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3-13-04 - Started looking for steelies on Oak Creek.
Made it all the way down without sighting anything except a couple vacant redds.
We opted to fish downstream on the Root...Firk gets ready to hit the first run of Island Park...didn't know it at the time but one of those guys under the bridge was FAT and his buddy; minutes away from hooking into the only steelhead that day.
Bart works above while Firk works below..
Firk is taking the ole' skunkola in's his first day out for the year!
Thought you guys should see just how high the Pike River was 8 days ago!
Note all the debris wrapped around the shoreline vegetation.

3-13-04 - A day with the most soon-to-be-famous fly tier I know; Mr. Firk!

Waters Fished: Oak Creek,
Fish Caught: 0/1 + 1 foul personally
Outing Date: 3-13-04
Weather: Overcast
Air Temp: up to about 40F
Water Temp: Oak 38F, Root 35F, Pike 38F
Water Level: Oak back to 10 CFS (baseline flow); Root 200 cfs, Pike about 25CFS (pretty close to the baseline)
Water Color: Oak pretty clear, Root Muddy, Pike moderately clear
Fish Species: Steelhead, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Various Egg Patterns - small on light tippet
Pattern Color: again, Pink/Red worked well
Fishing Quality: I told you it'd be slow...did you listen?!

Finally, after a few months of talking about it, I got to fish with FIRK. For those of you not familiar with this young man's extreme tying abilities, check out his posts on Wisconsin Fly Fishing! He is already well known for his Bass Bug to see some of those sweet flies in person. Let me tell you; gorgeous ties!

Firk and I hit our first stream of the day, Oak Creek, around 11:30. Lots of people were out, running around the streams. We first ran into a couple kids who basically admitted to snagging...great way to start the day...where's their mentors teaching them GOOD angling ethics?

I gave Firk the grand tour from top to bottom, but other than a few empty redds, we didn't see squat. We worked the runs and undercuts but nothing back upstream we went.

First I have one on fair out of a deep bend, but it comes up. I switch up again, it comes off again...gotta love the head shakes. THEN I land a steelie fouled in the pectoral. Of course it goes back, and eventually FIRK sights a steelie in the fast water; he hooks up too, but with one splash the fish is off.

Probably about 2:30 we'd had enough, so we headed down to the Root and met up with Chromeseeker. And of course, here comes Chromeseeker with a brown and a steelie taken on spawn; working the deep bends of Island Park.

While driving down, we had seen most of the other access spots; all the people were upstream. Firk was kinda looking for a more quiet experience, so we stayed downstream with CS and tried. Just upstream of us I saw the FATMAN; took a walk up and as I approached I watch them hook up with (and lose) their only steelie for the day.

The Root's 35F water temp and muddy visibility kinda made me give up on it in favor of our trusty Pike River. I figured even if Firk and I wouldn't hook into any more fish today, at least he'd get the grand tour of the SE tribs.

We got to the Pike around 5:00; tried a couple spots but once again, never saw fish, only one or two old redds. I ran into a friendly gent who was returning from the Golf Course with what looked like a steelie that I had released earlier in the week (again, another example of why C & R works). Apparently no one was having any luck up one was sighting fish, everyone was frustrated. I knew there were fish up there, but wasn't about to make the hike with so little time left in the day. Oh, also, the DNR was out in force today checking licenses and such...I'm glad to hear about that.

Firk and I finished up the day just downstream of A & 13th...I did sight something moving up but all too quickly it got to the end of legal fishin' time.

The big lesson for today; on Oak we avoided the crowds of people fishin' the first big pool...that's probably where any remaining fish were. On the Root, we avoided everything above Island - counted over 60 cars in the various parking spots. Turns out that the majority of fish were up there (well, I already knew that before going out). Fishing low meant low concentrations of fish. By the time we headed to the Pike, especially after talking to that friendly angler, I pretty much knew where most fish would be...and again we didn't fish there 'cause there were 12 cars parked at the access.

Bottom line; if you AVOID the crowds on weekends you will be avoiding the fish.


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