to maintain them. This is a huge benefit in applications that have limited power, such as with smaller boats. Rather than needing an entire series of halogen spotlights connected together and using a heavy amperage load simply to make adequate light, one set of HID headlights can be mounted and will generate that same light with far less power consumption and a better quality of light to boot.

HID Headlights Vs LED Boat Lights: Our Conclusion

Our conclusion is that when it come to HID headlights vs LED boat lights, the LED’s are the winner in most applications.  LED boat lights are smaller and more efficient than HID headlights. And, the cost of LED boat lights has really come down in recent years. There are also a large variety of led boat lights for both interior and exterior applications. There are even underwater LED boat lights available. How cool is that?

DIY Portable Fish Finder


As a follow up post to our recent article about how portable sonar fish finders are being used on Lake Michigan, we thought it would be nice to share with you how to make your own DIY portable fish finder. To do this, you must begin with the best portable fish finder for sale online.

portable fish finderRecently, several of our readers have asked us to show them how we turned our Lowrance DS-12 Gen3 fishfinder into a portable fish finder. It’s rather simple, actually. Through the years we get a few ideas from our readers, and ultimately we devised this solution. However, we have seen quite a few other, very unique versions used by other anglers.

The way that our portable fish finder is set-up, the LCD display can be
utilized in the bag or it can be removed and attached onto the gunnel of a canoe or small boat. The depth finder transducer is affixed onto a little shelf bracket, with a spring loaded clamp bolted on it so that it too can be easily and quickly released or attached. We picked up this idea from a fisherman named “Hoss” who used to deliver salmon trolling seminars some years back. The idea worked so well, that we have been using the same old bracket for 15 years now! Now only is it cheap, it also takes only a second or two to attach onto the stern of your boat.

Do It Yourself Portable Fish Finder

To start, the transducer needs to be bolted on to the 25″ shelf track, and then the 8″ Spring clamp needs to be bolted onto the opposing side of the shelf track. These items can both be bought from any local hardware store. It is important that you use stainless steel bolts and nuts to connect them. Additionally, you will need an electric drill, and a few cable ties.

When it comes to the fish finder bracket, you should use a Rite-Lok “Grunnel Clamp” on to which you then will be mounting a small piece of Starboard or wood. We simply went with a small piece of a bamboo cutting board that we bought for only $5. To this piece of bamboo we mounted the portable fish finder bracket. Depending on which type of bag that you buy, you will need to make adjustments to the mounting position and the size of the wood in order to get everything to fit properly. After you have that situated, you can begin to bolt everything together. Do yourself a favor and be sure to fit the whole thing in your bag first.

For the portable fish finder bag, we like to use soft lunch box coolers. We found a couple at the Walmart, but we really prefer the “Gusty” brand of lunch cooler that you can find at Lowes or on Amazon. It’s super strong and costs only about $18. The bag is padded to help protect your portable fish finder, and it also features pockets for your fishing tackle.

Once you have your bag selected, you need to install a 12 volt sealed battery inside of the bag. 12 volt batteries come in a variety of sizes, but a battery between 6 amps and 13 amps should suffice. We used to use a 6 amp battery with our older black & white depth finder. However, now for our newer color portable fish finder, we had to use something more a bit more powerful, so we now use a 12 amp battery. A battery this size should easily last you all day while fishing, but you could also dim the LCD display as a way to conserve power. Perhaps because our Lowrance has GPS and Sidescan technology, it probably consume a lot more power than our old B&W portable fish finder, in conjuction with the backlit display. Suitable batteries can be found online for around $20. You want to be certain to also buy a decent charger.

You may be able to see that we made our transducer able to disconnected. In order to do this, we purchased a transducer extension cable from Lowrance and simply spliced it in. This should be simply if you are comfortable with soldering and splicing small wires. This is optional, however, as you don’t have to make the transducer detachable. Instead, you would simply hardwire the depth finder transducer to the back of your portable fish finder. Either way will work and is totally up to you.

We have included a video below which helps to better illustrate how this setup works. We wrote this post not necessarily as an instructional guide, but more so to simply give you some an idea of what is possible if you wanted to make your own portable fishfinder. If you would instead like to pick up a true portable fish finder for sale, check out for more information on portable fish finders.

Using Portable Sonar Fish Finder In Lake Michigan


There are many great things to do in Jean Klock Park and the nearby water front. From volleyball and biking to building sand castles and playing golf. My favorite activity, by far, is fishing out in the beautiful waters of Lake Michigan that line the shore of the park. If you think about it, though, we don’t really know what lies under the surface of Lake Michigan. With the help of a team of scientists using portable sonar fish finders, we are starting to find out.

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Boat On The Bottom Of Lake Michigan

Most of the Lake Michigan floor has remained unexplored. However, with new portable sonar fish finder technology, a research project is underway to find out what is under the water just beyond the beaches of Jean Klock Park.

Since spring of 2015, a team of research scientists has been cruising Lake Michigan along the Jean Klock Park shore, as well as to the north and south to create a complete map of the lake bed.

A few weeks ago, I had a chance to briefly speak to Robert Klapper, the Chief Scientist for the project. According to Mr. Klapper,  “A traditional nautical chart has a few depth soundings on it, you know, just simple discrete locations. However, our underwater map is continuous. What that means is that we are able see the peaks and valleys, the ledges, and the ridges of the lake bottom. This is all important info for us as researchers to draw the linkages between the lake floor’s habitat and the various types of living organisms which inhabit it.” Mr. Klapper was referring to the portable sonar fish finder that the researchers are using.

