The Steelhead fishing has never been better in Southeastern Wisconsin if you are familiar with its water and know how to get away from crowds and fish a variety of water.
This past Sunday two friends and I made it out to a spot few make it to and managed to land 16 steelhead in under 3 hours. All were landed on flies, spawn sacs, and hair jigs. Fast water held steelhead that I plucked with a variety of flies swung swiftly through the minefield of fish. My friends pulled some wild fish out the slower moving tailouts with spawn and hair jigs.
I have never had such an action packed morning Steelhead fishing in my life. It is the kind of fishing everyone dreams of and when it comes you can barely stop smiling for a second. Fish ranged from 5-12 pounds and more males were caught than females, but only my a small margin. All but two of the females we caught had already spawned but were still very bright.
This is a good learning tool, above pictured are two Steelhead of almost exactly the same size, the top male and the bottom female. You will notice the male has a longer mouth, which extends much past the eye, while the females mouth is smaller. The male has the double red stripe, which develops deep into spawning. Males generally have larger heads, some develope a kype, or hooked jaw, you will notice the length of the gill plate is greater than that of the female.
Here is Mike with a larger male of the day.
We had multiple times during the morning in which we had two anglers hooked at the same time, we even landed a couple doubles and photo opportunities presented themselves! We took care to keep the Steelhead in the water at all times, even when unhooking and only lift them for a photo or two. All 16 fish were released.
Double steel next to my wonderful fly rod.
More double trouble.
All told we lost count of lost fish but I was broken off three times and had two more shake my hook. The action was non-stop and the fish were in the mood to pounce. At first light I made my first drift and watched a steelhead shoot up 3 feet to meet my fly and smash it, I missed that first hook set, but it got my adrenaline pumping so 5 minutes later I certainly hit my second.
We had three holes to share between the 3 of us and a 4th and 5th were downstream just about a quarter mile. It made for great rotation, hook up a few times, sit out for a minute and change places and start fishing again. A great way to share the water.
The male fish were certainly more aggressive and would charge streamers and jigs, females weren't shy, but would do little to meet you half way, casts needed to be landed with precision and depth perception while stripping the fly to their strike zone was crucial.
Get out if you can. There are fish to be taken from Sheboygan all the way to the state line and you'll be sorry if this season passes without getting your hands on some Lake Michigan Steel.