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Lie-A-Lot Charters

Ludington is the number one port for Salmon and Trout fishing on Lake Michigan. According to the DNR fishing reports, more fish are caught in Ludington per angler hour than anywhere else in the state. Charter boat fishing is big business in Ludington and Lie-A-Lot Charters offers the finest charter boat fishing experience on Lake Michigan!

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Captain Mike Darke takes his groups to the best fishing spots on the lake. | Courtesy Photo

The Marina is well maintained and provides a park like setting with picnic tables, grills, and covered shelters. In addition they have modern, clean bathrooms, and fish cleaning facilities. The marina is only a few minutes from Lake Michigan. 

What To Expect

Captain Mike’s day starts early, long before your arrival. He will check the weather and water temp charts, and then decide on a program for the day. He will place all the baits on all the poles, check all the lines for nicks, and decide on what techniques will be the most productive for the best fishing! Upon your arrival at the dock, Captain Mike will cheerfully welcome you be aboard the Lie-A-Lot charter boat and help you store your gear. After the introductions, the Captain will explain how it works on the Lie-A-Lot. (This is your boat for the day. So relax and enjoy yourself. Ask all the questions you want and by all means make yourself at home.) As the engines are fired up and the electronics turned on, the anticipation builds. The boat heads out of the Ludington Municipal Marina to join the rest of the fishing fleet in the main channel. You will pass by the U.S. Coast Guard Station and the Ludington North Breakwater Light, then out to the open water of Lake Michigan. The Captain sets the autopilot for your fishing destination, the engines roar to life and, in just a few minutes, you will be at the fishing grounds. Upon arrival at your fishing destination the flood lights are turned on. The Captain will work feverishly to set all the rods before the morning bites. Now is a good time for coffee and doughnuts.

When you’re not reeling in the fish you’ll notice that the scenery from the open waters of Lake Michigan is truly spectacular! Sand dunes line the shore from Little Sable Point, by Silver Lake Sand Dunes, to Pentwater, to Big Sable Point at Ludington State Park and on past Manistee. The area is accurately named Ludington’s “GOLD COAST” and is truly a sight to see from the waters of Lake Michigan.

Depending on where you fish, you will have a photo opportunity at one or more of five historical lighthouses. Additionally, Lake Michigan is also world renowned for its breathtaking sunsets and sunrises.

While you are out to sea on Lake Michigan, you may encounter many vessels. They range from the world famous car ferry – the S.S. Badger – to big freighters, tugboats, tall three-masted schooners, and even mega yachts. There may even be an old pirate ship in the mix!

Catching Fish on Your Charter Trip

As a glimmer of daylight shows in the eastern sky, you have your first bite. The first battle of “man vs. fish” of the day has begun! Then another bite, and another. With three fish on and more on the way, the action is heating up! As the sun rises higher in the sky, the morning routine slows to a more manageable pace. The Captain points the boat toward deeper water and changes the program for mid-day fishing. Now it’s time to relax. Maybe even a short nap until it’s your turn again. The food and drinks are brought out. The stories and jokes are being told. There’s laughter all around. The Captain may have one or two of his own stories to tell. After a few more hours at sea, your Lie-A-Lot charter boat fishing adventure will draw to a close. On the ride in you will have time to reflect on what a truly a magnificent fishing adventure this was. Upon arrival at the Ludington Municipal Marina, you are invited to watch as your fish are cleaned and packaged or just relax in a clean park-like atmosphere. When finished, the Captain will wish you a safe trip home and invite you to come again. Evening fishing trips are similar except you will leave in the daylight and return at dark. The action on the evening trip is just the reverse. The action starts off slow and heats up toward sunset. Charter boat fishing on Lake Michigan can truly be the highlight of your Ludington vacation. Call Captain Mike Darke today and make your reservation for the fishing trip of a lifetime!

Fish On!

APRIL –  The Ludington Charter boat fishing season kicks off in April. Fishing Lake Michigan close to shore in shallow water or around the Ludington harbor mouth is where we catch beautiful Brown Trout. These Brown Trout are real fighters, but when we land them in the charter boat, you can look forward to a very tasty catch!

MAY – The charter boat fishing season comes alive in May. First the Steelhead, then Lake Trout, and next the Spring Kings (Salmon). Pound for pound, these are some of the hardest fighting fish we catch all year. Fishing can get a little crazy. Often large, “mixed bag” catches are taken giving you a greatly varied charter fishing experience.

