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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2009 Fishing Reports

SHEBOYGAN CHARTER FISHING REPORT 2008 - by Captain James Schlegel, April 28, 2009

The 2008 trout and salmon fishing season is now just a memory and another bright new season is right around the corner. Great Lakes sport fishing continues to welcome anglers to Sheboygan in search of salmon fishing adventures. The past several years have been some of the all-time best and area charter captains are looking forward to another action packed season. The latest charter harvest report just released by Brad Eggold, fisheries supervisor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources reported another successful fishing season. The harvest report shows 40 licensed fishing guides operating out of Sheboygan, two more than in 2007. The Sheboygan charter fishing fleet reported a respectable 2,378 trips for the season, a decrease of 2.5% from last year, and the first decrease in fishing trips in 7 years. This decrease in fishing trips was somewhat expected due to the unseasonable weather conditions, early season flooding and the slowing of the economy we experienced late last year. Since 2001, the number of charter fishing trips reported by area charter captains increased by over 71% and far exceeded everyone’s expectations. Sheboygan charters hauled in just over 16,000 fish last year, the majority of the catch was Chinook salmon, the prized sport fish also known as the King. The 2008 season's catch is down from the past 2 record setting seasons, but still a good years harvest and the fifth all-time best.

There has been a renewed interest in Great Lakes fishing 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 Wisconsin port running slightly more charter fishing trips. Keep in mind that charter fishing only represents a small portion of anglers visiting our shores, with pier and recreational anglers making up the majority of fishermen utilizing this resource. In fact, 80% of the angler hours reported to Wisconsin DNR officials here in Sheboygan are from recreational fishermen and only 20% are from charter fishing anglers. The City of Sheboygan’s boat ramps and fish cleaning stations were also active last summer. 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.

All of Sheboygan’s fishing tournaments went well, with above average attendance. Only the Coho Derby which was held in August had weather related issues and had to be canceled the second day of the tournament. 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 Craig Schnuelle who caught a 26.16 pound Chinook salmon aboard the boat "Aqua Fox" on 8/10/09. It was the largest documented fish caught out of Sheboygan waters last season and almost two and a half pounds heavier than the previous years record fish.

Craig along with other area anglers were recognized for their trophy fish and received an award from the Sheboygan Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen's Club. For over 35 years the fishing club has been supporting the local fishery, as well as, helping 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.

For many years I have provided a detailed report of the area's charter harvest to the local fishing club for review. Although the numbers are slightly down from the record setting seasons of the past few years, I am pleased to be able to submit a report that verifies a healthy and productive sport fishery. The Lake Michigan salmon fishing here in Sheboygan is still a Great Lakes success story and the envy of most sport fisheries in the world. Over the past 25 years as a Sheboygan fishing guide, it's been my pleasure to meet and visit with the thousands of fishing visitors to our area. All the best of luck again this fishing season.

MAY 1, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Stay tuned, the boats are in the water and fishing reports are coming soon.

JUNE 7, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning from 5:30 am to 8:30 am straight out of the harbor in 80 to 100 feet of water. Caught 5 chinook salmon and lost one. No consistent fishing pattern today. Had some luck using a green and glow magnum spoon on a downrigger set at 80 feet. Also had some luck with the green and white plastic dodgers running about 50 to 60 feet deep. Marked plenty of bait fish in the area and the water temperature was in the mid forties.

JUNE 9, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished this morning back and forth around the Chamberlain ship wreck. Caught a variety of fish including a nice sized chinook salmon topping the scale at 19 pounds. We boated 9 fish consisting of 4 salmon, 3 rainbows and 2 lake trout. The rainbow trout were caught on spoons, while the salmon and trout were taken deeper on dodger flies. Marked some good sized schools of baitfish and the surface water temperature was around 45 degrees.

JUNE 14, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Had the pleasure of guiding some first timers from South Dakota to some excellent Lake Michigan salmon fishing. Fished north of town this morning around the Phoenix wreck. We spoiled them right off the bat with a big king that screamed out more than a 100 yards of line. We ended our trip catching 3 chinook salmon, a coho, a lake trout and the memories of the ones that got away. Our best luck today hooking the kings were using a variety of 8 inch dodgers and flies running about 60 to 80 feet deep. The lake trout and coho took a silver rattlespoon trolled on the surface behind a planer board. Surface water temperature was about 52 degrees and had warmed up considerably the last few days.

