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5-17-03 - My first fish of the day; a nice Stocker Rainbow Trout at Quarry Lake.
Gene noticed fish hitting on the surface...wasn't expecting the bluegill though!
Gene's first rainbow of the day. Kinda on the small side but still fun on a 4 wt.
We moved on the Oak Creek. Spring is just making it gorgeous to be out, even if the Steelhead season is "supposedly winding down".
To those who think there aren't Steelhead to be had, THINK AGAIN. Unfortunately, this one was just shy of fair (aka. it was fouled). Not to worry, Chromeseeker got her "semi-fair" only 30 minutes later on a small green caddis. A "borderline" hook in his own words.
"Rainbow" Chubs...they must be breeding...look at all that rich red.
Tichigan Creek in Northwest Racine County.
Here and in the subsequent shots, you can tell that a LOT of work has gone into turning this TINY stream into trout habitat.
Notice the man-made "lunker structures" and riffles.
Plenty of ROCK in Tichigan.
This is NOT a trout. It's a CHUB. All the fish we saw in Tichigan were CHUBS. Where were the frickin' trout???
Back to Quarry 'cause we know there are actually trout in there....this little stocker has LOTS of color!
Surprise Surprise! I was hoping for a LARGE hold over trout. Nope..got a respectable largemouth..on a 4 wt.!

5-17-03 - MP's "Why Not" Rambling Report Outing

Rivers Fished: Quarry Lake, Oak Creek, Tichigan Creek
Fish Caught: Several
Outing Date: 5-17-03
Weather: Sunny just about all day, foggy towards evening.
Air Temp: 70's for most of the day, dropping to like 40 in the evening (I could see my breath).
Water Temp: Quarry Lake - 60F on the surface, Oak Creek - 61F, Tichigan Creek - 68 F
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Quarry visibility to about 2-3 feet, Oak Creek almost crystal, Tichigan Creek was WATERFORD.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, Bluegill, Chub, Largemouth Bass
Pattern Fished: Too many to list. My HOT pattern continued to be MP's Antron Bug in Brown/Tan for Quarry Lake.
Pattern Color: N/A
Fishing Quality: FUN FUN FUN but still rather slow.

So this was the "Why Not" outing; Gene rescheduled his trip to this weekend. Of course, Chromeseeker would be joining us after work on Saturday. And Bushertail was kinda curious what I was up to on Saturday. I had the itch to look for Steelies AND check the area Inland Trout streams, so I hatched a plan...they "Why Not" outing.

Thus I emailed all my area fishin' buddies + a few guys who'd talked about fishing together but we just hadn't gotten around to it. I have to laugh, 'cause I received a LOT of good reasons "Why Not". Tbender was preparing for his Northern WI trip and running a Garage Sale. FAT & J were in the Pewaukee Musky Tourney. PeterM was in NJ. Guppy was just coming back from Costa Rica. Dave Dornblaster had a trip scheduled to go to SW WI with his buddy, & Rob E. was turkey hunting. Gator was walley fishin' with a bud. Brennon was in Minnesota, and Tim was building out a room for his soon-to-be first son (CONGRATS Tim!). Either I'm really not that fun to fish with or something, but that's all good :) All I gots ta' say is you ALL MISSED STEEL ;)

So the basic plan for the day was to pick a central meeting place (Quarry Lake Park), scout the steelies, and if that was NO GOOD we'd scout the SW WI trout streams in Racine, Kenosha & Walworth Counties.

First stop Quarry Park, and I got onto the water by 10:00 am. I was the first one there and started fishin; fifth cast with MP's Antron and I landed my first rainbow of the day. A few more casts, and #2 came quickly, but did a C & R dockside.

Gene showed up probably around 10:45 or so..he had made a stop at Bass Pro Shops on his way up to get a 4 wt. and some dries (to be prepared should we end up in that situation). He gave it a go, he said he was out to learn but in all honesty I don't know how much I could teach him (he seems to be a pretty accomplished angler). About the time Gene had been fishing for a bit, I had decided the bite had kinda turned off...I had a few more nips but nothing ended up on my line.

Gene noticed that some fish were feeding on the surface and figured he'd try the top water...a small parachute olive and he was set. He moved to the slack water and patiently cast...and cast...finally a whoop and he's got a fish on. I got there in time to see him bring it up...a whoppin' Blue Gill! Hey, first fish of the day on a dry..not bad.

Shortly thereafter Gene tangled into a nice little rainbow, and he had #2. All the while I had been looking for Bushertail, but hadn't seen him show up. His plan was to be fishin' Oak Creek starting at 4:30 am...I'm bettin' that he was having a good day..no reason to leave that just to play with stockers.

Meanwhile, CS had gotten out of work and he too was in need of a lightweight. We made the call and decided to meet at Oak Creek. Perfect timing, Bart was just getting suited up as we arrived. I whipped out the 6 wt. and was ready to go. Unforunately, Bushertail had to work at 1:00 pm, so we probably had just missed him.

Working the plan, we all kinda hopscotched each other as we worked downstream. I have to say Oak is a pretty quick learn...the fish almost always hold in the same spots IF they're in. I opted for a particular pool just below a riffle, with Bart below. Gene showed up shortly thereafter and I showed him the type of water we were fishing and suggested he keep moving down to the next riffle.

