Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Night of the Living Dead (Salmon)

Every 4 year old king salmon in Lake Michigan was nice enough to dress up as a zombie for Halloween.

They are biting the dust one by one, every day there are less than there were the day before. A legion of Coho, Brown Trout, and Steelhead rises from the rapids to take their place. I welcome their arrival.

Happy Halloween to all of the Great Lakes Anglers out there.

The 10 Revolutionary Fishing Products of the Last 75 Years

Rapala's original floater minnow sits on top of the pile. Take a look at the top 10 in this article, found at the Berkshire Eagle.I've taken a good number of salmon, trout, bass, walleye, northern pike... etc. on balsa rapala hard body lure, weather they be jointed, jerk baits, or the original floater.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Jameson Whiskey Commercial : Worthy of the Greatest of Anglers

I'm not a drinking man, but I do appreciate a good commercial. That kind of man is exactly the type of fisherman that all Great Lakes Anglers strive to be. Enjoy :

Wisconsin Tributaries on the Rise

As forecast, we got hit with some sustained rain showers last night, and rivers and streams in the south-eastern Wisconsin area are on the rise as a result. The rivers have taken a hit, and are still rising, but not as much as I had feared. Rivers may return to fishable levels by Sunday (depending on when flows turn around).

Remember, just because your rivers are bursting at the seems doesn't mean there aren't fish to be caught in other spots.

The pipes in Kenosha will start flowing today and Browns and Coho may be found in front of the flow.

The grates across from Alterra on the lakefront in Milwaukee are undoubtedly flowing this morning as well. I'd grab a float and some skein and be prepared to hold onto my rod as there are still Kings in front of those grates in Milwaukee in a big way.

In Wisconsin in the fall, rain or shine, there is always a place to find your favorite Salmonid.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tamanawis : Scottish Fly Blog : Photo Essay

From Tamanawis, a Scottish Fly Fishing Blog. The season's end photo essay.

"In autumn, who needs words?"

Lovely stuff!

Milwaukee Area River Fishing Report : 10/29/2009

The Milwaukee River and Root River remain high from saturating rains. We have had rain almost 2/3 days this month and there are no signs of the weather letting up. In fact severe thunder storms are expected this evening.

Tonight and tomorrow's storms are on the way.

Oak Creek and the Pike River remain the best Salmon and Trout fishing options at this time. Remember that smaller water sheds mean a fast spike in flow, followed by a fast withdrawal.

The King Salmon run is drawing to a close, but Coho are showing up in these rivers in small force and Brown Trout as well as a fleet of Rainbow Trout are on their way into the rivers as well. These fish are hard fighting, high flying lake run mammoths that are a blast on the fly or float rod.

Get out there and get them, rain or shine.

See ya out there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

All Things Considered : All Flies Considered?

An avid listener to NPR while I'm at work, and occasionally on the way to my favorite tributary, I had a chuckle this morning when I saw Melissa Block, one of NPR's 'All Things Considered' hosts wearing waders and holding a fly rod while interviewing Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski, an avid fly fisherman.

Enjoy the photo, and feel free to read a writeup about the interview here.

Milwaukee Area Salmon Fishing Report : 10/28/2009

The Milwaukee is slowly returning to fishable levels this week after the torrent of rain that fell on the area last week. Keep in mind that with the last of the King Salmon entering the river recently that this sustained high rate of flow will help to bring the winter run Steelhead and the fall run Brown Trout into the system.

Reputable sources say that experienced fly fisherman swinging large streamers in the Milwaukee River in the last few days have come up with some beautiful fresh chrome Steelhead and they still continue to land nice Lake Trout. Brown trout and of course kings have been landed recently as well.

Oak creek is experiencing a push of lake run Brown Trout and while I was there on Sunday I saw a dandy 15 pound male caught.

The root river is returning to normal flows and has produced some steelhead along with a stray Coho Salmon or two. Watch for a run of Coho to start soon.

Get out and fish before you have to worry about your eyelets freezing up, and it's darn tough to operate those reels with gloves on. It won't be long...

See ya out there.

