Sunday, October 3, 2010

Milwaukee Area Salmon Fishing Report : 10/02/2010

Any Salmon fisherman knows that in order to catch a salmon it requires at least some degree of knowledge of the fish, it takes time spent on the water, and it takes luck.  Put those three together, and in time you'll hook one and at least get to battle with it, weather it breaks your line or not, well that's up to you.  Some days it takes more of one than the other.  If you really study how the fish work you can make a very educated guess to where and why Salmon are where they are, and because of this you'll catch a fish that day while others don't.  Some days it takes hours, just casting and casting as the hours pass, and eventually some lone fish decides enough is enough and hits your bait.  The final ingredient is luck, and this is a tricky one.  Some days you just get lucky and the fish just so happen to be where you are, and you just so happen to want to catch them.

Yesterday, two friends and I had all three of these things in abundance.

It turned out to be a day of such volume and magnitude of fish that I'm not sure I've heard of a day like it.

My of fishing started with a stop at Oak Creek, which is running very low, clear, and as far as I can tell is empty at the moment.  Rain will pick things up, and we need it bad.  At this point my knowledge of Salmon started to kick in.  My reasoning in my next move is as follows.  Since it is now October and we've been rain free for more than 2 weeks now the fish have got to be around in number in the harbor.  There are 4 harbors in my range however... so which one should I pick? Well I know that the only source of moving water in range is the Milwaukee River, which is actually running at a reasonable flow, not a flow great enough to push fish into the system, but for this time of year, it's running at an average rate.  So Milwaukee it is, now where in the harbor should I try for these Salmon in broad daylight.  Well... if there are hundreds of Salmon in the harbor waiting for a torrent of moving water where can you find them?  Well the night before last we had a brief downpour in the region, not enough to make the rivers swell, but probably enough to get the discharge near McKinley Marina flowing at least a bit.  So that would be my destination in hopes that a little trickle of water would draw in fish, fish that hopefully would be willing to bite on chunks of Salmon skein that I happened to have in my car, just in case the situation came up.

I pulled my car up, there were 3 fishermen there.  One had a fish on, good sign.  As it was netted I walked up,  said nice fish, I then moved around the other two fishermen to claim my spot on the railing.  As I put down my stuff one turned to me and said "TOM!", it was my friend Keith, who I had fished with the night before in Racine. Mike was there as well, I asked if they had and fish, and sure enough, Mike had caught a fresh, silver Coho, which was on the pavement behind us.  I asked how long they had been here, they replied only 15 minutes.  Hopes were high at this point.

The next 6 hours may be the best 6 hours of shore Salmon fishing I'll ever experience.  Between the 3 of us we landed 32 fish, were broken off by 7 more, lost 10 more to spit hooks, and had probably 30 hits that we missed.  28 king salmon, 3 Coho, and one Brown Trout.  Absolutely amazing.

To anyone who thinks this years salmon run is already over, there is no other way to put this, you are wrong.  The run is late, and is only just starting.  A warm summer, cool temps near shore in the fall, and a lack of rain have lead to a very slow start and a prolonged run, I will not be surprised if we still see a strong spawning run going into November.

We kept 12 fish, released the rest until the last 3 fish of the night, which we also kept.  All fish except 3 were donated to the fishermen around us who were fishing for food and were not as lucky as us.

We fished cured salmon skein about 3 feet under a float.  That's all there was to it.


  1. Hey Tom, this is Ying here from Milwaukee. It was nice meeting you this weekend. My brother and I were a little late for the action, but it looks like you guys had a blast! I'm glad someone is catching, and yes, the run is just starting and its gonna be a blast!

  2. Ying, it was great meeting you, it doesn't happen every day that someone recognizes me in the dark! I appreciate your kind words, I bet the fishing will continue to be good at that spot where we caught these. After I met you I got in the car and felt bad that I didn't think to offer you some skein, considering we had like 6 fresh skeins that we kept. If you get on some fish soon email me a photo at and I'll feature you on the blog brother! Thanks again.

  3. Tom, again you have my jealousy! I've been fishing my harbor down here in Chicago, and I've seen 4 fish taken out of the water in the 8 hrs cumulative/3 days. I'm going to try that skein business. Thanks for the inspiring pics!

  4. No problem Luke, bite should be switching over from crank baits to spawn during the day. Crank baits at night seem to be working pretty well still. Go for something like a reef runner ripstick or rapala tail dancer. Something that has a wide wobble and still works with a slow retrieve. Skein is a great bet during the day. Fish it a couple feet off of the bottom on a slip bobber near harbor walls and docks where salmon are cruising.

  5. Tom,
    Great blog. What type of spinning outfit do you use?

  6. Anonymous, 8 to 11 feet long, medium to heavy action rods. Medium-sized spinning reel with a good drag system. At least 200 yards of 8-10 pound monofilament.

  7. When you said you fish eggs, what is the best way to cure the eggs, cause nothing has worked for me in my 3years of fishing the harbors. Thanks!