Captain Will Jewell of Fin N' Fly Sportfishing in Port Washington, Wisconsin is a third-generation Lake Michigan angler. “I was taught by my father who was taught by his father. I never had the opportunity to meet my grandpa. He passed before I was around. I didn’t get all the little tricks from back in the old days but I think I got most of them covered. I grew up in Milwaukee fishing with my dad.”
Jewell recalls bountiful fishing from the days of his youth. With clearer and cleaner water, fishing is tougher now than his earlier years. But technology and tactics have also evolved. Jewell has more tools at his disposal than his grandfather could have ever imagined. “We’re running 18 lines on an average day… We have line counters on our reels. We can get all sorts of crazy technical with speeds and depths of rod setups. All kinds of different planer boards… copper, leadcore, weighted steel, dipsy rods, braid vs. mono vs. wire. We’re getting all sorts of extra tools in our book that are helping us.”
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is also helping. “The lake is on the upswing. With the stocking numbers, they put in this year… In three or four years those fish are going to be maturing and there will be a lot more angler opportunity out there.” Although the number of king salmon is down compared to years past, Jewell says the size is way up. It’s a great time to pursue trophy fish. “An average king we’re getting right now(in June) is about 20 pounds. I’ve already seen some 30 pounders come out. The biggest I’ve got so far this year is 28. We still have a handful of months for them puppies to grow. They’re only going to get bigger and bigger.”
Jewell has fished out of other ports on Lake Michigan but likes the variety of Port Washington. “It’s the best of both worlds. We still have some shallow, gradual drops. But it also drops off slightly faster than Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha... We still get some good coho action and those big steelheads right away… For kings, we have some pretty good dropoffs. In three miles you’re hitting 100 feet. In Milwaukee, you have to go about five before you hit that 100-foot mark. Our transition to that deeper water is a little bit quicker which holds those kings longer. We get the early coho, rainbow, king, lake trout mix. As the summer progresses, those kings, rather than migrate, they will hold here and just drop in the water column.”
Being able to measure speed and temperature at depth is vital to Jewell’s success. He loves a good downrigger bite and values the information that Fish Hawk Electronics provides. “If you can get a good downrigger bite, that’s definitely my favorite. You’re not fighting any super long leads or heavy setups. It’s just you and the fish. No big weights or planer boards. It’s just you and him. It’s a little bit easier with the monofilament on the rod compared to braid, copper, or leadcore. You get a little stretch so you can get away with more.”
Captain Will Jewell is a recent guest on the Great Lakes Fishing Podcast. To listen to the full conversation, click the player below or visit our podcast page.