-Tom Harris

Monday, October 26, 2009

Grant Park and Milwaukee Salmon Seeking : 10/25/209

To sum it up quickly, it was a day I won't soon forget chasing king salmon with Mike. The day started early, we gathered all our research from this week, reports, flow data, hunches and river experience and decided we would focus on the tributaries with the smallest water sheds, as they will have dropped fastest from the rain.

We started off at a small tributary between Chicago and Kenosha, we hiked a mile an a half through the woods and fields to make it to this tributary. Mike had decided he would rather wear his waders than carry them, and paid the price. His socks and even jeans were soaked through with blood by the time we reached the beach. His feet had blisters from all the wading last weekend. He soldiered on and didn't complain, like a real fisherman.

This first river (even though it was beautiful) didn't produce salmon, steelhead, or any signs of life what so ever. We hiked back after taking some photos in the early morning light in the tall grass and changing leaves and headed north.

We arrived at Oak Creek and witnessed the throng of anglers at the main hole, we started at my favorite bend down stream and it was not long until I hooked my first King of the day. I was casting an Egg Sucking Leech upstream and drifting it down towards myself through the rapids. I made a novice mistake, not stripping my line back in fast enough so as I set the hook it took most of the height of my rod to get the line tight. The fish rolled a couple times on top of the water near my feet and was lost to a poor hook set.

After meeting a local named Andrew and shooting the breeze with him for a while I walked downstream to Mike who had called me with the good news that he too had hooked (and landed) his first fly rod salmon of the day. I landed one from the same hole as he did, on my hand tied ESL, (photographs of the actual fly I caught it on and instruction on tying it are in the post below.

We were getting tired of small stream fishing with its canopy of branches reaching for our flies and small holes with too much fishing pressure so we pressed on to the Milwaukee River.

On the way to the Milwaukee I wanted to stop at the harbor to see if anything was happening.

The rest of the day was constant action, as we stopped at the harbor to see 2 people hook up on skein under a float in under 5 minutes. We parked the car, grabbed our float rods and our salmon skein from a couple of weekends ago which we had in the cooler just in case we tired of fly fishing.

We had more than 50 take downs, with a good number of them resulting in hook ups. I landed 2 browns and other than that, we only landed Kings.

The best story from the day was when Mike hooked up with what would turn out to be a 21.5 pound King Salmon. He was using 6 pound fluorocarbon line and had to use a very light touch to get the king near the net. Time after time the fish neared the wall only to sprint out to deeper waters, far beyond the reach of the net. A crowd gathered as we got glimpses of how large this fish really was, a huge tail would flip out of the water and the crowd would gasp.

Mike finally got it to the surface and I reached down with a borrowed net with a 12-15 foot long handle. As Mike pulled the fish to the surface I began slipping the net under the fish. Suddenly the line snapped and, in what reminded me of the sounds of a sporting event, the two dozen spectors let out a combined gasp and awwww as the salmon dissapeared below my net. I lept forward and leaned over the railing with all my speed and might, being careful not to lose balance. I extended my arms as far as I could and thrust the net below where the fish had slipped into the water. I quickly snapped the net back toward the surface and out it came, with Mike's tuna of a salmon sitting like a massive beast in the net. The crowd turned that awww into a booming cheer and everyone croweded around to pat mike on the back and examine his catch. We quickly got a scale on the salmon and let it take the dive back into Lake Michigan. A fish for my memory banks, I won't forget this one.

We were at the discharge across from the Alterra on the lake front. Every time the discharge would start flowing it was every man for himself. At one point just at dusk there were 5 fish on at once in that small space with 15 fishermen in it. Lines were flying everywhere, people were running and yelling and laughing and trying their best to reverse the tangle of salmon. Successfully I might add, as all 5 were netted after 30 minutes of chaos.

Thanks Mike for coming with me for a memorable day. We've done well this year, and now Coho and Steelhead are knocking on the door. What a place we live, what a fishery we have.

What a day... until next time, I'll see ya out there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How to Tie an Egg Sucking Leech : Salmon Fishing Fly

I'm heading up to the Milwaukee River tomorrow and have been tying flies for a friend and I to use for King Salmon and Steelhead. A Great Lakes favorite, the Egg Sucking Leech, or ESL is among the flies I tied today.

