Hey guys, been doing the Lake Michigan salmon run thing this year for the first time. What a blast –– that is, if you can get away from the snaggers. Seriously, it's literally how most people try to catch salmon. A big treble hook and some yarn to make it "legal." No COs around to cite anyone. Most people hook the fish in the dorsal or the tail, so they break off.
On the other hand, and despite popular belief, these fish WILL eat in the rivers and swinging streamers, especially at night, is deadly. A 20+ pound fish slamming your fly on a tight line in the dark and then exploding out of the river like a Polaris missile will wake you UP. Then you have seconds to gain control before it runs you into a logjam or around the bend in the tiny river. Many times, no matter what your rig or skill level, you WILL NOT gain control of the fish.
I have so far landed 2 out of around 20. I'm new to big-game fishing. I've been using a couple 10wt rods, a Ross Flystik and a vintage Fenwick Feralite. We swing streamers, from giant articulated zonker-strip deer-hair head beasts my buddy created and dubbed "the grinch" to size 6 muddlers. This year the lowly muddler has been the ticket. We use a heavy WF10F line (SA Titan Taper) and 3-6ft of sink tip to roll the flies up against the bank for a good swing. The hit is almost always JUST as the fly hits the end of the swing and starts to rise. You'll know.
This fish was my first –– a "small one," probably in the 12-15 pound class. Got her about 11pm the other night. 1-2am has been the best time, as the snaggers go home and the fish start to move around some more and get more aggressive.