No Waders Required

By Dave Duwe - October 1, 2013
If you are bored with duck hunting and deer hunting, and you are an inland fisherman, there are fishing opportunities that many miss. Living in Southeastern Wisconsin, we are blessed to be in close proximity to one of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. Lake Michigan provides a year round fishery for Salmon, Steelhead and Trout. The best Steelhead fishing starts in October, after the close of the Salmon run, which usually occurs in mid to late October. The timing of the fall Steelhead run will vary from year to year depending on the level of the water and weather conditions. The tributaries that feed Lake Michigan provide an outstanding opportunity for Steelhead.

Some of the good locations in Southeastern Wisconsin are the Root River, by Colonial and Lincoln Park, and the Milwaukee River by Kletszch Park and Hubbard Park. If you want to go further north, there are locations in Sheboygan County, by the Wildlife property in Kohler and the bridge by highway 43.

A fun and advantageous way to fish for Steelhead is with a spinning reel combination. Use a 9 to 10 ½ foot rod, medium action and a Fluger Supreme reel spooled with 8-10 lb line. For hook size, use a #6 or #8 standard. Most of the fish in fall are caught on spawn sacs. The size of the spawn sacs are between a dime and a nickel. When fishing with a spawn sac, you want it to flow naturally through the current, not dragging the bottom. The longer pole will aid you with keeping big bows out of your monofilament line. Keep your rod tip high, for direct contact with your lure. Some anglers can catch them on nymphs or streamers, however the egg presentation out fishes all of them. You want to match the size of your monofilament line with the current of the water, knowing that the surface current will be faster than the current beneath. As a rule, you want to use 6-8 lb test, as the Steelhead will become line shy. Line shy fish will not bite. For the most success, you want your bobber to flow slower than the current. I use a Thill river master bobber.

Fly fishermen have been fishing for these species for years, but the issue with fly fishing is that it takes a lot of room to maneuver. The beauty of a spinning reel combination is that you can get into tight spots that fly fishermen cannot go. Good locations for Steelhead are deep run and riffles with adequate structure. Downed trees, large rocks and undercut banks are all preferred hiding spots for steelhead waiting to ambush prey as they swim by. Fall Steelhead are different than their spring counterpart as they do not aggressively chase down their prey. They act more like Salmon, by keeping tight to cover or settled deep in the runs.

I have learned everything I know about Steelhead Fishing from James Belanger, who works at the Richfield Cabelas in the fly shop, his patience and expertise is overwhelming. Steelhead fishing is his passion, so I encourage you to stop in and discuss the beauty of Steelhead fishing with him.

Get your trout stamp this fall and give Steelhead fishing a try. You don't have to be an avid fly fisherman to target this species.

Author Dave Duwe
Dave Duwe
Full-time guide Dave Duwe owns and operates Dave Duwe's Guide Service, featuring the lakes of Walworth County, WI. Dave has been guiding for over 20 years and is one of Southeastern Wisconsin's best multi-species anglers. Dave is an accomplished outdoor writer and seminar speaker. He is a member of the Great Lakes Outdoor Writers Association and Walworth County Visitor Bureau. Sponsors include: Lund Boats(Jerry's Sport Service Inc.), Mercury Marine, Arkie Jigs, and Vexilar Marine Electronics, a pro-staff member of Minn-Kota trolling motors,Hummingbird graphs, Cannon downriggers, Lindy, Pure Fishing and All Terrain Tackle. For more information, please check out Dave's website www.fishlakegeneva.com .