Here is a step by step recipe. It should be noted that I am by no means an expert at tying flies. I've only been doing it a couple of years and most of the knowledge I have acquired has been through my own practice.

I start with a size 1-4 Long Shank Salmon Hook, I wrap the length of it with one or 2 layers of lead wire.

Next I wrap in my black floss to secure the lead and wrap in a generous amount of long black Marabou.

After the Marabou is wrapped on I turn on large black Chenille. I wrap it down the shank but stop it before the end so I have enough room to tie on the yarn.

The last step is wrapping on yarn, I use Atlas Egg Yarn, I thin it out and wrap it around a bunch of times instead of just swinging the whole thickness onto the shank once or twice.

Whip finish and add the head cement and there you have it, a time tested fall salmon pattern.

The Egg Sucking Leech

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wisconsin Tributaries Flooded Out : Salmon Fishing Forecast 10/24/2009

The Milwaukee River, Oak Creek, Pike River, and Root River are all sporting high flows as of this moment, and if you are banking on visibility and low flows don't be surprised when you find an extra few feet of water in your favorite hole.

Rivers will be muddy and filled with flotsam.

Milwaukee River : I like to fish this when it is at LEAST under 400 cfs, preferably under 300 though.

Root River : It actually isn't super high compared to the rest, but getting it under 150 cfs.

Pike River : It jumped fast, get it down near 100, down to 75 or below would be best.

Oak Creek : This thing spiked faster than the rest, and will likely drop just as fast.

There you have it my friends, I'm heading out with a fly rod and another rod with some spawn, We'll hope for a withdrawal by Sunday. I'll keep you updated, and whether I catch fish or not, you'll be informed. See ya out there.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Betsie, Manistee, Boardman, and Platte River Salmon and Steelhead Report : October 2009

From the Northern Angler, a trustworthy tributary report from Northern Lower Michigan.

Betsie River : Salmon are in all stages of the river, fresher salmon can be found in the lower stretches, and there are some Steelhead starting to make their run. Egg flies are working best for both species.

Platte River : Both Coho and King salmon are in the lower stretches, but be advised that low clear water makes presentation very important.

Boardman River : producing fish all the way up into town.

Manistee River : Lower stretches seeing heavy pressure with fishermen looking for that trophy brown trout. Nocturnal trophies may be taken this time of year with fish looking to bulk up for a long winter.

Lake Erie Algae Satellite Photograph

Recent increases in algae in Lake Erie worry scientists (and locals...)

I flew over the lake yesterday afternoon and could tell there were subtle shifts in color, although it was a bit hazy, easier to see from space : as you can see below.

Great Lakes Grand Slam in the Milwaukee River : Trout and Salmon are in!

At this point in time, if you were one lucky angler, you could spend a day on the Milwaukee river and catch all of the following:

Brown Trout
King Salmon
Coho Salmon
Lake Trout

Additionally you have a shot at Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Walleye, and Northern Pike.

This is quite a unique situation. Wolly Fly on Lake Link posted these photographs, if these don't make you want to get out on the Milwaukee River right now I don't know what would.

Willow River State Park : Fall 2009

The trout fishing season is over, but it is easy to see why this river is so good for trout year round. I'd recommend grabbing the fly rod (or spinning reel) and heading out for the barbless catch and release season that happens before stocking. It is, in my opinion, the best time of the year to hit the willow river.

Thanks for letting me borrow the photograph Alex.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hustle and Fish : Rollcast Productions : Teaser

This movie has been out for a while, something like 2 million copies have been sold. Take a look at the trailer, some great footage to be sure.

Chicago Trout Bum : Find Him on Twitter

The Chicago Trout Bum can now (like the great lakes angler) be found on twitter : if I haven't persuaded you to check his great blog out, let this be the post that does it.

David's blog can be found : HERE
Follow him on Twitter : HERE

Check out the Great Lakes Angler on Twitter : HERE

Fly Fishing Photography : Beck Photographers

Barry and Cathy Beck, photographers specializing in photographing the art of fly fishing certainly have a good job. There website can be found here along with hundreds of images of places that will make you want to be there.