All the while I'm BLINDLY drifting when I see the flash. Bart had spooked up some suckers upstream..so I wasn't 100% that I was into chrome yet. 5 minutes later I yelled "I GOT CHROME" when I saw a BIG male circle in the pool. Soon after I felt my line tighten and stop moving, and I lifted. KABOOM the male flew through the air...he came out again as hit hit the far edge of the pool...almost jumped up onto the bank! Bart had a better vantage point and noticed he was "kinda crusty". Unfortunately this male had nowhere to go...unless he wanted to brave the shallow riffles. The pool was more like a "kiddie" pool in size. After that quick drag-burnin' run he settled in...restless but apparently he had decided he wasn't going to do something foolish like make a run for it. Then I noticed I could control his backside more than his head...DAMN! He was fouled on the tail. I let my rod go horizontal and he shook himself free.

Bart moved downstream while I continued to work the pool. I switched up to a glo bug..maybe that'd be the ticket as it was for my first steelie of the season. On splitshot on about 12" up, drop it at the head and drift it through. A guy walked by on the far bank..asked how I was doing..and in the process spooked the big guy down into the pool below. But by this time, I had seen at least 2-3 fish in there, so I wasn't done yet.

Tugg Tugg...and I lift again! Another, considerably smaller silver rocket flew out of the water. This one looked good...I had head control. She turned and RAN DOWN THE RIFFLES...all I could do was let her take line, my drag going "ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ" all the way down. I made my way down and eventually coaxed her to shore. I called BART and I called GENE (who didn't answer 'cause his phone was off)...left a message "If you want to see a Steelhead COME UPSTREAM!".

So then I set to taking getting her shot up and I look down and find that I have not in fact landed her fair..she was chinned. DAMN! I took the shots as Bart arrived, took her BACK UPSTREAM to the pool, revived her and set her on her way. She looked pretty spawned out but I figured she might coax that male back up. Another special note, she was MISSING an eye.

I'll condense the rest of our time at Oak Creek; I went downstream but missed Gene, who had been working a pair he found earlier. To quote "They were going at it like a pair of teenagers in the back of a car!". Priceless!!! He didn't have good luck, ultimately spooking them. After that he moved upstream and found CS working the pool for the male, but instead landing the same female AGAIN. Bart was hesitant to say he "faired" her on a little green caddis..but she WAS hooked fair in the INTERIOR of the mouth. He kinda felt it was a lucky flossing...I'm not going to argue that point...I'm sure she was still breathing kinda hard.

We spent some time working the upper stretches...pulled out all sorts of strange stuff like Creek Chubs. Bart even landed a stocker rainbow from the pond above the dam that had apparently washed downstream. For more fun check those pictures back up there.

By 4:45 we decided for a change of scenery, so we headed west to Tichigan Creek. I was eager to fish it because it is stocked with Rainbows, Brookies AND Browns. I was seriously stoked for the Tichigan Triple Slam. Got there at 5:30. Unfortunately, the first bad sign was the water temps..my first reading was 70F.

Now let me say the pictures speak for themselves, Tichigan is TINY. A second temp. reading in some riffles showed up 68F. A LOT of work has been put into Tichigan to make it suitable trout habitat...tons of mini lunker structures and rock have been added. I'd say I felt like I was fishing someone's outdoor trout aquarium.

During the HOUR we spent at Tichigan none of us sighted trout EVEN THOUGH it had been stocked in anticipation of the season opener just a couple weeks prior. All we found were Chubs..and we SLAYED em. At least 3 or 4 for each of us. While they were funny at first, the got annoying quickly.

Totally disappointed, I have to wonder what's the deal with Tichigan. It was clearly flowing VERY WARM already...Brookies would've been having real problems with those temps. I seriously doubt that they'd make it through a summer. Browns..maybe. Were they all underneath the structures..perhaps. But I have to say I was on 6X tippet with some of my most irresistible trout flies and didn't even turn ONE. I kinda think that maybe the DNR could find a better stream that Tichigan to put so much work into. I wonder if it was even fun back on opening day???

We'd had enough, Gene summed it up brilliantly "This is a joke!" Back to Quarry Park at 7:15! Bart turned several trout in short time with waxworms, but also took his first trout on a dry fly. Totally hooked I'm sure. I honestly don't recall how Gene did but I'm sure he hooked up with something during the evening.

I had a couple follows from small trout but didn't connect...did manage a bluegill. I decided to keep DOWN and not go for the surface bite. Armed with the knowledge that some trout do indeed overwinter and attain good size, I switched up to a size 8 MP's Antron in brown / tan...still the killer fly on Quarry. I tossed to a rise, didn't get a response, and started to retrieve. On one strip about half way back to the dock, I got a sharp tug.

My line quickly veered to my left, then to my right. Whatever I had on was kinda deep down. The fish came closer quickly...was this the big rainbow I've been hoping for? The 4 wt. was performing well, at one point the tip was in the water as the fish tried to go under the dock...I had to turn him. As I finally started to get him up towards the surface...I saw my first glimpse. "I got a smallmouth" I shouted. Then I got another glimpse...it looked kinda mottled. "Wait, No, it's a big crappie"! The fish made another dash for the deep. Finally with a big smile on my face I brought him to the surface. "Oh, it's a LARGEMOUTH!"! What a FUN FISH on a 4 wt.!

  MP 

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