On a Megabite charter fishing trip in Traverse City, the three most popular catches are Lake Trout, King (Chinnook) Salmon, and Coho Salmon. This is not to say that there are not occasionally other fish caught but these are the three species we target regularly.
Lake Trout are the most common catch mostly because they are native to East Grand Traverse Bay so they stay there year round. On cold years, some people even venture out on the ice in the winter to fish for Lake Trout! Salmon are a little different each year and we are patiently awaiting the Salmon run sometime in August as the fish migrate up the coast of Lake Michigan.
Lake Trout can are a fish that have very distinct markings. One very cool fact about Lake Trout is they do not have scales. Instead, they have slimy skin making them harder to catch. One way to distinguish a Lake Trout from other types of Trout is simply by the tail. A Lake Trout has a forked tail whereas most other types of Trout have square tails. Lake trout are a dark gray/green above the belly with a white underbelly. All over their back, sides, fins and tail, they have different sized dots that are a whitish in color. The average Lake Trout caught on a Megabite Charter ranges from 4-6lbs though we do catch plenty of Lake Trout over 12 pounds throughout the fishing season. The state record Lake Trout is a crazy 61.5lbs and 49 inches long! A picture of a Lake Trout is shown below:
King Salmon are the largest of the Salmon species. A mature Salmon will change color from chrome to brown/black on its sides throughout its last year of life. The back of a Chinook Salmon is a dark gray/green. Dark black spots cover the tail and the back of King Salmon as well. One important identification of a King Salmon, especially compared to a Coho Salmon is their black gums. A mature King Salmon can weigh anywhere from 12-30+ pounds. The state record Chinook Salmon was caught in 1978 and weighed in at just over 46lbs (43.5 inches long). Most years, the typical King Salmon in East Grand Traverse Bay is between 15-20 pounds though there is always a chance for that 30+ pounder! A picture of a King Salmon is shown below:
A Coho Salmon is another fairly regular catch on a Megabite Charter. Cohos are on average much smaller than King Salmon though their colors are almost identical. One of the biggest differences between Coho and Chinook Salmon is the color of their gums. Cohos have white gums with a black tongue whereas Chinooks have the black gums. Coho Salmon also don’t have quite as many black dots on their back as Kings do. The state record Coho Salmon was caught in the Platte River weighing in at just over 30 pounds and 40inches in length. A picture of a Coho Salmon is shown below:
Ciscoes, Brown Trout, and Freshwater Drum, are some more species that are caught on Megabite Charters though don’t cross your fingers. These species are what we refer to as “bonus fish.” Next time you are on a Megabite fishing charter in Traverse City, try to identify what types of fish you are pulling aboard before asking the Captain and First Mate!