Fish Summary

Enjoy fishing beautiful Lake Michigan with Capt. John Wagner aboard his 33 foot Pacemaker sport fishing charter boat. Fish for Coho salmon, king salmon, Chinook salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout and lake trout.

After the catch

The difference between good fish and great fish is directly linked to the way the fish are handled after the catch. Many recreational fishermen do not understand this and do not take enough care with their catch.

It has been said that for every hour a fish is without ice, it loses a day of shelf life. Captain John Knows this to be true! As the process of decomposition commences, the fish begins to loses many of its essential flavors and its texture begins to change. The key to keeping the Salmon or Trout fresh is to stop or slow the process of decomposition, and the best way to do that is with ice; lots of ice.

Be sure to check out some of Captain Johns cooking tips and recipes at the bottom of this page!


Fishing Summary

How to ID your catch









Coho Salmon

King Salmon

Rainbow Trout

Lake Trout

Brown Trout

= 50%  chance to catch = 80 % Good Chance = 100% Chance
   but not the preferred time.    of catching desired fish.    of catching desired fish



In general, salmon have a blackish mouth, anal fin longer than high with 13 to 19 anal rays. Trout differ in having a whitish mouth, anal fin higher than long with 9 to 12 anal rays.

These fish can be distinguished from each other as follows:

Coho Salmon (Silver Salmon)
bullet Interior of mouth gray or black with teeth of lower jaw set in whitish gums.
bullet 45-83 intestinal appendixes.
bullet Anal fin usually has 12-15 rays.
bullet Black spots on back and upper lobe of tail.
bullet Three year life cycle.
bullet Average adult size 10-12 pounds.
Chinook Salmon (King Salmon)
bullet Interior of mouth gray or black with teeth of lower jaw set in blackish gums.
bullet 140-185 intestinal appendixes.
bullet Anal fin usually has 15-17 rays.
bullet Black spots on back, dorsal fin, and both lobes of tail.
bullet Three to seven year life cycle with an average of four years.
bullet Average adult size 20-25 pounds.
Brown Trout (German Trout, loch leven)
bullet Whitish mouth and gums.
bullet Body sides has orange or brown spots and large dark spots on the back with halos around spots except lake run brown trout have black spots all over the body, except belly, and the spots appear as modified X'es.
bullet No spots on tail.
bullet Anal fin normally with 9-12 rays and is higher than it is long.
Rainbow Trout (Steelhead, Kamloops)
bullet Interior of mouth is white and gums are white.
bullet Entire tail and dorsal fin, sides of body with blackish spots.
bullet Faint pink line along side of body with spots above and below line.
Lake Trout (Mackinaw, togue, laker)
bullet Head V-shaped as seen from above.
bullet Strongly forked tail.
bullet Most of body mottled with large light gray and whitish colored spots or vermiculations. Lower fins have a black stripe.
Information from IDNR

Captain John knows how to Grill your catch to Perfection

Captain John Wagner grilling the catch on the beach

This method is great for both Trout and Salmon!

Grill about l lb of Trout or Salmon fillets per person

skinned Trout or Salmon fillets
onions(vidalia if available)

butter, parsley and lemon pepper
Optional: If you like a sweet apple flavor, marinate fillets in apple juice overnight in the fridge.

1. Start grill and bring to medium heat.

2. wash and pat dry your fillets.
3. Place fillets on aluminum foil that is sprayed with non stick spray (pam) or lightly coated in oil and season by sprinkling lemon pepper and a dash of salt over the fillets.
4. Slice thin strips of butter or margarine and place on fillets.

5. Thinly slice onions and place on top of the fillets.
6. Loosely place foil over the top of the fillets and place on grill.

Grilling time will vary and is depending on your grills temperature and the thickness of your fillets, but 20 minutes on the grill is average. The Fish is done when it easily flakes with a fork.
5. Using a spatula, arrange your fillets on a platter and garnish with parsley. ladle hot drawn butter over your fish and ENJOY!!

Trimmings: Cole slaw, pickles, garlic bread and potatoes. Don't forget the apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for desert!


Captain John's Fried Fish

Serve about 1/2 lb. of fish per person

Garlic Salt, Drakes fish mix, Cajun Spice (Uncle Bucks), Seasoning salt.

Preparation: Slice fillets down the middle into 1/2 inch strips. Next cut across the fillet strips making them into smaller serving size pieces. (If you prefer a milder flavor, marinate the cut pieces in a bowl of milk overnight in the fridge). Put Drakes mix, Several tablespoons of Cajun Spice, dash of garlic salt, seasoning salt and pepper in a zip lock bag and mix. Next put the cut up fillets in the bag and shake the bag so that all fillets are coated evenly.

1. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add butter.

2. Place coated fish in skillet and fry till crispy on both sides.

Trimmings: Cole slaw, potato salad and corn on the cob.


Almond Breaded Fillet of Salmon

To Serve 4

1 pound, 6 ounces of salmon fillet from the tail part
3 1/2 ounces of flour
3 whole eggs
7 ounces of grated almonds
8 ounces of butter
Seasoning of choice according to taste (fish seasoning)

After the tail part has been filleted, divide the two fillets lengthwise in two. Salt the fish, dip it in the flour, the eggs, and the grated almonds. Carefully!.

Fry the fillets of salmon in butter on medium heat about 4 to 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Then arrange the fillets on a warm plate and garnish with a sprig of parsley.


Capt. John Wagner 847-313-9678

Sportfishing charter boat, sport fishing for salmon and trout on Lake Michigan with Captain John Wagner playin hooky charters