Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Salmon fishing in Wisconsin

Not that long ago, I lived in a sub division near Madison, WI. There was a guy that lived down the street that would go fishing frequently and come home with a cooler full of salmon. When I first saw that I was shocked. I had been to Alaska salmon fishing and I had no idea there was such a salmon factory in my own back yard.  I hinted around for an invite to go with him some time, but never got the call. I quit waiting, and started to learn more about salmon fishing in WI. Before long, I was making regular trips to Milwaukee to fish from shore. One of the first times out, I was 0 for 7.  I had the wrong kind of hooks. They were to big and to weak.  When I finally did hook up with a big King, after 20 minutes of fighting it, I ended up losing it while trying to get it into a net too small. It was heart breaking but made my desire to catch one even greater.

For the next several years I took many trips to Milwaukee to fish, and anytime I had an airport run or an errand in the city, I would go to McKinley Pier and take a few casts. One time, I had just dropped my daughter off at the airport and took my St Croix salmon rod and stopped to cast a PK spoon. Sure enough I hooked up with a King Salmon. I got it to the pier where a kind fellow angler netted it for me. I was unprepared because it was not a fishing trip but shuttle to the airport.  I failed to bring a cooler, knife or any other such fishing equipment. I was just planning on taking a few casts. A quick trip to the store and I was driving back to Madison with fresh salmon on ice. I felt as proud as a peacock.
My “airport run” salmon.

Fast forward 10 years, and I am now in a Lund 1875 pro v with a 200 Mercury 4 stroke. My boat is equipped with down riggers, and I have 6 rods for trolling for salmon. I often think of the neighbor down the street from where I used to live. Instead of keeping the secret like he did, I try to teach as many people as I can about the joys of Great Lakes salmon fishing.
My friend Kim and a nice coho she landed on ladies trip.

Now my favorite bodies of water, are The Bay of Green Bay, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. I love the peaceful feeling that comes over me when I am on big water. The clean blue water, the beautiful landscapes and huge fish  keep me coming back. Don’t let big water scare you.  Knowledge, respect and several good weather apps will help you make good decisions about going out.

On one of my early trips to Sheboygan, I saw two guys, fishing the harbor in kayaks. They would rest next to a rock break wall, and then paddle fast pulling a crank bait thru a pod of fish. Sure enough they hooked up and they fought the fish while it was pulling them around the harbor. The guy and his buddy both got their limit. I am not sure how they hauled all those fish to the cleaning station. They out fished me that day by far.

Many times the fish are within the top 25 feet of the water. Rainbow Trout and Coho Salmon are both caught on shallow lines. I typically use Off Shore Tackle Snap weights and Tad Poles to get my lines down to cover the top 25 feet of the water. For deeper fish I will use Dipsy Divers or my down riggers.  Trolling spoons, dodgers and flies or J - plugs are usually what I use, The down riggers are a new addition for me, and you don’t need them to catch fish. Spring and fall are both great times to shore fish for them and many days I see small 14 or 16 foot boats trolling the shore lines. The harbor in Sheboygan, WI is a great place to fish but there are many good access points all across the Great Lakes.
My Lund 1875 Pro V. I LOVE MY BOAT!

There are a ton of charter boats that take people out all over the Great Lakes Region. Spring and fall brings shore anglers from around the area to grab a spot on the pier and cast spoons or soak live bait. If you are bored with your current fishing, or if you always wanted to go Salmon fishing, give the Great Lakes a try. From shore, kayak, fishing boat, or charter boat, there are many options available.  My fishing has become cyclical, late ice crappies, early spring river walleyes, early summer gills and bass, and the summer chasing salmon and Lake Trout. After fighting some of those giant King Salmon, I may just have to add Musky Fishing to the list.

If you would like to listen to a Wild Barb Radio segment that was taped on a salmon fishing trip, you can listen here. This is the trip Kim ( picture above) caught her Coho.

Gals in a boat chasing salmon

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