Sheboygan Wisconsin Charter Fishing Reports
Provided by Captain James Schlegel of Sea Dog Sportfishing Charters of Sheboygan, with contributing reports from other area anglers.

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2004 Fishing Reports

SHEBOYGAN CHARTER FISHING HARVEST 2003 - by Capt. James Schlegel April 4, 2004

Sheboygan charter captains reported their best fishing season in over a decade.  This fact was confirmed by the official 2003 Lake Michigan harvest numbers released to the public as of February.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources annually compiles data submitted by all licensed Wisconsin fishing guides.  This information is then used to access and evaluate the health and condition of our Great Lakes fishery.  I have been tracking the results in the Sheboygan area for the past several years and have provided a report to the public, in addition to the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen club for review.  Copies of the report and a summary are available at the clubís monthly meetings.  The raw data for the entire Wisconsin Lake Michigan harvest was provided to me by Brad Eggold, Fisheries Supervisor for the Wisconsin DNR.  This years report indicates Sheboygan area charter captains enjoyed another successful season.  All indicators were again up this year.  The report shows 24 licensed guides fishing out the port of Sheboygan (same number as 2002).  The Sheboygan charter fishing fleet reported 1563 trips ran, an increase of 4% from 2002.  The fish harvest numbers showed 12,532 fish caught aboard Sheboygan charter boats, an increase of 21% compared with the 2002 results.  The majority of those fish being Chinook Salmon. Sheboygan charter effort also indicated an increase in the catch per trip.  Overall the report suggests an improved fishery, as well as, a steady increase in charter fishing activity.  2003 was also a milestone year for Sea Dog Sportfishing Charters.  This was my 20th season in business and last years fishing adventures are now just memories.  In addition to still being able to climb the ladder to the flybridge, the years fishing couldnít have been any better.  I was fortunate to have topped last years record catch, turned in my best catch per trip average, and again led all area guides in charter fishing trips for the past 6 straight seasons.  It continues to be a privilege to fish this great resource with the thousands of people Iíve had the opportunity to guide over the years.  Of course every year brings new surprises, but all indications appear to point towards another productive season.  Docks are expected in the water within a few weeks and the charter fishing boats will soon be getting underway.  As in the past, I will continue to provide timely and informative fishing reports along with photos of our guests displaying their catch of the day.

MAY 3, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

It was a Brown Trout bonanza this weekend.  Fished North on Saturday around the Pigeon River in 10 to 20 feet of water.  Surface water temperature was 48 degrees and the brown trout were biting everything we threw at them.  Landed every fish we hooked until someone made the comment "we're 6 for 6".  After that, our batting average dropped considerably, but we still managed to put 19 fish in the boat for the day.  A green and glow Pro-King on a downrigger set at 8 feet was our best lure that day.  Saturday evening a cold front moved through and stirred up the water.  We fished around the power plant on Sunday and did better than expected.  Went 9 for 15, all brown trout and 1 Chinook Salmon.  The water temperature was around 46 degrees.  Best lure on Sunday was again the green and glow Pro-King.  All area boaters have been reporting good early season fishing especially for brown trout along the shoreline.

MAY 15, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the Pigeon River area again today.  Plenty of water pumping out of the river due to all the rain we've been having.  Slow going in the early morning. When the fish finally started waking up, we caught 1 salmon and 3 brown trout with a few getting away. The biggest fish was a 13.9 lb brown trout.  Fished the same general area in the afternoon but the catching was very slow.

MAY 22, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished from the North Buoy to the Pigeon River area this morning in 15 to 30 feet of water.  Caught 3 brown trout and a lake trout.  All fish were caught using spoons trolled about 10 feet down.  Silver and green seemed to be our best colors of the day.  All the rain we have been having the past few days has contributed to extremely strong currents in the Sheboygan River.  Last night 2 boats and a pier floated downstream and had to be rescued.   Noticed plenty of logs and debris in the lake and river as well.

MAY 25, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished 20 to 50 feet of water from the water filtration plant to the Pigeon River this evening.  It took all four kids to land this nice chinook salmon.  The fish hit a green and silver spoon on a side pole just before sunset.  Water was still cloudy close to shore from all the rains we had.

JUNE 3, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished 80 to 120 feet of water from the water straight out of the harbor this afternoon.  Picked up 6 fish and just one brown trout away from the Great Lakes Grand Slam (all 5 species).  Caught 3 rainbows, a coho, a king and a lake trout.  Our best bait of the day was trolling a silver JB spoon behind a planer board.  The chinook salmon hit a silver and green spoon on a downrigger set 60 feet deep.  Water temperature on the surface was a frigid 43 degrees.  With plenty of sun in the forecast, surface water temperatures should be on the rise.

