Cast Away!

Our landlubber’s guide to shoreline angling.

Boatless, but yearning to cast a line? No problem. Here’s a guide to five lively fish you can catch from shore, according to fishing guide Eric Haataja ( and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Rainbow Trout
“Rainbows” come in both the more colorful and silvery “steelhead” varieties.

  • Where: Milwaukee and Menomonee river shores
  • When: March through May spawning

Yellow Perch
Perch are tasty bottom feeders that have made a home in Lake Michigan.

  • Where: Milwaukee harbor and break walls
  • When: Spring/summer

Smallmouth Bass
Haataja prefers to drive inland for these tough little guys, everyone’s favorite summertime catch.

  • Where: Public docks on inland lakes
  • When: Summer

Coho (silver) and chinook salmon are delicious but their present numbers are low thanks to an alewife crash.

  • Where: Lake Michigan shoreline and river mouths
  • When: September through November

Brown Trout
These lunkers can exceed 30 pounds. Stocked by the DNR, they add up to “one of the best shoreline public fisheries in the world,” says Haataja.

  • Where: Milwaukee harbor and break walls
  • When: Anytime, but cooler weather is better

‘Cast Away!’ appears in the 2016 City Guide issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the May issue on newsstands beginning May 30, or buy a copy at

Be the first to get every new issue. Subscribe.



Matt has written for Milwaukee Magazine since 2006, when he was a lowly intern. Since then, he’s held the posts of assistant news editor and, most recently, senior editor. He’s lived in South Carolina, Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, and Indiana but mostly in Wisconsin. He wants to do more fishing but has a hard time finding worms. For the magazine, Matt has written about city government, schools, religion, coffee roasters and Congress.