Sheboygan Wisconsin Charter Fishing Reports
Provided by Captain James Schlegel of Sea Dog Sportfishing Charters of Sheboygan, with contributing reports from other area anglers.
2002 Fishing Reports
SHEBOYGAN CHARTER FISHING HARVEST 2001 - by Capt. James Schlegel March 16, 2002
Sheboygan area charter captains saw another good fishing season in 2001. According to the latest Wisconsin DNR release, state anglers caught a whooping 191,000 chinook salmon last season, the highest number since 1987. Area captains had great success boating a number of chinook salmon over 30 pounds, something we have not seen the likes of in quite a few years. On August 11, 2001 a huge beast topping the scales at 35.75 lbs. was boated by angler Chris Fitzharris of Minnesota aboard the "Sea Dog". It was the largest reported salmon caught out of the entire state of Wisconsin, and in doing so has earned Chris the "Big Fish of the Year" trophy presented by the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen Club. It was also the largest fish I ever put on board as a Great Lakes fishing guide (see photo and report 8/11/01). Also worth noting was a 25.50 lbs. brown trout caught September 9, 2001, again tops in port for the season and another personal best. Was 2001 a great year for big fish or what? For most area anglers the season could not have been much better. But at the same time the weather and water temperatures made our fishing here in Sheboygan somewhat challenging to say the least. Fishing was considered good to excellent for the majority of the year even though the number of fish harvested for the season was below that of 2000's record level. Charter bookings here in Sheboygan were also down a slight 2% from the past year. The lower harvest can be directly attributed to the unseasonably colder than usual lake water temperatures early in the year. We had an unusual cool spring with a lot of rain and overcast skies, making it difficult for the sun to start its warming process. Once the water temperatures finally did warm up the fish became active and everyone was catching fish as predicted. What was not predicted however, was how long the cold water temperatures hung around our port making early spring fishing difficult. Subsequently, I was not able to keep pace with my all time best harvest reported in 2000. We did however manage a catch of over 1200 fish for the season which once again tops the list of area guides and proves there are plenty of fish to be caught. The majority of our fish harvested last season were chinook salmon. We prefer to target chinooks when available, and per Wisconsin DNR records most of the states anglers did as well. Rainbow fishing was also good last season and came in right behind our chinook harvest. Most area fishermen would agree that the quality or size of our fish was above average and all looked plump and well feed. This is definitely a good sign, representing a good and healthy sport fishery for the upcoming season. Last year was my first attempt at providing these weekly fishing reports and hope they in one way or another helped to provide some insight and useful information to improve your fishing success. We have an excellent fishing resource here in Sheboygan and I am always happy to share this fact with all who are interested. Your comments and concerns are always welcome. Stay tuned for the most timely and accurate fishing reports provided by area guides and myself for the upcoming season.
APRIL 30, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
First fish of the season, with hopes of many more to follow. Had the chance to get out on the water Tuesday afternoon and tried the area around Pigeon River. Fished 12 to 18 feet of water just outside the river mouth using planner boards, dipsy's and two downriggers. Hooked 3 Brown Trout in the hour and a half we spent fishing, but only landed one. All three took spoons we were running on Dipsy Divers about 6 feet below the surface. Water temperature that day was 42 to 44 degrees. Earlier that day my first mate Troy fished off the warm water discharge of the power plant in a friend's boat. They landed 2 Brown Trout out of 4, trolling Thunder Sticks behind planner boards. Most of the area charter boats are now in the water and open for business. The fishing activity will soon pick up and fishing reports will become more available. Best of luck this season.
