Fishing the Fifty
My Quest to Fish All 50 States
Lake Michigan is an outstanding fishery and, after fishing it from Indiana, I could not wait to fish it from Illinois and Wisconsin. I headed to Chicago to see my friend (whose bachelor party in Nevada marked the start of my state quest) and to do some fishing. There are many Illinois-based guides on Lake Michigan, but two stand out because of their multitudes of quality fish pictures: Spendthrift Charters (spendthriftcharters.com) and Battalion 1 Charters (battalion1.com). I had already booked my customary weekday solo trip with Battalion 1 when my friend told me that he and his friends wanted to go fishing the weekend I was there and were thinking of Spendthrift, the loser of the coin flip I had used to determine which guide with whom to fish. I was delighted to have an extra day of fishing on such a reputable charter and to have an insurance policy against the always-unpredictable fall weather in Chicago.
Our first attempt at fishing with Spendthrift was postponed because of 20+ MPH winds and four- to six-foot waves, with the occasional nine- to 11-foot wave. Fortunately, we were able to make up the trip the next day. It was still rough and the bite started slowly, but after two hours, I finally had my first Illinois fish, a 21-inch king salmon. My second Illinois fish was a 28-inch king salmon and my friend landed a nice 29-inch steelhead, the best fish of the six we caught.
Having already caught my Illinois fish, I was more relaxed than usual on my solo trip with Battalion 1. We surprisingly had the lake to ourselves on a sunny, 69-degree, fall day with virtually no wind, and the fishing was awesome. I caught two king salmon (four and nine pounds), two lake trout (three and four pounds), two steelhead (nine and 10 pounds), and one trophy coho salmon, which weighed 12 pounds. The 12-pound coho is still my personal best. I love catching a variety of fish and all of these fish fought very hard, so this trip was perfect.
Chicago from the air
Two things Chicago is known for: the Sears Tower and gridlock traffic
My first Illinois fish, a 21-inch king salmon, caught with Spendthrift Charters
A beautiful day on the lake, with the Chicago skyline in the background
My trophy 12-pound coho salmon, still my personal best
Welcome to Illinois
Waukegan Harbor at daybreak
28-inch king salmon
My first fish with Battalion 1 Charters, a nine-pound king salmon
The day's catch