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4-01-03 - The local beaver was on patrol in Island Park on the Root. This was definitely going to be an April FOOLS day.
Continuing with April Fool's Day, when's the last time you saw a Canada Goose land and roost in a tree???
This unidentified angler stepped in and covered the males while Dan fished his first steelie, a female on a redd. The smart angler got a nice smaller buck, probably 5 lbs.
Dan practicing his newly instructed roll cast in Lincoln Park.
Tbender fishes a sweet looking hole during our 2 hour classified mission. No fish sighted though. You want to find it, go look for it yourself. If you know it, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF ;)

We hit the Pike at A & 13th, no fish so we moved to the Mouth. D' Wenker looked at me and was like, "You want me to fish in HERE?!" Ha! To the uninitiated the Pike Mouth is pretty lack-luster..until the fish start surfacing 20 feet away...

It was like 70F in the sun by the time we hit Milwaukee. Tbender slayed 'em today in Estabrook... this was sucker #1047...faired on a white wolley bugger. Smoke17 is in the background...slowly crossing the falls!

April Fool's again! Not only suckers...but what you can't really see in this pic is the nice CRAWDADDY that Tbender landed on the fly! What a ridiculous day!

While coming up with none landed for the day, I still go my Chrome fix...

DENIED!

Jumpers were both chromer and colored. NICE.

These redds were NOT here in the Milwaukee just two days ago. The redds were ALL abandoned by the time we got to them.

Towards dusk, a look down to much more river that has yet to be fished by our crew.

And back up...a pretty lame sunset. Oh did I mention my thermometer read 36F?! Mother Nature & the Steelies had their fun with us today. This weekend...payback.

4-01-03 - April FOOL's Day.

Rivers Fished: Root River, Pike River, Lake Michigan (at the Pike Mouth), Milwaukee River
Fish Caught: 0 Steelies Landed
Outing Date: 4-01-03
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: started in the 40's, worked up to the 60's, maybe even 70's, and back down to 36 by nightfall?!?!
Water Temp: Most were in the 40's now.
Water Level: Up just a little from recent rains.
Water Color: Root River -> clearing up but still cloudy, Pike -> relatively clear, Milwaukee -> stained.
Fish Species: Steelhead, Smolts, Smallmouth Bass, Suckers, Crawdads, sticks, logs, rocks, and other anglers.
Pattern Fished: What fly DIDN'T we fish today?
Pattern Color: We ran the gambit
Fishing Quality: A bit improved. Fly anglers still losing out big-time.

Be forewarned, this was one totally thrilling and GOOFY day of fishing; 13 or so hours minus travel time and not a single steelie landed. Fishing April Fool's Day is probably bad luck...I just didn't know about it until now! Fishing April Fool's Day with several of your buddies for 13 hours also has the unintended side effect of creating a LONG, wait no, HUGE, Rambling Report!

Let me preface with my weekend. My weekends are normally spent at our family's home in WI and I happen to do my laundry there. Well, I have 2 identical bags of clothes; one generally holds extra clean laundry and the other is for transporting the laundry. Anyways, I pulled the ultimate "fool" move and brought the CLEAN laundry with me. Thus, I'd have no clean clothes all week! The only solution I could find was to go back to WI Monday night; no way I'm going to break my neck driving home Tuesday morning, so I called for an emergency day off (ha...don't have clean laundry..have to do it tomorrow...can't work...). What a great excuse for fishing!

So we worked it out, I was to leave for WI Monday night..and once everyone found out I was fishing Tuesday the plan quickly got pushed from a leisurely afternoon of fishing maybe to a hard-core 4:30 am start...FAT has a way of doing that do you. Monday was also spent trying to convince my best friend Dan (aka. Wenker) that he NEEDED to go fishing on Tuesday. It ended up taking a kidnapping to get him to come...he could thank me later.

