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9-25-03 - Welcome to Estabrook...it's been too long. And we're lucky, almost totally deserted too!
Chris hooks up right away!
What's this, I turn and now Phil's on too?!
NICE FAIR HEN BRO! Unfortunately by the time I was ready to net Phil's it had gotten off!
Handed the camera over to Chris for a bit, and look what he nailed trying to jump the falls! (Photo by Chris Pedersen, Copyright 2003)
Phil is on again, and so am I...on Phil's line! (Photo by Chris Pedersen, Copyright 2003)
Took a lot of finesse to PREVENT any tension in my line while Phil's fish danced about! (Photo by Chris Pedersen, Copyright 2003)
So this is well into my long, 30-45 minute battle...let's just say Tom had PLENTY of time to get ahold of the camera and shoot these next few... (Photo by Tom Bender, Copyright 2003)
FINALLY, I'm dead tired, and so is the fish. This is probably our one chance to land this hog...(Photo by Tom Bender, Copyright 2003)
Netboy Chris redeems himself and I'm totally awash in adrenaline and at the same time, exhaustion. (Photo by Tom Bender, Copyright 2003)
THIS IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT BABY! (Photo by Tom Bender, Copyright 2003)
It wouldn't be a Rambling Report without the "rod shot"; that's 24 lbs, 37.5" in length, 22" girth.
And the action just keeps on coming. I'm tired, so I sit and take pics while new fishin' buddy Alex hooks up. Netboy Chris is ON FIRE!
Yet another sweet, huge Chinny for the day!
STILL MORE ACTION well into dusk. Tom finally gets his fish on...alas fish off soon follows.
All the while Chinnies continue to move upstream...
...sometimes at a rocket's pace!

9-25-03 - MP's largest freshwater fish ever (I think)!

Waters Fished: Milwaukee River
Fish Caught: 1 fair landed personally, several others
Outing Date: 9-25-03
Weather: Partly Sunny
Air Temp: Cool, seemed to be 60's max
Water Temp: Didn't take it
Water Level: extremely low
Water Color: pretty clear and very stained
Fish Species: Chinook Salmon, possibly Browns & Steelheads too
Pattern Fished: Mostly Glo Bugs
Pattern Color: Patterns with Chartreuse worked best
Fishing Quality: TONS OF FUN!

Alright, we took Wednesday off to go back to Chicago so my bro could hang with his friends (and I could take the time to write Monday's report while it was still REALLY FRESH in my head). So it's Thursday, and as usual the guys aren't super enthusiastic about getting up before noon :)

So I'm in control for the next day or two, and I call the Milwaukee. Show these guys some different water and possibly some fish! Sounds like a plan...we get there at 2:00 pm and the place is relatively deserted!

I dropped them all in at Estabrook...nice when you can get it. Before too long, my brother has a fish on...heck..fish are EVERYWHERE. Fishing for a week straight is SWEET! I'm getting ready to land Chris's fish when I turn to see that Phil ALSO has one on! AWESOME!

So we get Chris's fish in and I snap a shot...a totally fair Chinny on a glo bug (Chartreuse I think). Once again he has beat me to the punch and landed the first fair salmon of the day. Meanwhile I'm in no terrible hurry 'cause I think Phil's fish is fouled on the dorsal...and well...it got away anyways.

So Chris is a bit tired...and arrogantly says "I've got MY fish for the day, give me the camera"! Yes sir master fisherman! Well, he snaps off some really cool shots, and is there to capture what happens next.

Phil and I are going shoulder to shoulder, him upstream, workin the run. Phil hooks up, and his fish turns immediately to run downstream. I do my best to pull my line, but my tippet ends up tangled around the butt of Phil's leader...and this salmon could care less.

It runs downriver, then up, then down, and all the while I'm trying to keep all tension OFF my line...feeding it out, reeling up excess slack. My bro thinks, at first, that we have 2 on at the same time (yeah, that's always a lot of fun :)

Well, This keeps on going for a while and we start to get Phil's fish in close to shore...it's totally fair and well, that's what Phil has been waiting for. Chris decides to put down the camera and be netboy (smart decision).

One problem, when you're netboy you can't be smokin' a butt and out to lunch! Phil coerces his fish close to shore, out maybe 4 feet from my brother, who's sittin' there with the net in his hands. We both look at Chris.

"Are you gonna net that fish?" I shout at my bro.

He kinda looks at me and says "Um, Oh yeah..". Mr. Totally Out-To-Lunch netboy Chris makes a lame attempt at moving towards the fish and totally puts the King into another run. Unfortunately, that would be the last (and only) opportunity Chris had to net her, as she bolted across stream and Phil's line popped. Mr. Chris is officially on Phil's list...

