BlogAugust 2023

Late Summer Salmon Fishing on Lake Michigan

Late Summer Salmon Fishing on Lake Michigan

By Anietra Hamper

Aug 22, 2023

The late summer Chinook and Coho salmon run into the rivers from the open waters of Lake Michigan is one of the best times to fish for them. Lake Michigan is accessed by four states but Manistee, Michigan is one of the best departures points to target salmon when they are on the move.

For many anglers, salmon fishing ranks at the top of bucket-list fishing adventures. Heading out for late summer salmon fishing on Lake Michigan for Chinook (kings) and Coho as they head into the river systems from open water is one of the best opportunities to fish for them. Salmon are on the move during the late summer and early fall months making locations like Manistee, Michigan one of the best spots to plan a fishing trip for these prized species.

Start by purchasing a valid fishing license from the state in which you plan to depart and prepare for an exciting late summer salmon adventure.

Why Late Summer Salmon are Great to Catch


During the late summer months of August and early September salmon are staging for their run into the river systems from the open water. They’re hungry and on the move making this a prime time to fish for them. The water’s thermocline, where warmer water on the surface transitions to deeper colder water is where the fish congregate this time of year gradually making their way up water column to feed before heading into the rivers. This short feeding window is why late summer salmon fishing trips to Lake Michigan are lifetime opportunities for anglers.

Types of Salmon to Catch


The Chinook salmon, also called king salmon, is what most anglers are after, but Lake Michigan also has great populations of Coho salmon (slivers) and even the occasional Pink or Atlantic salmon that make their way into these waters. Hatchery programs help keep the salmon populations productive in Lake Michigan making it a world-class salmon fishery. The lake is bordered by the states of Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin so keeping an eye on late summer salmon fishing reports for Lake Michigan is important when planning your trip, so you know what is actively biting and where.

Where to Depart


Lake Michigan has more than 3,000 miles of shoreline bordering four states so narrowing down where to base and depart from for your trip can be tough. Some of the best spots for late summer salmon fishing on Lake Michigan are in the central and northern parts of Michigan where the salmon are getting ready to head back into river systems from which they were hatched or stocked. Places like Pentwater, Whitehall, Frankfort, and Manistee are prime departure locations this time of year. Before planning your trip, you will want to review late summer salmon fishing regulations on Lake Michigan to understand the catch limits and keeper size requirements for the different salmon species.

Hiring a Charter


Late summer salmon fishing charters on Lake Michigan are an ideal way to get the best results on the water. Since fish are on the move this time of year, finding them in the right spot in the water column takes skill and using many types of lure and bait presentations. An experienced guide can help teach you proper salmon fishing techniques and provide the right gear and bait. The fish have finicky eating habits this time of year impacted by weather systems and biological factors that influence when they head into the river systems. Since charters are popular during the late summer and early fall months you will want to book them far in advance, even a year ahead of time. You will also want to book your lodging far in advance.

Visiting the Manistee Michigan Weir


A fun way to add to your experience and knowledge about late summer salmon fishing on Lake Michigan is by planning a side visit to the Little Manistee Weir egg-take facility in Manistee, Michigan. When visiting the Manistee weir facility you will learn about the egg-take process and salmon harvest efforts that are underway to maintain salmon populations.

Since salmon are not native to Lake Michigan, the facility is an important part of Michigan’s fish management program that helps maintain healthy populations of reproductive salmon. In the fall, the facility diverts Chinook salmon as they arrive in the cooler river water to spawn to collect eggs. You can take a stroll along the education trail at the weir and along the viewing platform below where you might just see salmon jumping over the gates from the Little Manistee River.

Anietra Hamper
Anietra Hamper
Anietra Hamper is a career television news anchor and investigative journalist turned award-winning travel writer, book author and speaker specializing in fishing and outdoor adventure. She travels the world fishing for unique species and is passionate about introducing others to angling and the outdoors.