Sunday, May 26, 2013

Lake Michigan salmon, wild goldfish, and starhead topminnow

Saturday and Sunday mornings I joined Terry for some salmon fishing on Lake Michigan. We started early, getting up at 4:15 and launching the boat from Milwaukee Harbor by 5:00. One of Terry's work friends joined us as well. We put lines in at 45 feet of water, got our first fish at 60 feet of water, and then got the rest came between 90 to 115. We kept the gear in the upper 30 feet of water to target coho salmon. Coho is what we caught, with our total catch being 15 coho and 1 steelhead (rainbow trout). The last 2 coho were a double, so we had to let the second one go without netting it. The limit of salmon and trout combined is 5 fish per person.

14 coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), 1 "steelhead" rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Sunday morning was similar. We started out in deeper water. The bite started slow, but once it picked up we caught our limit pretty quickly. This time the total was 14 coho and 1 chinook salmon. The chinook tend to be deeper and are caught in deeper water, but this one was the smallest fish of the day and was caught alongside the coho.

14 coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch), 1 chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

Saturday afternoon I wanted to check out some river spots north of Milwaukee. The water was high and visibility was poor though, so nothing came of it. However, we found some nice spots to try at a later date when the water is more cooperative. After checking out the last spot, I realized we were near the pond by Germantown full of wild goldfish. It's always entertaining to get Terry to catch a new species, so we headed over to the pond and broke out the micro gear. After catching several dozen green sunfish, we each caught our goldfish.

Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

On my drive home on Sunday, I stopped by a tributary of the Fox River near the IL / WI border to fish for micros. My first fish turned out to be a new lifer, a starhead topminnow!

Starhead Topminnow (Fundulus dispar) - new hook & line species #106

I also wanted to get some good pictures of logperch from Wisconsin to compare to the ones from southern Illinois. In particular, I wanted to compare the nape of their necks to see the difference between a scaled and unscaled nape, which is one of the ID characteristics between the species or subspecies of logperch (the definitions are a mess right now).

Northern Logperch (Percina caprodes semifasciata)

Unscaled nape? Looks either partially scaled or unscaled to me.

For comparison, here is the nape of the potential Ozark logperch from southern Illinois. It is fully scaled.

Saw lots of pike and pickerel in the river. I was torn between fishing for micros and switching to lures to fish for them.

Northern Pike (Esox lucius)

The micros that stood out in particular were the colored up common shiners. I've only seen them without their spawning colors, so this was a real treat. I was surprised how different they look from spawning striped shiners.

Common Shiner (Luxilus cornutus )

Here's a complete list of the fish I saw: (1) brook silverside, (2) something from the sucker family, lake chubsucker perhaps, (3) stoneroller sp., (4) common carp, (5) common shiner, (6) bluntnose minnow, (7) starhead topminnow, (8) blackstripe topminnow, (9) grass pickerel, (10) northern pike, (11) longnose gar, (12) rock bass, (13) green sunfish, (14) bluegill, (15) northern sunfish, (16) smallmouth bass, (17) largemouth bass, (18) black crappie, (19) rainbow darter, (20) fantail darter, (21) blackside darter, (22) yellow perch.  Pretty good diversity I'd say!

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