“It’s good — as good as I’ve seen it in 20 years,” said Willis Kerridge, captain of Thunderduck Charters. “If you’d catch a 20-pounder the last 3-4 years, that’s a big fish. Now, 17-20 pounds is pretty common. We’re catching that occasional 20-25 pounder, and real occasional 25-plus. It makes for a good trip, getting them big fish.
“The numbers are good, too. We’re getting anywhere from 12-20 per trip. We got 25 last week in just a couple hours.”
Kerridge said a huge population of alewives is responsible for the boost in the size of the salmon being caught, and Brett Payne of Hot Shot Charters agrees.
“There’s a lot of bait out there,” Payne said. “I think they’ve been eating pretty good. It’s exciting. We’ve had to up the line test a little bit more, and we’ve never had to do that in the past. I’ve went through more tackle this year than I ever have, breaking off on big fish. We’ve been hitting the drags a little more when we get a big one on.”
Grand Haven isn’t the only Lake Michigan port seeing big fish this summer. Both Kerridge and Payne noted that a 37-pound king salmon was caught up by Manistee, and Kerridge has heard rumors of a 27-pound coho salmon caught near Frankfort.
“It’s good for business, and the people who are fishing are happy,” Kerridge said. “There are a lot of boats out here. Everybody was saying they weren’t going to fish this year because of high gas prices, but it makes a big difference catching big fish. Even today, on a Monday, there are 100 boats or better out here.”
Kerridge said that a few days of northwest winds has cooled off the water temperature closer to shore, which could be good news for pier anglers as well as boat fishermen.
“We were in close first thing this morning and caught a dozen inside by the pier heads, 30-40 foot out,” Kerridge said. “I don’t know if the guys on the piers are getting them yet. It has been slow, but with the water turning colder the last couple days, they should be getting some perch and some big fish there as well.”