Friday, October 16, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fishing Is Temporarily On Hold

Last Sunday, I experienced one of the scariest things in my life.  I did something stupid, something I've done dozens of times before.  I ventured into an alley after dark, by myself to look for firewood for a backyard bonfire I was attending at a friend's house.  I had just turned around to begin to head back when I saw three kids behind me all wearing black sweatshirts with their faces covered with bandanas.  It was one of the warmest weekends all summer in Milwaukee, not sweatshirt weather.  I knew I was in trouble-and about three seconds later, one of the kids pulled a gun from his waistband.  I tried to run, but I was tripped, or shoved, or I just tripped over my own feet, still not sure.  What I am sure of is that I quickly had three kids surrounding me and pounding my face in and taking everything I had on me, which wasn't a lot.  They took my wallet and my keys, and beat me until I told them where my car was parked, then they let me go.  I think the police picked the kids up before my friend even had a chance to call 911 because they had robbed someone right before me. 

how i looked after getting mugged

I had been pistol whipped above the right eye, kicked in the face while I was on my knees, and punched and kicked many times. 

Somewhere in the attack, my right wrist sustained an injury, my casting wrist.  I can hardly turn a doorknob, or start my car (I got my keys back right away).  I have been just waiting for it to get better on its own, but it's been slow to heal.  I think I may need to seek medical attention before I try to cast a fly or play out a salmon.  I've been told I'm having PTSD too, some sleepless nights for sure.  I thought I was going to die in that alley.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Mid Week Milwaukee Area Day Trip

A couple weeks back, I took a day long fishing trip, visiting two streams in three different towns, stopping for sustenance and spirits in each town.  I got up early and I needed caffeine, so my first stop was a local one.  I stopped at the almost legendary Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee's eclectic Riverwest Neighborhood.  They have great cafe food, better coffee and several local bottled beers to offer.  I really enjoy the El Gato Mexican Mocha, and when I really need a boost, the Kevorkian Crush.

Fuel Cafe Milwaukee
Fuel Cafe
From Fuel Cafe, I got on I-43 north and drove up into Sheboygan County to fish the Onion River.  I got a little lost when my phone lost connection and the GPS failed.  For this reason, it's always a good idea to have a map and understand how to use it.  Most of the good fishing destinations are probably far from a cell tower.  I found an alternative route without having to backtrack ten miles to the county road I missed.

wisconsin country road
Sheboygan County Country Road
The Onion River doesn't have a lot of access points, but they're well marked as public fishing waters when you find them.  The particular spot I went in is very close to a maple syrup producing facility with plenty of chickens running free.

I am always shocked at how cold this tiny little stream is.  I don't regularly wear waders in the summer months, and the Onion made me question that decision.  With my 5wt in hand, I stepped into the frigid spring fed water, working my way up to the next overpass. 


 I have not had a good day on the Onion, but I know they're in there.  I saw one really nice sized brown trout come out from under an undercut bank to investigate a dead drifted Bugger .  He came so close to taking it, then disappeared back under the bank and refused to budge.  My only fish on the Onion was the tiny creek chub below.  It beats getting skunked, but not by much.

 After leaving the stream and walking back to my car, I drove into Sheboygan for a light lunch.  The first place that caught my eye was Black Pig.

Black Pig had reasonably priced food and an interesting beer selection.  I was more interested in a drink than food.  I had two beers and an order of White Truffle Oil and Black Pepper Bacon fries.
 I had a Dubbel by Une Année, and a Rübæus Raspberry ale by Founders.  The Dubbel was good, the Raspberry ale was remarkable.

After some lunch and rest, I hit the road for Cedarburg.  There is a roadside park at an overpass of the Milwaukee River called Garrison's Glen.  I guess it's technically in the town of Mequon, but these are small details.  Garrison's Glen is no well kept secret, and I have never had the river to myself at this location.  Spinning gear with bobbers and worms, fly gear, centerpin guys, all in vehicles ranging from massive Ford F-350s to tiny Volkswagen Beetles all crammed into a parking lot that is meant to hold about six normal sized cars.  Be respectful and have fun out there.
I always go upstream at the overpass, casting streamers toward the submerged boulders.  There are some nice bass in  here, but they see a lot of angling pressure.  I only landed one fish, the smallmouth pictured below.  Not the largest fish, but these little smallies really put up a fight!  This scrapper gave my 8wt a great workout!

 I probably walked close to half of a mile against the current of the powerful Milwaukee before heading back down to the overpass and driving into downtown Cedarburg.  My first stop was Morton's Wisconsinn.

  Morton's is a strange place.  There were families with children there, Fox News was on in the corner, the bar was full of anti government propaganda and corny little knick knacks covering every square inch of space on the walls and ceiling.  The only beer they had on tap that I had never had was Bud Light.  When in Rome...
I was actually sitting next to the owner at the bar. A kind man, whose name i don't recall.  We talked fishing and beer, he gave me a shot of Jägermeister
Remember the bar fight scene from Terminator 2?  The whole place reminded me of that scene.  Just as I decided to get out of there before the T-800 burst through the front door and asked me for my clothes, my boots, and my motorcycle; The Dwight Yoakam song "Guitars, Cadillacs" came on.  I swear I can't make this up!  I got out of there right away!