MAY 4, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
It was a Brown Trout Bonanza! Fished the area out in front of the Pigeon River Saturday morning. Put a total of 19 Brown Trout in the boat and lost at least 15 more. Largest fish was about 7 pounds; however, a larger one escaped just outside the net. Nothing special for baits. Fish were caught on a variety of stick baits trolled behind planner boards as well as spoons on Dipsy Divers and downriggers. Capt. Dumovich was also fishing the area and ended the day with a total of 19 fish. Water temperature was about 42 degrees. For a change of pace we tried the Power Plant for the late afternoon trip. Fishing seemed a little slower there. We did manage to catch another 4 Browns and a Lake Trout trolling around the intake towers using the same trolling methods. Water temperature was also 42 degrees away from the discharge water. Brown Trout are the rarest of the 5 Great Lakes fish targeted by Sheboygan area charter captains, but today they were everywhere. This is a welcome beginning to the season and all area fishermen are surprised by numbers of fish being caught this early. This is quite the improvement from last years spring fishing.
MAY 15, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
More Brown Trout! Fished this morning in 12 to 20 feet of water between the harbor and Power Plant. Went 7 for about 14 with all the bites but 2 on Dipsy Divers. All the Brown Trout were about the same size and age class. A large watermelon colored spoon worked best. Water temperature was between 43 to 48 degrees. Noticed large schools of alewives around the harbor area for the first time this year.
MAY 19, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning with a 4 boat group. Caught a variety of fish (all five species) in 20 to 35 feet of water right in front of the harbor. This seems like a good time to try your luck if you want an assortment of fish. Even a few small cohos are showing up.
MAY 21, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Six fish Monday afternoon and Seven fish today. Some real nice kings, the largest weighing just under 17lbs. Fished the same area around the harbor 18 to 30 feet of water. They've been real tough to land. Best set up by far was a downrigger at 15 feet with a green and glow Pro-King. Lots of bait fish (Alewives) around the harbor area, check your baits often. Fishing has started out much better this year than last. Nice sized kings are being caught daily. Water temperatures in the upper 40's.
MAY 26, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fishing was a bit tough today. The water was cloudy out to 40 feet from all the rain and wind the day before. Trolled in and out of the cloudy water out in front of the harbor. Hooked a nice sized Chinook salmon right at the start of our trip on a Dipsy diver with a purple Pro-King. Put the fish in the boat after a 15 minute battle and another fish immediately hit the other Dipsy rod. That fish didn't stick around long enough to get a hand on the rod. That's when things slowed down. We waited another 3 hours along with the rest of the boats before the next bite. Had a few more downrigger bites, but only landed one more. There were plenty of salmon in the area, but they just didn't seem very active this afternoon. Water temperature still in the upper 40's.
MAY 28, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished this afternoon with race car drivers Eduardo Figueroa and Waldemar Coronas of Mexico. Hooked into some nice chinook salmon right outside the harbor before sunset. Basic downrigger fishing through the schools of alewives using a variety of glow-in-dark spoons. Eduardo finished the trip landing a 20.75 lbs. chinook salmon, the largest reported salmon caught out of Sheboygan this year. The way fishing has started this year, were sure to see some record big fish registered. Best of luck at the Milwaukee Mile this Sunday numbers 86 and 88 from South of the border.
JUNE 2, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Great fishing for the entire free Wisconsin fishing weekend. Caught 23 fish for the day on Saturday, and 12 for the morning on Sunday. Good fishing action all weekend long except for time the cold front moved through Saturday evening and the air temperature dropped 30 degrees. Fished offshore (over 120 feet) for the first time this year. A variety of fish have been caught from the surface to 60 feet down, fishing 120 to 160 feet of water 4 miles south of the harbor. The largest salmon and lake trout were caught on downriggers 25 to 60 feet down. Rainbows and cohos were taken on Dipsey Divers and on planer boards. Glow-in-dark spoons worked best this weekend on downriggers while JB spoons and dodger flies were used on the planer boards. Keep your eyes open for the commercial fisherman's nets located throughout the area.
