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Q:
Since I'm not right next to fly-water anymore, I was wondering if anyone out here has experience fishing the Great Lakes for salmon and steelhead? If I'm going to have to drive 4 hours for a decent trout stream I might as well drive 7 for a decent steelie or salmon stream. I have read a whole lot about it, but have never actually done it. I know the 3 main types of flies to look into: streamer, egg, leech. It would be sweet to throw out some patterns/streams to hit. From what I've seen fall is the time to go and I'm looking to hit Lake Michigan or Superior (haven't decided which would be a better bet). I'll leave it there and see what responses I get.

Question by badsmerf. Uploaded on May 27, 2012

Answers (10)

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

fall is definitely the time to go. i go to grand valley state university in Grand rapids MI, and fish for salmon and steelhead all fall since i cant deer hunt. never fished for them on the big lake, but the grand river is a good place to hit up on your journey. when the salmon are at the peak of the run, its hard NOT to snag them there in so thick. steelhead action is also great in that river if you know what your doing.

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from badsmerf wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Since I'm in Iowa I'm looking to go to Wisconsin or Minnesota. I'm sure the technique and timing are pretty similar for MI though.

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from pudgexl29 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

My family has fished Lake Michigan for years. We have fished up and down the shore of the big lake from Michigan. All summer long, we catch salmon, steelies, and the occasional lake trout or 2. The Grand River is a good place to hit up. If you are looking for some great salmon fishing, hit up a charter and hit the big lake for a great day of fishing. The salmon fishing is awesome right now.

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from fezzant wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Not to knock your great lakes plans, but there is some good trout fishing in a few spots in SW Wisconsin. Look up the Fly Fishing Film Tour films for further info:

flyfilmtour.com/reverb

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from Boiler02 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Do you do any fly fishing for smallmouth and panfish? There are surely places to cast a fly for those in Iowa. I live in Indiana and do most of my fly fishing for Smallies and Bluegills. It's a lot of fun to get a nice smallmouth on a popper.

WI does have some good trout fishing. A charter is a nice way to get a full day of fishing on Lake MI.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

My salmon and trout fishing in Lake Michigan is dated in that I haven't lived there for 20 years but I fished it hard for 17 years. I would suggest you take a look at Two Rivers and Manitowac Wisc. in the Fall. They used to plant salmon and trout in those rivers and had a great fall return for spawn... if that is still the case, you have a prime spot. I don't think that you can get access any more but the warm water discharge from the Commonwealth Edison power plant in Waukegan (I think) in April/May used to be killer for big steelheads with a wooley worm.

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from badsmerf wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Thanks Dakota. I really don't want to spend the money on a charter. Where I'm at in IA, there isn't much fishing at all. Besides, I want to hook into some big fish. There has to be more great lakes steelheaders here!

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from Micropterus24 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I fished the Milwaukee River a few times this past fall/winter, and there are good numbers of salmon steelhead and lakerun browns. There's a lot of public access, but it is in the middle of milwaukee and can be pretty crowded. I also plan on fishing the root river and sheboygan river this fall.

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from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I was thinking exclusively fly fishing conditions. If you just want to have fun and catch big salmon, the best Lake Michigan experience of my lifetime was casting for big Kings in Port Washington in mid-September. I have no idea if they still stock them in that harbor but when they did, they returned four years later around 30-40 pounds and full of fight. I had such a great time casting from the bank that I actually fished from 7:00PM Friday night to 3:00PM Sunday without a break. I was hauling them in constantly. I used a flourescent Krocodile spoon lit up with a camera flash all night and green/blue Krockodiles and spawn sacks all day.

If they still stock there and it is still legal to fish from the harbor, that is as good as you will find. You don't need a charter but you do need a strong rod and reel. Don't try it with a bass rod or you will be sorry. A bass hits like attaching a couch pillow to your line and throwing it off a 10 foot ladder. A King hits more like attaching a concrete block to your line and throwing it off the Hancock building.

