Thursday, October 21, 2010

salmon fishing the sheboygan river (sheboygan, wi)

I spent the entire weekend fishing the Sheboygan River for lake-run salmon. This was a rare event being able to be out for the entire weekend on account of the wife and kids visiting cousins in Kentucky. I made sure I capitalized on every second.

the sheboygan river

sheboygan falls dam
It’s been a crazy year for tributary fishing. The lack of rain has lead to reduced flows up and down the western Lake Michigan coast line. Many anglers I know have been left scratching their heads not exactly sure how to make heads or tails of the current river conditions. Sure we have scraped together a couple fish here and there but some of the smaller rivers have had a complete lack of fish. The larger rivers that have a more dependable base flow received a larger run of fish. Reports looked good on the Milwaukee and the Sheboygan so I chose the latter being a river I’ve never fished.

saturday afternoon salmon (3)
The flows through the entire weekend were averaging in the mid 80’s which is well below the norm for this time of year and made the fish easy to spot. Most of the fish I found were relating to the top side of the fast water. They were sitting on the top side of the riffles and runs resting and waiting to push their way through the next set of fast skinny water runs. These fish were easy pickings but actually getting them to turn on a fly was something that was near impossible. Some of these better areas were holding close to ten fish at a time and foul hooking them was something that almost couldn’t be helped. After fighting one tail hooked salmon you will quickly realize that’s something you’ll never wanna do again. After foul hooking a fish I became a master of popping the hook right off their backs and tails but every once in a while it just stuck and the battle was on. Watching the salmon and placing the fly in their mouth does take some patience but is possible. One thing to remember is that the fish aren’t here to eat and the number one way to get them to hit is to piss them off.

salmon sitting at the top of the runs
A fellow angler I had the pleasure of sharing a pool with had really done a good job taking some clean hooked fish. Most of the flies he used were giant compared to mine, but nothing elaborate. Lots of natural browns and golds with some flash and a bead head.

sunday morning salmon (1)
I brought a lot of fish to hand and had a blast pushing my equipment to the max. I hope the forecasts are correct and we receive the rain this weekend as predicted. It will certainly be interesting to see how the fish react in some of these smaller rivers when they finally fill up so late in the season. I’m praying for steelies!


  1. Blake
    Those pictures are fit for framing--really some great looking streams--lack of rain has been a big problem here in Alabama and not to mention the tailrace I fish in Tennessee with my son-in-law--great post.

  2. Hey Blake. In the few years I lived in Kenosha as a kid, before moving to Florida, the only fish I ever heard about were Crappie in lakes, Perch, and Cisco in Lake Michigan. My father never talked about Salmon in the upstate rivers or trout in the driftless area. Boy did I miss a lot.


  3. Bill- Its been a sad fall when all you can do is pray for rain but we are still finding some fish.

    Shoreman- The secret is out, we do have some great fishing in the greater chicago land area.

  4. as a past resident of N Illinois -western side- I was glad to stumble on your site. I've heard the fishing is good in Sheboygan, glad to see it wasn't all talk.

  5. Yeah, it seems they see a real dependable run of fish.

  6. Great fishing indeed.
    Love to feel the pull!

  7. Are these photos from the River Wildlife stretch? Looks nice. I need to explore this river more.