Cooler water is keeping salmon away from the lakeshore

Posted at 8:26 PM, Jul 31, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-31 20:30:07-04

MUSKGON, Mich.-- The cooler temperatures are doing more than disappointing beachgoers this summer.

Turns out, the weather is also slowing things down for fishermen searching for salmon along the shores of Muskegon.

It's a catch typically made easier by reaching cooler waters in the 40 to 50 degree range. However, because those cooler temperatures are widespread it's causing the fish to scatter.

For 10 years, Kyle Buck has served West Michigan as a charter boat captain with Great Lakes Guide Service. He took FOX 17 out on Lake Michigan where few large fish showed up on his radar. In all his years out on the water, Buck said this summer is the worst when it comes to reeling them in.

"We're just not seeing the big numbers of them," Buck said. "Two years ago, we were catching 25-30 salmon...a trip that sort of bumped everybody's expectations a lot. It just sort of dropped off."

While out on the water twice a day, every summer, Buck said he's talked with other charter boats from different states and learned it's not just fisherman in West Michigan having trouble.

"They are getting some salmon up north, they are getting some in Manistee...Frankfort, and you know, we got one buddy over in Wisconsin who's doing good. Still, they're not seeing the numbers like they had in the past."

While the temperature of the water is taking the bulk of the blame, Paul Jensen, with Bluffton Bay Marina, said there's also a little science to it.

"The lakes are changing. Where not only weather issues. but invasive species, are another big thing," Jensen said. "So, the whole ecosystem out there is getting turned upside down. Right now, we need chlorophyll."

While the search for salmon might prove to be difficult this summer, other fish, like the 22-pound brown trout recently caught by Buck, are incentive enough to get folks out on the water.

"We've been targeting a lot of the steelheads," Buck said. "Our steelhead numbers have been awesome this year. There's lots of them and there's some really big ones."