Fishing for King Salmon from a yak: a lesson in patience and perseverance!

My new obsession lately has been to get out onto Lake Michigan for King Salmon. This has prooven to be a quite herculean task. Another kayak angler got me interested in this species and I must say that even I was a little doubtful as to how a kayak would perform on Lake Michigan. Little did I know how well designed the kayak is for such a feat. This is a story of how this venture came to be and the minor success that I have had on Lake Michigan as a result.

This obsession started with a phone call from another yak fishermen and went something like this; hey, just got back from Lake Michigan and went 2 for 6 you have got to get out here and try this. I was sceptical to say the least because I have been taught to fear Lake Michigan and all her fury. However, I have learned to respect her, but take what she will give. After watching the weather forecast a few weeks ago, we set a date to get out onto Lake Michigan for some fall salmon north of the border.

The forecast was for 1-3 foot waves and winds looked like they were going to manageable. Got out to the harbor and the winds were whaling away and since it was early, we could not see the angry lake outide the protection of the harbor breakwalls. The kayaks were launched and we made our way out towards the open water. The lake was not in a good mood and in fact the seas looked an easy 5 feet or better. This was what I was afraid of but persevered and trolled that harbor. We did not get anything that morning but was encouraged by many salmon caught that morning by shore fishermen. There is no record of this trip on either video or picture because I was having a temper tantrum similar to that of my six year old daughter but better things were on the horizon.

Last week I decided to take some time off work because it was a stressful week at that. Where would I go, and what should I do???? Of course, another bout with the Lake Michigan Kings should ensue! I called my friend and said, "We need to get out because the forecast looks good early!" My friend agreed and the date was set. This was to be the first yak salmon on record. The lake again was not cooperating and blew up while we were out there, but the yak proved to be a formittable opponent for the lake and we found ourselves in 1-3 foot seas again. That's when it happened, I was trolling for a pass and noticed my left hand rod looked like a small human was attached to it attempting to pull the rod into the lake!!!! It was fish on!!!! After an epic battle the 8.3lb Coho Salmon was in the boat and more importantly, my first yak salmon!!!!

Next outting was October 2, 2o11 and was forecast again to be calm seas but this was not to be again. This was a scene that was repeating itself now. We were greeted to an absolutely gorgeous sunrise and the stiff winds were quite calm comparitavely to what they had been on the two previous outtings. Once the sun had risen we noticed something unpleasant, the water was the consistency and color of chocolate milk. This has never been good in my experience for salmon in the fall. We went out anyway and were then greeted with swells in the 4 foot range. Again, I was not sure that I wanted to leave the saftey of the harbor but the yaks took us out on a journey into the lake searching for pure clean Lake Michigan water.

We paddled a long way out onto the lake and I needed to check my lures and just then I saw my fishing buddy waving his hand and saying there is clean water out here. We had found the mudline and things were looking up. We did some more trolling and then sat for a bit and relished in the peace out on that big body of water. I could not help but think we are not catching anything again, and then I reflected on where I was, what I was doing, and who I was doing it with. I thought to myself this has been one of the best fishing seasons in my life. Not because I have caught any personal best, or record fish, but rather purchased my kayak and in the process made several new fishing partners in crime. (Including the originator of this blog) I have also learned patience in my quest to continue catching fish on new bodies of water this year.

The day ended up where it had started, back at the harbor with no fish. However, I thought to myself, this has been a good day and I have been lucky to have the experience. I look forward to many more like it and wonder what kinds of fishing adventures lay in wait for me, my fishing buddies, and my kayak! Thanks for listening to my ramblings and hope to see you on the water.


  1. Congrats on your first salmon from the yak!

    Those fish are -way- outta my range, but something I'd love to go after one day.

  2. Thanks Alex. I hope you get out there and get a salmon they are well worth the effort and I think pound for pound, salmon are some of the hardest fighting fish around.

  3. Great story Tom.
    I can only imagine what it'll be like when you hook into a 40lb king and get towed out into the lake!

  4. I hope to get one even half that size! I know that this year I started a little late but the coho's will be here soon. I will take a limit of those for the smoker for sure!!!!!

  5. I was just telling someone how much I love kayaking and fishing but have never put the two together. I wish I had. The yak looks like it would take a similar amount of patience and resilience. You probably had to pack somewhat light too. Are they as expensive as good fishing kayaks?

    1. Hi Sean,

      Thanks for the comment!

      Packing pretty light is a definite. As far as price, that really just depends. Do you need to buy a thousand dollar yak to catch fish? Not at all!!
      There are purpose built fishing yaks to fit almost any budget


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