After moving to Duluth in early 2014 I searched all over for new fishing locations and information to help get an idea of the fishing opportunities in the area. Starting out, the only fishing I could find was off bridges of nearby lakes and rivers for bass, walleye, and pike.
It took me quite a while to get an understanding of all of the possibilities in the area. I didn’t even know there were steelhead in Lake Superior, or even what a steelhead was for that matter. I had only heard of lake trout being caught from charters, and that booking a trip from hundreds of dollars was my only way to get a chance at catching them.
One day my friend Ben texted me saying he would like to try fishing from the shore of Lake Superior. I wasn’t too convinced we would have a chance. With all that water out there how were we supposed to catch these trout and salmon from shore? Well, we grabbed a bunch of spoons and our longest rods and hit the shore well before sunrise. It didn’t take long before Ben had hooked a rainbow trout and not long after I hooked a steelhead that peeled line like no fish I had ever caught and jumped out of the water multiple times. You can read more about that trip from my Rainbow Trout Fishing on Lake Superior article.
I was so happy that I found a new opportunity and a new species to target, but felt that I had been missing out by not taking advantage of a fishery that I didn’t even know existed. From then on I decided to talk to more local fisherman, explore new shops and join local fishing organizations so I wasn’t missing out on any more fantastic fishing. I later went to a spey casting clinic put on by the Great Lakes Fly Shop, where I learned you can catch steelhead in the rivers during the spring. I also joined the local Gitche Gumee chapter of Trout Unlimited and found out that there were large schools of pink salmon that swim up the rivers on the north shore in the fall.
My goal in writing this article is to get you to join a new organization, stop in one of your local fly shops, hire a guide, or just go explore some new waters and talk to local fisherman. I was once intimidated by new waters and new species, but there are many great people and resources that will help you get into fly fishing, or shore fishing for the first time. Many of you may have probably grown up fishing, but need some help getting back into it. Maybe you may be from Southern Minnesota and want to take a trip up to the north shore, but don’t know where to start. You may even be a bass or walleye fisherman that thinks its just to difficult to get into fly-fishing or shore fishing for trout and salmon. I encourage you to try something different and see if you too have been missing out on something you might really enjoy.
If you have any questions about fishing for a new species, trying a new technique, have questions about equipment or want to know where the best fishing is during a certain time of year, please comment below! You can also subscribe to be informed about new articles to come, including North Shore Steelheading Techniques, and My Favorite Fly Fishing Gear.
Ready to get into fly fishing, buy some new equipment, learn about new waters, check on the latest reports, or hire a guide? Below are some great local businesses, organizations, and resources located in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, and Northern Wisconsin!
Local Fly Shops
- Great Lakes Fly Shop
- A full-service fly shop located in Duluth Minnesota. After opening in 2000, the Great Lakes Fly Shop has been a staple for fly fisherman in the area. John Fehnel and Alyssa Nelson are extremely passionate about fly fishing, bringing in and teaching new anglers, tying amazing flies, and putting on events like movie nights, casting classes, beer n’ bugs, paddle the pads and many more. If you are looking to get into the sport of fly fishing there is no better shop for equipment and advice.
- Superior Fly Angler
- The Superior Fly Angler located in Superior, Wisconsin opened in 1997 and has a great shop filled with a ton of products and standard flies as well as some of the local favorites. They are the main destination for anglers heading to the Brule. Check with them before heading over to the south shore to get the latest reports and water conditions!
- Fly Box & Company
- Scott Sorenson an avid fly fisherman since his childhood has started the newest fly shop in the arrowhead. After guiding clients for 6 years Scott decided to open Fly Box & Company in 2015 in downtown Grand Marias. Even though they know how to fly fish for any species on the north shore they are the most well known for catching brook trout in rivers as well as guiding float tube trips on inland lakes. Don’t miss out on the serene waters and abundant fishing opportunities that the upper shore has to offer!
- Gitche Gumme Trout Unlimited
- Serving Northeast Minnesota, the Gitche Gumee Chapter is active along Minnesota’s North Shore and works to protect, preserve and enhance our local trout. I have personally learned most of what I know from attending GGTU meetings. If you are still looking to get more information on trout fishing you should attend their monthly meetings. Although it is encouraged that you Join Trout Unlimited, feel free to come to the meetings and see if it is for you. The current members are extremely welcoming and I guarantee you will learn something new!
