Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Milwaukee Area Trout Fishing : 11/22/2009

My morning began in the dark, standing in the cool waters of oak creek under a thick blanket of still fog. The air temperature was 34 degrees and it was 4:30 a.m.

I had driven up from Chicago, rolling out of the covers at 3:00 a.m. The drive up to my favorite tributary was short and sweet, with only a few other tail lights racing through the November night with me.

I stood there with my hip boots and felt the water with my fingers, cool and swift, just the way I remember the November conditions to have been in years past. I walked back to the car and strung up my float rod first, followed by my fly rod. I leaned them against the side view mirror and walked back down to the river to take a look through the darkness at holes I planned to fish in the hours to come. I sat with closed eyes, listening for the tell tale sound of Steelhead advancing through the rapids.

After I was content with my selection of water I returned to the car, with 20 minutes left before it became legal to fish. I turned on the heat and reclined the drivers seat and shut my eyes to let my imagination bend my 9' 6" float rod to the water with chrome and pink Steelhead buttoned to the end of my line.

When I opened my eyes it was 5:45, 5 minutes until fishing. I locked the car and grabbed my rods and hiked through the stretch of woods to my first hole. In the time that I had shut my eyes another angler had snuck in in front of me and was walking back and fourth on my favorite bend with a net in his hand... looking for Steelhead staging on redds to net. It was too early in the morning to start a fight with an immoral angler so I chose water a little up stream of this fellow. I hiked the two or three minute only to be greeted by no less than six men walking with waders and fly rods THROUGH the water, not along the bank with stealth as this sport demands. At this point I was near panic. This tributary isn't long, and real estate is valuable, especially on a Sunday. I wasn't going to be bested by meat hunting fools with no sense of sport. So I turned and ran. I shot through the woods, jumping downed trees and ducking low branches, trying to keep my rod tips clear of hangups. I went downstream of the aforementioned angler with a net in hand and shot across the end of the pool below him; keeping careful not to spook the hole below. I tossed my bag to the stones and dug out a bag of spawn sacs. It was now first light and getting a look at the slightly stained water from last Wednesday's rain I decided chartreuse was the color of netting I would choose, being that I brought both orange and chart. spawn sacs with brown trout eggs in them.

I could see two boulders in the hole and, being that I have not fished this hole when water was so clear, decided to exploit them for what I hoped would be nice trout holding in their eddies. On my first drift my float passed to the south of the second boulder in the deeper part of the pool and was untouched until it fell a few more feet down stream, where it twitched once, then violently twitched again. I swept my float rod sideways to check for pressure and felt something writhing on the end of the line. I retrieved it quickly to find a beautiful little creek chub on my size 6 octopus hook. I welcome life in the river, even if it isn't the quarry I intend to catch. I snapped a quick photo and returned it to this beautiful pool. I then heard the gaggle of men wading through the pool above me and knew it was time for defense, I shot my line long and diagonally up the riffle above my pool, as that would not only prevent them from crossing into my water, but also put my float through the riffles and into the first boulder's eddy.

The first and second of the six men diverted their path and walked behind me as my float drifted. I watched closely as it swung around the boulder and hung in the eddy for just a sliver of a moment, it then continued making progress downstream and suddenly shut underwater and moved to the side. It has been a long time since I last saw an orange float tip retreat to the murk of a river and thrilled to see it quickly set the hook and was instantly greeted with pressure on the end. The fish pulled quickly across the hole and the men stopped behind me. It surfaced and showed its silver side, filled with large spots. It may not have been a Steelhead but it was certainly as good, a gorgeous lake run German Brown. I landed the fish in under a minute as it was short of two feet long and no match for the line weight I was using. I grabbed the line and moved it onto the gravel in the shallows. I snatched my camera and photographed the fish as it calmly laid in inches of water and posed for a shot before I coaxed it into the depths, only touching its tail once to maneuver it toward its holding water.

I drifted this hole several more times, and seeing no signs of life, I thought it was time to move on. I know had to deal with these six men rudely tromping through the water looking all over for fish to snag with their fly rods that held only heavy monofiliment and treble hooks with a bit of yarn on the end...

I was turned off to a major degree, and having friends waiting in the harbor in Milwaukee I was happy to leave what was quickly becoming a zoo behind, and head for greener pastures, or bluer water as it were.

John clearly has some hours under his belt swinging a fly rod. He had a mean roll cast and was belting out these beautiful shots, cast after cast.

I met Mike P. and a new friend John in Milwaukee where they were floating spawn and jigging tubes in the slips. The action had been slow and there were very few fish moving so we agreed it would be to our advantage to move to the discharge. As we arrived there were no other anglers there, but upon peeking our heads over the rail we saw no less than two dozen brown trout holding in the current. Although they were easily spooked by us it wasn't long until I hooked and landed my first ever Seeforellen strain Brown Trout, pictured below.

A Seeforellen Brown Trout, note the fewer spots, he fought like a King Salmon as well.

Mike later hooked the biggest German Brown he had ever landed, a new personal best at just over 20.25 lbs. Way to go Mike. He was fishing a tube jig deep, near the bottom, jigged slowly.

Mike and his 20+ lb German Brown Trout

As the sun raised in the sky and the temperature shot into the 50's, not normal for late November... the fishing slowed and nearly halted. Fish retreated to darker, cooler water and even on the Milwaukee river we found no takers.

It had been a good day and sunset was approaching, we thought Kenosha would be a good bet for sunset and evening fishing and we boarded our vehicles and made our way down there. Float rods in hand we walked to the water in the Harbor and pitched spawn sacs and tube jigs under lighted slip floats out into the depths. Although I had 5 take downs in the first hour we were unsuccessful in even hooking any fish and after 14 hours of straight fishing we packed it up and headed for home in Chicago.

A wonderful day with two great fisherman. I feel lucky that 3 fish between 3 guys, including a first time Seeforellen, a beauty silver river German Brown, and a personal best Brown Trout over 20 pounds is a slow day!!

I'll be up north in Hudson, Wisconsin for the next 4 days and will not be fishing, but I would have you know that I'll be at it as soon as the opportunity presents itself upon my return.

Until then, good luck and I'll see ya out there.

Truly Great Lakes Anglers.

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