There are two kind of situations you want to look for when targeting chinook salmon in the Great Lakes close to shore, near river mouths and in the harbors.
The first is during the fall when these fish move in to spawn and then eventually die. This happens early to mid fall depending on your location but September into October is usually the time frame.
The second is when offshore winds draw cool water and alewife forage near shore.
These alewifes prefer cool water and if cool water gets blown into shore you can be sure that chinook salmon will be following close behind.
Use your electronics to locate schools of bait and predators.
Finding the bait is so crucial to finding these chinook salmon. I don’t know if there is another species of fish that relates to food as much as these salmon. That is why utilizing your electronics is so key.
Once we find a school of alewife with our Humminbird we start to fish and the salmon are usually not far behind.
Cast and retrieve jigs dressed with minnow-imitating soft baits. A VMC darter head jig in 1/4 oz or 3/8 oz work great for this deeper water and if you pair that with a white fluke you have a great alewife imitation.
White colored paddle tails or boot tails will work just as good as well.
You can work these pretty aggressively, these salmon have an amazing ability to track down and chase baits.
This is kind of a newer style for targeting these salmon. Most anglers troll for them, but there is some instances where casting and jigging them is more effective. It is all depended on the weather conditions and the time of year.
I would imagine that within the next five to ten years we will see a lot more anglers jigging up these fish.