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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2008 Fishing Reports

SHEBOYGAN CHARTER FISHING REPORT 2007 - by Captain James Schlegel, March 16, 2008

The 2007 trout and salmon fishing season was the best in decades with charter catch rates hitting an all-time high. Great Lakes sport fishing continues to draw anglers to Sheboygan in search of salmon fishing adventures and area charter captains delivered another incredible season. This fact was supported by the latest charter harvest report just released by Brad Eggold, fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Anglers were lined up early mornings at the launch ramps like never before and staying out on the water long past sunset. Sheboygan area charter captains were overwhelmed by one of their busiest seasons to date, running as many as three trips daily to accommodate the demand. All indicators of an abundant harvest are up again this year. The harvest report shows 38 licensed fishing guides operating out of Sheboygan, four more than in 2006. The Sheboygan charter fishing fleet reported 2,440 trips for the season, an increase of 14.6% from the prior year, and the sixth straight year of steady growth. Since 2001, the number of charter fishing trips reported by area charter captains has increased by over 75% and far exceeded anyone’s expectations. Sheboygan charters hauled in a whooping 26,553 fish, which is an amazing 21% increase from a year ago and a new area record of 10.9 fish per trip. The majority of the catch has been Chinook salmon, the prized sport fish also known as the King. This is the sixth straight season that Sheboygan charter captains recorded double digit harvest increases while charter fishing trips to the area continued to rise.

There has been a renewed interest in Great Lakes fishing the past few years with area captains and businesses catering to fishermen seeing the benefits. Sheboygan was one of the most popular spots for fishing this year with only one port running slightly more charter fishing trips. Keep in mind that charter fishing only represents a portion of anglers visiting our shores, with pier and recreational anglers making up the majority of fishermen utilizing this resource. The City of Sheboygan’s boat ramps were also active all summer long with launch fee receipts up by 5.6% from a year earlier. This is a good indicator of just how many recreational fishermen are using the areas facilities. Sheboygan has long maintained its “Fishermen Friendly” reputation among the sport fishing community, and is well known for its outstanding fishing grounds along with its clean and modern boating facilities popular with fishing tourists. The excellent weather during the spring and summer made for an enjoyable time on the water and also contributed to this year’s success.

All of Sheboygan’s fishing tournaments went extremely well, with excellent weather and above average attendance. Not only did area anglers catch a lot of fish this season, they also managed to hook a few big ones. This year’s “Sheboygan's Big Fish" winner went to Barry Martin who caught a 23.68 pound Chinook salmon aboard the boat Terminator on 8/12/07. It was the largest documented fish caught out of Sheboygan waters this season, but down about three pounds from last years record fish. With the generally recognized abundance of salmon in Lake Michigan, the overall size has been slightly down from years past due mainly from competition for forage.

Barry along with many other area anglers have been recognized for their trophy fish and received an award from the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen's Club. For over 30 years the fishing club has been supporting the local fishery as well as helped to promote the many area fishing events. The fishing club has sponsored the "Sheboygan's Big Fish" contest for many years and maintains past area big fish records.

This past season was also my busiest year to date, booking more trips and catching more fish than ever before. For many years I have provided a detailed report of the area's charter harvest to the local fishing club for review. I am pleased to be able to submit a report that once again surpassed all expectations, and confirms what fishermen to our area already know. More and more visitors are discovering the fishing opportunities on Lake Michigan and that the 2007 fishing season was one of Sheboygan's all-time best. With the upcoming boating season right around the corner, I can only imagine what new surprises are in store for us this year.

MAY 18, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

We were out on the water Saturday and Sunday and found some Chinook salmon. Fished straight out of the harbor in 100 to 150 feet of water. Watch for the commercial fishermen's nets just to the north of town from 30 feet out to 80 feet of water. The surface water was around 44 degrees on Saturday and cooled down to 40 degrees on Sunday. Caught all salmon on the morning trips and rainbows during the afternoon. No real pattern at all, but glad to see some nice salmon in the area this early in the year. Had bites on the surface down to 90 feet deep. Pictured below is Saturday mornings catch. The Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen’s club will be sponsoring their 4th annual "Ride a Charter Boat Day" starting at 6:00 pm. on Tuesday May 20, 2008. Free boat rides will be provided courtesy of our club member charter fishing boats. The Sheboygan charter fishing fleet had it’s best season ever last year, and in appreciation for the communities support is offering the free boat rides. Boarding will begin along the boardwalk originating from the Wharf. See the brand new city boardwalk just updated last fall. This is a great opportunity to visit with Sheboygan captains, ask questions, review their vessels and meet with our club membership. In addition to the free boat rides, the event includes an old fashion fish boil for the local grade school fishing clubs, participation from the US Coast Guard and local commercial fishing boats, raffle drawings, and a variety of free salmon recipes for you to enjoy. The Great Lakes club has a long list of summer fishing activities and always welcomes new members and community volunteers.

