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10-02-04 - SE WI Salmon Clave

Waters Fished: Milwaukee River, Oak Creek, Pike River
Fish Caught: 2 personally
Outing Date: 10-02-04
Weather: Beautiful
Air Temp: low 30's in the AM quickly up into the 60's.
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: About 150 CFS
Water Color: cloudy, maybe 1-2' vis.
Fish Species: Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Brown Trout, Steelhead, Rock Bass
Pattern Fished: EGGS EGGS EGGS
Pattern Color: Micro Eggs in Red and Hot Orange were the best producers.
Fishing Quality: Good

Friday night I was drivin' up to the Lake, Andy was coming down from MN to camp at my place. Somewhere along 94, it started to drizzle as I drove north. By the time I was on 50 heading west, the drizzle had become a fairly steady rain.

I'm driving down the hill to the lakeshore and in front of me is a Red Camaro with MN plates...probably lookin' for the White Camaro so I zipped around him and sure enough, there was Andy pullin' in right at the same time I did.

Renee showed up shortly thereafter....Andy was originally gonna camp but there was no way I'd have him setting up a tent in a windy, rainy, 32F night. He graciously hit the sack, while Renee and I had more trouble sleeping. Her complaint - hard pillows. My complaint? Getting up at 4:00 AM! I think I actually got to sleep after 2:00 AM, having checked the flow rates and finding that they hadn't been updated since about 9:00 PM. We'd be fishin' the tribs blind tomorrow with regards to flow.

So admittedly this was a very haphazard clave - I had put the feelers out for it weeks prior but only after returning from Canada did we officially decide to do it (and start planning). The SE WI Salmon Clave would be more of a Free Fat Day combined with grillin' streamside and BBLT (BBQ Build Lie & Tie) at my place that evening for anyone who wanted to show. Add on top of that the invite for non-locals to camp in our yards as there really isn't any camping to be found in this urban setting!

10-02-04 - About 30 people were present for FAT's Salmon Seminar at the Root River Wier...5:00 AM on Saturday.

Last spring, FAT had offered up the Free FAT DAY and about 6 people responded saying they were actually coming - something like 14 showed up! When we pulled into the Root River Wier parking lot, I thought maybe 7-8, 10 at the most, had said they were showing. Estimates put early AM attendance at 30 ;)

We had missed most of Rich's Presentation but it wasn't a biggie...I've heard it a few times now. Renee, she had a personal guide for the day. Andy, well Andy had spanked a few fish the night before at the Milwaukee. As Rich wrapped up, the group headed north back to the Milwaukee; the Root had not come up a bit from the overnight rains!

Many folks hurried onto the river, FAT, Ken, myself, Renee, Andy and Heath Sershen (who was found sleepin' in his Geo at 5:00 AM) took a bit of time gettin' down...there was ALL DAY to fish.

There is no way I could relay everyone's experiences that day, so I'm not going to even try to. I think just about everyone had at least one fair salmon under their belts within the first hour. Most of my day was spent watchin' folks fish and taking pictures. Here are some of MY personal highlights.

After the seminar everyone headed north and got out on the Milwaukee River for the morning bite!

Chromeseeker, willing to buck convention, chose to use his centerpin.

When Renee, Heath and I crossed the bridge, we stopped to take in the scenery. We also spotted some fish immediately below; I looked at Renee and proclaimed "those are YOUR fish"! Now this was only Renee's 3rd day with a fly rod in her hand, definitely her first time going for Salmon.

We got down to her first the polarized glasses were no help (not bright enough) but within 20 minutes I had mine on. Renee came close, but couldn't see the dark shadow of the fish as it swam back and forth in the pool....she'd be casting at the tail and the fish would be at the head, or she'd be pulling her line out before the drift ever got to the fish.

Renee battles her first King.

This is what a Clave is all about!

It was quite the team effort; I ended up standing behind her casting the rod together, looking for that perfect drift. Only a few casts and I could see the salmon holding on the far seam of the run, the line was placed several feet upstream in the confluence of two currents and our drift began. The line went tight, I set the hook, let go and started taking pictures. Renee screamed "what do I do?!"

It actually came back to her pretty quickly; I got the net and we landed Renee's first King ever. I then had to show her how to HOLD the fish...she swallowed hard and lifted the fish for her first picture with a King. We revived her and she was back in the river doin' her thing in no time.

