Planning Your Steelhead/Salmon Trip

Tributary Steelhead and Salmon
"He,(Bob), is a highly qualified, patient instructor with a special knack for solving on-stream riddles and being able to communicate, step-by-step, his approach to solving that problem, thusly persuading a steelhead to eat a fly."
Bob Linsenman, "Midwest Fly Fishing"
   The tributaries to Lake Michigan that drain Wisconsin's eastern region are characterized by gentle gradient and large areas of gravel till from the last glacier. Agriculture and development have impacted the streams, making natural reproduction of the "visiting" salmonids impossible. The Wisconsin D.N.R. stocks several million fingerlings annually, assuring future runs.
   Chinooks, cohos, browns, and steelhead are stocked in all major rivers. Thousands of fish can pour into a river that may only be eight to ten miles long. Finding fish is seldom a problem. Convincing them to eat a fly is the exciting part.
   Due to the gentle character of the streams,(compared to the Pacific North West), floating lines and long leaders are usually in order. Sink-tips are only needed during extremely high flows, or when the water temperature dips into the low 30's. Spey casting can be the most effective way to locate active fish, and I will show you the One-handed Spey cast so you can fish more efficiently with your present tackle.
   Run timing varies from the southernmost streams,(Pike River), to the streams in Door County. Rising water levels are the key to triggering migrations. Because they have steady flows, I prefer to fish the Milwaukee, Sheboygan, & Manitowoc Rivers, all of which can be reached by an easy drive on I43 from Milwaukee.
   Year round fishing is legal in the Lake Michigan tributaries-"Up to the first dam...", however, the migrations are seasonal. Chinooks usually start moving in September, following a rain. Their numbers peak in October, and then taper off.
   Fishing for cohos, browns, and steelhead begins in late October, following a rain and frost. Fishing continues through freeze-up, followed by several months of winter fly tying, attending Fly Fishing Shows, and complaining about the weather.
   A mid-winter thaw will trigger a run of aggressive Chambers Creek strain steelhead. Timing is critical; it may only be a day or two before the rivers freeze again. Ice-out begins the heaviest push of spawning steelies. The runs will usually last into May. May is the beginning of the inland trout season, so these late run fish remain un-molested.
   Because they run in 70f.-80f. water temperatures, it's impossible to release them safely,so I prefer to leave the summer run Skamania steelhead alone. You'll find me in the Coulee Country with a 3wt. in my hand, thinking about the first salmon of October.

Click for Sheboygan, Wisconsin Forecast

Accommodations
 Since the rivers I fish are near major cities, everything from Five Star hotels to inexpensive motels are in easy reach. Steak houses, ethnic restaurants, and burger-n-beer taverns offer a wide choice of menus. Ask for a recommendation, when you book your trip.
Tackle etc.
 A nine foot rod rated for #6-#9 line, floating line and reel with a smooth drag and 100 yards of backing makes an effective rig for most tributary fishing. Speycasting with a two-handed rod will bring hookups with the famed November steelhead: possibly the strongest fish living in Lake Michigan. Licenses and Great Lakes Salmon & Trout Stamps are available at local outlets. Be sure to purchase the proper stamp! To purchase your license and stamp using a credit card, phone the WDNR toll free, at 1-877-945-4236.
Click Here for tips & tricks on fishing the tributaries, with links to fishing reports,tackle,flies, & other things related to steelhead
Click on the fish to visit steelheadsite.com

Email Silver Doctor To Confirm Date(s)