Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Highs And The Lows; or, Losing The Fish of The Season

I had one of my best days, if not my best day, of the season fishing for smallmouth in the Milwaukee River earlier this week.  I got up early Thursday morning to fish the same stretch hoping for similar results.  Instead of fish on back to back casts, I got the skunk.

It was cold that morning, mid 50s.  The water was in the 70s, and as high as it was Monday morning with a similar rate of flow.  It was actually relieving to escape the coolness of the air by wading wet in the warm water.

The wild card seems to be water clarity and multiple hatches.  I'm not sure why the water was cloudier Thursday than it was Monday right after the rain.  Maybe it just takes all the silt that long to wash downstream from the headwaters.  There were little white mayflies and tricos everywhere.  The bass may have fed on the hatches all night.

I found a pool with what I thought were fish feeding on the surface, but learned that they were carp.  I made a few casts into the pool and hoped for the best, but... I continued down to the same spot I caught so many fish earlier but never even had a strike.

I made my way back up and fished one final pool, a pool that is usually good for a fish or two.  On my first cast I had a strike and a good hookset.  But this was a big fish that I never got the upper hand on.  I had a hard time pulling the fish from its lie with my five weight.  When I finally got it out of the pool it rose near the surface.  I saw a flash of green through the cloudy water, so I'm sure I had a decent sized northern pike on.  Once it was out of the pool, then the fish let me know I was not even close to having the upper hand. my reel hissed as the fish peeled off line, making a beeline for the weeds.  My line tangled, the fish broke my 5X tippet easily.

The streams will probably not be great for fishing for a while with the rain we are expected to get over the next few days.  On the plus side, if the weather stays cool, overcast and rainy too much longer, we might see an early salmon run!


  1. Sorry to hear you lost the beast. I'm all about using the lightest tippet to fit the bill, but 5X for bass? Is this because you were "matching the hatch" with small mayfly patterns or really low, clear water?... I'm curious.
    I only rarely use 4X for bass in really low, clear water, but 3X is my usual choice with 2X being the choice for possibly bigger fish, off color water, and lakes/ponds with heavy vegetation.

    1. The average fish in this stretch of the Milwaukee is less than 12", i've always used a 5x or 6X and I can usually bring them in pretty quick. I don't recall breaking off any other fish on the fly this season.

    2. Gotcha! My usual bass water holds much larger fish on average... and ya never know what you'll hook in to.

    3. This the milwaukee river about two miles north of downtown. Literally within walking distance of hundreds of thousands of people. There probably shouldn't be fish there at all, but I'll take what I can get. It's quite beautiful, and the fishing pressure is usually pretty light until the salmon and browns start running.