MS2, aka. Jim K., does his best Matt Supinski impression.

Renee and I were kinda taking a casual stroll downstream to the head of fast water where most folks had started fishin. Everyone was tying into fish.

My first King was rather anti-climatic. John Kruger walks up and asks "Hey, how's your day goin'?".

I jokingly replied "Aw, just lining a bunch of fish". Right then my leader stopped and I set the hook.

John, eager to give me shit, smart-assly replied, "Oh, you mean just like that eh?"

The king took off, shook it's head a lot, and that was about it...quickly in the net! A nice bonus...a large yarn fly was also in it's jaws.

I spent a lot of time walking around takin' pictures. Folks were hooking up all over the place.

Look at the jaws on this beast! The yarn fly in the jaw was a bonus from an earlier fight!

Me and my first salmon of the morning.
(Copyright 2004 Renee I think..)

It's so cool to watch everyone casting in the morning.

FAT battles one pissed off buck!


Hemostats are a requirement for removing your flies!

We tried to get Renee's #2 for a while, without much luck, so by the time we got downriver to FAT and he proclaimed, "I have 5" I chuckled and asked him to play guide then...I only had one. Rich was more than happy to oblige; we both knew it's good for Renee to get some non-boyfriend instruction which includes a different, more experienced point of view.

I got to watch Renee and Rich fish for a while in the pool below, while I joined in with John Kruger and took more pictures. John had landed a smaller brown with lots of sores (not worth a picture, just a mention).

Renee fights a faired hen...soon after the picture the leader snaps.

Rich, having several fish under his belt, was asked (by me) to play guide for a bit with Renee...I figured the different point of view might be helpful.

Renee was having fair luck with Rich...I chuckled when she got into a more solid position to fight a fresh salmon that had taken her red micro egg. I was psyched; Renee's goal was 2 fish for the day. The line snapped. Ah, there's more time in the day.

John had been fishing the next pool up. He tangled his leader and let me take a shot at the pod he was working. I put in a few casts. My line hits the water and John shouts "OH look at THAT ONE moving up".

I was already in mid-late drift when the king had settled into the pool...within the span of only a second my line shot upstream and I set the hook hard. I was very surprised. To say John's jaw fell open would be an understatement...he was a bit flabbergasted.

This was a nice LONG battle; the buck took me down the riffles and almost to my backing. Everyone watched, a good 10 minute fight ensued before I finally brought a really nice fresh buck to net. This fish "retired me" for the day; 2 nice bucks was enough. I would spend most of my remaining time on the water taking pictures and doin' some less intense fishin.

My second king of the day.
(Copyright © 2004 John Kruger I think...)

Yup, gotta love the fresher kings.

John Kruger (Team PB) goes back to working the pod.

Lots of folks made it today.

Not sure when John arrived, but I snapped this pic of him (and dinner) as he was heading out.

Could any man be any happier than Jim K.?


Jim's leader snaps as the king hits the net.

Will Gerry Greene come up with the fish or an empty net?

Check out the teeth on this beast...not to mention the hookset!

Another monster for Jim.

Jim revives this buck...he's still there for you to catch!

Drake lands his first King ever, on a Milty Moe fly!
(Copyright 2004 Craig Darrah)

I think this was Ken's first day...looks like he's having a good time!

John manages to avoid pretty much the ONLY obstruction in the river.

Later in the morning after I had made a few runs upstream and down, I was back by Rich, Renee and John when RICH hooked up....he was thrilled as he had nailed "Renee's" fish..the hen, chrome-silver king she had now lost TWICE.

I do have to mention this one little sidenote...I'm standing around watching folks fish when I see a rise behind a boulder. I cast in, the end of my fly line twitches. I SET THE HOOK and send a tiny rockbass sailing a good 30 yards across the river. Kinda strange that a 5" Rock Bass often strikes harder than most Kings ;)

Meanwhile, there's commotion behind me; John and I turn to see a silver bullet that has literally run itself straight up onto a rock pile. Instinctively, John makes a mad dash for the rocks and picks up this dime-bright fish; totally BEAR-STYLE. We check it out...freakin' FRESH COHO. John posed with his Bear-Style fish and sent the silver streak back the thing shot off like a rocket.

