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
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
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
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