I walked a few blocks to Maxwell's.  Maxwell's had a better beer selection, and seemed to be a local favorite.  I took the only open spot at the end of the bar and ordered a New Belgium Skinny Dip.  I only planned on one, and just as I was about to leave, I heard mention of their $1.00 taco Wednesday special! I ordered a beef and a chicken taco and a Rebel Kent The First by 3 Sheeps. The beef taco is the way to go, but for a dollar you can't really go wrong.

I originally planned on driving back to Milwaukee to fish the river in town and hit up some night life spots, but it was dark and I was exhausted before I made it into town.  Really, there is so much to do in Milwaukee, and so many overlooked fishing spots, I'll have to do an entire blog post on what to do in Milwaukee for a day.  But if you want to hit three spots in one day, the Milwaukee river provides great summer smallmouth fishing within the city limits from the Capital Drive overpass down to the North Avenue dam with many access points and very light pressure.  There are other species too.  I've caught carp, all sorts of panfish, northern pike, and even an occasional walleye.  In the fall, the anadromous species will start to run, with chinook showing up in good numbers starting in October and mighty steelhead showing up in good numbers (from my experience) in April and May.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Word Of Advice

Under no circumstances should you ever go fishing on Free Fishing Weekend.  If you have a choice, stay far away from any body of water. This is especially true of the urban ponds in the parks. There are just too many people that have no idea what they are doing, and safety goes out the window.
I made this mistake with Cleo and her mom just once. In under five minutes I removed two hooks from clothing and hair.

Never again.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Window

We got some serious rain a couple weeks ago.  Most local streams were just short of, or over flood stage after the three plus inches we got in less than two days.  But after a week, they were looking much better!  Still a little higher than average, but pretty clear, all things considered.  The local weather reports all talked about much cooler weather coming for the current week, but Sunday it was gorgeous, and I took full advantage of it, spending around five hours on the Menomonee River.
At an overpass in Wauwatosa, I spotted fish, and no other anglers.  I got my gear (I got a lot of fun new stuff over the winter) and went in.  Most of the fish were suckers, but there were trout as well.  One trout was rather large and easy to spot.  He showed interest in the flies I presented but was hesitant to strike.  I changed patterns and colors every few casts to keep his interest, and eventually he struck!  He threw the hook right away and took off upstream.
I took off right behind him, searching for him for a hundred yards or so, before it started to get too deep.  
He was gone.  There was no sense wearing myself out, so I started to head back, not being particularly stealthy.  In a shallow area I found a very interesting fossil.  I find a lot of fossils in the Menomonee, but this is one of the nicer ones.  I have no idea what this is.  If you do, please share!

Menomonee River Fossil

After stopping to pick up and wash the grime off the fossil, I started back down, and there he was again!  I didn't see him until I was only a couple yards from him, and he quickly darted off into a deeper pool with some boulders and a swift flow.  I tied on the heaviest Clouser minnow I had and made a few casts behind the first boulder in the pool and let it swing through.  I don't think I had made a dozen casts before he struck again, this time the hook held firmly, and the fight was on!  He came right to the edge of the pool right away, so I thought the fight would be over relatively quickly, but then he charged right into the swiftest, deepest part of the pool as I tried to maneuver him around the boulders and rebar.
The Menomonee is charming.
The fish went airborne a couple times, it was a spectacular fight!  He almost came to hand twice before finally admitting defeat.  I pulled him into a shallow, snapped one quick photo on my phone, unhooked him and shoved him back into the pool.

A steelhead taken from the Menomonee river on a Clouser minnow
Menomonee River steelhead

I explored a nice stretch of the river without seeing any more fish, so I went back to my car and drove downstream by Miller Park.
There were many cars at the overpass, and probably a dozen people swinging rods at the water.  I walked downstream to the Interstate before even seeing any fish.  The fish were suckers mostly, hundreds of them, and occasional northern pike.  I kind of thought, "What the hell," and started casting.  The suckers would not move, and the pike would flee from my fly.  I was just about to leave when I found a school of more active suckers.  From my experience, the more active suckers will take a fly.  Today was no exception.  I broke one off and landed two in short order before calling it a day.  The two pictures below are of the nicer one.

Suckers on fly gear are fun!

close up of a clouser minnow in a sucker's mouth
A sucker on a Clouser minnow

So far, today is the only day it hasn't snowed this week.  I'm glad I got out before that window closed.  Who knows when it will open again?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ghost Pepper Fail

It seems like they're throwing around the term "ghost pepper" pretty loosely these days. I just ordered Wendy's "Ghost Pepper Fries," opened them up to find Wendy's standard (delicious) fries covered in a cheese sauce and sprinkled with some sort of diced green pepper, seeds included.

I've never seen a green ghost pepper in my life.  I'm not saying they don't exist. They just don't exist in this dish.

I cautiously popped one of the peppers, ready for the worst, only to taste the ever so familiar jalapeño.  This is probably for the best. I've eaten ghost peppers, they aren't the best tasting peppers, they kind of have a piney taste, but let's be honest, nobody uses ghost peppers because of the great taste.

Bottom line, if you're going to make a "ghost pepper" dish, it had better be pretty damn spicy!  I make spicier chili I serve without hesitation to my three year old daughter. I call it mild. Wendy's Ghost Pepper Fries are delicious, but are no hotter than your standard, run of the mill jalapeño.

Sorry to all my regular readers for my absence. I don't have regular access to a computer that I can post updates from, and I've been hesitant to try to write an update from my phone, as I did today. This past fishing season was one of the worst ones I can remember, and I took quite an off-season. I hope to make up for it this year.