JUNE 4, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished 80 to 130 feet of water south of the harbor this morning.  Picked up 2 chinook salmon and 3 cohos and a few got away before we could get to the rod.  Very slow fishing early in the morning, then things picked up as the sun moved higher.  The cohos took silver JB spoons trolled on the surface behind planner boards and the kings took green and silver spoons on the downriggers set between 30 and 70 deep.  The weather and conditions were great.

JUNE 5, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning 3 to 5 miles south of the harbor in water depths of 90 to 150 feet of water.  Caught 5 coho salmon, 3 chinook salmon and a rainbow trout.  The cohos and rainbow were taken in the top 25 feet of water using a variety of spoons and the small dodger fly combo, while the chinook salmon were as deep as 80 feet deep using downriggers.  Water temperature warmed up a few degrees from the day before and the calm water and warm air temperature was one of the most comfortable days on the lake this year.  Plenty of boats on the water today taking advantage of the free fishing day (no Wisconsin fishing license required).

JUNE 8, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning around a set of commercial fishing nets in around 120 feet of water straight out of the harbor.  Had some decent fishing action when we moved in close to the trap nets.  Picked up 4 cohos, a rainbow trout and a nice sized chinook salmon.  Had one of the biggest kings of the year on, but he got away at the back of the boat after a couple of missed attempts with the net.  Colder water moved back in along the shoreline overnight, my temperature gauge read 41 degrees.  The cohos and the rainbow hit a number of dodgers and flies, while the kings went after spoons on the diver rods.  Tried the harbor area for about the first half hour this morning before heading out but nothing was happening.

JUNE 10, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Had some luck fishing this morning in 100 to 140 feet of water just south of the harbor.  Caught 7 cohos, 6 chinook salmon and 3 rainbows.  The cohos and rainbows were taken on planner boards and diver rods trolling mainly spoons and the smaller dodgers with flies.  The larger chinook salmon took glow in the dark magnum spoons and dodgers trolled on the deeper downriggers set at 80 feet.  Marked plenty of fish on the graph all morning as well as some good schools of bait fish.  Surface water temperature was about 44 degrees.

JUNE 14, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

With all the rains we've had, the Sheboygan river is still pumping water into Lake Michigan at a record pace.  This morning we traveled over 3 miles to find clear water where we set up to fish.  Our best luck was in depths of 120 to 160 feet of water just south of the harbor.  Caught 5 cohos, 3 chinooks and a rainbow.  The chinook salmon took the larger dodger and flies we were running 80 to 100 feet deep, while the cohos and rainbow went after a variety of smaller dodger flies and spoons closer to the surface.  Clear skies and calm water made for another enjoyable morning on the water.  Tomorrow evening is the last general membership meeting before summer for the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen Club.  All of this summers club fishing events are now set for the season.

JUNE 19, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

The larger chinook salmon and cohos are now gathered all around the Sheboygan area in significant numbers.  Plenty of boats are now on the water the past few days.  I've witnessed some real nice catches filling the cooler with mainly larger chinook salmon and cohos.  There have also been some reports of good rainbow trout fishing offshore.  I have been spending my time fishing in the 80 to 130 foot range south of the harbor.  The fish have been hooked at all levels of the water column, but our best baits are larger spoons and dodgers and flies set at 50 to 80 feet deep.  Caught 9 fish in the morning and 4 in the afternoon with way to many to mention that got away.  The fish got the better of us today.  This has been some of the most consistent fishing of the season.  Had some camera problems today.  Below is Fridays catch.

JUNE 24, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning just south of the trap nets in 100 to 120 feet of water.  Caught 13 cohos, 5 chinook salmon and 2 lake trout for a total of 20 fish.  Early in the morning our dipsy rods took the majority of the fish while mid morning the action shifted to the downriggers.  Large glow spoons and a variety of dodger and flies worked well, but no real pattern was observed.

JUNE 24, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the the same general area the past couple of days in 100 to 130 feet of water.  Lots of nice cohos and some good sized chinook salmon being caught from top to bottom throughout the water column.   This is just basic old school salmon fishing using the same 9 beat up spoons and a rusty metal dodger.  Way to much fish cleaning.  Its been tough to keep the fillet knife sharp. 

