No Waders RequiredBy Dave Duwe - October 1, 2013
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.