Once a week, the boat ‘Tilly Mae’ zigzags across the water, utilizing a portable sonar fish finder to scan the lake floor. The boat emits sonar pings in a wide fan, creating a picture on an LCD screen from data of the lake floor. This is not your average cheap fish finder. This portable fish finder uses side sonar imaging, much like the one in the following video.

After several weeks of back and forth cruising, the sonar fish finder provides traditional chart info, such as depth, in amazing detail. Again, this is not your uncle’s regular old cheap portable fish finder.

The portable fish finders sonar data reveals much more than just depth. Thanks to the advanced sonar echo of their portable fish finder, the scientists can decipher if the bottom is soft, sandy, hard, has seagrass or any other objects on the lake floor. To be sure, I would love to have one of these the next time that I go tiger muskie fishing out on Lake Michigan.

The sonar fish finder technology that they are using is somewhat similar to commercial fish finders, except these fish finders use scientific grade echo sounders.

The portable depth sounder transmits a ping, or pulse of sound. The ping is then transmitted up and down through the lake’s water column and the ping reflects off of everything that is in the lake’s water column which is of a different density than any of the other surrounding media.

Each day and night as the boat cruises back and forth to shore, the sonar fish finder ‘sees’ the fish and plots this important info onto the maps.

By joining the sonar fish finder data with their own direct observations, the research team is able to create detailed maps of the lake bed habitat.

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In addition to the physical habitat, what else are the researchers studying? Robert Klapper explained, “Why are salmon, muskie, and other fish going to a particular location? Can we see certain behaviors common among the fish that are going on? Maybe only certain species of fish are going to that location. So, this is a very focused scientific application. Additionally, we conduct other science and experiments, which we can then apply toward a fishing and wildlife management community.”

Mr. Klapper went on to say, “Clearly, underwater habitats are extremely important, but we would like to better know how the fish are utilizing those underwater habitats. Then we will better understand how we can more effectively manage those natural habitats for the area wildlife.”

All of researchers scientific data that is collected along Jean Klock Park shores will help fish biologists to better understand the fish in the area, in particular salmon and musky, and will provide insight into lake and water changes elsewhere in the state.

Tiger Muskie Fishing In Lake Michigan


tiger musky fishing luresLocated along the shores of Lake Michigan, Jean Klock Park is one of Michigan’s great treasures. Growing up in the area, I can remember dad taking me out in the boat in Lake Michigan along the shores of the beach of Jean Klock Park. Out on the lake, we would fish primarily for salmon, which is what most fishermen of Lake Michigan aim to catch. But, did you know, that Lake Michigan is also home to some rare musky and even rarer tiger muskies? Although, muskies are rarely caught on Lake Michigan, as very few anglers actually set out to go tiger muskie fishing in Lake Michigan. Grab one of your favorite muskie rods and get ready as we explain more about tiger musky fishing in Lake Michigan.

According to the Michigan DNR, Michigan is home to two types of muskie – the Northern musky and the Great Lakes muskie. In 2011, the state shifted it’s focus more towards raising Great Lakes muskie. Tiger muskies, which are a hybrid between muskellunge and northern pike, used to also be stocked in Michigan. However, tiger muskies are no longer being raised in Michigan fish hatcheries. While more abundant in in-land lakes with more northern pike, naturally-produced tiger muskie are very rarely caught on Lake Michigan.

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The reason that muskies in Lake Michigan are so rare, and almost always caught by “accident”, is because the lake lacks something that most smaller lakes offer. Structure. You see, Lake Michigan is essentially a giant sand box under all of that water. In order to thrive in larger numbers, musky require weed beds, rock piles, and steep edges. The flat bottom and lack of structure make Lake Michigan less ideal for tiger muskie than smaller lakes.

The Great Lakes muskie of Michigan are by far most common in the Detroit River and the very popular Lake St. Clair. Lake St. Clair features world-class tiger muskie fisheries, and offers an extensive fleet of musky charter boats that aim to catch muskellunge by trolling for muskies. Additionally, the number of smaller, private boat anglers that jig or cast for musky also continues to grow. The Lake St. Clair musky season opens the first Saturday in June and closes on December 15th. The later tiger muskie season is because the water system is fed by much colder, Lake Michigan water.

Interest in fishing in Michigan is likely to increase thanks to the focus on Great Lakes muskie and the number of lakes that have been stocked with them. This is great news for the state’s economy. The shift to muskies is anticipated to lure anglers in from other states, like Wisconsin and Indiana. Although, it will take several years before the muskies are more common in the catch. Using Lake St. Clair’s musky fishery as a guide of what to expect, muskie fishing in Lake Michigan is something worth waiting for.

Check out this video of awesome tiger muskie fishing in Michigan. If this doesn’t get your blood pumping, or make you want to help to preserve Michigan’s natural wonders like Jean Klock Park, then we don’t know what will.

Back in February of 2014, Howard Meyerson wrote a great article describing the musky stocking efforts of the state. The author doe s a nice job of explaining the details of the state’s muskie stocking program. We encourage you to give it a read. You can also learn more about tiger muskies at