Wednesday, October 23, 2013

There Are Still Salmon In The Harbor

I took a trip down to the lake wednesday with my little girl.  She had the greatest time terrorizing the geese.
After she tired of chasing geese, we started for the car.  As we were walking back, an angler that we had spoken to briefly about the day's lack of action was setting the hook.  He reeled in a two foot chinook that fought valiantly.  Five minutes later, he was reeling in the coho pictured below.  The bite turned on as the clouds rolled in.
My little girl didn't want to leave after this because she loves looking at fish.  We stuck around for a while, watched half a dozen or so missed hook sets, and saw one other chinook come ashore by a second angler.  Finally, we left for the car, but as we were driving by on our way out, I saw one of these guys scramble for the net again.  Pretty good day, I'd say.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Restoration Progress On Milwaukee's Menomonee River

I went down and checked to see what kind of progress was being made.  Only a small portion of the stream has been restored so far, but I really like what I see.  The picture below was taken early last May.
The next pictures are post-improvement pictures. One from almost the exact same location (note the matching blue graffiti) and one from upstream looking down. 

This is going to open up so much habitat for our anadromous fish!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fergus Falls, Minnesota

Last Saturday we made the 500 mile drive to Fergus Falls to visit my Wife's family.  My in-laws live on the Otter Tail River, which has a healthy smallmouth bass population.

Unfortunately, this is mostly a story of loss, and a lesson in gear selection.  I have one fly rod in use, a five weight.  I had a hard time casting Woolly Buggers and Clousers far enough for them to be effective, but when I could get my fly into the sweet spot, the fish in this river, even with a 4x tippet would usually break my line when I set the hook.  I broke off 3 fish right away, and two other large fish threw the hook.  Eventually I tied on a scud and landed a smaller smallmouth bass just for the sake of not getting skunked, but the fish was so small, I was too ashamed to take a picture.

Monday morning I was taken out on Hoot Lake in a boat for some early morning fishing.  We were the only boat on the water, and we caught zero fish in the short time we were out.

I really want to invest in a 7 weight rod.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Milwaukee Harbor Is Full Of Fish

I drove down to the lake today to kill some time on my day off.  As I walked along the water in Veteran's park, I saw numerous brown trout very close to shore.  I walked back to my car, drove a little ways, assembled my fly rod, and grabbed some "reserve" flies that happened to be in my car.  I walked to Mckinley Marina and started roll casting off the rocks.  It probably wasn't 20 minutes before I was hooked up with a fish.

It took me around five minutes to land the fish.  Not the biggest brown trout I've ever caught, but not a bad catch for a 30 minute outing.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Minnesota Bound

We're leaving for Minnesota tomorrow morning.  It's not a fishing trip, but fishing will happen.  With all this rain we are forecast to get, the local streams and rivers should be full of salmon when we get back!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Salmon Are Showing Up In The Streams

Not in great numbers, but with consistency.  I saw my first few salmon in the Menomonee River Saturday.  I had a strike on a white Woolly Bugger, but the hook didn't connect.

Monday I went out again in the late afternoon.  I saw a few fish, and made perfect casts with egg patterns, just to watch the the fly bounce off the face and roll down the body of the fish.  Something other than food on your mind pal?  I walked through the concrete and found one massive fish that looked like it had been hooked, landed and left for dead, such a shame and a waste.  I don't know how else it would have got there.  In the picture below, the butt of my rod up to the end of the cork measures 10" just to get an idea of the size of the fish.

I went out fairly early Wednesday and had the river to myself for awhile.  I only saw  two fish, a smaller salmon that tucked itself into an undercut bank and wouldn't budge for anything, and then one big Boss Fight of a male making all kinds of noise.  When I first spotted the big guy, he was basically out of the water, "swimming" over the shallow gravel heading downstream.

I made the decision that I was going to get wet, and I went in after him in my jeans and work boots.  After a couple hundred yards of wading downstream, I gave up hope of finding him and started to head back up.  That's when I saw him, when I turned around.  He was in two feet of water just ahead of another run of inch deep riffles.  Even in that two feet of water, his dorsal fin and tail broke the surface.  He was swirling and rushing all over, I don't know how I could have missed him the first time.

I only made a few casts before he lunged and slashed at my streamer.  I've never actually seen a take like that before, only felt it.  Then I had that "What have I gotten myself into?" feeling.  You know? When you realize that you just hooked into one of the biggest fish of your life on a size 8 streamer, a five weight fly rod with a 4x tippett? that's what most people would consider stream trout gear.  Oh yeah, I didn't bring a net either...

 I almost landed him right away actually, I reached down to grab him by the tail and he took off hard and didn't stop.  I could see the backing on my reel, but he never actually went into the backing.  I'm sure I would have seen it proper if I didn't run downstream to keep up with him.  He pulled me a few hundred yards downstream.  There were several more failed attempts to land him that resulted in reel hissing runs. But each run got shorter, until it seemed like I didn't even need to chase him anymore because he didn't get much more than ten yards away.

Finally he was beat, I brought him along the bank, reached under his gills with my reel hand, I must have set my rod down and grabbed him by the tail with the other hand, but I don't remember.  I lifted him from the water, and he made one last ditch flailing effort to get away, but he was mine.  When he thrashed, I got covered in fish slime, and I held him tight to keep from dropping him.  I think I kissed him at that point, I've kissed bluegill and sunfish with my baby girl because she always does but never a big slimy salmon.  I guess when you spend that much time with a fish, you bond.  It felt like I had him on for an hour, but I have no clue how long it was. 

I only snapped one picture so I could get him back into the water.  I wanted to show the perfect hook set in that mouth full of teeth.

 There was a spectator who took some pictures.  She said she would email me some, but in my adrenaline haze, I could have totally messed up my email address for all I know.  Anyway, if I get them, I'll post some.

The fish took a minute, but eventually swam away.  I have no upper body strength left, and I can still smell fish slime, but after an epic Boss Fight like this one, you level up!