So if I recall correctly, I got a call from Tom Bender around 4:00; I had emailed him on Wed. and let him know of my diabolical plan to hit the Milwaukee...his home waters. Well, shortly after I hung up, I'm sitting there drifting the run when my line jerks and rips downstream.

At first I stand there and let my drag do what it's supposed to...let the fish take line but apply some resistance...not enough to break the tippet (8lb Pline) but enough to make the fish "work for it".

And then my backing appears. What? Wait a second...I've never SEEN THAT BEFORE!

"Oh SHIT!" That's $45 fly line on there....and I'm chasing it downstream! My brother has the net in hand and starts wading..then finds the path that runs along the bank.

"FISH ON" he's shouting as he runs, most people looking at him like he's nuts...this boy doesn't even have a ROD in his hands.

And then they turn to look at me as I stumble downriver, and I shout "FISH OOOONNNNN!" I have no idea how much line is out until I see this fish roll at the surface downstream...several HUNDRED FEET. It turns, I bring up slack..and eventually make it to the very end of my fly line when...wouldn't ya know...there's my backing again...we're still going downriver.

And we're still shouting "FISH FRIGGIN ON!". I'm horse 'cause I'm shouting this as folks are casting over my line...completely oblivious that there's a fish on my line about as far downstream as I am upstream from where they sit. I can still recall the sight of spoons hanging on my flyline like laundry hung out to dry. It is entirely unbelievable that, at this point, I still have a fish, let alone my flyline.

Well, we ended up several hundred feet downriver from the falls, and the slug fest really started. This fish is BIG, and STRONG. I can't turn it...so I fear it's fouled. It's not jumping, but it is rolling quite a bit...if it's not fouled it soon will be, that's for sure. I end up seeing my backing 6 TIMES over the course of the next 20 minutes or so, never really making enough progress. Meanwhile, somewhere along in there, Tom shows up, gets my camera (I think my bro had it at that point) and starts shooting pictures.

My bro misses several netting opportunities but finally I get the fish close. I'm talking "finally" as in my left arm got tired, then it hurt a lot, and then it just went numb. I'm into a fish I'm wholly unprepared for...afterall I've given the heavier rods to my bro and Phil and I'm out here we my 7 wt.

Miraculously, my bro FINALLY comes to his senses, jumps back in the river, and NETS MY FISH. LOSER NETBOY CHRIS has redeemed himself! One problem though..the fish DOESN'T FIT IN THE NET...it's TOO LONG! So we kinda half-ass drag it into shore where I get a good handle on the gill & jaw and heave it for a photo. Believe it or not, I had to rest a couple minutes before having enough strength to hold it back up for the 2nd fish photo at right.

As we walked back upstream we got some nice compliments on that fish..man I worked so friggin hard and smart (never brought my rod up past 45 degrees until the VERY, VERY END). This King Salmon was dead about 2 minutes after landing it...it gave everything it had not to be landed. A STUNNING, will never forget battle. There wasn't any hope of reviving this fish, so even though a little dark, it "went in my creel".

We had a lot of guesses on the weight of this bruiser...I went 30 lbs (granted, it felt like a 40 lb bag of dog food on the way back up), Phil went 25 and Chris went 26.5. Turns out by the time we got it on the scale at home, 24 lbs., 37.5" length and 22" girth. Guess what folks; those online calculators put it at 23.5 or so...they're VERY accurate. While not a state record, heck I later found out not even close, this Chinook very well could be the largest fish I've ever landed in Freshwater (carp excluded).

Well, I was DONE for the day....as was my brother and for the most part, Phil. However, other anglers were still working. Our new fishin' buddy Alex who was kind enough to share the run with us hooked up big time shortly after we got back. Once again, netboy Chris leaps into action unlike his first attempt and lands Alex's fish in short order..another stunning Chinook.

Tom settles in and fishes too...and manages himself a nice solid hookup just before dark! Too bad he didn't land it, although the pictures may or may not have turned out at that point anyway!

By this time, we were all TIRED...but totally thrilled at having another awesome day. I took a moment to enjoy my surroundings as darkness fell and managed to find a couple Kings above the falls who rocketed off as I walked back...made for some nice photos in the pitch black!

If there is on lesson learned from all of this...make sure YOU HAVE A NET! Oh, and if you're wondering WHY I have browns and steelhead on the species list today...Alex saw a brown trying to jump the falls, and also had what he thinks was a steelhead on that day. Other rumors also suggest that there may indeed be at least a few milling about.

  MP 

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