MAY 22, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Had some luck fishing in a little deeper water the past couple of days. The northwest winds moved some cooler water our way. Fished straight out of the harbor from 100 feet of water to over 300 feet. No real good fishing pattern at all. Caught rainbow trout on downriggers deep and some salmon at the surface, and everything in between. I can tell you that the further we moved offshore the cooler the surface water. At 300 feet we measured a frigid 38 degrees at the surface where we caught some rainbows. Caught our 10 fish, two person limit today consisting of 5 rainbows, 4 chinook salmon and 1 coho. Most of the fish were caught on large green/glow and silver magnum spoons. Caught a variety of fish yesterday as well, and glad to see some good size salmon around Sheboygan at this time of year.

MAY 24, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught the kids some rainbows and cohos this morning. Fished just south of the harbor in 130 to 300 feet of water. All the fish this morning took large magnum spoons trolled behind planner boards with some weight added and downriggers. Water temperatures are still on the cool side for this time of year. Surface water temperatures got cooler the further we trolled offshore and ranged between 43 to 39 degrees.

JUNE 7, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the past couple of days just south of the commercial fishermen's trap nets in 75 to 95 feet of water. Had some good luck using a variety of magnum spoons trolled 30 to 70 feet deep. Caught one of our largest salmon of the season on a blue/silver magnum pro-king trolled 30 feet deep. Constantly changing direction and speed seemed to produce more strikes. Surface water temperature was around 46 degrees. Keep a sharp look on the water for a variety of floating  debris due to all the rain received lately. Pictured is Saturday mornings catch.

JUNE 16, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished today with a local group that has been visiting us for years. We fished in 80 to 130 feet of water just south of the harbor. Had some good luck today catching all chinook salmon with our deeper downriggers. Large magnum spoons and a few dodger fly combinations worked well.

JUNE 26, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Had some good luck fishing today with some first timers. Had the opportunity to share our outstanding fishery with a father and daughter team from Nebraska. Caught our 2 person, ten fish limit by 8:00 am this morning. Started in 65 feet of water and worked our way east to 120 feet. Best action came on magnum spoons trolled on downriggers set at 25 to 50 feet deep. Also had a few fish hit standard Pro-Kings trolled behind planner boards. Best colors today were silver and green. Caught 9 chinook salmon and 1 rainbow. The good fishing continues as the surface water slowly begins to warm up. Scheduled this Saturday is the Kids Junior Coho Derby. Our local fishing club has made a donation of $1000 to help sponsor this event. For additional information or to volunteer your fishing boat for the event please contact the Wharf at 920-458-4406.

JUNE 30, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished in 80 to 140 feet of water just south of the harbor. All the fish were caught on spoons. No fishing pattern at all today. We hooked a fish on every rod we ran. Caught fish from the surface to 100 feet deep. The fishing pattern the last few days has been "no fishing pattern". The surface water is about the same temperature everywhere here in Sheboygan and the fish seem to be scattered at every depth range. Caught 2 lake trout, 2 rainbows and 7 chinook salmon and let a few get away for tomorrows trip.

JULY 11, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning with former area charter operator and some friends from Minnesota.  We fished around the Chamberlin ship wreck and had some good luck catching both chinook salmon and rainbow trout. Cooler water still is the norm around the Sheboygan area with fish scattered throughout the water column.

JULY 17, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this afternoon in 80 feet of water just south of the harbor. Caught our 3 man, 15 fish limit in just 3 hours. Most of the fish hit surface baits trolled behind planer boards. Worked a good brake line back and forth and the fish kept biting.

JULY 20, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area for the past few days and caught some of the largest fish of the season. We are having consistent success fishing the area every day. River water loaded with alewives has been pumping out into the lake and the salmon are having a feeding frenzy daily. The colder lake water has been bringing the salmon close to shore. We kept working back and forth across the harbor mouth and had several bites every pass. Best action was trolling baits across the surface behind planner boards. The photo below is from Sunday mornings trip.

