3-20-04 - 12 hour Steelhead Slammin' MARATHON!
Waters Fished: Pike River, Root River
Fish Caught: 1
Outing Date: 3-20-04
Air Temp: All over the place - 35F early, all the way to 60F and
then back down again!
Water Temp: Pike, 42F in the AM; Root 42 - 44 F
Water Level: Pike 25 CFS, Root 150 CFS (a slight bump following
Water Color: Pike was pretty clear, Root seemed more muddied up;
probably down to 1 foot vis.
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Mostly Larger Egg Patterns but I threw the gamut
Pattern Color: Pink & Red still producing hookups
Fishing Quality: First weekend day good enough to be called "Alright".
I don't even know where to begin; I put in 12 solid
hours on the water (well, maybe spent a couple midday hours chatting
by the water)!
It all started out around 4:30 when my best friend,
Dan Wenk, called and woke me up. He was in from Missouri and one
of the things on his "to-do" list was to give the steelies
another shot after last-year's less than productive broken-rod incident.
Another traffic stop for the Bitchin' Camaro's
perpetual blind right eye and I arrived at the Pike right in time
to get straight onto the water. We got to the dam and fished it
HARD; tons of suckers, and I had one steelie on most likely foul.
NOTHING else going on. I later learned that FAT was having an decent
morning with a couple clients only a 2 minute walk downriver!
Around 8:00 AM we opted to head out, grab some
chow etc., but on the way out we came across the "gift from
God"; 1 hen and 3 bucks on a redd. The problem? The sun was
already beatin' down bright; I got on my knees and literally crept
up towards them to see what was up. Wenk walks right up next to
me and the fish ROCKET off the redd.
So basically we spend way too much time spooking
and respooking these fish. We leave for chow and such, and actually
come back to try again. But by now it's 9:30 and the sun is even
brighter; the fish are that much more spooky. Basically we sat and
watched them; we both got in a couple casts, I may have had a take,
but more or less I decided that was it. A couple quick looks around
other access points turned up squat; water was 42F, fish were on
the redds, I didn't feel confident in the Pike today, so Wenk and
I parted ways and I headed up to the Root. As far as I'm concerned,
the Pike's first run is probably over; FAT came across the same
thing we had; tons of Steelies spawning. After that they drop back;
they could be back in the lake in a matter of hours.
Got on the Root around 11:00 AM and opted to start
my day playing around the Quarry access; as I walked in another
angler was walking right behind me - we're both making a fast beeline
downriver. Before getting too far, he stops me with a "MP"?
John Paul introduces himself; he had just been out with FAT recently.
He asks where I'm headed, I respond "Probably the same place
Well that was definitely an insightful call; we
both had the same urge to fish a particular stretch. It was definitely
a good call; after pounding water for a bit I turned and cast back
to the opposite shore. FISH ON!
ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ the reel's handle brushes
my left arm and it's fish off...and 2/3 of my fly line have been
pulled off my reel in 1.4 seconds. Big Red Sparkle Poom egg. I gave
the spot a minute to calm, and then cast back there again! FISH
3 runs, each blisteringly fast, and a couple solid
good jumps! THIS is the fight I've been waiting for...a true steelie
battle with acrobatics and speed! Outstanding! John Paul got her
in the net and we admired the prize...a "dime-bright"
Chamber's Creek hen! 42F water is all it takes to get those steelies
up and jumpin!
As I was taking pictures of the awesome fair-hook
(big hot-pink egg right in the center of the tongue) I noticed this
fish had been snagged up not too much earlier; another salmon-egg
hook was embedded in her chin from the underside. I got out both
hooks, got some pictures and sent her on her way.
10 casts later John Paul hooked up in the exact
same spot where I had just gotten the hen. At first I joked that
he probably caught the same fish I had....sure enough I stopped
joking and started belly laughing when John Paul brought in the
same exact hen I had just landed...definitely the same fish, right
down to the hole in her chin from the extraneous hook I had pulled
out. IF THIS DOESN'T MAKE THE CASE FOR CATCH AND RELEASE, YOU
ARE A MORON.
Got the rod shot 'cause I had neglected to do
that before (and now, looking at the pictures JP shot, I'm glad
I took my 2nd opportunity to take those pictures). We sent her back
to the river and after no more immediate hookups, headed downstream.
Not much else was happening as I worked along the
shore in the deeper, slower seams, so I ended up heading back upstream.
As I neared the first Golf Course Bridge, I noticed the characteristic
stature of FAT...I knew he'd be on the Root later that day and well,
there he was with his client.
I watched FAT pick up his cell phone...I knew he
was callin' me, but I also know I don't get reception down there.
Fat's got his phone to his ear when his client hooks up...you can
tell something is said and I look down...time to get the camera
burning some "digital film"! I shout upstream, "I've
got pictures" and shoot away.
Up and down this fish runs, and FAT is chasin'
it all over the place. It finally makes the turn for the riffles,
but FAT is there playing goalie and gives this fish the wakeup call...you
are now in Fat's NET! I've got the whole thing captured (although,
looking back, I should have switched to the video mode)!
I make my way over to them as the bring this fish
to shore...wow. WOW. I mean WOW. Introductions are more or less
nods as I continue to shoot pictures...FAT brings out the catch
and they pose. Fat's client is beaming and the whole time I'm sayin,
"Man you have now idea how jealous I am" and, "Look
at that double striper!"
