Scrumptious Smoked Salmon Spread Recipe and Tales of my Lake Michigan Fishing Charter


While I definitely didn’t have “Fishing Charter on Lake Michigan” on my bucket list– I can now say that I’ve been on one thanks to my Father-in-law and Brother-in-law who treated us to this unique experience a week ago. We had perfect weather, perfect waters and the perfect conditions to catch 22 fish!

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We woke up at 3:00am to be up at Winthrop Harbor by our 5am departure time. The waters were calm and we got to see the sunrise– but it was FREEZING! Layers of clothing and still shivering cold. We needed that sun to come out faster and shine down on us on the lake. It eventually did, and became a bearable temperature, but I never took of my hoodies (yes, hoodies plural) until we were back on land again. When we returned around lunchtime, it was a beautiful day and t-shirt weather but it was so much colder on that water! Lake effect in full effect!

Captain Brian and first mate Robert of Griffin Charters set up all the poles with expert precision and then the wait begins. For us, the wait was not long…the fish were biting and at one point, we had 4 poles reeling in at once! We caught 18 Coho Salmon and 4 Lake Trout before our charter time was even over. I only reeled in 1.5 fish because of course, I’d had the heaviest, largest fish and it was so heavy I had to ask my husband Matt to take over reeling it half way through. I also wasn’t as fast at getting to the poles as the guys were. I was fine with that. Reeling in 1 fish was my goal so I was satisfied.

With a limit of 5 fish per person, the Captain got to keep 2 of our fish for himself (he worked hard and deserved it). We had the fish cleaned and gutted on the way back to port, and then we each brought a few home to cook fresh, and took the rest to Hagen’s in Chicago who offer a fish smoking service. We dropped off about 36lbs of fresh fish!

Three days later picked up the smoked fish, but we needed to to something with it. We divided it up in thirds and my in-laws took their portions– but we were still left with a lot more fish than we could eat in a week. Matt loves smoked salmon so he is just eating it off the bone and getting smelly fish fingers in the process. I wanted something that reminded me more of Lox– so I made a salmon spread/dip instead of just eating it like a caveman. That recipe I have shared below. The rest of the fish we are freezing to use at a later date…maybe I will come up with some more uses for all that smoked fish!

Scrumptious Smoked Salmon Spread Recipe

Recipe by Kristen JanesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
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Total time




  • 4-6 oz of smoked salmon. We used fresh coho salmon we had smoked at Hagen’s Fish Market in Chicago.

  • 1 – 8oz tub of Plain Cream Cheese

  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream

  • 3 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

  • 8 chives

  • 4 green onions

  • Pepper to taste

  • 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika

  • Juice of half a lemon

  • Penzey’s Seasoned Salt to taste


  • Remove salmon meat from skin (remove all bones) and chunk up
  • Mix Cream Cheese and Sour Cream in medium bowl until well-combined. Add Worcestershire.
  • Add salmon chunks to cream cheese mixture.
  • Add chives and green onions.
  • Add other seasonings and lemon juice.
  • Serve with crackers or spread on a bagel.
  • Save refrigerated for up to 5 days.