Sunday, March 28, 2010

Milwaukee Area Steelhead Report : 3/28/2010

Flows are getting low around Milwaukee, water is clearing, and Steelhead are easily spotted in the ends of deeper pools and across most gravel beds. Nymphs are taking fish, and streamers swung through turbid water in the entrances to pools have been very productive.

I personally went 6/8 this morning in Milwaukee in the early morning hours. Fish were very active at sunrise, and activity slowed as the sun got higher in the sky.

When fish are within sight it is important to stay low and use stealth and precision when casting. Your first three casts are what you likely will hook that fish on, Steelhead are quick to wise up to your game and if your casts are loud, splashing hits to the water near them they will show you their tail as the exit the scene.

Two of the fish I landed today were females, the other four were male. In an uncharacteristic fashion I kept this small specimen that had already spawned as my family is coming to town in a couple of days and I thought some fresh fish would be welcome on the dinner table.

The other female was so fresh out of the lake that she was all silver and for a second it looked like I was fighting a spring coho in the current. She took me downstream almost to my backing, and than ripped upstream straight past me as I cranked my large arbor fly reel as fast as I could to keep up with her. She took me through rapids and across gravel as I finally landed her, I knew it would be cruel to keep her out of the water for any amount of time to get my camera and as I was fishing alone I let her powerful tail slip from my fingers as she burst back into the flow and disappeared.

Another perfect morning between gravel beds. I'm taking some co-workers to Milwaukee Wednesday to show what being buttoned up with a Steelhead feels like. I'm only asking for fish apiece, and we have all day to make that happen. Can't wait.

Get out there, this run won't last for much longer and the middle of September is a long way off my friends.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

South-Eastern Wisconsin Steelhead Fishing Report : 03/21/2010

The Steelhead fishing has never been better in Southeastern Wisconsin if you are familiar with its water and know how to get away from crowds and fish a variety of water.

This past Sunday two friends and I made it out to a spot few make it to and managed to land 16 steelhead in under 3 hours. All were landed on flies, spawn sacs, and hair jigs. Fast water held steelhead that I plucked with a variety of flies swung swiftly through the minefield of fish. My friends pulled some wild fish out the slower moving tailouts with spawn and hair jigs.

I have never had such an action packed morning Steelhead fishing in my life. It is the kind of fishing everyone dreams of and when it comes you can barely stop smiling for a second. Fish ranged from 5-12 pounds and more males were caught than females, but only my a small margin. All but two of the females we caught had already spawned but were still very bright.

This is a good learning tool, above pictured are two Steelhead of almost exactly the same size, the top male and the bottom female. You will notice the male has a longer mouth, which extends much past the eye, while the females mouth is smaller. The male has the double red stripe, which develops deep into spawning. Males generally have larger heads, some develope a kype, or hooked jaw, you will notice the length of the gill plate is greater than that of the female.

Here is Mike with a larger male of the day.

We had multiple times during the morning in which we had two anglers hooked at the same time, we even landed a couple doubles and photo opportunities presented themselves! We took care to keep the Steelhead in the water at all times, even when unhooking and only lift them for a photo or two. All 16 fish were released.

Double steel next to my wonderful fly rod.

More double trouble.

All told we lost count of lost fish but I was broken off three times and had two more shake my hook. The action was non-stop and the fish were in the mood to pounce. At first light I made my first drift and watched a steelhead shoot up 3 feet to meet my fly and smash it, I missed that first hook set, but it got my adrenaline pumping so 5 minutes later I certainly hit my second.

We had three holes to share between the 3 of us and a 4th and 5th were downstream just about a quarter mile. It made for great rotation, hook up a few times, sit out for a minute and change places and start fishing again. A great way to share the water.

The male fish were certainly more aggressive and would charge streamers and jigs, females weren't shy, but would do little to meet you half way, casts needed to be landed with precision and depth perception while stripping the fly to their strike zone was crucial.

Get out if you can. There are fish to be taken from Sheboygan all the way to the state line and you'll be sorry if this season passes without getting your hands on some Lake Michigan Steel.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oak Creek Fishing Report : Mid March 2010

Oak Creek has stabilized and Steelhead are staging nicely. The river has a variety of sized fish in the system right now from 15-20" juveniles to 30+" four and five year old fish. Chambers Creek and Ganaraska are the strains most prevalent in the river at this time.

Fish will lay in deep pocket water until the sun hits the gravel and the water temp warms slightly. Look for 8-10 a.m. for fish to start heating up and getting active on beds.

Egg-Nymph fishing seems to work but I picked 2/3 of mine on leech patterns today. I only landed one champion male Steelhead today. No fin clips, thick like a football, I didn't weigh the fish but 6 pounds would be my best guess.

