Captain Bob Dick
Since the first European explorers journeyed here, Henderson Harbor has provided safe harbor and recreation to travelers by land and by water. Samuel de Champlain first witnessed the area’s beauty in 1615, and it still stands as one of the elite natural scenic areas in the United States.
Fishing trips from this harbor have been a way of life for centuries with early fishermen targeting lake trout, black bass, white fish and sturgeon. In the last 40 years king salmon, brown trout and steelhead have entered the picture. Now, nearly every other freshwater species known can be found in the Henderson Harbor and surrounding areas.
One nationally known fishery that has stood out over the past 25 years is trophy walleye. This area is known for its exceptionally large walleye. It is not a fishery that has a reputation for producing big numbers of fish, but it is known for producing trophies.
In the past there have been many articles on where and how to fish shallow water around points and shoals in the Black River, Chaumont Bay and Henderson Harbor area. I thought it would be helpful to cover some of the deep water areas that we fish in May and June and what we use to catch trophy walleye.
Without a doubt the best places to fish deep water are southwest of Black River Bay, out of Chaumont Bay, off Pillar Point, off Point Peninsula toward Stony Island, and the “trench” near Henderson Harbor. Some of the best depths are anywhere between 35 to 70 feet of water. Many like to concentrate on the 40 to 60 foot depths, especially in the month of June.
Why are these nomads roaming this area at that time of year? We all understand it is about “food”. After the spawn, walleye love to feed on the fat, rich alewives that are abundant in this whole area, making for some easy meals without having to expel much energy.
Many novice fishermen ask how to fish and what to use for these elusive giants. We like to use planer boards and downriggers while some veteran captains like in-line planers. Running planer boards gets your lines out away from the boat.
Most captains like to run their lines back 130 to 260 feet behind the boat. You can run an average of two to three rods per side. Line counter reels are a must. If you are looking for planer masts, you cannot go wrong with contacting Great Lake Planers. I believe they have the strongest systems on the market with rugged aluminum planer reels with super cranking power.
Downriggers take many fish by being able to put the lure exactly in the fish’s kitchen. We like to run lures at the 18 to 28 foot depth area for suspending fish while keeping an eye on our graph for fish close to the bottom. It’s amazing the amount of baitfish that we mark that time of year. This presents a problem of trying to outduel the real meal with artificial bait.
It can get very frustrating trying to get those finicky trophies to bite. When you are running planer boards, downriggers, flatlines, or in-line planers, many anglers like to add extra weight to get lures deeper. Split shot, keel sinkers, or drop sinkers are just a few of the options.