JUNE 16, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Went offshore this afternoon in search of salmon. Fished south of the harbor between 120 to 200 feet of water. Could not find any salmon today but the rainbow trout were active. Hooked several big rainbows running spoons on the surface. As soon as they get hooked, they completely jump out of the water and twist and spin. Unfortunately for us, we lost a bunch that afternoon. They hit spoons trolled on the surface and as deep as 110 feet deep on a downrigger. Surface water was up to 55 degrees.

JUNE 21, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished offshore again all day in 180 to 270 feet of water just south of the harbor. Had some luck trolling a variety of spoons on the surface behind planner boards for rainbows and cohos. Unfortunately we lost more than we put in the boat today, but it was fun while it lasted. We also had some luck trolling white and glow dodgers on the downriggers with about 110 feet of cable. The lake surface water temperatures are warming up quickly with the calm sunny weather we have had this weekend. Pictured is our afternoons catch with a group from Milwaukee of a large chinook salmon, 2 rainbow trout, 4 coho salmon and a whitefish.

JUNE 24, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Had real good luck fishing offshore the past couple of days. We've been coming in with all the Great Lakes sport fish except the brown trout the past 3 trips in a row. More and more chinook salmon, also known as the king are now being caught every trip by area anglers. We had some fast action this morning catching a variety of fish and some good sized kings. For their first time fishing Lake Michigan, the kids battled several doubles and did awesome job of landing fish. We fished just south of town in 140 to 240 feet of water, and our best action was in about  the 200 foot range. Actually it really didn't seem to matter. We fished spoons on the surface behind planner boards and dodger/flies on the downriggers and diver rods. Most of the salmon hit baits trolled about 50 to 70 feet down. The kids told me the last time they had this much fun was when their little sister was trampled by pigs?

View a Video of our Fishing Trip

JUNE 27, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Had our annual 6 boat fishing tournament this morning. Fished from 150 to 250 feet of water. The Lake was again flat calm and a variety of fish have been caught. Again there was no clear fishing pattern today. We caught fish from the surface to 120 feet deep on downriggers. At the moment the fish just seem to be scattered throughout the water column. A variety of spoons trolled on the surface and some dodger and fly combinations on downriggers worked best.

JULY 6, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Had some good action this evening catching some of the larger chinook salmon and a lake trout. Fished straight out of the harbor in about 80 to 100 feet of water. The water temperatures are still relatively cool for this time of year, and the fish we are hooking are all over the water column. The fishing pattern thus far is no pattern at all. We have caught salmon from the surface to the bottom and everywhere in between. This evening a number of the fish were taken on J-Plugs trolled behind planner boards. We also had some luck trolling a green dodger/ fly setup 50 foot deep on a downrigger and wire line diver rig.

JULY 12, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Caught some big ones this morning north of town around the ship wreck buoy. Caught 5 chinook salmon and 1 rainbow trout. Our best luck today was early this morning using the rotating white dodgers on our diver rods. Also caught some using J-Plugs on lead core line. Surface water temperature was about 60 degrees, and most of the fish were taken about 50 to 60 feet deep. A good number of boats were out on the water today enjoying the pleasant weather and calm seas.

JULY 22, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Had some great luck fishing the harbor area this evening. After setting just a few rods in the water the action started, and didn't end til the sun went down. Went 9 for 15 catching all kings and 1 coho. Best luck was using plugs and larger glow in the dark spoons.

View a Video of our Fishing Trip

JULY 30, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished north of town in 40 feet of water. Cold water is again close to our shoreline and fishing has been good to excellent the past few days. Spoons and plugs are working best.

AUGUST 3, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

The current fishing out of the port of Sheboygan is nothing short of fantastic. The cold water is currently along our shoreline and the fish have been easy targets for all area anglers. Fished the harbor area this morning and had non-stop action trolling back and forth through the river water just outside the pier heads. Went 17 for 30 something, all king salmon and a variety of year classes. Used a variety of pro-king spoons and old school J-plugs. The lake water temperature today was 46 degrees and had to be some of the coldest in the lake. Large schools of bait fish have been near the harbor area and the fish seem to be targeting them daily.

