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Sioux Rivers Steelhead Fishing

Sioux Rivers Steelhead Fishing

Washburn, Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Lake Superior tributary streams have long been known for excellent steelhead fishing. Unlike their Lake Michigan counterparts, these streams are essentially hatcheries — steelhead spawn in them every year to restock the fishery naturally.

Sioux Rivers

The Sioux probably ranks second among Lake Superior tributaries in popularity, largely because it is quite accessible. Most anglers start at Big Rock Falls and work downstream. To get there, take State Highway 13 to Washburn, then turn left on County Highway C. Turn right on Big Rock Road and go a mile and a half to the river. A town park is just across the bridge.

There is a walk-in access with parking for several cars on Friendly Valley Road, where the Little Sioux River joins the Sioux. Steelhead season on the Little Sioux itself does not open until May, but the hole at its mouth sometimes holds fish.


There are two different open-season dates for steelhead and other trout on Lake Superior tributaries. On some streams, the season runs from the first Saturday in May through the last Sunday in September. On most streams, the season runs from the last Saturday in March to Nov. 15. The daily bag limit is one steelhead or rainbow trout over 26 inches, but most anglers release the legal-sized fish they catch to help maintain the fishery.

Techniques for catching these fish vary. Some anglers use spinning gear to throw spinners or drift spawn, but fly rods are better suited to fishing spawn, small wobbling plugs or flies on most of the smaller streams.

To fish spawn or plugs on a fly rod, choose a 9-foot 8- or 9-weight rod, a multiplier reel and 8- or 10-pound-test monofilament or fluorocarbon line. For spawn fishing, tie natural eggs in cherry-sized sacs using commercially available mesh material. Snell a No. 4 or 6 salmon egg hook to your line, slide the hook into the spawn, pinch split shot a foot or so above the hook, and you’re ready to fish. Some anglers put a tag of orange or chartreuse yarn in the snell. Some also attach sinkers with a short dropper and a three-way swivel.

Spawn fishing with a fly rod thus rigged is a short-range proposition. Wade upstream or down and lob the spawn into deep holes and runs and let it bounce along the bottom. You can also fish this rig with only a yarn “fly” and no spawn.

To fish a wobbling plug on a fly rod, simply tie it to your line, lob it downstream and let it work in the current. Swing it back in forth in front of steelhead holding in riffles or on spawning redds to entice strikes from reluctant fish.

To fish flies, use a 9-foot 8-weight rod with a floating weight-forward line and stout tapered leader. Effective fly patterns include dark, natural-looking patterns like stoneflies, Woolly Buggers and leeches, as well as colorful attractor patterns, single eggs and yarn in chartreuse or orange.

NOTE: For more information, contact the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club online at; Lake Superior Steelhead Association,; Anglers All,, (715) 682-5754; Outdoor Allure, www., (715) 373-0551. (Editor’s Note: For more information on fishing Lake Superior streams, listen to Outdoors Radio with Dan Small, on broadcast stations around the state or online 24/7 at


Article For Above Information


Little Streams Feed a Big Fishery


Wisconsin Trout Stream Maps


Wisconsin Public Access Maps




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