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?


  1. I recently discovered your blog and have been trying to catch up the last few weeks. I'm curious where you were fishing in Wauwatosa and if you could be a little more specific as to where on the Menomonee River you fish. I've been down there 3 or 4 times and have yet to see a fish, yet alone catch one.

    1. Michael, email me at

  2. Your fossil could be part of a crinoid? I'm a complete amateur but have been doing some research since i find so many interesting fossils in Michigan.

  3. Your fossil could be part of a crinoid? I'm a complete amateur but have been doing some research since i find so many interesting fossils in Michigan.