AUGUST 9, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Our Coho Derby super tournament catch. Fished around the harbor and finished in third place. Thanks guys for doing a great job landing all the fish we put on the line.

AUGUST 17, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished around the harbor area this morning. Caught our 3 man 15 fish limit. All chinook salmon this morning. These guys visit us every year and come all the way from Tennessee to battle with our Great Lakes salmon. Once again they had a great outing and will be going home with plenty of fish. Cold water is still along our shoreline making for fast paced salmon fishing.

AUGUST 26, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

After the heavy rains on Tuesday, we tried fishing around the harbor area this morning. Had some good luck fishing back and forth across the river water flowing out of the harbor. Put 8 fish in the boat and lost a few others. Caught a brown trout, a coho and 6 chinook salmon. All different rods and baits caught fish today with no pattern at all. Used some j-plugs, stick baits and spoons on the side poles. Lake water temperature was about 58 degrees and marked some schools of alewives moving in and out of the harbor. Very little boat traffic today on a calm and sunny morning. Thanks Rich for fishing here in Sheboygan for the past 12 years.

SEPTEMBER 2, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area the past couple of days from sunrise to sunset. Had some good consistent fishing for the larger chinook salmon that have been staging around the shallow water. Caught some of the largest chinook salmon of the season this week. Doubles and triples have been common during the low light conditions. Water temperatures have been around 60 degrees near the harbor. Had our best luck using a variety of plugs and stick baits trolled behind planner boards.

SEPTEMBER 4, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the harbor area again this morning. Plenty of salmon around our area despite the warmer water. Caught 9 big ones trolling back and forth across the river water pumping out of the harbor. Best luck was trolling a variety of plugs.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the gap all weekend. The area is still stacked with mature salmon waiting to go up stream.  Went 8 for 12 fishing the harbor area this morning with a group from Minnesota. They were here last year and decided to visit our port again for more salmon action . Water temperature is still warm, but that didn't stop the kings from biting. With warm water all along the Wisconsin shoreline, we are very fortunate here in Sheboygan to have consistent salmon fishing action. I believe the Sheboygan River and all the bait fish gathered around our harbor has a lot to do with our success. Glow plugs worked best early trolled behind planner boards. When the sun was up we switched to a variety of mylar plugs and got a few more bites.  This seems to be the same pattern for the last two weeks.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished the gap area this evening with some repeat guests from the Green Bay area. Went 6 for 6 this evenings catching 5 kings and a brown trout. Despite the warmer water temperatures the harbor area is still loaded with the mature king salmon waiting to go upstream to spawn.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Fished offshore in 100 to 140 feet of water the past several days. Fish seem to be scattered all over the water column and the water temperatures are still in the mid 60's from top to bottom. Had the pleasure of guiding this family from the Appleton area this morning. The excellent warm fall weather continues and we were rewarded with some nice salmon and a rainbow trout. Caught this young lad his first Lake Michigan rainbow trout. It wasn't easy, but with some help from the rest of the crew he got the job done. The salmon all hit spoons trolled between 20 to 40 feet deep and the rainbow hit a white dodger fly on a wire diver setup. He can't wait for his grandfather to take him fishing again.

SEPTEMBER 30, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

After two straight days of high winds and canceled trips we finally were able to get out and fish this afternoon. The strong west winds did drop the lake water temperature into the mid 50's close to the shoreline. We fished the harbor area til dark and had some good luck catching a few mature king salmon as well as 2 cohos. All were caught on plugs trolled behind planner boards or diver rods. Had 2 bites on spoons but both got away. Looks like a new batch of salmon all around and inside the harbor area.

View a Video of our Fishing Trip

OCTOBER 14, 2009 - Captain James Schlegel

Well that's it for us this year and we hope everyone had a great fishing season. The boat is currently out of the water and safely in the storage building being prepared for next years fishing adventures. My crew and I would like to personally thank all our guests for joining us again this summer. I hope the fishing reports I've provided over the years have brought some insight to the fabulous sport fishery we have here in my hometown of Sheboygan. It's always been my pleasure sharing our fishing adventures. I look forward every year to being able to guide and visit with the many guests we've met over the years.  I appreciate your continued support and confidences in our ability to locate and catch fish. I'll always try my best to make sure your visit is as enjoyable and successful as possible. Thanks again for your support and hope to see you again next season.

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