JUNE 6, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Cohos arrive in Sheboygan! Out Thursday morning, ended up with 18 fish in the box. Eleven of the fish were cohos caught mainly on JB spoons trolled behind Dipsey Divers and planner boards. Best flavors were the all silver or the silver and orange. Fished around the pond nets located 3 miles Southeast of the harbor. Friday morning tried the same spot. This time a few more Chinook salmon picked up on downriggers trolled 40 to 60 feet down in 80 to 90 feet of water. A variety of green and glow-in-dark spoons worked best. Ended the trip with 20 fish consisting of 5 lakers, 4 cohos, 10 kings and a rainbow. The largest Chinook weighted in at over 20 lbs. Surface water temperature around 50 degrees. A great day on the water for the Abbott group which has fished with us for years. This weeks Wednesday night fishing league winner was the boat Hy Tech with a catch of 72 pounds of fish. For information and details about the fishing league contact The Wharf at 920-458-4406. Should be a busy weekend, the forecast looks good, as does the fishing.
JUNE 9, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Unpredictable was the word for the weekend. Fish were caught from top to bottom and in all depths of water including in front of the harbor for limited times. Southeast winds blow in on Friday and pushed in colder water scattering the fish we were targeting a few days earlier. Big kings were still being caught this weekend along with cohos and lake trout, but were harder to find. Nathan Daarud of Nebraska landed a 21.75 lb. chinook salmon just before sunset Saturday evening and currently tops the Sheboygan's Big fish board. A series of commercial fishermen pond nets are located straight out of the harbor starting in about 80 feet of water to about 120 feet and set east to west. Be aware that these are not chub nets. I am told that the nets stand as high as 40 feet off the bottom. Some of our best fishing this year has been found around these nets, but be aware not to troll with your fishing gear near the bottom. A number of anglers have found out the hard way. For the latest locations of nets stop in The Wharf and see the diagrams posted.
JUNE 13, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Still working around the nets between 80 and 100 feet of water. Catching mainly cohos along with some lake trout and rainbows. The big chinook salmon have eluded us recently. Hope they come back soon on account of the filming crew for Discover Wisconsin coming to town early next week with the purpose of promoting Great Lakes fishing. Surface water temperatures have been in the upper 40's. This week's Wednesday night fishing league winner was High Voltage with a nice catch of 62 lbs. Next weekend is Coho Derby, get your tickets early. A portion of all ticket sales goes to the Great Lakes Sport Fishermen Club to improve and protect our sport fishery here in Sheboygan. Stop by the clubs booth and pick up a newsletter. Sign up to become a member and enter our clubs fishing equipment raffle.
JUNE 18, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Coho Derby is right around the corner and reliable fishing information is hard to find. What I do know is fish are being caught in all depths of water right now. I fished in many different area's the past few days and found fish everywhere even though few schools of baitfish are being marked on the graph. Fished in 100 to 120 feet of water this morning about 4 miles south of the harbor. Caught 5 cohos, 5 lakers, 3 rainbows and 2 kings for a total of 15 fish. Had a couple of big kings on but couldn't land 'em. Green and glow spoons worked well on downriggers 50 to 80 feet down. Dodger and flies worked well for the cohos. Have a safe and enjoyable derby weekend.
JUNE 24, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
The 32nd Annual Coho Derby has come to an end with some excellent weather and some great fishing. Most anglers experienced some unpredictable fishing this weekend. The early morning storm on Friday may have spooked the fish for a while. Being in the right place at the right time made all the difference. This years grand prize winner was no other than my first mate Troy Van Ess with a 20.4 lb. Lake Trout. His daughter Brittney also took first place in the junior tournament with a 18.4 lb. Lake Trout. The top adult winners were as follows: Coho Salmon, Todd Dezoute 9.9 lbs, Chinook Salmon, Brian Voss 29.8 lbs. Lake Trout, Troy Van Ess 20.4 lbs. Rainbow Trout, Steven Rahn 14.8 lbs. Brown Trout, Ivan Stross 19.4 lbs. Congratulations to all the winners and participants whose support contributes to the success of our fishery.
