Peak Seasons

 

Keweenaw Charters operates 24/7/365. Just as the seasons change, so does the fishing, and there are truly great fishing opportunities throughout the entire open water and hard water (ice fishing) seasons.  This page is intended to guide clients to identifying peak seasons and timing for various fishing opportunities and highlight some of the unique seasonal opportunities that exist--there is truly not a "bad" time to fish on Lake Superior. For more detailed information, please contact us

Open Water Season (April-November)

Mid April-Late May

  • This is perhaps the most overlooked season on Lake Superior and definitely worth planning a trip!

  • Spring fishing starts as soon as the boat landings are clear of ice and open water is accessible.

  • Early spring fishing is some of the most fun and exciting fishing of the entire season (and the perfect remedy for "cabin fever").

  • The spring runoff and warming water temps draw fish to the shallows where they are often very concentrated and very aggressive.

  • Every bite can be a different species of fish, with 5 species days not being uncommon (most prominent species are steelhead, brown trout, splake, and coho salmon). It is not unlikely to encounter lake trout or even the highly elusive coaster brook trout.

  • The best part of spring fishing is the ability to target big fish in shallow water while casting with light spinning gear or even fly fishing equipment. 

  • Trolling is highly effective as well and a proven method to locate groups of active fish. Because of the shallow depths, long line trolling with light equipment makes for some action packed days. 
     

Early June-Late June

  • During this period the water is starting to warm up nearshore but still very cold offshore--fish are starting to move offshore looking for bait and comfortable water temps.

  • Trolling is the most effective way to locate and target fish as they scatter across the lake.

  • Lake trout become more prominent in the catch, while steelhead, coho, brown trout, and splake still make up a considerable portion of the haul. The occassional king salmon will peel drag and make for an exciting outing.

  • The weather and lake conditions tend to be relatively calm and stable. Plan on bringing an extra layer though, as temps vary from cool to warm, often in the same day.

  • There maybe be some opportunities to cast and jig for lake trout along some of the nearshore reef structures where they are ambushing smelt and other baitfish. 

  • Offshore fishing at Stannard Rock is typically slower in terms of numbers but can produce some trophy class fish. Calm days make for good opportunity and numbers of fish improve as water temps offshore warm.   

 

Early July-Mid August

  • This is ​typically the best weather window during the summer months, especially for offshore fishing at Stannard Rock.

  • Generally the weather is very comfortable and calm conditions prevail for extended periods of time. 

  • Nearshore trolling continues to be very productive with a mix bag of trout and salmon being most common.

  • There can be significant feeding on the surface due to "scum lines" that form along the Keweenaw. This provides some opportunities to cast to feeding coho and steelhead on calm days. 

  • This is the most heavily booked time of the season, please consider booking your trip well in advance if your dates fall in July or August. 

  • Lake trout begin to move to deeper water as the nearshore temps warm but still make up a considerable part of the haul. 

 

Mid August-Late September

  • Surface water temps reach their peak. 

  • Warm weather prevails. However, the stable summer weather pattern gradually begin to break down, resulting in more wind and waves. 

  • Offshore fishing at Stannard Rock yields great numbers, but the number of days where it is possible to venture offshore become limited. 

  • The silver fish (salmon, steelhead, brown trout) typically are widely scattered. Some days they make up a fair part of the catch, while other days are dominated by lake trout.

  • Lake trout relate to deeper structure and bait below a well-defined thermocline. Trolling and covering water is the most effective way to find and catch fish. 

  • There are limited opportunities to catch fish casting or jigging during this period of the season. 

  • As a result of warm surface temps, lake trout (especially) are not as readily able to be released during this time. Catch and release is encouraged for trophy fish only, assuming they are handled and returned to the lake quickly. 

 

Early October-Early November

  • This season offers limited open water fishing days due to wind, waves, rain, and even snow. 

  • As the water cools many fish return close to shore where they are easier to access. This includes a mix of coho salmon, steelhead, brown trout, splake, and lake trout.

  • Casting and long line trolling near the tributary mouths can be very effective from a boat for silver fish. 

  • Lake trout move in on their spawning sites and are fully colored up and aggressive. They can be targeted by trolling with conventional gear or casting in very shallow water and often found in good numbers and size where they are congregated.

  • October is typically the peak month to target splake as they return to their stocking locations in full spawning colors. This fishing occurs in protected harbors and is a good option on windy days. 

  • Most years the boats get put away around the first week of November, and your captains turn to the woods (though there is still some good fishing to be had until the ice shows up).

Hard Water aka Ice Fishing Season (December-March)

December-January

  • Ice formation typically begins in November with the first safe walk on access ice appearing on smaller inland lakes by mid December. 

  • Opportunities to get out on the ice are limited due to ice formation and heavy snowfall, but fishing can be productive if good access is possible. 

  • Inland lakes offer good opportunities at panfish, stocked trout, pike, and walleye.

  • Productivity improves as soon as vehicular access if feasible and safe, typically by early January. 

  • By late January, Lake Superior typically forms ice that is safe for walk-on access. Close to shore it is possible to target a variety of fish including trout, salmon, smelt, herring, and whitefish. 

 

February-March

  • Deep snow makes fishing inland lakes less appealing and generally less productive as oxygen levels in the lakes decrease. 

  • Assuming Lake Superior has safe ice, this is where most ice fishing takes place during these months. Lake trout become the primary quarry as ice cover reaches deeper and deeper water. Salmon, other trout, herring, whitefish, and smelt can also be found in shallower water.

  • This is prime time to jig for lake trout on Lake Superior. Ice cover reaches its peak around the first or second week of March and persists through the month of March as the weather gradually becomes nicer.  

  • There can be some good crappie fishing on the Portage Canal as the days get longer and temps start to thaw the frozen tundra that is the Keweenaw. 

  • Walleye and pike season close March 15.