By: Kyle McCleland

Following a productive summer trolling for salmon on the Lake Michigan I’m expecting a good river season in September. All our traditional Northern Michigan rivers, and some smaller tributaries, should have salmon soon if they don’t now. The rivers aren’t on fire now, but they will be soon.

We are supposed to get an inch of rain tonight and more on Saturday, which should improve the bite. As the rain falls and the rivers raise it will draw more salmon into the systems. It’s no secret that the salmon enter these tributaries as water levels rise and temperatures fall. It’s hard to say exactly when the best part of the run will arrive. The first week of October could be super good, but we know for sure September will be prime time.


Overall we’ve had to work harder for our salmon the last few years. However, I’m optimistic that this fall will be better judging by the numbers on the big lake. We’re also seeing larger fish this summer, which bodes well for the river season. I’m expecting to see salmon as large as 30 pounds in the next few weeks.

We’ve had so much low water in August we haven’t seen a big push of fish yet. However, a few weeks ago there was a significant amount of that pushed a few fish in our systems. We’ve been catching those fish daily, but the water is so low the salmon are corralled in the holes and they aren’t pushing upriver anymore.


There will be hundreds of miles of water to support salmon in the month or more. Of those, the Betsy, Muskegon, Pere Marquette, Big Manistee, Boardman and other rivers will be popular spots. As the water levels begin to rise the lower stretches of the river will harbor fish. Then those fish will migrate upriver as the season progresses.

I’m catching all my fish on bobbers and skein. I usually like to have a couple different colors of skein, but normally I’m running pink and red. Sometimes orange and natural works best in clear water. This season I’m using Fire Cure on my eggs first and then coating them with BorX O Fire to make sure they are nice and tacky.


I like small clumps of skein. I’ll using them about the size of a 50-cent piece on up to a golf ball and fishing them on 17-pound mainline and a 15-pound leader. I’ll fish my skein on a 1/0 Owner hook. I always use a double hook rig with the second hook being a 2/0 octopus.


Editor’s Note: Kyle McClelland operates XXL Chrome Chasing. For more info on his walk in and boat-in guided salmon trips please call (906) 430-2155.