JUNE 27, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
The lake water has turned over as of Tuesday evening bringing colder water close to shore. Fished all day Wednesday with good action fishing the temperature break line located in about 60 feet of water. Caught all species of fish that day except for the brown trout. Did get the Great Lakes Grand Slam (all 5 species) on Tuesday as did other boats. Since the water cooled most of our fish came in the top 30 feet of the water. Dipsey Divers and planner boards worked well, even for some big kings. Had some luck with Pro-kings behind planner boards and a JB spoon (white with wonder bread dots) on a Dipsey Diver rod. Check out the big fish board, more fish are being registered weekly.
JUNE 28, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished this morning in 50 to 65 feet of water just north of the harbor. Went 9 for 17 with the largest king weighing in at 23.25 lbs. All the fish were taken in the top 35 feet of water using a variety of spoons. Magnum Pro-Kings worked well for the larger Chinooks while silver and blue Northport Nailers took a few rainbows. The Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen Club's Big Brother fishing outing is scheduled for July 13th with a catered lunch to follow at noon. A few more boats are needed to meet the requests. If you are willing to share some time and provide a boat for that morning it would mean a lot to some area kids. Call 920-452-9660 for details and make a difference in someone's life.
JULY 3, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Still fishing in about 60 to 100 feet of water. Cold water is still close to shore as are most of the fish. Our best luck has been fishing the top 50 feet. Dipsey Diver rods have been doing most of the work. Large spoons on downriggers have taken some real nice king salmon all day long.
JULY 6, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
A cold front moved through on Thursday and brought in some northeast winds and warmer water. Instead of fishing surface water temperatures in the upper 40's it's now in the 60's in some area's with colder water underneath. A large range of water temperatures can be found in Sheboygan waters right now. A few good temperature breaks and scum lines are starting to form. Found a good line Friday morning in about 50 feet of water and went 13 for 21. Some nice sized kings along with some rainbows and cohos. Saturday morning fished in 50 to 60 feet of water from the harbor to the filtration plant. The fish got the best of us today only landing 4 kings out of the 14 on the rods. All 14 bits were on Dipsey Diver rods trolling spoons 5 to 9 levels down. Did not get a single bite on a downrigger or surface line. These break lines will continue to move and finding them will be important to help improve your fishing odds.
JULY 8, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Started out the morning with a double on big king salmon right outside the harbor. Made a few more passes and picked up another three. After spoiling our guests early we then moved out to 50 to 120 feet of water north of the harbor. Our best depth was about 50 to 60 feet of water fishing the top 35 feet. Large glow-in-the-dark spoons worked best on downriggers. Ended the day with a dozen fish when we got chased off the lake due to a passing storm.
JULY 13, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Friday was one of our best days all year, boating a total of 38 fish for the day. The majority of the fish were chinook salmon including a 28.5 lb. beast, our largest fish of the year. We learned a new fish reeling technique that day we called the "Columbian Can Opener". We named it in honor of an angler named Fernando, originally from the Amazon, for the way he reeled in the big ones (kneeling in blue shirt). Best fishing was found in 70 to 90 feet of water south of the harbor, fishing the bottom third of the water table. Cooler water was found near the bottom where we ran 3 deep downriggers which took most of the fish. Saturday we went back to the well for more of the same. We limited out our group of three with 15 fish just after 9:00 am. The weather forecast looks stable and excellent fishing should continue for some time. The Women's Powder Puff Derby is scheduled for this Wednesday morning.
JULY 16, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Nothing has changed for the past few days. Warm water is still on the surface and the fish are located near the bottom. This makes targeting the fish very easy. Retired charter captain Roger Schelk was out today with a group this morning and caught a good variety of fish. The largest chinook salmon went 21 pounds. Downriggers took most of the fish.
JULY 23, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
North winds blew us off the lake today. Fished north of the harbor the last few days in 50 to 80 feet of water. Large chinook salmon were all over the graph and good fishing was common. Best action was using downriggers and Dipsey Divers trolling large spoons and some J-Plugs. Warmer water is still present, but the fishing still remains some of the best in years.
