Optimum Charters on Lake Superior has the experience and expertise to make your next fishing adventure one to remember. Based in the Barkers Island Marina in the heart of Duluth/Superior estuary it is easy to find us when your day on the water comes.

People often ask, “When is the best time to go fishing?” There are seasonal preferences for certain fish species, but we can never fully predict when the fish will bite. Check our fishing report to see what’s been biting lately and also learn about the seasons and species on Lake Superior.

There are a few considerations when booking your trip, but we’ll help you make it as smooth as possible. Here are some answers to the questions we get asked most often.

When Should I Go?

The start of our season is really dependent upon the date of “ice out” on the lake. This is when the water is free of all the hard water from the previous winter. This generally happens in mid- to late-April, but can go as late as May. Our season will go through the summer months and ends in late September as we prepare the boats for a long winter’s nap. Check out our fishing-report to better understand when each fish species tends to be the most active.

Where Should I Stay?

Optimum Charters offers anyone who books with us a 20% discount Barkers Island Inn Resort on any stay Sunday through Thursday, and 10% Friday and Saturday nights. These discounts are already applied to package rates. The hotel is situated just steps from our boats in the Barkers Island Inn Resort and Conference Center. The onsite restaurant will also “cook your catch”. Contact Us to book your trip and receive the discount code for your lodging.

What Should I Bring?

Optimum Charters will provide you with a knowledgeable crew, a comfortable boat, all safety equipment, and all the tackle and bait needed to catch fish. We’ll also clean and package all your fish at the end of the day.

We recommend you bring the following items for a fun and safe outing on Lake Superior:

  • Valid Minnesota Fishing License (A one-day license can be purchased online from the MN DNR)
  • Trout Stamp (Note: a one day license does not require a Trout Stamp)
  • Refreshments
  • Cooler for your fish fillets (50 quart is sufficient; please leave in vehicle until we return to dock)
  • Warm clothes (Duluth and the lake can get very cool, even in the summer)
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Soft sole shoes
  • Camera
  • Please No Bananas. They’re Bad Luck!

How Long Are Your Trips?

Half-day trips are 5 hours long.

  • Morning trips leave the docks at 6:00 a.m. and return at 11:00 a.m.
  • Afternoon trips leave the docks at 12:00 p.m. and return at 5:00 p.m.

Full-day trips are 8 hours long

  • leaving the docks at 6:00 a.m. and returning at 2:00 p.m.

Starting times on full-day trips can be varied in most cases to meet the needs of our clients, and occasionally half-day trips can have varied start times. The half-day (5 hours) and full-day (8 hours) trips are based on a dock-to-dock schedule. These timeframes may be shortened if your party catches their limit of the target species of fish.

Please be fully prepared and arrive at the dock 20 minutes before your scheduled departure time.

Are There Bathrooms On The Boat?

All our boats have a clean marine head/toilet, fully operational and ready as needed.

How Many People Can We Bring?

We can accommodate up to 24 people in a group with a maximum of 6 people in each boat, based on US Coast Guard Regulations. If the group exceeds 24 we will arrange additional boats of similar quality.

Can I Change My Reservation?

The deposit is not refundable for a trip that is canceled by the client but is transferable to another date if there is a 14-day advance notice from the client.

Do You Need A Deposit?

A deposit of $150 for half-day charters and $250 for full-day charters and all packages are required (via VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AMEX, PayPal). The deposit is refundable if the trip is canceled due to weather, for package trips room costs will be charged if rooms are used. The deposit is not refundable for a trip that is canceled by the client but is transferable to another date if there is a 14-day advance notice from the client.

Do I Need A Fishing License?

We fish in Minnesota waters and the following license requirements apply. You can purchase a license at many convenience stores (e.g. Holiday Station Stores), sporting goods stores (e.g. Marine General) and also online.


  • Ages 16-89 require a valid MN fishing license
  • Ages 18-64 require a valid MN trout stamp


  • Ages 16-89 require a valid MN non-resident fishing license
  • Ages 18-64 require a valid MN trout stamp

Both Residents and Non-Residents are eligible to purchase a one-day fishing license which does not require the purchase of a trout stamp.

Who Doesn’t Need A Fishing License?

  • Residents under 16 years of age
  • Residents over 90 years of age
  • Minnesota residents enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces, stationed outside the state, and home on leave (you must carry leave or furlough papers while fishing or transporting fish)
  • A Minnesota resident who has served in federal active service outside the U.S. during the preceding 24 months and is now discharged from overseas duty (you must carry discharge papers while fishing or transporting fish)
  • An in-patient of a U.S. Veterans Administration hospital

What If I'm Fishing In Wisconsin?

If you already have a Wisconsin Fishing License ensure that you have the Great Lake Salmon / Trout Stamp. If you don’t have the stamp, the cost is $10 to purchase it online for both residents and non-residents or at retail locations.

Those of you who are coming from out-of-state or do not have a resident Wisconsin fishing license and will be fishing for two days or less the license to purchase is the Great Lake Fishing, 2 day (includes Great Lake Salmon/Trout Stamp) for non-residents or the 2-Day Great Lakes Fishing (includes Great Lake Salmon/Trout Stamp) license which are $14 (same cost for both residents and non-residents). These cover all your charter fishing needs.

What Should We Wear?

Dress as if it is 20 degree colder than on land and raining. See prepare for your trip section for list of items.

Is The Price Per Person Or Per The Boat?

Super Saver  ½ day special 1-2 person $500, not per person that is the total price for up to 2 persons

Half-day ($550) and full-day trip ($850)  the total price is based on 1-4 persons, and then add $50 for the fifth and sixth person if they are on the trip.

All packages are based on per-person rates.

When Is The Best Time To Fish?

Whenever it works in your schedule, we catch lake trout through the entire season (May thru Sept.) more salmon present Mid May through Mid June), walleyes Mid May thru Mid June and then again usually lake July. Every day is different the wind can change the water temperature and accordingly baitfish moves, these times and bites are just based on our nearly 40 years of experience  running a Duluth charter fishing operation.

Can We Just Target Salmon?

Salmon are just like the trout, they are eating the same baitfish and aquatic life, if we are catching trout, salmon will bite if they are around. This is a basically a structure free lake in our fishing area, fish relate to water temperature and baitfish.

Can We Just Target Walleyes?

Yes that is possible, in Mid May thru Mid June walleyes are usually present in the St Louis bay estuary, and we do target them, again later in the summer when the baitfish congregates on the south shore in Wisconsin the walleyes will appears again feeding on these baitfish at that time we target them, during the rets of the season they come as a byproduct of trolling for trout and salmon, they all eat the same baitfish especially the larger walleyes.

What Else Can I Do In the Duluth/Superior Area?

There’s so much to do in Duluth/Superior and along the North Shore of Minnesota’s “Arrowhead” region that you could stay for many days and never run out of activities. Here are just a few of the local attractions:

Check out the Calendar of Events from Visit Duluth to get more details on all that Duluth has to offer.

Now booking reservations for the season

Rates starting at less than $100/person. Reserve your spot today!

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