More on the tributaries to come, it has been an exhausting day between sneaking out for a full throttle fishing trip this morning, followed by a full day of work ending just now.

My advice is to get out and dance with these wonderful fish while you can, and please consider releasing them as they are such beautiful fish.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mike's First Steelhead

A fellow named Mike emailed me with some questions about Steelhead fishing a few months ago. I did my best to help him in any way, and so did the Chicago Trout Bum. I had a nice email in my inbox this morning.

Here is part of the email:

Thought I'd write to personally thank you yet again. Have been out a few times already this year, but nabbed my first spring run steelhead yesterday.

I now FULLY understand the obsession. It was wild. I only got to get out for about an hour after work, but as I came around a bend I saw at least 2-3 of them swirling around in a deeper pool. 2 casts is all it took.

I also hooked up with two others but lost one very quickly (2-3 seconds) and lost another one when it ran 40 yards downstream and underneath a log!

Two casts is all it took, now that my friends, is poetry.

Here is a photo of his first Steelhead ever, something to be extremely proud of. I remember my first Steelhead well, but we'll save that for another post.

Mike wanted to know the strain of it and he guessed chambers creek, by the shape of it and by the time of year I would wager his guess is right on. I applaud him for diligence in research into Steelhead Strains of Lake Michigan. I wrote up an article on that, you can find it here accompanied by some photographs of Steelhead that I have caught myself.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day in Chicago : The Green Chicago River

For those of you not able to get a glimpse of the Chicago River this weekend I bring you some photographs from a unique vantage point. My work brought me up onto the 28th floor of a downtown high-rise on the river where we photographed for the day. I snapped some images of the river and the spot that the river meets the channel, making for an interesting break line where the green water met the discolored North Shore Channel-Chicago River water.

A view of the Merchandise Mart and the green River.

A view of the spot the stain hits fresh water.

Looking back at 333 East Wacker with the Chicago River in the foreground, shot from in front of the Holiday Inn.

In Steelhead news, fish have pushed into Wisconsin tributaries and persistent anglers are buttoning fish. Look for warm ups this week to really get things going.

Enjoy the photographs and happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wisconsin Tributaries Stabilizing, Expect Steelhead Soon

With a week of warm weather dumping thousands of gallons of water into the tributaries of Lake Michigan the flows have skyrocketed and water temperatures have warmed up.

This influx of water should directly correlate to numbers of fish pushing their way up from lake Michigan deep upstream.

Flows seem to have topped out and hopefully will recede over the next 5 days or so, when the flows get back down under 300 cubic feet per second and conditions have some stability we will be able to get out there and dance with Steelhead in some of the best river fishing of the year.

Keep checking in for more forecasts and conditions, I'll do my best to keep you updated.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Root River Steelhead Report : Early March 2010

Finally, it is here. I got up to Racine and onto the Root by sunrise this past Sunday to do a little breaking in of my new St. Croix 8 weight accompanied by my Hatch 7+. This morning was fruitful in sun, scenery, and isolation on the water. I did not manage to tango with any Steelhead though. I think I may have been too ambitious as I got after some deep runs that I hoped would be holding early steelhead jockying for position on the beds just upstream. I should have stuck to slow drifting through the deepest of holes... but that just isn't my style.

Photographs are forthcoming but I'm on lunch at work at the moment and don't have the files here.

I took a ride to a spot downstream where I met some friends to do some ice fishing on the deep slow areas of the river directly preceding the harbor. The action was steady, although landed fish were few. Here is a photo of Keith and I with the first Steelhead of the season from the Root River. Thanks to Dan for the photo from his cell phone we snapped just before releasing this chrome male Steelhead.

Steelhead are staging in Lake Michigan and in Harbors directly below our tributaries now. We should expect to see substantial pushes of fish into the systems over the next week as air temps flirt with fifty all week and ice thins as meltoff exudes from the banks. Next weekend is a good bet for getting your first river Steelhead of the year.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Thaw Begins in Wisconsin

This is what we have been waiting for. Steelheaders and Brown Trout seekers grab your rod and get those leaders tied on. Its time to chase some Steelhead. The Root River is coming around, with the Milwaukee, and Oak Creek following suit.

Note the daily rise and fall as snow-melt trickles into the river.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It may be Early Season Trout Opener in Wisconsin...

But this weekend... the lakefront and the tributaries are likely the place to be with weather like this:

You'll find me out with my nose as close to the water as I can get it. You can expect full reports and photos to make up for nearly a month of radio silence. Thanks for sticking around. Life moves faster than it should sometimes and time on the water is hard to come by when the only water I see is in a glass on my desk.

See you out there (in the sun).