JUNE 29, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished with some Minnesota Vikings fans today and caught them 2 fish short of their 4 person limit.  That was a pretty good catch considering they lost more fish than they brought onboard.  The Tuesday evening bite was non-stop prior to the front that moved across our area around 7:30 pm.  Fished right outside the harbor in 60 to 80 feet of water.  A variety of dodger flies and spoons set in the 30 to 50 foot range took the majority of the fish.

JULY 1, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Picked up a Great Lakes Grand Slam today, boating all five Lake Michigan sport fish.  Started in about 80 to 100 feet of water north of the harbor where we caught most of our fish on diver rods and planner boards.  We later moved in closer to the harbor during the evening where we hooked up on some nice sized kings.

JULY 6, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught all these fish in just two hours of fishing this morning in 60 feet of water just north of the harbor.  Started the morning losing the first two fish.  We immediately reset our lines and redeemed ourselves by hitting a triple and landing all three.  It was good steady action the whole trip as the winds switched directions from north to south.  The fish hit every setup we ran but two.  I fished the same area yesterday with similar results.

JULY 12, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

This past week was the most productive fishing of the season.  We put as many as 40 fish per day in the boat and fished from sunrise to sunset.  Things are getting busy, and I have not been able to keep up with the fishing reports on a timely basis.  I also forgot to bring my camera home.  The most active fishing has been sunrise and sunset when the larger salmon are biting in waves.  Doubles and triples have been common daily and the cooler is so stuffed with fish it resembles a big fish cake.  One of my guests even made the comment " I thought we were being invaded" as the salmon took every bait we had in the water early one morning.  This is what Lake Michigan salmon fishing is all about, and is evident by the heavy boat traffic and the long lines at the cleaning stations we are now experiencing.  Now is the time to get out on the water.  It does not really matter where, when or what baits are being used.  Fish are being caught in all depths of water in record numbers as the stable weather continues.

JULY 15, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught 18 fish and a lamprey this morning all before 7:00 am.  Fished within a mile of the north wreck in 90 feet of water.  Most of the fish were taken on downriggers set at 50 feet to the bottom.  Large glow spoons and a variety of dodgers were all working this morning.  Stable weather day after day has produced some the the best fishing action in years.

JULY 22, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Went 7 for 10 this morning fishing for a couple of hours at sunrise around the north wreck.  Caught 4 cohos and 3 chinook salmon.  Most of the fish were caught at or near the bottom using large glow in the dark spoons.  The surface water temperature has been rising quickly the past few days pushing the fish deeper during the daylight hours.  Good sized kings and cohos  have been most active during the early morning and evening hours.  This has been one the the best months for fishing in quite some time.  I personally boated 468 fish for my guests since the first of the month.  A good number of those fish have been planted by the state of Michigan, and are identified by the yellow die markings.  We should all send the state of Michigan a thank you card for this months exceptional fishing.

JULY 27, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Went 14 for 19 this morning fishing just north of the harbor in about 80 feet of water.  Started the morning with four fish hooked at the same time and landing all of them.  Basic old school downrigger fishing using glow in the dark magnum spoons running close to the bottom.  Yesterday we landed one of the largest lake trout caught here in Sheboygan in a couple of years.  It was caught by Jim Vercouteren of Cleveland Wisconsin and weighed in at 23.18 pounds.  He is getting it mounted and entered the fish in the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen's  "Big Fish" contest.

AUGUST 3, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Got our 20 fish limit this morning fishing right outside the harbor.  The side poles were just a banging for us today.  Cold water is still along the shoreline and the salmon are stacked up thick.  The harbor has been heavily fished the past few days and limits have been common.  large spoons trolled behind dipsy divers have produced the most fish .

AUGUST 6, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Northeast winds blew the warm water back to shore so we headed offshore today to try our luck.  Fished the morning south of the harbor in 100 to 120 feet of water.  Had good steady action all morning long fishing our baits close to the bottom.  Best lures were the glow magnum spoons and a green glow J-Plug.  Ended the morning trip with 16 nice chinook salmon.

AUGUST 9, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught 13 fish this morning before being chased off the lake by a passing thunderstorm.  Started the morning with 4 fish on at the same time.  Fished in 70 to 100 feet of water north of the harbor.  All the fish were chinook salmon and the biggest was just under 21 pounds.  All the fish were taken on magnum glow spoons and some J-Plugs.  No photo was taken today due to the rain.  The photo above is from August 6th and not the 8th.  It's getting to the point I can't remember what day it is anymore.  The fishing has been fantastic with limit catches still common.  The photo below is from Saturdays catch.  Things are getting busy in town because of some sort of golf event going on.

