The extreme southern tip of Lake Michigan attracts massive schools of baitfish followed by large numbers of trout and salmon. Coho salmon pilgrimage to Michigan City, an hour from Chicago on the Indiana side of the lake. Coho are caught near shore, using a variety of tactics, making them a perfect target.

Catch Coho Salmon by Crankbait on Chilly Lake Michigan

What’s Biting

Feisty coho salmon, stout brown trout, bonus lake trout and rare king salmon.

Coho Season

Salmon and trout trickle into the southern part of the lake in December. The best fishing begins as soon as the lake thaws.

icy water on Lake Michigan in front of a lighthouse, where you can catch coho salmon
Beauty and big salmon are an easy drive from Chicago. | Feature photo: Kyle Hammond

Rigged Up

Trolling bold color crankbaits is king. Later in the season, trolling a dodger and fly combination will outfish crankbaits. Or, cast spoons, spinners and soft plastics. Hot colors are white, silver, red, orange and pink.

Kayak Gear

Safety is key on the Great Lakes. A quality drysuit and a floating handheld marine radio are critical.

Game Plan

Find launch ramps at Washington Park in Michigan City, Portage Marina in Portage, and East Chicago Marina. Beach launches are available at Lake Street Beach in Portage and Jeorse Park in East Chicago. Troll in 15 to 25 feet of water and cast near warm water sources such as the mouth of Burns Ditch in Portage and Gary Lighthouse Discharge near Gary.

Where to Eat

Shoreline Brewery and Restaurant is minutes from the Washington Park launch in Michigan City. They have great food and local craft beers on tap.

Where to Stay

The Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa offers first-class accommodations close to the Washington Park launch.

Tackle Shops

Chief’s Bait Shop in Michigan City has the tackle and information to chase trout and salmon.

Cover of Kayak Angler Magazine Issue 50, Fall 2023This article was first published in the Fall 2023 issue of Kayak Angler Magazine. Subscribe to Kayak Angler Magazine’s print and digital editions, or browse the archives.

Beauty and big salmon are an easy drive from Chicago. | Feature photo: Kyle Hammond



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