AUGUST 1, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished in 60 to 80 feet of water north of the harbor today. Caught 3 rainbows and 10 kings. Most of the fish took Pro-Kings trolled behind Dipsey Divers. Best color was a purple and black with a glow ladder back. Water temperatures have been changing fast the past few days and the fish are on the move. One day we're fishing the bottom and the next day the surface. Most Sheboygan charter boats monitor channel 11 on the marine radio for the most current fishing information when conditions are always changing. The first reported 30 pounder caught out of Sheboygan this year was taken by Mike Ziegler on 7/27/02 aboard his boat the "Follow the Roballo". I hope also to break the 30 pound barrier soon.
AUGUST 9, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
WOW! What a day. Put 44 fish in the boat on Thursday. The majority of fish being 3 and 4 year old chinook salmon. Warm water conditions are back. The surface water has been around 70 degrees with the cooler water down deep. We have been fishing 60 to 80 feet of water with the best action running downriggers between 45 and 60 feet down. Large glow spoons have been hot at sunrise and sunset. This morning we caught 16 fish. For the second straight day in a row the fish have taken every bait we put in the water. Makes bait selection simple.
AUGUST 11, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Same old stuff. Fishing is nothing short of awesome! (per Mark, this mornings guest who had to sit down and breath slowly). Fished this morning in 70 to 100 feet of water straight out of the harbor. Fishing was none stop action the first hour and a half at sunrise, then a fish every now and then to keep things interesting. Had the first fish of the year spool us. A large salmon took all 300 yards of 20 lb. test line and kept on going. Couldn't turn around fast enough due to all the boat traffic. Word has gotten out as to how good the fishing has become. All the charter boats are booked and the lake is colored with lights every morning. Lake Michigan fishing is alive and well. Caught fish 10 feet down on Dipsey Divers to 5 feet off the bottom. I don't think it really matters what baits are run. Look for the schools of alewives on the graph with fish around them and watch the rods. This kind of fishing makes my work easy.
AUGUST 12, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
I love Mondays. Very little boat traffic, calm seas and excellent fishing were the story of the day. Fished in about 80 feet of water off the Pigeon River. Added another 17 fish for the year. One rainbow, the rest were chinook salmon. The largest weighted in at 27 pounds. Still have not been able to find that 30 pounder this year. Fish were biting all morning long. It took a while but Dave "little fish" Vanwattingen (below right) finally landed a nice fish right at the end of our trip to make his day. All the fish were taken on deeper running baits trolling slower than usual. Not a single fish caught above 30 feet. Got chased off the lake in the afternoon by an incoming storm after a hour and a half of fishing. Went 2 for 3 in the same general area.
AUGUST 17, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Everything has changed once again. Cold water has moved in close to shore. Fished in 30ft of water right outside the harbor. Caught 17 fish: 1 rainbow, 1 brown and the rest were chinook salmon.
AUGUST 21, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Tougher fishing ahead of a storm coming our way today. Colder water was on the move again. Surface temperatures were 49 to 55 degrees. Fished the harbor early then went out to 125 feet. Still managed to get our 2 person limit of 10 fish but had to work for every fish. Caught every species except for the coho. It helped to land every fish we hooked today, then lost a big chinook salmon at the back of the boat when pulling lines. Harbor fishing has been very good the last few evenings for large chinook salmon with doubles and triples common. Mornings have seemed to be unpredictable.
