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10-04-03 - Jim K. (aka MS2, Muskieslayer V 2.0 etc...) hooks up!
Josh, a lucky angler, holds up a monster male Coho...first I've seen landed this year!

Me and the first steelhead of the season! BTW, that person that's above and to the right of my should (NOT JIM) in the FAR background...that's a REALLY STUPID wade...you're just asking for those gates to open and a flash flood of water that sweeps you into the deep water! Last week that must have happened, there was a flow spike to 800 CFS! (Photo by LeeAnn Kercheval, Copyright 2003)

Another shot of this 24" chrome beauty!
Tim hooks up, looks up at his rod as if to say "What's this....my BACKING?!"
Monster fish can, and will, hit tiny flies!
37" length, 19" girth = the size of Tim's Permagrin!
Bringin' 'em in towards evening!
The Hen Chinny (my first) and the rod that landed her!
For all of you that doubt it, either I'm a darn good drifter or this hen SLAMMED the Red & Black Wolley Bugger. (Photo by Tim Schulz, Copyright 2003)
Bart with one of his snappers....
I barely had time to go back to fishing and he did it again!
Another fine Chinook fell victim to the always deadly red & black wolley bugger.
Once again, for those of you that don't believe salmon bite...
Yet another hen...notice though, this one was starting to get "crusty"..the tail portion of this fish was in rather poor shape.

10-04-03 - Smackin' Steel and much more!

Waters Fished: Milwaukee River
Fish Caught: 4 personally
Outing Date: 10-04-03
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: Cool, seemed to be 50's max
Water Temp: 54F
Water Level: extremely low
Water Color: slightly stained, pretty clear
Fish Species: Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Assorted Eggs and Wolley Buggers
Pattern Color: Chartreuse, Reds and Oranges worked best.
Fishing Quality: A FINE FINE DAY!

So I got to the Milwaukee rather EARLY for a change..well, early in my book. Jim and LeeAnn had been out for at least an hour already when I showed up at 9:30 AM; Tim had perhaps even been out EARLIER?! Well, the quickly filled me in as I ran into L first; she had landed a nice Chinook and then, as she put it, "fell into the river." Well, not so much "fell" as slipped and sat down, but when you're only in hippers, that gets you awful wet! She was totally shaking and shivering; I think it was only 40F outside when I arrived. After sitting in the car for 20-30 minutes she came back out but didn't fish again for the remainder of the day.

Meanwhile, I couldn't find Tim, so I fished with Jim for a short while and moved upstream to find my own little solitude...as much as you can find in Estabrook anyway. I managed one hookup that came back tail hooked...got a bit of a bath but let the small Chinook go quickly.

Tim came up and then some crazy guy literally sat in right between us...I think if I saw two guys fishing, talking to each other, and we maybe left 20 feet between us, then perhaps that's as close as we wanted to be to another angler. Oh well, we didn't fish very long, instead opting to go downstream and fish again with Jim.

Believe it or not, I have the pictures to prove it, this lucky guy fishing not too far away pulled out a gorgeous male Coho just coming into spawning dress...and it was GOOD SIZE, and TOTALLY FAIR on a silver spoon. Sweet catch Josh; thanks for letting me share it with everyone on the site!

Well, I had gone through numerous flies and at the moment (around 12:15 PM), was fishing a chartreuse glo bug that has a red "blood spot" on the top. Casting upstream into the pool, just like everyone else, with maybe one splitshot to get it down. Well, all of a sudden my line just started ripping upstream...a quick hookset and the fight was on.

The first jump gave it away...I shouted "STEELHEAD" and from what they tell me, every single guy fishing the pool turned to look at me LOL! Tim did a great job of landing it; we got the tape measure out, a 24" female.

Bart showed up just as I left to get lunch, and when we got back on we were all fishin' the pool in a rotation of sorts. Tim and I moved downstream for a while, and watch from afar as Bart pulled out his first male Chinook of the day.

I had one good, definitely FAIR hookup downstream with a Chin that had a huge chartreuse and orange spinner lodged in it's dorsal...almost got it but my line got tangled in that huge treble hook in the back of the fish, and snapped. Darn, I wanted to add that spinner to my collection of Milwaukee River Lures (which now stands at a crankbait and 3 spoons!)

Well, we ended up back upstream and Tim hooks up. He says "Oh this is a BIG one" and we watched for a long time...no one's fishing 'cause this Salmon is totally taking Tim for a ride.

About 32 minutes, at least 4 appearances of Tim's backing, 1 Jimmy Houston Hand Shank and several netting attempts, Bart landed this sweet Buck Chinook for Tim. Totally fair, the thing snapped at a TINY nymph! It was very big...we weren't sure but almost as big as my stunner last week. Tim feel's it's definitely his largest lifetime fish. Out came the tape measure again, 37" length and 19" girth. I probably took a dozen shots of him with that fish, which he could barely hold after that fight! I will tell you now this beast would stand as the biggest fish of the day!

Fishing was slow for the entire midday period, and by about 4:30 Jim was beat and L was feeling under-the-water....er weather, so they hit the road and we moved way downstream in Estabrook. By my count there were at least 15 hardcore anglers just on the pool at any given time, and Tim had counted 28 at the falls during the morning.

Downstream we got lucky with maybe only a dozen folks milling about. We quickly took the courteous route and moved downstream from all of them. The best part, we found TONS of bedding Chinooks, many still rather fresh (only saw maybe 15 carcasses and 1 or 2 crusty fish).