JULY 22, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area again this morning and caught our three person limit of 15 fish by 6:45 am. Caught everything but a lake trout today. All the fish were caught on planner boards and side poles. Never put a downrigger in the water.

JULY 29, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished around the Chamberlin ship wreck today. Caught all five sport fish species today for the first Great Lakes Grand Slam of the season. These guys have been coming to Sheboygan for the fishing for the past 15 years and are going home with a variety of Lake Michigan's sport fish.

JULY 31, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished in 80 to 100 feet of water straight out of the harbor this morning. Warmer water has moved into our area and the fish are now a little deeper in the water column. I was requested to mention the fact that these guys came all the way from Florida to fish, and it was a privilege to show them what Lake Michigan has to offer. They mentioned they were going to have salmon on the grill this evening. Enjoy your catch and thanks for fishing with us.

AUGUST 6, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught a nice rack of fish for a fun group from Minnesota. We fished in 60 to 90 feet of water off the golf coarse north of town. Great action early in the morning, then a slower pace of a couple of fish here and there the rest of the day. Warmer water is still here driving the fish down deep. We used mainly J-plugs on downriggers and weighted boards. There should be plenty of boats on the water this week in preparation for this weekends Coho Derby fishing contest.

AUGUST 13, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning south of town at the drop off. Best action was early in the morning when every downrigger took off. Warm water is still in our area and we have been fishing further offshore. The fish are deep in the water column and downriggers are now the best method for catching fish deep. This morning we used a lot of spoons, green and glow was the best. We also had some luck using the larger dodgers and flies running deep. These guys have been coming here to Sheboygan for the past 6 years, traveling all the way from Tennessee.

AUGUST 16, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning at the drop off south of town for the past few days. Plenty of good fishing action even though the water temperature is still warm. We have been fishing deep using almost all spoons. Our best luck was running baits 50 to 110 feet deep.

AUGUST 21, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning north of town in 100 to 120 feet of water. Caught some big ones today using a variety of spoons and J-Plugs run at depths of 50 to 80 feet down. Put 11 salmon and a small lake trout in the boat. Water temperature is still warm from the surface to the bottom.

AUGUST 25, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished again this morning north of town in 100 to 120 feet of water. This area has been very consistent fishing for us the past few days with some real nice catches. Started out the trip with a triple and landed all three. Always a good way to start a fishing trip. Went 9 for 14 for the morning trip catching all chinook salmon. All the fish were caught deep in the water column using mainly J-Plugs and a few dodger/fly set-ups. Surface water was in the upper 60's and the downrigger balls felt warm all the way to the bottom. These guys regularly fish salmon in Seattle on their own 50 foot Hatteras sportfishermen and were very impressed with our fishing here in Sheboygan. It's always my pleasure to show west coast fishermen just how good this Great Lakes fishing can be. And better yet, we don't have to deal with the salt water.

AUGUST 28, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning north of town in 60 to 100 feet of water. Best bet was J-Plugs on downriggers set between 30 to 50 feet down. Fast action again early in the morning at low light conditions.

AUGUST 31, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Hundreds of fishermen tested their luck here in Sheboygan this Labor Day weekend. The weather cooperated with some of the best fishing conditions of the season. Mixed fishing results were reported with anglers spread out in all directions and water depths. We fished the harbor area the entire weekend, consistently catching the larger mature salmon. We caught fish all day long from sunrise to sunset but our morning trips were the most productive when we averaged more than a hundred pounds of fish per trip. The early morning and evening bite was fantastic and doubles and triples were common. We left the dock at 5:00 am each day to take advantage of this fast fishing action each day. Large schools of Alewives showed up around the harbor this weekend keeping the fish interested.  Using a variety of J-Plugs and spoons worked very well for us trolled near the surface. Pictured below is Sunday morning catch of a brown, a coho and 10 chinook salmon. This group has been coming here to Sheboygan from Iowa for many years, and it's always been my pleasure showing them what this lake has to offer.

SEPTEMBER 3, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area again all day. Despite a cold front moving thru our area last night and the winds shifting 180 degrees, we still managed to catch some nice fish. We boated 7 for 12 our am trip, and 4 for 5 during the afternoon trip. Had our best luck using J-Plugs in and out of the harbor mouth. First time angler Meryl Anderson landed a huge coho salmon during our afternoon trip. Meryl registered her coho in "Sheboygan's Big Fish Contest " that topped the scale at a whooping 12.85 pounds. This is the largest documented coho registered here in Sheboygan for the past several years. Not bad for her first lake Michigan fish. Pictured below is our morning groups catch.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area this morning as well as last night. Went 5 for 10 last evening and 7 for 12 this morning. Caught some big ones today trolling around inside the harbor using J-Plugs and magnum spoons.

