I know when you hear the words "fishing the flats" you are thinking somewhere tropical, but Lake Superior has its own version. The flats on Superior are opposite of what you would think of fishing in the salt. Instead of being in just a few feet of crystal clear water, the Superior flats are 100 feet deep and turquoise in color as far as you can see. On the southeast side of Madeline Island, fishermen frequent the flats in search of lake trout. While the action on the flats seems to start around July, the best fishing for Lakers continues into the fall.
Seeing as the flats are 100 feet deep, you are going to need a set of downriggers to reach the fish. I have heard of people using dipsy's and other divers to catch fish on the flats, but a dependable set of downriggers and 10-pound rigger weights will be your best bet. Depending on the size of your boat, you can use a set of outriggers (side) and downriggers (back) to get more lines to the bottom.
How to Fish the Flats
To actually fish the flats is a relatively easy process. Let your lines out 15 feet, attach them to the rigger clips, drop the downrigger weights down to the bottom and drive. You want the rigger weights bouncing on the bottom every now and then to stir things up, there is not much for structure on the flats so you do not have to worry about hangups. Trolling between 1.6-2.0 mph seems to be the most productive from my experience but on slow days ramping it up a bit to 2.5 mph has generated a few bites.
As far as lures go for fishing the flats, the Spin-N-Glo has to be my favorite. Troll these lures behind a flashe r or dodger and you are sure to get some attention. Greens, oranges and purples are all productive colors for Spin-N-Glos, and don't forget to have a few glowing varieties.
Spoons are another great option for the flats. All sizes and varieties seem to produce under different conditions so having a few options and colors is a good idea. I like to combine my spoons with a small (4-inch) dodger just to give them a little more action on the bottom.
Lake Superior has many great fishing options available. Having the set up to take advantage of all the lake has to offer increases the opportunities to meet up with a greater variety of fish and also gives you options depending on weather and wind/wave conditions.