As you all know by now...I am a night owl...NOT a morning person. If you're a night owl, you know there's only TWO ways to get up at 3:30 in the morning for anything:

1. Pull the all nighter.

2. Drink till ya pass out and make sure you have multiple alarmclocks and a buddy and a backup wake-up-call in the works.

For some STUPID reason Dan & I chose the later method. We unilaterally decided that 3:30 am would be TOO early for any borderline sane person to do, so we opted for 4:00 am. Only God knows how we got on the road to the Root by 4:20 am!

The "CREW" for today's outing: The original plan was for Tbender, FAT and myself to meet at Lincoln Park at the Root at 4:30 am. We tried to convince Gumbo to come out but he had prior obligations. I also tried to get PeterM to come out but work couldn't be ignored. Later in the day we were to meet up with Smoke17, and if all went as planned I'd get to wish Guppy a Happy New Year in person!

About 5:30 we FINALLY made it to Racine to find that we were the ONLY SOULS AROUND! No sign of the FAT Mobile. No sign of Tbender. I was thinking, "How the heck did we beat everyone here..or wait...they must have moved!" Lincoln Park was totally deserted...I figured we suit up while I tried to find out what was going on. Tbender showed up and after giving it some thought, we decided (against FAT's better advice) to try Island Park First (thought maybe he had moved down there).

We hit the water about 6:00 am; Island was a relative bust (not TOO surprisingly); Tbender was the lone hookup with a smolt or two. Water temps were still 38F! We worked the bends and deeper edges...I saw what I thought was a steelie moving upstream and my heart skipped a beat...then two beats (had to give myself a quick thorax thump to get it going). Regained my composure only to figure out that it wasn't a fish...it was some sort of hairy aquatic mammal. A Platypus? A Muskrat? No...this animal got 2 feet away from me before even realizing I was there...he turned tail and swam! A Beaver! The Island Park Beaver...patron of the steelheader who knows how to fish log jams! As I had NEVER seen a Beaver on the Root before...this was already shaping up to be a weird day.

6:30 rolled around and my phone kicked in; it was FAT! I figured he was calling to tell us that he was further downstream and had already slammed 15! That would've been a great April Fool's joke! However, this one's even better...he overslept! Wait, that's MY JOB! Well, he was only joining us for a FUN day...not a FAT outing...so although his presence was missed, all is forgiven and FAT still rocks! He WAS like, "What are you doing in Island Park?! I told you to go to Lincoln Park!"

Ok, OK, 6:45 we packed it up and moved; on our way out I saw the most peculiar thing....a Canada Goose that landed (not gracefully) in a TREE. April Fool's on us yet again!

A few cars had now shown up. First out of the car and on the stream was Wenker (Dan, hereafter known as Wenker). He walks up to the bend just below the weir and says, "I see a fish". Cool! "You saw it, you fish it" was my response. "Well don't just stand there, get in the river" I screamed! A female was redding in the shallows...this was what I had been waiting for since FEBRUARY!

Now I probably should mention that Dan hasn't had a fly rod in his hands since last October, and even then had only used one for 4-5 days in Montana and 2 Days on the Root during the Chinook Runs (at which time he broke his first rod!) Chromeseeker had suggested that we try the white PM Wiggler in my Fly Pattern's section, so I had Dan all tied up with that.

As Dan approached, his first few casts puddled in the water. He got the feeling back and started throwing straight...all the while with me barking instructions from up high on the bank. "Dude, get out farther! Dude, slow down on that cast....don't muscle it! You're still 10 feet away. You see those two rocks...cast there. Dude, you're still too far away. Don't muscle the cast! Slow DOWN! Wait, stop. Let your line settle! Now pick it up and cast it. You're STILL 10 feet away from the fish!" Talk about pressure after only 4.5 hours of sleep and probably a slight hangover!

