4-01-04 - Pike River is ON FIRE. Another CALL IN
DEAD DAY if you know what's good for you....
Waters Fished: Pike River
Fish Caught: 1/7
Outing Date: 4-1-04
Air Temp: 30's but quickly into the upper 40's
Water Temp: 44F
Water Level: 55 CFS
Water Color: Stained, visibility maybe 6-12"
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Mostly Pink & Red Eggs, also a big Red &
Pattern Color: See above
Fishing Quality: You gotta be kidding right?
Wednesday evening I get an email from my buddy
John Kruger (Team
PB)...he's heading in from Lacrosse to hit the steelhead! Well,
a Thursday morning trip was already on the books for me, so getting
our two schedules together would be easy!
I got to the Pike shortly before John, say about
6:30 AM. I was also going to meet Connor if he was around; he was
running a bit late as well! Well, as things had been going, 7:00
AM was the real start of the bite anyway, so this wasn't going to
be so bad, right?
John and I were lucky, apparently most folks had
decided that there weren't any Steelhead where we wanted to fish,
so no problem we got right on in there and started fishin! I quickly
ran through a couple fair hooks that simply came off. I turned to
John and said "PINK".
My first two hookups were FAST on and FAST off,
both times "sliced" at the fly. I say sliced 'cause there
wasn't the usual "snap off" twirls when a knot goes bad.
I can only draw one theory...I may have tangled with our Pike River
Pet, the 30-something inch Pike we've seen lurking about. I'll call
them steelies 'cause I'm a pesimist, but man, I haven't been breaking
off many fish, so I have to wonder if I was wrestling with my nemesis
John retied and almost immediatley hooked up with
a nice steelie that took him downstream! SWEET..he got it landed
and that's what counts! When he got back he's like, "Nice call
on the Pink Matt". Wasn't a hard call if you ask me John, it's
been workin' all spring ;).
So I had probably gone through 3 steelies, all
fair based on the fights, before finally managing my first one to
shore, sans net. A nice chrome hen...couldn't ask for a better way
to "get my chrome on". John stood there shooting pictures
the whole time in true Rambling Report style...thanks John!
Around 8:00 I decide it's time to take a temperature.
I'm bent over dangling the lanyard in the water, fly line causually
drifting a few feet away, just lazily swirling around in the pool.
I get back up and look over to John; "44 degrees" I shout.
WHAM, my rod tip is tugged 4 feet towards the water
below while the rod is tucked under my arm....."OH MY GOD IT'S
HUGE!" I shout as I juggle my rod to battle this monster of
a fish. I relax and take my time, I can see him shakin' his head,
running up into the current, only to be turned around and pulled
back out again...this repeats itself at least 3 times.
I'm starting to think it might be time to bring
this fish in for a good look....definitely fair judging by where
my leader is pointing. With no fanfair, this brute simply shook
his head again as if to shrug and say "you're not landing me".
My rod tip suddenly jumped skyward as this pig shook the fly. John
tells me later, "I saw the shadow on that thing...that was
Towards 8:30 AM or so, a few anglers came up and
started drifting spawn through the hole....immediately they hook
up and try to land the fish sans net from a really bad spot to attempt
such a feat. Well eventually one of the guys reaches down, picks
up the fish and throws it back to his buddy on the bank. Then, with
just as little respect, the steelhead is underhanded, ala softball
pitch, a good 20 feet upstream, and lands with a huge bellyflop.
As I posted on TSS, Steelhead are not footballs. This ISN'T even
close to appropriate catch & release behavior guys.
Well, after John got tangled up with one of their
lines, we'd had enough and figured we'd bump downstream to whack
the two males that had been fighting all morning at the base of
the riffles. There were two fish, and well, we watched a guy walking
up as we were walking downstream...both heading for the same fish.
Two guys can fish two fish on a SE WI trib, and John and the other
angler started casting.
John managed one quick snip, but otherwise they
weren't interested. After shooting some video, I tied on a big red
& white streamer and asked if I could have a shot.
Within just a few swings one of the two bucks nailed
this irresitable target...in the process we became intertwined with
the other anglers line and the steelie came off, but I honestly
don't think the other angler had anything to do with that. I have
to chuckle though, 'cause he was sitting there excitedly remarking,
"you got him in the mouth!". Of course, that's what I
was intending to do! Swing in front and there's virtually no chance
of a foul hook.
We bumped down some more and that's when we realized
there were steelhead EVERYWHERE...MANY on the beds. John started
fishin to a pod while I was still intent on chasing those bucks,
who were now dropping downstream yet still fighting the entire time.
John's rod doubled over as he played a fish...at
first he thought it was a brown but upon landing it, a nice jack
steelie had hammered his egg pattern.
John kinda turned to me and said, "So are
you calling in sick?" I really, really, really wished that
I could have...I knew how it was gonna be. On the way out we ran
into Connor, who I introduced to John. They both emailed me that
evening to relate the story of what simply was a fantastic day.
John ended with 15 fair landed. Connor went from
0 to 3 landed; all prior outings combined Connor had only landed
3 steelies. Folks, my guess is that April 1 was the height of the
Pike Run. Smaller fish, probably more Ganaraskas although mine didn't
have any clips. Fish everywhere, and almost no suckers.
I've included some pictures below that John and
Connor sent...the last one is by far my favorite.