Craig had just landed the largest steelhead of
his LIFE and I got the whole thing on camera. Definitely FATE I
guess. After the initial pics there was time for introductions,
admiration of this gorgeous buck, his huge kype, the double red
stripes and fire-engine-red cheeks. There was some measuring, more
pictures, and more soaking in the moment. This was a trophy, a true
I ain't gonna lie, this fish was arguably the most
photographed fish I've ever shot! FAT knows when to call it a day,
and this was definitely it. We retired to Quarry parking lot for
more pictures and celebration. As you can see, I took a LOT of pictures.
Thank you Craig for letting me share your tale here. Now, FAT
just started writing his own reports, but I don't know if he's saving
them. This one is too good to let disappear, so I'm going to "quote"
FAT up the wazoo and include (read totally plagiarize) his point
of view here ;) Besides, look how many friggin' pictures I included
of this fish...I need more text to go along with them! Well, Fat's
account makes some great reading; you need to keep up on his new
On our way back up to the cars we were working the first bridge
down river from the Quarry Pool and there were a couple of anglers
by the bridge so we fished the V below. The water
looked too good and there was an excellent seam. As luck would
have it I looked down river, recognized the hippers and 106
Custom rod of MP. You gotta love technology
I jump on the
cell phone and CRAIG starts working the riffle. A couple of rings
and CRAIG says I gotta fish
.no its a snag
ITS A BIG FISH. Well as a guide I hear this all the
time and I look in the river and cant see anything. I put
the cell phone away and get the net ready. MP sees all of
this and starts moving up river towards us snapping photos. This
is another reason I love to fish with Matt. The fish makes a couple
of runs before I get a good look at it and when I do I can see
CRAIGs a little impatient and is getting ready to muscle
Usually this isnt a big deal for me. Usually
over lined my clients for the fish. To side track
9 9wt rod you can easily land salmon that are 15lbs on a
10 lb leader. Let the Rod and Reel do the work theyre designed
KEEP THE ROD TIP UP
.and get the fish in a net
simple. CRAIGs fish had me just a little worried. We started
fishing in the middle of the day. The SUN was out bright and we
were down sizing everything including our line and flies."
Problem number 1: CRAIGs fishing a 6lb maxima ultragreen
tippet. I like this stuff. GOOD STUFF
usually a little stronger
than its rating but generally pretty close. This is.
Problem Number 2 is that I can see CRAIGs seen this fish
and is doing the HOLY CRAP IF I DONT LAND THIS FISH
NOW. ILL LOSE IT and
Problem Number 3 the fish REALLY wants to move down river.
So just about the time CRAIG thinks hes going start horsing
this fish I do the guide thing and say WE GOT ALL DAY TO
LAND THIS FISH. CRAIG visibly relaxes and we LAND THIS MONSTER!!!
Holy Crap, we all start giggling and laughing. MP s been
shooting film the whole time and hes right there for the
TROPHY Photo. It was a classic SMOKE EM if you got
EM moment and we capitalized on CRAIGs success!
I know when to call it a day and we ended the fishing on this
HIGH note. WHAT A FREAKING FISH! I mention this only because CRAIG
bought up this afterwards. We go FISHIN hoping to CATCH
the fish and then we RUSH the CATCHING part. Stay focused
savor the moment!
- Richard R Brown, aka. "FAT" - www.fishinfatman.com
So after a good 30 minutes of sitting in the parking lot, "savoring
the moment", Tom Bender shows up out of the blue...I knew he
was planning on coming down and turns out he left me a VM that I
had not received (I got NO reception down there in the Quarry).
Talk about stars aligning today for me being in the right place
at the right time. I think I probably totally sapped my "Steelie
Karma" for this spring!
Bart was working downriver, had only had one as well, so I called
him up after Tom filled us in on the Milwaukee conditions. We all
"savored the moment" for at least another hour...eventually
it was decided we'd give the lower Quarry another run through.
Well I don't know but Chromeseeker cut out early as a brisk wind
kicked up from the west. Temperatures started to drop...I met back
up with Tom who had hooked up in the same run that the PIG came
from...but failed to land it. I thought Chromeseeker had headed
down to Colonial; I was thinkin' it might be worth it as water temps
were now 44F and I recalled all the spawning activity on the Pike...I
was thinkin' gravel.
Tom and I show up and I've now reached Chromeseeker on the cell...he's
in Kenosha! WTF?! Well, Tom and I put in more 'karma time' down
in Colonial, turning nothing on but a good skunk (well, not a skunk
for the day but definitely a skunk for the location). Must be the
fish in the Root just aren't ready to spawn yet.
So Tom and I got to catch up for a bit (congrats again Tom) and
then we parted ways around 5:30 PM. There's my 12 hour day! Heck,
I was really beat and was 90% sure I'd go straight home to bed,
but I thought maybe I should extend my day a bit longer down at
Kenosha Harbor with Chromeseeker...nope...he had already turned
in and by the time we were off the water he was back in Chicago!
There won't be a Sunday report 'cause I didn't fish...more rod
building! Just didn't feel a need to try and top Saturday on a Sunday
where the highs were 32F ;)
I may get in a few early morning trips, but next week, look for
the Missouri Reports! Wenk fishes my home waters and now I'll go