JUNE – The month of June continues with more mixed bag catches. Charter fishing trips typically produce catches of King salmon, Steelhead, and a lot more Lake Trout. Some of these Lake Trout are real monsters. How about some fresh Lake Trout for dinner? Here’s a great idea — take your dad charter boat fishing on Father’s Day!

JULY – The action moves off shore to the deeper waters of Lake Michigan during July. We will be fishing temperature breaks that hold the bait fish for the Salmon and Steelhead. The boat ride to the prime charter fishing grounds may be a bit longer, but it’s well worth it. There is a lot of top water action! The Steelhead are very acrobatic and fun to watch. Fish on!

AUGUST – The big King Salmon run comes to Ludington in August! These four year old monsters are staging in front of the river mouths, getting ready to spawn. The 25 pound heavy weight of the King Salmon can test even the most seasoned anglers. Coho Salmon also show up on the charter fishing scene. These smaller Salmon have the power of a King and the speed of a Steelhead. This fish can be difficult to catch, but with Lie-A-Lot’s Captain Mike, you have the best chance of coming back to the Ludington harbor with a boat full. Coho Salmon is an excellent fish for dinner. Limit catches may come very quickly in August.

SEPTEMBER – Some of the big King Salmon are still around during September. As the Lake Michigan water temperature begins to fall, nice three year old silver King Salmon and Steelhead begin to move back in to shallow water. Large numbers of fish can still be caught on September charter boat fishing trips.

OCTOBER – The month of October is a spectacular time to enjoy a glorious day on Lake Michigan. Calm seas, the warm glow of an autumn sun, beautiful fall colors, less tourism traffic, and lots of exciting Steelhead make for great charter boat fishing! This month presents a perfect opportunity to fill your freezer with pink, firm, tasty Steelhead as the charter fishing season winds down before winter, so don’t miss this last chance of the year to enjoy a Lake Michigan charter boat fishing trip aboard the Lie-A-Lot!

Chinook Salmon (King Salmon)
The Chinook Salmon, also referred to as “King Salmon”, have an average weight of 30 to 40 pounds and 38 inches in length.Chinook live in Great Lakes shoals or near-shoal waters (less than 100 foot depth(s)) as a rule. Anglers prize Chinook partly because of their large size and the challenge they present for fishing, and partly because they make a delicious meal. Learn more about Chinook Salmon at Michigan DNR.

Coho Salmon
The average adult Great Lakes Coho Salmon weighs eight pounds. The Coho is a popular sport fish, in fact people come from all over the world to fish Michigan’s great Coho fishery. Learn more about Coho Salmon at Michigan DNR

Steelhead (Rainbow Trout)
Steelhead is a name given to rainbow trout which live in the Great Lakes. Great lakes Steelhead are usually found in waters less than 35 feet deep at temperatures of 58-62 degrees. A mature 16-inch fish living in the Great lakes may continue to grow throughout its life and could reach 36 inches in length and up to 20 pounds in weight. However, average adult size for steelhead in 9 to 10 pounds. Learn more about Steelhead at Michigan DNR.

Lake Trout
The lake trout or “salmon trout” as it is sometimes called, is the largest trout native to the Great Lakes. This fish strongly prefers a water temperature of 45-55 degrees F. The lake trout may be found in shallow water only 10 to 15 feet deep in spring and fall, and to depths of 100 to 200 feet in the summer and winter. The average adult weighs in at 9 – 10 pounds but some individuals weigh up to 50 pounds (the Michigan record is 61 1bs and 8 oz). Learn more about Lake Trout at Michigan DNR.

Brown Trout
Brown trout is something of a misnomer for many Great Lakes members of this species, since lake-run browns are predominately silver in color. Lake dwelling brown trout are a wary lot. They hide in shallow water weed beds and rocky, boulder-strewn areas, and prefer a water temperature of 65-75 degrees F. The average lake run adult weighs 8 pounds, although individuals can grow to be much larger. Learn more about Brown Trout at Michigan DNR.

Corporate Charters

These charter boat fishing adventures are great for employees. A positive experience to let them know what a great job they have done. People that work together and play together make good teams. We specialize in corporate charter boat fishing adventures. Because of the planning involved, it is best to book as soon as possible.

