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Some fresh Coho & Browns are still in the Pike River, as well as some VERY beat up fish. This brown trout was sitting just under the ice, and wasn't spooked until the camera flashed. Granted, this brown didn't even look ALIVE until I spooked him.
Rich (FAT, on right) and Chris (my brother, at left) went ahead, making sure to give Chris the first chance at any fish sighted. Unfortunately the fish were few and far-between and all seemed to have lockjaw. The water was icing up as we waded, not to mention our guides, lines, and boots.
Downstream my brother saw what he thought was a fish, turned out to be a stump after I made him check it out for himself. Hey, he still had a great time hiking and wading.

12-22-02 - No fish but a fun time for all!

Rivers Fished: Pike River
Fish Caught: 0
Outing Date: 12-22-02
Weather: Overcast, less windy than 12-21-02
Air Temp: 24 F was on the sign as we arrived
Water Temp: getting back close to 32 F
Water Level: returning to "normal"
Water Color: clear
Fish Species: Browns & Coho
Pattern Fished: various eggs & wollies
Pattern Color: eggs were light / wollies were dark
Fishing Quality: declining rapidly

I promise not to ramble too much! So my brother and I got about 4 hours of sleep and left Lake Como at 5:00 am to meet with FatMan on the Pike at A. We made a slight detour up to the 24 hour Walmart on Rt. 11 in Racine to get my bro his 2-day license. Anyways, we met up with Rich at about 6:20 on the Pike. Fat had been out with the spotlight and sighted a few fish in the pre-dawn hour, so he already knew where to start.

Fat hooked my brother up with waders, boots, gloves, polarized glasses and a beautiful 9' rod, brand spanking new, and we headed out. Today was all about my brother, so Fat left his gear in the truck and really focused on helping my brother, which I thought was totally awesome. Going on some info I obtained the day before, we opted to head upstream to the dam. Rich lead the way, paired up with my brother, man he was just great. He showed him how to cast the setup, and in no time we were on our first little group of Coho holding along the undercut banks. It was totally my brother's day, so as we worked upstream Rich would sight fish, put my brother on them, and give it a few shots. If they weren't interested, I followed up with a wolley setup until I had exhausted the fish's patience.

On our trip upstream Rich sighted several Coho and a couple browns. All had lockjaw. The plan was to turn around a the dam and run back downstream, re-fishing those fish we had sighted earlier. What looked like a big Steelhead in the early AM turned out to be a large male Coho. After about 2.5 hours in the Country Club we came back to where we started; I headed downstream a bit more. A few other anglers had arrived at the Pike by this time; one gentleman hooked up with a small but bright red male coho on an orange egg pattern, but lost it rather quickly.

By 8:45 we moved further downstream, and fished many areas of the Pike that I had never been to before. We didn't sight anything so around 9:30 we made a dash for the mouth. A coho and brown were sighted at the mouth, both beat up pretty badly. A large female brown was tooling around at the dropoff of the "Pike River Delta" (if you can call it that!) and I made a few tosses with a 2 wolley/esl setup. Even though this fish was deemed "already dead" it looked like it turned to go after my upper wolley (the red/black pattern I fish so often"), but while turning to look at that it got snagged up on the dropper ESL (basically that purple krystal wolley with a red chenille head). We handed the rod over to my brother and let him play the fish; I'd say that alone taught him a lot about how to fish with a flyrod; how to retrieve line, how to hold the rod etc.. We did land the snagged brown to remove the hook; she was probably somewhere between 8-10 lbs. and almost COMPLETELY covered in fungal and bacterial infections. I'd say this fish probably had no more than 24 hours left on it's life at best.

Rich called it around 10:00; our rods were icing up, as were our leaders (again, like fishing beaded chain!). Their boots were completely frozen; my bro had to thaw them out under the truck's heaters for about 15 minutes before he was able to untie.

So I'm sure some of you were wondering why I would hire Fat to go out with my brother and I, and I'll tell you why it was worth EVERY penny and then some. I had a second rod, but it's a smaller 7 foot. I didn't have anything else to well-equip my brother. Fat has EVERYTHING; I easily would have spent twice as much simply equipping my brother for the 4 hour outing. Granted, I would have still had the equipment. What really made it worthwhile was that I wasn't teaching my brother that morning, I was FISHING with my brother.

Fat is a GREAT teacher, fun guy to go out with, and really listened to what I needed for this trip, which was someone to make sure we ran into fish ('cause I don't always find them), equip my bro, teach him, and give him the best possible opportunity to hook up on his first and only outing this season (and of his life). I also learned a lot about the Pike, a lot more than I had known before, and this info was simply priceless. I even know why there are still Coho and browns upriver, and why there are probably not any steelhead, and I know what to check to figure out WHERE I should be fishing come spring. Had I not gone out with FAT, I honestly would have NEVER known what I know now. WORTH it 110%. And DEFINITELY highly suggested to anyone else who really wants to learn a river but doesn't want to spend several seasons doing it.

Anyways, our original plan was to meet up with Guppy on the Milwaukee in the afternoon, but my bro was tired and frozen to the core (as was I) so we cut the trip short there. Chris did have a great time simply hiking the rivers and SEEING the fish (I think he got a big kick out of that). Now he wants to come out for the Chinooks in late Sept.! Even though we didn't hook up with any fish Sun. morning, that was a better result than I could have hoped for!

I loved Chromeseeker's sig, so I'm going to steel it (just this once)!

Merry Fishmass everyone!

  MP 

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