While standing, I spotted a second female, so I moved down to her! Tbender took up behind me, looking for secondary males, I cast to the female and swung to any males that could be holding immediately below. All the while Wenker was still plugging away...good cast...bad cast...wrong cast...good cast. Out of nowhere, in Dan's own words, "I was standing there casting and then I noticed this huge fish like 3 feet away from me. I looked back up and saw her snap and I knew I had a bite. I was like 'wait, which fish?!??!'."

Dan instinctively pulled back high on his rod and had good line tension. I screamed to lower his rod..and he went horizontal. I screamed that 45 degrees would be better and he got it right. However, had a LOT of slack line out, and he lost his grip on the line. All of a sudden the thrashing stops and he starts grabbing in line! There's orange BPS Fly Line flying around everywhere, as the fish is still on and Wenker is furiously picking up slack. Somehow, in all this, he still had the fish on for a good 45 seconds before it came off. She simply returned to her redd! April Fool's.

Meanwhile I continued to toss everything in the book at the female I had sighted; MP's Jewel Spey, MP's White Marabou, MP's Antron Bug, Estaz Eggs, you NAME it. She just wouldn't take...total lockjaw.

Another angler moved in to the unfilled "slot" in our game; no one was taking Dan's males below the female. And wouldn't you know it, on a small double egg pattern in red he got a nice 5 lb buck.

And during that time, Dan somehow broke his second rod when casting. I'm not sure HOW he did that...but there ya go. Wenker + the Root + Fly Rods just don't work I guess. Since the rod was BRAND NEW, hopefully BPS will replace it.

I instructed him to go to my car and grab my backup, and Tbender and I switched up and I took over working Wenker's hen while Tbender took mine over. I actually managed a SNAP from her on another "white" pattern, MP's Jewel. She was on for mere seconds before spitting the hook and again returning to her redd. After several more casts, I tail snagged her and said "That's it, I'm not fishing to a fish that's not biting anymore". The three of us moved down low by the footbridges and were going to try a different route.

Well, by this point Wenker was drifting a Green Estaz, I had Orange on, and Tbender opted for some sort of Wolley. This area provided Wenker with some casting practice...and overall we slowly worked back up to the bend by the weir. I had cast and drifted every run, hole, pocket and pool, but no hookups were had. By the time we got back up there, several more anglers were around, and my first lockjawed female had been taken. Wenker's female was still there, and another angler had seen a second fish move up by her. This was my last ditch effort; I swung several times but was unable to pinpoint their location due to tons of easterly sun (she wasn't fanning by then). 9:30 am we had enough of the Root.

For roughly the next 2 hours, we fished a location and trib that will remain nameless. I will say that we did sight some steelies in one section, but they were EXTREMELY skittish...took off like bullets the SECOND we arrived. The water was much warmer than the Root at 42F. Unfortunately, bright sun in the solid morning hours are probably NEVER conducive to good fishing.

Tbender had never been to the Pike, but had seen all my reports and was anxious to see it, so at 11:30 we started at A & 13th. We checked all the gravel...even waded just into the Country Club and stared at the gravel in the hopes we'd see some splashing. Unfortunately, Wenker was in hip boots, so the trek upstream would be tough and potentially 'cause an incident with security / the police, so I opted NOT to put him through that ordeal. An upstream wade for another day.

By 12:00 we arrived at the mouth of the Pike on Lake Michigan. I always love being at the beach...and this was the same time of day that 2 days ago I had seen the first Pike Steelhead taken (see 3-30-03). Wenker was skeptical. I put him on the lagoon, which Tbender opted for as well. I switched up to the DEADLY COMBO; the Red & Black Wolley Bugger with MP's Antron Bug (the Herring Back version) as the dropper. I cast in the lake...winds were out of the east at that particular moment in time, but were weak so casting wasn't that bad.. a double haul and some wading got you ample distance. Not to mention my second (and last) hit of the day...a "tug tug tug" and then "no more tugs". I suspect whatever it was went for the Antron, which was a size 12 and thus not the easiest hook to set and keep in. One thing is for sure, every time I have MP's Antron on the line for more than a couple casts, at a time when fish should be there, I get bumps. Well, I had promised the boys that we'd head to Milwaukee in the afternoon, so at 1:15 we left the Pike empty-handed.