AUGUST 26, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished this afternoon in 100 to 140 feet of water. Found a good temperature break which ranged from 57 to 62 degrees at the surface. Worked that same area all afternoon with the Deiss family who has been fishing with us the past several years. Non-stop action was the story of the day and the weather could not have been better. Caught everything but a brown. The fish were down in the 20 to 60 foot range. Only two hits on Dipsey Divers. All the fish came down deeper. The largest salmon weighted in at just under 15 pounds. The harbor has also been good for large chinook salmon preparing for their fall spawning run up the river. Look for heavy boat traffic in the area, especially during sunrise and sunset and know your navigational rules of the road. All anglers are after the same resource located in a limited area. No one likes losing equipment or having a fish snapped off by another boater. Fishing pressure will increase around the harbor in the upcoming weeks.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished the harbor area this morning and found 8 chinook salmon. Trolled Pro-Kings and J-Plugs just outside the lighthouse. The little guy in the red jacket landed the biggest one. We have been fishing the 100 to 140 foot range the past couple of days where we found good action from 15 foot down to the bottom. Caught a number of big chinook salmon as well as some rainbows and lake trout in that area.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fish got the better of us today but had a good time anyway. Went 5 for 10 fishing the harbor early, then 100 feet of water the rest of the morning. Large chinook salmon have been biting good early mornings and at sunset. The evening bite has been the best the past few days. Large glow spoons and J-Plugs have been working well around the harbor area. This is your best time of the year to hook that trophy king close to shore. Boat traffic has been heaviest weekends and evenings.
SEPTEMBER 13, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished the harbor early for a big salmon, then went out to 100 feet of water. Caught everything but a brown trout today. All 9 fish were taken in the top 50 feet of water. Offshore fishing seems to be improving the past few days, while the harbor area for salmon has been inconsistent. Big chinook salmon are still all around the harbor waiting to head upstream to spawn. Watch for a weather change to get those fish active.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Excellent offshore fishing in 100 feet of water all day long on Saturday. Put 39 fish in the boat despite a poor landing percentage for the day. Caught everything but a brown trout. Fish were caught from top to bottom using a variety of spoons. Best color was green for the day. A cold front moved through early Sunday morning and kept us in the harbor due to gusty north winds. Went 2 for 2 Sunday morning putting a couple of nice size chinook salmon in the boat. Tuesday, September 17 at 7:00 pm is the first general membership meeting of the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen. Meeting is held at the Sheboygan Outboard Club. We will discuss this years agenda.
SEPTEMBER 17, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Limited out our two person afternoon charter in less than an hour and a half. All kings and one lake trout. They were biting so well you could have stuck your finger in the water to catch one. It was non stop action the moment we put a few lines in the water. I even had the opportunity to reel one in myself. Best action was in about 100 feet of water straight out of the harbor. Best bait was an all glow Pro-King Magnum run 80 feet down on a downrigger. Trolling with the waves took all our fish today but one. Morning trip we put 15 fish in the boat. This is the type of September fishing I remember from years past, all nice 2 and 3 year old salmon and lots of action.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished 6:00 to 10:30 am. Started the morning with a triple just before sunrise and landed all three. Fished 80 to 90 feet of water straight out of the harbor. Good action all morning long except for the last hour. Caught 3 lakers, 2 rainbows and 9 chinook salmon. Fish were caught at all depths from the surface to the bottom.
SEPTEMBER 22, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Strong west winds blew Friday night, which moved the cooler water back to the shoreline for the weekend. The fish were active all day long with doubles and triples common. Anglers were dancing the "chinook shuffle" on the back deck to keep the lines from crossing. Fish were going every direction and the nets were flying all over. Fished the Harbor area all weekend using J-Plugs (all colors worked) and large JB spoons. Got our two man limit Sunday evening catching 1 brown, 1 rainbow, 2 cohos and 6 kings. Our largest fish this weekend went 26-3/4 pounds.
SEPTEMBER 27, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished the harbor area this morning and went 5 for 9. Caught 2 kings, 2 cohos and 1 brown. Used stick baits (Thundersticks and Rebels) behind planer boards. The large Wonder Bread colored JB spoon on a downrigger took 2 fish. A cold front moved through Thursday afternoon and dropped our air temperature 20 degrees. The water temperature right out side the harbor was a chilly 48 degrees this morning. Very little boat traffic this morning.
OCTOBER 2, 2002 Captain James Schlegel
Fished the harbor area this afternoon. Caught 4 chinook salmon and 3 cohos circling around the marina entrance. Had another five on that got away. Fish were jumping all afternoon in the harbor area and the marina. A good number of chinook salmon have been congregating around the public boat launch giving shore anglers an excellent opportunity to hook some of these monsters.
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