Optimum Charters On Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota for OWAA.




Optimum Charters Boat Captain Discusses Tricks For Best Fishing While On Excursion Off The Coast Of Duluth At OWAA

A line out waiting for a bite on Lake Superior. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]

Fishing is never the same in every place. In Duluth, Minnesota, the harbor bordering the state of Wisconsin leads out into the vastness of Lake Superior. Unlike ocean fishing, lake fishing has its own rules but different processes. The trout and salmon can run deep or shallow founded off the tributaries of the Boundary Waters. Captain Paul Mazzuco, heading up Opti II on Optimum Charters sat down with Editor In Chief  of The Buzz: Tim Wassberg on an afternoon fishing expedition during OWAA to talk about the ecology, the moods of the lake and enjoying the battle with the fish.

The Buzz: Now, Captain Paul, can you tell us exactly where we are at this very moment? And the sort of baits that are put out?

Paul Mazzuco: Right now, we are about 10 and a half, 11 miles out the Duluth entry into the middle of Lake Superior between Wisconsin and Minnesota. The water's right around 52, 54 degrees on the surface. There's quite a large variety of colors and currents. We're working pretty much from about 30 feet and up right now with crankbaits and spoons mostly.

The Buzz: Can you talk about the balance in terms of temperature, depth, and how it relates to how the salmon and the lake trout feed here?

PM: So out here, it's not like normal fishing. We don't have any trees to go to. We don't have any weed lines. We don't have any of that. The water is our structure. Every half a day, it's shifting, moving around out here. So you really got to keep up with it, watch what it's doing at night, the wind. And you got to just go try different stuff. (pause) Here's the fish. (A trout hits the trolling line)

PM: I've been trawling for four or five hours before, and within five seconds had three fish on at the same time. You hit the right spot out here, things can happen in a real quick hurry. Really quick. I've seen a lot of crazy stuff out here (laughing) you don't expect. The fish, a lot of times, they'll come up, and they'll miss the bait. They're usually there for an attack but a lot of the times it isn't in the mouth. The salmon, they're built to feed. I mean, good eyesight, good smell, speedy as can be. I mean, God made them so they go fast.

The Buzz: Now, are they coming out of the estuaries up here? How does that work?

PM: Most of our salmon here, the Coho salmon, they do a very good job of natural reproduction. The state of Wisconsin's got some really good programs going on where they keeping the rivers cleaned out so the salmon are able to get where they need to get to. And every year, we see Cohos come up, up, up. There's a tiny bit of natural reproduction, but that’s just 4% of the fish. The salmon will use the whole lake. It's wherever their food is plentiful and the water temperatures are right.

A lake trout after a fight to the boat. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]
Captain Paul Mazzuco and his first mate onboard the Opti II. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]
Multiple rods waiting for a hit on Optimum Charters. [Photo Credit: Tim Wassberg]

The Buzz: Now, can you talk about growing up in Minnesota specifically? Could you talk about what sort of precipitated being a captain as a calling?

PM: I grew up as a kid in a neighborhood kind of a farm community. I just always had a niche to go fishing. I'd catch my own frogs and my worms and everything. I would sell whatever ones I wasn't using to the bait shop for hooks, sinkers, gear, reels, rods. I had a little deal worked out with the bait shop.

The Buzz: The great thing is the mentality. You were a contractor before which probably allows you to see things in a different light.

PM: Here you got to kind of think out of the box a lot and you got to visualize something before it's there. When you get a set of plans fo house, you see the blueprints. Out here, I think about this open water fishing [in terms of] how your lures look down there in the water.

The Buzz: I've talked to many people about what the psychology of fishing is...

PM: I think a lot of it is so much more simple than people make it out to be. Fish are just like us; they're hungry, they're not hungry. They want to be comfortable. People turn fishing into all these other different kind of things, but it's really not. The fish are just like us. Another thing is they Ndon't want to work any harder than they have to for a meal. They want to store that energy and not have to chase stuff around all the time. I really think it's more simple than people make it out to be.

The Buzz: It sounds like as a captain. You have to be on it, you have to be quick, you have to have the logic, but it's still an emotional experience for people.

PM: Oh, big time. I still get just as excited with every bite. Half the time, I'm more excited than the clients to get a bite (laughing). That never gets old no matter how many times you see it. I mean, seeing them bites never ever gets old.

Tim Wassberg

A graduate of New York University's Tisch School Of The Arts with degrees in Film/TV Production & Film Criticism, Tim has written for magazines such as Moviemaker, Moving Pictures, Conde Nast Traveler UK and Casino Player. He enjoys traveling and distinct craft beers among other things.

Duluth Indian Point Campground

Make Sure To Stay At:

Duluth Indian Point Campground, where you can pitch your tent or nestle your RV into pull through campsites on a point of land high above Spirit Bay. Tall maples, elms, and pines surround the park-like commons with campsites throughout, each having a picnic table, fire pit and hook ups.

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