Southeast Wisconsin Harbors Finally Showing Good Numbers of Salmon

By: Kyle Deavers

Yesterday we got more than two inches of rain in Southeast Wisconsin and it did a few things. The influx of water triggered many of the salmon that were in our harbors to migrate upriver. It also drew fresh fish into our rivers and harbors and we’re hoping there’s more to follow. What I can tell you is last weekend I trolled in Lake Michigan and did catch salmon out there, which tells me that’s there’s another push of fish on the way.

With that said the last week has been good in our harbors. We’ve had some days where we’ve caught 20-30 fish. Keep in mind last year this wasn’t the case. It was tough last summer and fall. If I caught five in a day last year I would have been thrilled. It’s safe to say this year’s run is much improved.


Even though we had a significant amount of rain and some of these salmon have now left for the rivers there’s still plenty of salmon in the harbors. And, that includes all our harbors in the Southeast portion of the state. That’s means Port Washington, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha have salmon now. These fish are scattered throughout the entire harbor systems and the corresponding tributaries.


I think we will have a good bite in the harbor for another few weeks. There’s a chance of getting more fresh fish, but a lot of them are going to be dark. The thing that stands out about this year is there’s a lot of dark fish. That’s a reflection of our warmer water. Temperatures remain unseasonably warm. The only silver looking salmon we are seeing are coho, but we’ve yet to see a big push yet. They are only trickling in.

The fish are larger than we’ve seen in recent years, but we’ve also had a large school of 5-8 pound males in the region, which are still a blast to catch. Meanwhile, we’ve also caught at least two 20 pounders a day and our largest fish was 26 pounds.


For the last week it’s been a skein bite. Sure, some guys are catching them on crankbaits and spinners, but skein has been the hot bait. I’ve been catching double-digit numbers of salmon daily on Natural and Pink Fire Cure skein. I’m using 50-cent size pieces of skein and running 12-pound Phantom fluorocarbon line. It’s no secret how I’m curing my eggs, but it’s effective every day. Here’s a link to my last blog that explains the easy process:


Typically, you’ll find these salmon in eight to 10 feet of water, but if you can find deeper holes or drop-offs you’ll be in the strike zone. The deepest portions of the harbor are best. Many anglers will also target Lake Michigan’s tributaries. Salmon will be common in these tributaries for next month.

Editor’s Note: Kyle Deavers operates Big Boy Fishing. For more information on his Great Lakes salmon trips please visit