SEPTEMBER 8, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished offshore this morning in 100 to 140 foot of water south of the harbor. Caught everything but a brown trout today. Ended our trip with 17 fish in the bucket of all different year classes. Plenty of action all morning long using the larger plastic dodgers on downriggers run deep. What a contrast from fishing this weekend. I counted only 2 other boats on the water today.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday around the harbor. Strong southeast winds on Thursday turned the lake over and cold water is now near our shoreline. Fished the usual stuff in and out of the harbor catching a variety of fish, but mainly the larger mature salmon. It doesn't take long to fill the cooler when conditions are like this. Pictured below is Saturdays catch with a group from Iowa that has been traveling here to Sheboygan for about 25 years.

SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Still plenty of coho salmon around the Sheboygan harbor. Fished this beautiful fall morning in and out of the gap and caught five cohos and two chinook salmon. Fished with a fun group from the Madison area familiar with fishing our harbor from the shoreline. Best action was using a variety of J-Plugs trolled behind planer boards. Had a few more on but could not get them in the boat. A good number of large brown trout have been caught around our harbor the past few days. Yesterday a brown trout caught aboard the boat "Stars & Stripes" was registered in Sheboygan's Big Fish Contest weighing 18.78 pounds.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor this morning with some long time visitors to Sheboygan and a guest from Australia. Caught some big ones today using the standard stuff, J-Plugs trolled behind planer boards. Had 9 hook-ups this morning and put 6 in the bucket. All chinook salmon and one coho salmon. Our guest from Australia landed the largest fish of the day, a 15.5 pound salmon and the first fish she ever caught. Water temperature this morning was around 60 degrees, and there's still a good number of salmon in the area.

SEPTEMBER 21, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

The strong southeast winds on Friday turned the lake over again. Cold water in the low 50's brought the fish back to the harbor big-time this weekend. Fished all weekend in and out of the harbor with some real nice catches. Went 14 for 23 on Saturday morning and 8 for 12 today. Best luck was using J-Plugs trolled on the side poles. Would have caught more on Saturday if one particular guest would have stopped thumbing the spoon every time a large chinook salmon started peeling line out. The rest of his party gave him a new nickname. He is now known as "Thumbelina". Pictured below is Saturday mornings catch with "Thumbelina" pictured to the left. Everybody with a thumbs up with their mornings catch!

SEPTEMBER 22, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

The harbor fishing is still the best chance for filling the cooler. Fished the past two days with this group that came all the way from Nebraska to catch some Lake Michigan salmon. They fished here some 19 years ago and can't believe how the riverfront has changed and the fishing has improved. Trolling in and out of the harbor using J-Plugs behind planer boards has worked very well for us the past few days. Our best action was trolling towards the white pelican swimming in the harbor all evening. No kidding, A white pelican, I have pictures. I hope it's still there in the morning for good luck. Caught 6 fish on our morning trip and another 9 fish this evening. This has been a good week for catching large brown trout as well as a bunch of cohos. Caught a 16.6 pound brown trout Sunday morning and 2 big ones again tonight. Pictured below is our 3 hour evenings catch.

SEPTEMBER 25, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught the big ones today around the harbor on this sunny and calm late September afternoon.. Caught all chinook salmon today. Went 8 for 13 trolling around inside the harbor using J-Plugs trolled behind planner boards and side poles. Everyone had fish on and the nets were active today. This group fished with us some nine years ago, and plans not to wait so long next time. Had a great time with old friends on a beautiful fall afternoon.

SEPTEMBER 28, 2008 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area again all weekend. Still plenty of fish in and around our harbor, but they are finicky at times. Saturday morning, the highlight of the day was hitting a quad at first daylight and landing three of the four. I had to help out our three person group, and ended up losing the big one. Fortunately we caught a few more after that. Sunday evening we had some guests from Romania. After a few passes around the harbor and nothing happening, they were talking about having to go to the "Piggly Wiggly" to buy a fish for supper. After that comment, fish were hitting from all directions. Went 7 for 10 catching all chinook salmon and one coho. All the fish were caught inside the harbor trolling J-Plugs and a variety of glow and green stick baits behind planner boards and side poles. No need to go to the "Piggly Wiggly" for fish today! Pictured is Sunday evenings catch.

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