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3-27-04 - my first view of Maramec Spring. There's some really detailed maps of this stream online.

Wenker workin' the fast water.
The only Trout for me today, taken very deep, easily 5 feet.
Dan and Sharon workin' the fast water some more.
Sharon's 2nd fish for the day...while not a trout I'd say it's debatable that this fish is even more pretty than a brookie!
Sharon & her sunfish, looks like a young Longear Sunfish!
Towards evening we went downstream to see if there was any better action or spots to be found!
Below the first falls....about as far down as I made it.
A nice sandbar juts out as I walked back upstream...good place to concentrate food (and fish).

3-27-04 - The first of a two day trip starts with Maramec Spring in Misery.

Waters Fished: Maramec Spring
Fish Caught: 1
Outing Date: 3-27-04
Weather: Gorgeous
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: 56F
Water Level: ? Normal?
Water Color: stained, 2-3 foot visibility, clouding below with runoff.
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout & various Panfish
Pattern Fished: Threw the box, got mine on an Olive Micro Jig. Wenk and Sharon smacked their's on Tucker Nymphs!
Pattern Color: Olive, Gray
Fishing Quality: Sucked if you had a fly on your line!

So this trip had been planned for probably 1-2 months already. Despite knowing that the steelies would be thick and the potential for extreme action in WI this weekend, I was more excited to do some Trout fishin' with my best bud Dan Wenk. I surprised him Friday night with his new 8' 6" 5pc. 5 wt. trout rod...up until now he had been working with an 8wt!

Even more special, I would get to visit with our good buddy Sharon, who I hadn't seen in probably over a year! Since that time she'd gone and gotten herself engaged (congratulations!) and did some serious teaching (8th grade). To top it off, Sharon was all about learning the fly rod.

Well we took our time getting out there; stopped at the park shop and got our tags and we were off for about 5 hours of fishin' before the 1.5 hour drive back to St. Louis. Sharon and I went on a scouting walk after some brief casting lessons in the grass; we started by getting in and biting the bullet at the convergence of two fast flows below an island. I whacked a very small sunfish of some kind, looked like a green sunfish but may have been another kind. Anyway, not really what I was hoping for.

Basically all the anglers out were sitting on a large slow pool right by the parking, and many were hooking up with regularity. I figured we'd have to join the fray if we were going to start catching fish; this fast deep water was getting us nowhere.

So Sharon and I moved upstream; being in waders we were on the "far" bank and had some space to practice casting etc. I was busy changing up flies when Sharon says, "I think I got one!"

I look up and see a rainbow trout tailwalking 20 feet away as Sharon's rod throbs. "You definitely got one!" I shout. No problem on 2lb. test, she handled it like she'd been fishing before; we got this spunky rainbow to the net after several aerial displays.

I was explaining to Sharon how to pick up the trout and hold it so we could get her picture with it; every 15 seconds or so I'd give the fish a dunk while Sharon mentally prepared herself. As it came time to do the handoff, I put the fish back into the water one last time....and it squirmed free! Sharon learned the hard truth about C&R; sometimes it happens before we're ready for it to!

Well, Dan came up and had landed one as well...wait..both my friends are outfishing me?! Well as the day progressed we moved around the upper park looking for fish; noticed a big rainbow shooting the fast water below a waterfall...sliding through the current whacking anything it could. This would be my fish...or so I thought. We're talking really fast, like a firehouse, and deep too, like 5 feet! I went straight for the micro jigs, the only thing that had a prayer of getting down in that!

Once again, I had to turn to help Sharon with something and my jig is somewhere in the pool...I lift my rod to cast and fish on...at least I got rid of the skunk! We kept moving around, and again I hear Sharon shouting "I've got another fish!". This time, I kinda laughed...a longear sunfish. Hey, 2 fish for Sharon on her first outing with a fly rod AND having been wet most of the day (oh, did I mention, she did fall..and it was in the slow water...heck it almost looked like she decided to just sit down and get wet for the fun of it).

Towards evening we ran into an angler we had been watching get skunked all day; he had been downriver and in the "last 30 minutes" the fishin' totally improved; he got his bag in 30 minutes. Well, I was hoping to get Sharon into some more trout, but that pretty much fell through. Didn't see much anything going on...very disappointing.

To sum up; if you're a fly guy, this probably isn't your cup of tea. MOST of Maramec seems pretty deep and pretty slow. MOST of the "fly water" didn't seem to be holding many, if any, trout. The bait guys were totally killing them while we'd just sit right next to them and flog water all afternoon. So if you're a fly guy, I'm thinkin Maramec Spring isn't worth your drive. There's better water closer. And to be honest, the trout at Maramec were nothing special...looked just like the stocker rainbows we catch out in Iowa all day (and at least in Iowa, we can catch a bag in short order on the fly).

Seems like Maramec is pretty much a bait-tosser's stream...they were banging the stockers all day out of deep slow pools. And again, if you like fishin' for trout with bait, I'd again say skip it...there's better bait water closer (can you say Lake Michigan?!). Maramec Trout Park is probably better left to the locals who enjoy it for what it is; heck they had stocked 1,100 trout the day we were there...and each of us had to try REALLY HARD just to get one trout each on the fly. To top it off, unless you could ignore the "park" implementations and facilities, this pretty much felt like the "put & take" stream that it is. Heck, it really kinda reminded me of a big Fisherman's Dude Ranch (for those of you who grew up in the Chicago area prior to 1990 or so, you may know what I'm talking about!). Far too "developed"...heck one whole bank on the upper third of the stream was bordered by a sidewalk. Folks, trust me, I'm a decent photographer, I think I made Maramec park much more picturesque than it actually is.

Being as disappointed as I was with the fishing (not the company), I had a decision to make. Go home early? Fish a second day at Maramec (pretty much out of the question) or go somewhere else....

  MP 

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