If anyone is interested in paying me to come along and photograph you fishing... it would certainly be something I would be up for.

Fishing continues to improve on the Lake Michigan tributaries as the last of the fall Chinook Salmon get into the river. Look at all those beautiful salmon in that river above, if only the Milwaukee River had color like that.

Milwaukee River Lake Trout : October 2009

A number of posts on lake link lately seem to indicate a number of lake trout in the Milwaukee River system, this is rare, but happens. Some speculate that they follow the salmon up when the rivers run cold to feed on all the fresh salmon spawn. I agree, but imagine that when fish are on the move, fish of all species get mixed in, particularly salmonids.

Here are some of the photographs of the Lake Trout.

There was some argument on the site as to weather these fish are Splake, but from the photos I'm very positive they are not Splake (brook trout/lake trout), but lake trout.

It could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to land a big laker on the river, if you have the chance to get out and shoot for these fellows, I would strongly encourage it. See ya out there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Milwaukee River Fall Salmon Fishing : 10/20/2009 Forecast

This week and next will sport rivers bulging with running King Salmon. The colors are beautiful on the Milwaukee River and the Salmon run is in full swing.

My friends Mike and Keith got up there this last weekend and landed a few on the fly rod. Way to go guys.

Steelhead should be in the river, some coho and browns may be in there as well, and a number of stray lake trout have been landed on the river as well. I would encourage catch and release of salmon at this point, as their life is near an end and the meat of most fish will be past its prime, but to each his own.

Fishing on the Root, Pike, Oak, and other rivers in the region should all produce dozens of hook ups to the experienced angler in the days to come. Good luck out there.

-Tom Harris
Great Lakes Angler

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Deer Lake Minnesota : Remembering Spring Walleye

A photograph I shot after waking up in the morning after a night of good fishing under a full moon.

I can't wait until next memorial day.

Milwaukee Area Salmon Fishing Report : October 2009

Milwaukee River : high numbers of King Salmon are now in the river, they can be found in deeper holes and gravel beds all the way up to the falls at Kletzsch park. Classic salmon and Steelhead flies are taking the most fish. A few beautiful silver Steelhead are in the river as well. A stray Lake Trout was caught recently as well.

Milwaukee Harbor : Some Kings and Browns have been taken in early morning and later at night on glow spoons and crank baits. The better bite has moved into the river.

Menomonee River : Some salmon have moved their way in past Miller Park, but fishing remains best in the Milwaukee River.

Oak Creek : Oak creek is chalk full of fish. The pool below the falls may have more than 100 salmon and Steelhead holding in it. Each rainfall and spike in CFS will bring dozens of new fish into the creek. This fishery should not be overlooked.

Kenosha Area Salmon Fishing Report : October 2009

Kenosha Harbor : Kings are being caught nearly every night and morning on crank baits and glow spoons.

Pike River : the Pike River has a considerable amount of fish in it, but high pressure on the fish have made them tricky to successfully hook.

Racine Harbor : There are few reports to have come out of the harbor recently, but with fish in the harbor, hitting it on a good day could pay dividends in hard fighting salmon.

Root River : The root is fairly full of King Salmon and a few Steelhead. Fish have been passed upstream of the weir via opening the dam. Coho and Steelhead are mixed in with a full run of Chinook. Egg sucking leeches and yarn flies remain top producers.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Milwaukee River Salmon Run : Video

Here's a video of Salmon moving up some rapids on the Milwaukee river, the Great Lakes Angler's home turf.

J-Plug Trolling for Great Lakes Salmon

Something to enjoy on a cold night when we're all stuck indoors.

J-Plug trolling with a spinning rod, it doesn't get much better.

Photography : Albatrosses Following a Killer Whale

A small camera attached to an albatross captured this photograph recently of a group of albatrosses following a killer whale in order to forage for food.

This kind of thing puts a smile on my face. The camera weighs 3 oz and 4 were attached to 4 separate birds to document their journeys and take temperature and altitude readings along with the photographs.

The full article, courtesy of the New York Times, can be found here.

