The right boat captain can make for a great trip

The early warmth we have been experiencing has brought on the coho salmon fishing on Lake Michigan like gangbusters.

There are many fine boats run by many fine charter captains out of many ports on the big pond. Most of them bring in fine catches, but I prefer to use Captain Caleb Weiner of Migrator Charters out of Winthrop Harbor just south of the Wisconsin Border. Captain Caleb just turned 30 but fishes like he has been doing it all his life. Oops, I guess it’s because he has.

Captain Caleb grew up on Lake Winnebago and began working on charter boats at the age of 17 and earned his captain’s license at the incredibly young age of 19. Captain Caleb’s Migrator is a very comfortable 38-foot Luhrs, powered by twin 440-hp diesel engines. It is very easy to fish out of.

It’s hard to figure Captain Caleb out. He sounds like an ancient mariner as he spins tales of fishing trips of the past. On the other hand, Captain Caleb looks and acts like a kid, exhibiting an incredible amount of fun and excitement as he fishes all day.

If you’ve never been out on big water before, a spring coho trip is a great way to test your sea legs. You can usually catch your limit in a few hours at this time of year, so you won’t be killing yourself being out all day.

Although the Migrator fishes within 5 miles of the shoreline most of the time, In April you will almost always find yourself a shorter distance from shore. I would not recommend taking any kind of anti-seasickness medicine before you go. Wait to see if you get seasick or not. The medicine makes you very sleepy and that is no fun. If you get seasick, just lie down and let it pass. It will go eventually.

Laying down isn’t a bad thing because the Migrator has an enclosed cabin that is both heated and air-conditioned. Not bad accommodations in bad weather or in boiling heat, I must say.

In spring the coho action can get fast and furious. It’s a ball when a rod goes off and someone yells, “Fish on.” There is a mad scramble for the next angler up to grab a rod and start reeling in the fish. No guarantees, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that you’ll have at least one occurrence per trip when a second rod goes off while the first angler is still fighting his fish. A tripleheader is not out of the realm of possibility. The captain really has to earn his keep to get the fish into the boat.

I’ve been out with Captain Caleb Weiner a number of times and we have always caught plenty of fish. Everyone I have ever referred to Captain Caleb has called me after the trip to proclaim their satisfaction. They’ve all caught fish, and all had a really great time doing it.

I was fortunate to have Captain Caleb take my family out for spring coho fishing a few years ago, They still talk about it and would love to go again. They were astounded that we were able to catch our limit in such a short amount of time.

A great feature to a trip on the Migrator is the cooking tips and recipes that Captain Caleb will send you home with, along with a bag of iced filets. Good eating? I’d prefer to call it incredible eating.

To contact Captain Caleb Weiner and the Migrator, please go to or call him at (224) 234-3704.

• Daily Herald Outdoors columnist Steve Sarley can be reached at

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