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from dirtybillsguidesvc wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I am a river fishing guide in Upstate NY, fishing exclusively for river run Salmon, Steelhead and Brown Trout. I don't fish the lakes that you are going to but, fish are fish. I know this is an older post but I would also recommend hiring a guide for a day. They can offer a lifetime worth of knowledge in a short period of time.

Good luck, tight lines!

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from scratchgolf72 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

fall is definitely the time to go. i go to grand valley state university in Grand rapids MI, and fish for salmon and steelhead all fall since i cant deer hunt. never fished for them on the big lake, but the grand river is a good place to hit up on your journey. when the salmon are at the peak of the run, its hard NOT to snag them there in so thick. steelhead action is also great in that river if you know what your doing.

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from badsmerf wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Since I'm in Iowa I'm looking to go to Wisconsin or Minnesota. I'm sure the technique and timing are pretty similar for MI though.

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from pudgexl29 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

My family has fished Lake Michigan for years. We have fished up and down the shore of the big lake from Michigan. All summer long, we catch salmon, steelies, and the occasional lake trout or 2. The Grand River is a good place to hit up. If you are looking for some great salmon fishing, hit up a charter and hit the big lake for a great day of fishing. The salmon fishing is awesome right now.

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from fezzant wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Not to knock your great lakes plans, but there is some good trout fishing in a few spots in SW Wisconsin. Look up the Fly Fishing Film Tour films for further info:

flyfilmtour.com/reverb

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Boiler02 wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Do you do any fly fishing for smallmouth and panfish? There are surely places to cast a fly for those in Iowa. I live in Indiana and do most of my fly fishing for Smallies and Bluegills. It's a lot of fun to get a nice smallmouth on a popper.

WI does have some good trout fishing. A charter is a nice way to get a full day of fishing on Lake MI.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

My salmon and trout fishing in Lake Michigan is dated in that I haven't lived there for 20 years but I fished it hard for 17 years. I would suggest you take a look at Two Rivers and Manitowac Wisc. in the Fall. They used to plant salmon and trout in those rivers and had a great fall return for spawn... if that is still the case, you have a prime spot. I don't think that you can get access any more but the warm water discharge from the Commonwealth Edison power plant in Waukegan (I think) in April/May used to be killer for big steelheads with a wooley worm.

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from badsmerf wrote 1 year 46 weeks ago

Thanks Dakota. I really don't want to spend the money on a charter. Where I'm at in IA, there isn't much fishing at all. Besides, I want to hook into some big fish. There has to be more great lakes steelheaders here!

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from Micropterus24 wrote 1 year 45 weeks ago

I fished the Milwaukee River a few times this past fall/winter, and there are good numbers of salmon steelhead and lakerun browns. There's a lot of public access, but it is in the middle of milwaukee and can be pretty crowded. I also plan on fishing the root river and sheboygan river this fall.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from DakotaMan wrote 1 year 44 weeks ago

I was thinking exclusively fly fishing conditions. If you just want to have fun and catch big salmon, the best Lake Michigan experience of my lifetime was casting for big Kings in Port Washington in mid-September. I have no idea if they still stock them in that harbor but when they did, they returned four years later around 30-40 pounds and full of fight. I had such a great time casting from the bank that I actually fished from 7:00PM Friday night to 3:00PM Sunday without a break. I was hauling them in constantly. I used a flourescent Krocodile spoon lit up with a camera flash all night and green/blue Krockodiles and spawn sacks all day.

If they still stock there and it is still legal to fish from the harbor, that is as good as you will find. You don't need a charter but you do need a strong rod and reel. Don't try it with a bass rod or you will be sorry. A bass hits like attaching a couch pillow to your line and throwing it off a 10 foot ladder. A King hits more like attaching a concrete block to your line and throwing it off the Hancock building.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from dirtybillsguidesvc wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

I am a river fishing guide in Upstate NY, fishing exclusively for river run Salmon, Steelhead and Brown Trout. I don't fish the lakes that you are going to but, fish are fish. I know this is an older post but I would also recommend hiring a guide for a day. They can offer a lifetime worth of knowledge in a short period of time.

Good luck, tight lines!

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