AUGUST 12, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area today.  Cooler water is still close to shore keeping the fish concentrated in the area.  This Saturday is the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen's brat fry to be held at the Wharf throughout the day.  Please plan to stop by if in the area.  All proceeds go to support our local area fishery.  A sport fishery such as the one we are experiencing this year does not happen by accident.

AUGUST 15, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished  today in 70 to 100 feet of water north the wreck.  Had almost 300 pounds of fish for the morning trip.  Simple old school downrigger fishing and divers on side poles worked great.  Had good steady fishing action all morning long with doubles and triples common.  Fish were caught all all levels of the water column, but 50 to 65 feet down worked best.  Large glow-in-the-dark magnum spoons and some J-Plugs worked well for us.  Did not try any dodgers and flies today.  A special thanks goes to all who attended the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen's brat fry and the Volunteers who devoted their time on Saturday to raise money for our local fishing club.  Its people like this that make our Port of Sheboygan special.

AUGUST 17, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught our limit today and yesterday.  Fished around the harbor area using spoons and J-Plugs.  And that's all I got to say about that.

AUGUST 20, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Same old story.  Cooler water still located along the shoreline.  Caught 14 fish this morning working the area around the harbor.  Our catch consisted of 1 coho, 2 brown trout and 11 chinook salmon.  The largest chinook salmon topped the scales at 23.34 lbs.  The big fish of the year caught out of Sheboygan is still at 26.7 pounds caught on 7/3/04.   Don't forget to register your fish at the Wharf if you think you have a landed a big one.  Trophies will be awarded at the end of the year for Sheboygan's biggest fish.  Best luck was trolling J-Plugs close to the surface.  Heavy boat traffic is now constant every day of the week now that the salmon are concentrated around the harbor.  The salmon are feeding on the huge schools of alewives that move in and out of the river.  Last night you could find the schools of baitfish by watching where the seagulls are feeding as the salmon charge the bait fish schools.

AUGUST 24, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Strong South East winds kept us off the water this morning, but good fishing has still been available close to shore.  Sunday we boated 35 fish for the day and all were caught within a couple of miles from the harbor.  The Sheboygan River has attracted large numbers of salmon to the area in search of the alewives that move in and out of the river.  The Sheboygan Coho Derby is scheduled for this weekend.  It is expected to be the busiest weekend of the year as fishermen from all over compete for prizes and test their fishing skills against other anglers.  Make sure you purchase a ticket and support our local fishery.  Last years event resulted in a combined donation of $15,000 to the Camp Y-Koda Outdoor Skills Center and the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen club.  This is a testament to the continued support of the areas fishermen to our community.  Its the areas fishermen that make our port the best on the lake.  Below is our catch on Sunday afternoon, for the person who asked why I only report on the morning trips.  Best of luck to all those in this weekends Coho Derby, and most of all have fun.

AUGUST 27, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Our catch the day before Coho Derby.  Lots of salmon around the harbor.

AUGUST 30, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Well the Coho Derby is over and the boat traffic was light this morning.  Started fishing right out of the harbor and fished Northeast to 100 feet of water.  Caught 11 chinook salmon and lost about 5 others.  No pattern at all today.  Fish were caught from the surface to the bottom on spoons, J-Plugs and some dodgers.  Water temperature was about 58 degrees in 100 feet of water.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area today.  Started the morning with double after double of good sized chinook salmon filling the cooler early in the day.  Large numbers of salmon are gathered around the area for their fall spawning run.  The water temperature around the harbor is above 60 degrees.  The salmon have decided to stick to the area despite the warmer water temperatures.  Everything seemed to work early, then J-Plugs and the large JB wonder bread spoons were all that we could get a bite on.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught 22 fish today.  All but 3 were caught around the harbor area.  The sunrise and sunset bite was nothing short of awesome.  We had rods taking off that we didn't even know we had in the water.  Best action was on our side poles using J-Plugs and large spoons.  Large salmon and some good sized cohos are still gathered around the harbor and river water.

