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4-19-03 - The Pike is low and clear. Areas that held masses of spawning suckers last week had NOTHING today.
Oak Creek's flow is UP significantly due to rain!
Chromeseeker releases a gorgeous steelie.
Sauk Creek is FN tiny! More like a runoff ditch than a Steelhead trib! Flows probably jump around like mad!
Looked around the nature preserve; the gradient here is steep! Imagine Kletzsch after Kletzsch after Kletzsch, and you'll have an idea what this stretch was like.
Another shot of Sauk Creek in the mist looking further upstream. Would be kinda cool if it held little native trout.
Even further uppstream. "Quaint" and "EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING" would be the way I'd describe this creek. One good spot, severe fear of trespassing violations, I'd leave it alone.

4-19-03 - PUDDLE HOPPING!

Rivers Fished: Pike River, Oak Creek, Fairy Chasm Creek, Sauk Creek
Fish Caught: 1 (not by me)
Outing Date: 4-19-03
Weather: Cloudy all day
Air Temp: 50's to 60's
Water Temp: 40F
Water Level: Pike was low, Oak was up Significantly, Fairy = "what creek" and Sauk we suspected as low.
Water Color: Pike = Clear, Oak = cloudy, Fairy Chasm = um, you're kidding?, Sauk Creek = Pretty Clear
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Black Heron Spey, MP's Antron Bug (Herring), Glo Bug
Pattern Color: Black & Silver, Orange / Cotton Candy
Fishing Quality: Fair

Saturday, for whatever reason, I woke up feeling SICK. Sinuses and eyes were especially bad...talk about PAIN! Gumbo called asking if I was going out and he put 2 & 2 together; tree pollen (I'm pretty allergic). It's that time of year! So an Advil and lots of sleep took care of that with one downside, I didn't make it to the river until 2:15!

Chromeseeker had already been out on the Pike for a while, he had sighted only ONE fish down at E on a LONG hike, and had not found anything at A & 13th where I had seen several fish the day before. The rains overnight had come through on a warm front; thus the Pike was up to 40F. We decided to head upstream. Nothing was sighted on the gravel upstream, not even suckers. It started raining at 2:45 PM and we decided to switch rivers.

CS had asked me to show him Oak Creek, so we made that our next destination. We got there at 3:45 PM. The rains had come through and hit Oak Creek hard; the water was probably up 6" or more! Visibility was down to about 6", with the water temps between 38-40F.

I made my way downstream past suckerville to the first clear riffle and started casting & swinging. Meanwhile CS worked up in the suckers. I got a phone call on the cell and answered it. "You want to take a picture of a Steelhead?", Bart said emphatically! "Of course I do!", I replied and hurried back upstream. There was CS with a fish in the water. He lifted it for the shot, I snapped the one you see at your right, and then it "sprung to life" and bolted from his hands. I'm glad that one shot was all we needed!

CS and I worked the stream, I was swinging and he was drifting egg patterns. We kinda leap-frogged from hole to hole down the river, but failed to sight anything. CS made it about 2/3 of the way downstream and then his reel literally fell off the seat!!!!! Not to mention CS had already almost bought-the-farm when a seemingly solid bank gave way. He headed back up to grab another rig and work the pools; I finished up the rest of the stream.

5:15 rolled around and we headed north. Our ultimate plan was to stay in Port Washington or Sheboygan to hit the Sheboygan during the legal pre-dawn time! On the way up we decided to check out some of the smaller tribs on the WDNR maps.

Our first destination was Fairy Chasm Creek. Guppy had grown up in the area and remembered that smelt ran the creek. Following the maps we worked our way north and found it. OK, we found a creek that was probably at best 2 foot wide at 6:00 pm. From the looks of my map, there is NO PUBLIC ACCESS and it's DEFINITELY NOT NAVIGABLE.

So what does this mean? First, you can't drop in from a public bridge and wade it, you'd still be trespassing. Second, unless you have permission from a land owner you can't fish it at all (Guppy remembers going through a neighbor's yard), but more importantly, what kind of INSANE Steelhead is going to run a drainage ditch. I'm sure one or two do, but come on...it really shouldn't even be on the map. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME LOOKING FOR FAIRY CHASM CREEK....that is unless we didn't FIND it and actually just found a drainage ditch. In all fairness though, I've had no problems finding any other tribs, and I have a really good area map (NOT a Delorme, they suck compared to what I'm using) so I'm pretty sure we nailed it. I didn't bother with pictures 'cause well...we didn't even bother to get out of the car!!!

Next stop heading north was Sauk Creek. We got onto it by 6:30 PM. Smaller than Oak Creek, and Oak Creek is PLENTY small! We first stopped by the bridge opposite a school, saw a couple guys fishing a deep pool and they had a couple fresh looking steelies on stringers. This is always a GOOD SIGN!