Now, I totally admit that at first, there was nothing going on except a bunch of foul hooking. As the three of us worked downstream it wasn't uncommon for 2 of us to be hooked up at any given time. Granted, yes, all foul. Which kinda sucked.

I'm guessing after about an hour, around 5:30 PM, things just changed. I was the first to hook up, and as I brought her in I could see a lot of head shaking going on and could not see my fly! I thought for sure this would be just another foul once I landed her.

Surprise Surprise, Eureka! "It's FAIR!" I shouted, "She inhaled it!". Smack in the lower jaw, just in front of the tongue. Sweet! My first FEMALE Chinook, EVER! (For those of you who don't know, females are much less apt to snap).

And of course, all of the fish started biting. Bart turns one and calls me over for a picture. Moster Buck, almost as big as Tim's! I turned around to go back and work a male that was CHASING my Red & Black Wolley Bugger but not biting. I maybe got 3 or 4 casts in when Bart is shouting again...I turn around and he lifts up another fish and says, "I could use another picture!" Mutha efr!

Alright, another few pictures taken...and I think Bart may have even landed his THIRD at this point. Whenever he got it, I told him "Tough Luck, I'm working on this fish over here!"

So I DID get a male, but not the male that was CHASING...he never bit. Instead, while drifting and again getting a chase, another male came in, swiped at the original male and THEN swiped at my fly! FISH ON! Got some great jumps out of this guy; Tim came down for the net and I landed my 2nd chinook of the evening.

Bart left after his three, and Tim and I worked it just a bit longer. I was still working the same male, who was still chasing, until I fouled up on his dorsal and had to snap off. No more red & black wolley buggers in my box! DARN!

Well, it took a few rotations of flies before I got my last bite on a Chartreuse and Pink Goo fly...a not-so-fresh female "gummed" the fly and gave up a pretty poor fight...pretty much just had to walk upstream and beach her. Not good enough to eat so we let her go.

Tim managed at least a couple fairs but somehow didn't manage to land his fish. We remained until 6:30 PM, me trying hard to get my last fish for a LIMIT day (it would have been my first) and Tim just tryin' hard for that "one more".

Unfortunately just as quickly as the bite turned on, it turned back off, and instead of getting more hits our drifts ended up just becoming more foul hooks...tails or dorsals. Perhaps drifting too close to the fish? Or perhaps not getting our drifts "just right" as the light started to diminish?

Now, I already know that there are folks who think salmon simply DON'T bite. I have TONS of evidence to the contrary. I also know there are people reading this report who will say we were LINING the salmon 'cause they don't bite when spawning, and I'll say "hogwash" to that as well...the hooks weren't in the right place to support an accusation of that. Most recently, I've seen discussion on the boards about "lifting" which basically, to me, sounds like the practice of getting such a good drift that you literally DRIFT it into the fish's mouth and then "lift" your rod, not really having to "set the hook". Well, if that's the case, all our flies would have been hooked in the upper jaw, right? And how the heck am I going to drift a size #1 wolley bugger into the fish's mouth with such deadly accuracy? I'm a good caster, but I'm not THAT good!

And then there's the folks who will read my report above and suggest that we were out there snagging simply because I've talked about the foul hooks today with some regularity. To those folks; you're morons with nothing better to do with your time than to pick on some guy who tells it like it is. Face the facts folks, when fishing to fish that are packed in like the salmon are, there are GOING TO BE FOULS. There are FOULS in baseball (GO CUBBIES!), and there are FOULS in Salmon fishing. It's part of the game, especially since you can't always see WHERE YOUR FLY IS when the salmon starts moving and your line does to!

So it comes down to this...if you look at the way the fish are hooked, they are all in different spots. If you were out watching the behavior, we were getting a lot of chase from males. Furthermore, most hits came after a slight "course adjustment" by the fish being targeted. God I LOVE the fair hook and SCREW THOSE FOLKS who think that me or my buddies are part of the "Army of Snaggers" :)

The evidence, in my opinion, supports the hypothesis (AKA FACT) that these fish ARE INDEED willing to put a fly into their mouths, not the other way around. Why does all this matter? Well, for one, it was recently proposed on TSS that some snaggers justify their tactics by stating these fish "don't bite". Plain out wrong. THESE FISH BITE, and sometimes even BITE HARD!

But more importantly, it takes NO SKILL to snag a fish..it's not sporting. Taking the time to learn how these fish behave and what tactics DO in fact produce legitimate hits is FAR MORE REWARDING. Sure, it took me all day just to land 4 fair fish whereas I could've hooked up with (AKA snagged) a THOUSAND. Now I did see a couple fish landed as legitimate fair-hooks on spoons, but overwhelmingly they DO NOT WORK nearly as well as a flies once the fish come up into the streams...that's why all you guys tossing spoons seem to be automatically labeled as "snaggers". I'm not saying spoon fisherman ARE snaggers, nor am I going to widen that to be the all inclusive "anglers using spinning gear" are all out snagging. What I AM going to suggest is that hey, some of you guys tossing spoons to the salmon in the streams, get a Bass Pro Fly Rod combo and give it a shot, heck if you need help ask me or any other fly angler on the river...you might be pleasantly surprised if you take the time to learn how to do it (it took me a YEAR to LAND my first fair king).

Enjoy the runs this fall everyone..and by the way, pick up all that trash you see and put it in the trash...even if it's not yours.

  MP 

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