Smoke17 had indeed made it out, and was fishing the Milwaukee for at least a couple hours before our arrival...he was down in Estabrook so we headed there first. NICE BALMY 44F water! It was flowing more, probably due to some rain. One steelie sat on a stringer.

Let me tell you it was a madhouse, even in the middle of a WEEKDAY. Anglers of all types were out...spawn, fly, speycasters (he got a Smallmouth; congrats!). This was TBender's home water, so he gave us the quick tour and we set to task. TBender MOPPED UP! Not on steelies though, on suckers. They were everywhere, loaded in the channels. I think he stopped counting after 10. Not to mention he also took a Crayfish (Crawday) on a white ELS with chartreuse head! Tbender has that bottom drift DOWN SOLID! April Fools yet again!

Wenker went empty handed, while I myself fouled on two, one butt-hooked and another in the back. Turned out Smoke was on the opposite side of the river, so he braved the water and crossed! That took some stones; I went up there and wasn't comfortable at ALL! We chatted for a bit, show some fly patterns, and he was off (and probably done for the day). I think his girlfriend had fallen in the river and was getting pretty COLD as the wind was picking up, and temperatures were dropping.

3:15 rolled around and we hadn't really found the fish, so we moved upstream to Kletzsch. It was totally empty upstream at the Dam, so we bottom bounced right by the dam. It took a TON of led to get a fly down. Not my usual style of fishing, but it was exciting to see a few Steelhead trying to jump the dam. Tbender got a couple hookups, I got squat. So I figured I'd get my chrome on digital film, if not on the end of my line! Check out the pictures! That took almost more patience than FISHING for steel.

We had heard conflicting reports about the action in lower Estabrook. Smoke17 had fished and seen nothing, but another angler had seen "pods of fish on the redds". I was eager for more sightfishing so at 5:00 we left Kletzsch to go downstream.

When we dropped in the water was down to 42F. Guppy was workin' the channels with spawn but hadn't really seen any action. Wenker stayed upstream, while Tbender and I picked "sides" of the river and worked it. I was working my way towards my favorite cut when a guy jumped out into the stream in front of me and set up on the spot! And there WAS a redding female there. Not much I can do about that, so I kept going downstream. April Fools on me!

I found PLENTY of freshly cut redds on my side, but NO FISH! So I spent most of my time in a "searching" pattern; covering the river with a swing. Tbender had some fun at one point...thought he maybe got a Steelhead. NOPE! Another sucker!

The air temps continued to drop and light was falling off, so we turned to go back upstream to Wenker, who had since moved downstream. We managed our way out of the river by about 6:30 or so and sat with Guppy and talked. While all this was happening the guy who was STILL FISHING the little cut that I missed out on hooked up...several times. Eventually we watched him land a Steelhead of decent size....no clue as to whether he was accidentally snagging or not BECAUSE it was like "Cast & Hookup...then fish off" for several consecutive casts. In any event the fish landed was released, which we were all happy to see. Air temps had dropped CONSIDERABLY...my thermometer read 36F!

Cold an exhausted, we made it back to the cars by 6:45. Wenker had been the object of constant ribbing all day, as the NEWBIE had managed the best hookup of the day. So the totals were Wenker 0-1, MP 0-2, and Tbender 0-4. The Steelhead were laughing all the way to the redds. Granted they were still rather thin...from my understanding it's just a trickle of fish. Some areas are seeing Ganaraskas run up, but for the most part it still looks like more colored up fish. FAT wasn't lying...you really have to be out at the opening of the day to get fish that will bite, and it's generally a SHORT WINDOW of opportunity each day. So techinically skunked, I'll be back to dole out some payback this weekend ;)

  MP 

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