We didn't want to bother them and I had a nature preserve on my map, so we headed up there and were psyched to get in! Whoa, what a disappointment! The water was 40F and crystal clear. There were a couple shin-deep holes upstream, ALL devoid of fish. Furthermore, there weren't even any carcasses this far up. The WDNR map shows the trib as a Great Lakes Salmon/Trout trib much farther up than we had dropped in, but honestly the gradient is so steep, and the flow so small, that I don't think any fish could make it up that far at this time.

We headed back downstream and hopped in. We started noticing both sucker and Steelhead carcasses. CS's theory is that Sauk is a creek that gets a quick run when there's a rain and that's it; makes perfect sense to me. By that guestimate we'd find a few fish kinda holed up 'cause they didn't get out in time.

As we worked our way downstream, CS lead and was the first to come onto fish. He quickly spooked the first set, and down a bit further we found a lone redd. CS spotted 4 fish, but lost sight of them for a bit and turned the pool over to me. I managed to re-sight one of the fish and first tried working in with the Black Heron. CS headed further downstream to find more fish. I should mention at this point that the fish were holding in pockets that I would basically term as "large puddles", and always at the tail of each "puddle"!

This small steelie (probably 12-16") nudged the Black Heron once or twice but never bit. After a few minutes the steelie decided he DID NOT LIKE this intruder and became wary of it. I stepped back, removed my offering and rethought things.

The next attempt was MP's Antron Bug with the Herring Krystal Flash back. I figured this pattern had been excellent at enticing strikes in the dead of winter, so surely it was worth a shot. I added one small splitshot just 6" up from the fly and tried again. I was easily able to manipulate the position of the fly within an inch of the steelie. While he was not scared of this new offering, he showed NO interest.

Time to rethink this. The Steelhead was clearly not too terribly spooked even though I was standing less than 10 feet away (at most!). It was sitting just downstream of a fresh redd. My conclusion, he wants SPAWN. I changed again to a orange/cheese blended glo-bug, size 12. Looking back I should've used an Estaz Egg. Here's why.

So I settle and wait for another 5 minutes, then reenter his area with the glo bug. I drift it by the Steelhead, no interest. I dangle it in front of him in the current, slight interest. Then he moves father away. I pull out and rethink. I start jigging it in front of him...no interest. Finally, I get an idea. Just set the FN glo bug on the bottom. In literal SLOW MOTION over the period of a MINUTE, the Steelhead moved 6" closer to the fly. As he came closer, he moved deeper. Literally moving no more than a millimeter per second, he inched his way closer....closer....closer.....closer......closer.....closer. He nudged the fly with his nose.....backed off just a second...then closer...closer...closer. His mouth cracks every so slightly open and with the most delicate sip, the glo bug disappears.

BAM ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE! I probably could've set the hook as hard as I wanted 'cause my leader was 8 lb. PLine Fluorocarbon! Me, being the dumbass of the day, I decide to set it lightly. One quick splash, and the Steelhead swims UPSTREAM...taking ALL tension out of my line. As he screams past no more than 2 feet away from where I stand he spits the glo bug and I am FISHLESS! I have always felt that if I sight a fish and don't spook it, he WILL be mine. And this one would have except I didn't consider ALL the possibilities! Looking back I should've used the Estaz Egg for one specific reason. FAT (Rich Brown) imparted a bit of wisdom from Salmon Fishing with eggs...the Estaz style with a bit of yarn "sperm" is his choice because the yarn acts like Velcro, getting stuck in the fish's teeth and giving you that extra split second to set the hook. Had I used the Estaz, this fish probably would've had a beauty shot above.

I went down and found Chromeseeker; he had also gone 0/1 at this point. Things started getting dark so I headed back upstream, spooked a pod of fish I wasn't expecting, and walked out of the river at 7:45; CS showed up about 10 minutes later.

With all this said, I don't recommend Sauk Creek to anyone. I SUSPECT, although I am not 100% sure, that Sauk is NOT considered a navigable body of water. This means that we were probably trespassing in MOST of our wading. The area by the school is possibly OK because the school is public property, but MOST of the creek is bordered by houses. I did notice one small area that had a couple signs on the bank that read "Public Fishing Access from here to stream"; they were about 4 feet away from the water's edge. What's unclear is whether that was specifically just that small section of shoreline, or if that implied that the entire river was walkable/wadeable up to that point on the shoreline. Furthermore, it was a treacherous wade...there was a lot of algae on the rocks so sometimes you almost took a ride on a concrete Slip'N'Slide!

To sum it up we had a good but frustrating day. It's always fun to check out new tribs; I suggest you get yourself some good county maps, the WDNR trout reg. maps, and go hunting!

  MP 

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