SEPTEMBER 7, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught 18 fish this morning working right outside the harbor.  Scott Chandler and company has been fishing with us for years and has always brought some good luck when he comes to town.  Even though a cold front past through the night before, we experienced good steady action all morning long.  Cold water is around the shoreline which brings the salmon right to our doorstep.  Caught a good number of cohos in addition to the larger chinooks this morning and last night.  This year has been the most consistent fishing I have witnessed in over 20 years as a fishing guide here in Sheboygan.   Its been a real pleasure this season to be able to share this fishery with our guests, especially the ones that have been traveling here for years to catch big salmon on light tackle.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught 8 fish this morning around the harbor.  Same old story day after day.  Caught 2 cohos and 6 big chinook salmon, the largest went 16.5 pounds.  Salmon are still gathered around the harbor area.  Surface water temperature this morning was about 58 degrees outside the harbor.  Some days they bite better then others, but for the most part this has been the most consistent fishing I have seen in over 20 years of guiding.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Went 25 for 35 this morning fishing around the harbor.  Cooler water is still along the shoreline.  Thirteen of the fish were cohos.  Best baits were J-Plugs and magnum spoons.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Put 40 fish in the boat today fishing right outside the break wall.  Caught 17 in the morning, 12 in the afternoon and another 11 in the evening.  As the day went on, the fish got bigger.  By the evening we were catching all three and four year old chinook salmon.  It did not seem to matter what we ran for baits, but the larger glow spoons took the majority of the fish.  The water temperature has cooled down to about 46 degrees and the bait fish are schooled up all over.  This has been my best season to date as a Sheboygan fishing guide.  I have already surpassed last years record catch and there's still plenty of good fishing to go.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished around the harbor this morning.  Went 9 for 14 catching 6 kings, 2 cohos and 1 brown trout.  Last night caught a coho topping the scale at 13.86 pounds.  It is the largest coho salmon entered this year in Sheboygan's Big Fish Contest.

OCTOBER 10, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished around the harbor this morning and put 10 fish in the boat.  Caught 8 good sized cohos and 2 chinook salmon.  On Saturday we caught 19 fish for the day in the same area.  Standard Pro-Kings on downriggers and side poles took the majority of the fish.  We also caught a few on Thundersticks trolled behind planner boards.  The weather was outstanding this weekend and the fish seemed to cooperate most of the time.  We also hooked at least a dozen undersized salmon right outside the lighthouse, and did our best to release them safely.  The kids had fun reeling them in and labeled the area as eight inch alley, as we hooked them almost like clockwork at every pass.  Schools of small alewives are still gathered in the area and especially up the river which appears to have attracted the smaller salmon in search of a quick snack.  Water temperature in the lake right outside the harbor was 50 degrees this morning.

OCTOBER 13, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning in 110 to 130 feet of water just a little South of the harbor.  Caught 4 rainbows and 11 chinook salmon for a total of 15 fish.  The rainbows came on the side poles using spoons while the salmon hit the deeper downriggers set between 40 to 90 feet down.  We used a variety of J-Plugs and the larger glow spoons on the downriggers.  Fished around the small break lines in area that held most of the fish we caught.  Bob Logan and his guests from Russia had the chance to experience some late season salmon fishing on a beautiful fall day.

OCTOBER 17, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this afternoon in 100 feet of water north of the harbor.  Yesterdays strong west winds cooled the water temperatures down to 49 degrees.  Finished the trip with 8 chinook salmon, all caught between 50 feet and the bottom on a dodger and fly as well as on standard Pro-Kings.  The Sheboygan Coast Guard will be our guest speaker at this Tuesdays Great Lakes Sport Fishermen's club meeting held at 7:00pm.  The dates of next seasons fishing events will be announced and the students our club sponsored which attended the DNR skills workshop will give a brief description of their experiences.

OCTOBER 24, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning for a few hours straight out of the harbor.  Started in 100 feet of water and fished our way out to 180 feet.  Went 4 for 10 for the trip with the best action in about 150 feet of water just out side the commercial fishermen's trap nets.  Had most of our action on downriggers set as deep as 135 feet of cable.  The salmon that hit baits deep shot right to the surface, and that's when a few got away from us.  Best lure of the trip was a large glow in the dark JB wonder bread spoon.  Water temperature was 46 to 49 degrees at the surface.

NOVEMBER 20, 2004 - Captain James Schlegel

That's all folks, were done for the season!  The boat is now out of the water and stored away in preparation for next years fishing.  What a fantastic year it was.  Not only was the fishing outstanding, but I got the chance to meet many new friends along the way.  This one was my personal best in over 20 years of charter fishing.  I had the good fortune of guiding more trips and catching more fish than any other season.   Hope to see everyone again in 2004.

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