Here is a quote from the article : "The camera is about an inch in diameter and five inches long, weighs less than three ounces and includes depth and temperature sensors. It was installed on four albatrosses at Bird Island, off the tip of South Georgia in the southern Atlantic."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Salmon and Trout : PCBs and Mercury Advisory : How to Properly Fillet

Here is a graphic I recently found which shows what parts of your fillet need to be removed for safest consumption.

When keeping trout, salmon, or any other game fish from the great lakes it is important that you check the state's consumption advisories for each fish. A 30" brown trout and a 24" rainbow trout may have radically different consumption frequency advisories.

I'll do my best to compile some of that information and post it here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Milwaukee River Carp : Fly Fishing

Photographs from a couple of weeks ago on the Milwaukee River. I took my boss and his son Salmon fishing on the Milwaukee on a beautiful fall day in Wisconsin.

Instructing the youngster. He was mending and roll casting like a pro after an hour of practice.

He caught a carp in a deep pool. I unhooked it for him, we got a shot of it before release.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicago Trout Bum : Trout Fishing Video

Compliments of friend of the blog David, who writes the Chicago Trout Bum.

Enjoy the photographs of some great Wisconsin Driftless Area trout.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Grant Park Salmon and Steelhead Report : October

I arrived at grant park last Friday after 3 hours of driving and scouting other locations.

As you can see Oak Creek had just jumped some 400% and the mouth was gushing (we got there on the night of October 2nd). A friend (Mike) and I had high hopes as we strung up our casting rods. While I busied myself tying on a duo-lock snap my friend took his first cast. On his second he suddenly swung his rod high. Fish on.

We knew the night was going to be good.

From there on out we swung cranks, alone at the mouth of the river. Fish were landed. In fact, we hit a fish on about 10% of our casts. If we didn't land the fish, it spit the hook or the line broke. We also had many hits that no hook connected with the gums of those Salmon.

Top producers were Rapala X-Raps, Rapala Husky Jerks, and Storm Thundersticks.

The highlights of the night included a soaked blackberry, as mike scrambled to land a fish for me. The best fish of the night was Mike's 10+ pound Steelhead, silver as could be.

We ended up pulling in 6 Chinook Salmon, and 2 Steelhead. We had what looked to be a Coho flop of at the beach. We also lost 3 or 4 other kings trying to grab them with no net. Oops.

We packed it up, took a young Steelhead to fillet as a thank you to Tyler, our friend in Milwaukee that lent us a couple of couches. We returned to Oak Creek in the morning, people were cathing coho, steelhead, and kings with regularity with spawn in the creek. We tried the mouth again with no luck. It was a very successful weekend, we didn't mind going home without any daytime fish.

Until next time, I'll see ya out there.

750 Pound Shark Caught off Florida's Coast

In the ocean off of Fort Lauderdale earlier, a 750 pound shark was caught and dragged back to be weighed on a scale at a marina.

Seems a shame to drag something like that across the ocean to kill it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Great Lakes Angler : Salmon Fishing at Grant Park

Using Crank Baits, a friend and myself landed 2 Steelhead and 6 King Salmon this weekend. More information and reports to come soon.

Great Lakes Angler throwing his favorite lure with his favorite casting rod.

World Record Lake Trout : 102 Pounds

40 pound brown trout, and 50 pound rainbow trout may be recent news, but the size of those fish pale in comparison to this old record Lake Trout, from 1961.   It was taken using a gill net in 1961 and weighed 102 pounds.

The largest lake trout ever taken on the rod and reel weighed 72 pounds, caught on Great Bear Lake Canada in 1991 by Lloyd Bull.  That lake trout must have been a great bear of a Lake Trout. 

Lake trout, unlike Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout are technically Char, like their brothers the Brook Trout, Arctic Char, and Dolly Varden Char.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Albright Fly Fishing Weekend Sale

Some great deals here at Albright Fly Fishing.

There are $250 reels on sale for $85, Rods for under $60. I might just own a new GP 7/8 weight before the weekend is over, I could use a better steelhead combination. Go have a look.

Great Lakes Angler : View From Point Betsie

A Photograph from Point Betsie taken a couple of months ago, photographs like this on the computer help make the long winter a little bit shorter.