Corporate Charter Option 1:
Multi-boat charters can be arranged for large groups that wish to go fishing the same day.

Corporate Charter Option 2:
My personal favorite is to book the Lie-A-Lot Charter Fishing Boat multiple times over the summer. An example would be every Monday in July and Aug. This would be the equivalent of an eight boat large group. Have your employees break into eight groups and draw for their date to go fishing. A fishing tournament can be arranged with payouts for biggest fish, overall numbers of fish, and most weight. This will keep the excitement at your company going all summer. As a manager you will get more bang for your buck!
With either of these options, for an additional small fee, we can supply you with box lunches, or set up a picnic at the Ludington Municipal Marina when you return. Your fish will be cleaned and packaged.

Lie-a-Lot Charter Boat Amenities

The Lie A Lot is a 33ft Chris Craft with a 12 1/2 ft beam. Truly a great boat for fishing! There is lots of fishing room for up to 6 people. It has a large clean stand up bathroom. This charter boat has been customized just for fishing. All Ray marine equipment, including Color fish finder, 48mile color radar, Map chart plotter (GPS), Depth Rader, Big John down riggers, 32 rods and reels to choose from, and over 500 baits on board. This charter boat has been specially equipped with a raised padded fishing rail for your comfort while fishing and safety for the children. The Lie A Lot Charter Boat is easy to fnd and is located at Dock F, Slip 19 of the beautiful Ludington Municipal Marina.

Charter Fishing Rates

Half day and Full Day charters available. Call for pricing

On the Water Fishing Seminars (Included with your paid charter) Are you a beginner? Interested in learning about this exciting sport? Maybe you have your own boat and want to learn new techniques from a pro. Maybe you just want to learn the Ludington area. Here’s your chance. Captain Mike will take the time to share his knowledge with you. You can operate the equipment. The Captain likes participation.
Here’s a great opportunity, actual hands on learning. How to fish the Great Lakes for salmon and trout. Methods and techniques used by professional anglers.
Learn different methods of fishing that will increases your success rate.
1.  Down rigger operation
2.  How to run sliders or add a stacker
3.  Successfully run and operate multi divers
4.  How to run Lead Drops
5.  How to run Lead Core / do’s and don’ts
6.  Running multi bird rods
7.  Operation of electronic equipment. Fish Finder, GPS, Temp Troll, Radar
8.  Water temps and current
9.  Fishing braided wire
The Captain will try to answer all your questions. What are you waiting for? This seminar is a bonus. Just call or E-mail . Tell me what you are interested in learning and book a charter at the regular rate. Get your buddies together and lets go catch and learn. Just like a regular charter but you get a little knowledge to go with the cooler of fish.


(231) 233-5176 (text or talk )

Docked at Ludington Municipal Marina on Dock F, Slip 19. (See map below for location.)

Send an Email to Lie-a-Lot Charters

Captain Mike Darke

Captain Mike Darke operates this full time, full service charter boat operation. His goal is to provide everyone with a quality fishing experience that you will remember for a life time. Whether you’re a first time fisher person or an experienced angler, Captain Mike will customize your fishing trip around your needs. With over 20 years of experience fishing from Ludington, Captain Mike will use his knowledge to insure a safe relaxing and exciting experience. There’s something for everyone when you go charter boat fishing with Captain Mike. The excursion will be the highlight of your vacation. It’s all about having a fun fish catching trip that’s an adventure for all.

Captain Michael Darke grew up three blocks from the Ludington City Marina where his charter boat, the Lie-A-Lot, is docked. (He purchased the boat from Captain Keith, former owner of the Lie-A-Lot, after being mate and captain of the boat since 2009.) He’s been a member of the Michigan Charter Boat Association and the Ludington Charter Boat Association for years. Fishing on charter boats since he was 13 years old, he’s met many wonderful fishing clients. This has greatly helped him understand and meet the needs of his clients. He’s been fishing all his life and will work hard to make your time aboard the Lie-A-Lot a positive and fun experience that will last a lifetime. On the boat you can do as much or as little as you would like. You can fish to your capability, and he will do the rest. As a captain, there’s no greater reward than the look of excitement on your face while doing battle with that big fish. Every day is a new adventure, so come fish with Mike aboard the Lie-A-Lot where tales are spun, lies are told, but the fishing is taken seriously. Life just doesn’t get any better than this!

Thanks for your interest in Lie-a-Lot Charters!

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