- Plus, I write the emails for GGTU so sign up below!
- Subscribe to receive emails from GGTU Join Trout Unlimited
- Arrowhead Fly Fishers
- The Arrowhead Fly Fishers is a group of men and women dedicated to fly angling of all types and to the preservation of fisheries throughout the Arrowhead region. They often have casting classes and guest speakers from all over the state! Club meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month with a social hour and casting practice starting at 6pm and program/speaker at 7pm.
- MN Steelheader
- Devoted to the mighty steelhead rainbow trout that swim the North Shore Streams and Rivers of Minnesota’s Lake Superior. Their site is jam-packed with helpful information and they are very active on social media (especially when the steelhead are running).
- Become a Member
- Women on the Fly: Minnesota Steelheader
- W.J. McCabe Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America
- Lake Superior Steelhead Association
- North Shore Steelhead Association
- Brule River Sportsment’s Club
- The Brule River Sportsmen’s Club, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Brule River in northwest Wisconsin. The Brule River is one of the finest spring-fed streams in the nation and it is the intent of the Brule River Sportsmen’s Club to help maintain its cold, clean waters and aesthetic beauty.
- Lake Superior Coldwater Coalition
- An organization built to maintain, protect, and restore healthy cold water ecosystems with relatively stable flows and a diversity of habitat for fish and wildlife to enhance our quality of life.
- Carl Haensel has been guiding for well over 10 years and is one of the most seasoned steelhead anglers in the arrowhead. He is the editor of the MNTU Newsletter, and has appeared in American Angler, Field and Stream, Midwest Flyfishing, Minnesota Trout. Carl guides in MN and WI for steelhead, trout, salmon, smallmouth bass, and pike. His calender fills up fast so book your trip well before the season!
- Book a Guided Trip
- Fly Box & Company
- They offer classes in Tenkara fly fishing, and an introduction to fly casting. Once you are ready to hit the water they guide steelhead fly fishing trips in the spring and inland lake fly fishing during the summer.
- North Shore Guide Service
- Aaron Gerlovich and Jamie Cotner know how to find fish no matter what time of year. They are often fishing the shore in the winter, hitting the steelhead in the spring, transitioning to brook trout in the summer, and pinks salmon and Brule river steelhead again for the fall run. They can always put you on fish. Check out a recent video of Aaron fishing for Steelhead with In-Depth Outdoors
- Catching Adventures
- Dedicated to helping people of all ages learn to fish. Our mission is to work with beginners and teach them the basic tools needed for an enjoyable day of fishing. Success is rooted in three simple principles; Introduction, Education and Enjoyment. Come fishing with Catching Adventures today!
- Far Out Fly Fishing
- Better known for catching giant muskies on the fly. Far Out Fly Fishing also has options for steelhead, pike, and bass.
- Unlimited Trophy Outfitters
- Guided Fishing and Hunting Trips around Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay and Surrounding Area.
- Hayward Fly Fishing Company
Certified Casting Instructors
- Len Anderson
- Paul Bartlam
- Todd Heggestad
- Larry Zelenz
- Tim Gross
Custom Rod Makers
- Dam Goods and Gear
- If you want a custom built fly rod, Geoff from Dam Goods and Gear will make one you can be proud of. If you like to fish for steelhead with mono, he makes only of the only fly rods with guides specifically built for using mono line. While you are at it, pick up a new paddle, custom fishing net, and a pair of snowshoes!
- Pearon Custom Fishing Rods
- Ross Pearson of Duluth (when not fishing for kamloop rainbow trout from the north shore) makes all different types of fishing rods. If you want a truly one-of-a-kind decorative fishing rod take a look what he has to offer.
- North Shore River Flows
- Lake Superior Water Surface Temps
- Lake Superior Satellite Imagery
- Knife River
- Big Sucker Creek
- Baptism River
- Poplar River
- Brule River (MN)
- Bois Brule River (WI)
- MNDNR: List of Minnesota Trout Lakes
- MNDNR: List of Minnesota Trout Streams
- List of Minnesota Trout Streams
- Northern Wisconsin Mayfly Hatches
Good Luck Fishing!
If you know a shop, guide, or organization, or other link that you think should be included please leave a comment below!