Fatman's point of view as he fights a king.

John Kruger goes Bear-Style on a CHROMER!

This silver bullet turned out to be a dime-bright COHO.

Turning back I found that Rich had tailed his fish; we got up and indeed; Renee had hooked it TWICE, fair, in the mouth, one dead center of the tongue. Rich joked "Man, when Renee hooked this one it was SILVER, and look, it's already turning BLACK". Rich and Renee both posed for with this one...another Team Effort.

Remember that fish Renee snapped off...turns out FAT caught it. Notice the multiple flies...that's Renee's in the tongue.

Renee and Rich show off this fish, which Rich calls a team effort.

Heading back upstream around 10:00...we're all starving!

By 10:00 AM we were starving. We all took a breather up at the Parking Lot, chowed down on brats, beer, and Red Bull. Somewhere around NOON we headed back to the water...Renee now more passionate than ever about getting her own second fish. As we arrived on the water, Heath and Andy again spread out and disappeared; most of our group was still on the water havin' a blast.

Andy and Heath head back out for the afternoon.

Everyone's tying into fish.

Gotta love all the commotion a hookup causes.

Plenty of room and plenty of fish to go around.

In short order Renee tied into one from deeper fought totally fair and we were all excited until we brought it to net and went to get the hook out; "snouted". 1/4" away from being fair. Not sure if this fish struck and missed or what, but it was a slight letdown for Ms. Renee, who already gets the concept of "foul vs. fair". If she can get it, why can't all you snaggers understand?!?!?!

Bart meanwhile had been workin' the centerpin all morning and had nothing to show for it except a hangover ;) He was draggin some huge buggers through the pools - I took one look at him and asked why he was using that when EVERYONE was having good success with small eggs in orange and red. Turns out he didn't have eggs, so I handed him a few.

Like 5 casts after rerigging Bart hooks up with a beautiful fish. My first glance, I see red, and my mind instantly goes "steelhead", not thinking about the fact that there's another species that turns red come fall.

GEEZE I have to go help Chromeseeker and here he goes catchin' the one fish I truly love...a fresh, slightly tinged NICE buck Coho! I sure gave him PLENTY of grief...I think my favorite taunt was "who thought you'd be takin' trib fishin' advice from ME?"

"No shit" he replied, releasing the fish for another angler's delight.

Renee's #2 came to shore "nosed"...a 1/4" from fair. I'll still call it her second salmon any day of the week, but even Renee understood the concept of fair vs. foul fish...she's got it worse than I do (I think).

Another Coho!

Bart with his Buck Coho - the fish came from deep water in a matter of a few casts after switching his fly rod presentation to micro eggs.

I again made my way downstream, shooting more pictures etc. FAT's neighbor had arrived with his son; Rich was gonna show them a good time. Somewhere around 2:00, many more fish landed, the bit finally totally shut off. Pretty much exhausted, by 3:00 or so we were off the river.

RANDY landed this HUGE PIG HEN...fouled with the line all tangled around it's head and face (so it fought like it was fair). Simply a massive fish all the same, he couldn't lift it up any more. Definitely 30lbs. +

Michael (left), Vinnie and Rich with one of several kings for them in the early afternoon.

Ken ties into yet another King Salmon.

Afternoon means better luck fishin the shade.
(Copyright © 2004 Renee)

Michael holds on for dear the other end is another Chinook.

Michael and Vinnie with their fish.

Renee's first net job helps out Randy with a nice fair salmon.

Randy poses with this interestingly bright female Chinook.

Man it got hot out in the sun...we took a rest in the shade along the river.

Most folks had left - it was pretty much down to Andy, Heath, Renee and myself. We met up with another angler heading down for the evening bite...contemplated doing the same ourselves OR perhaps checking to see how the other streams were (a creel survey guy had suggested that the Pike was hot earlier that day).

Andy working a bend on Oak Creek.

Another look at Oak Creek...really low and murky.

Well, might as well take the MN boys to some other streams, perhaps we'd get lucky! If the Pike came up, the odds were good that Oak Creek was up. Turns out it was NOT. We really stayed only for a couple or two fish were in...nothing worth fighting a crowd over.

All of this driving, combined with the ever shortening days, really puts a damper on a "full day" of was definitely "evening" when we arrived at the Pike. First stop, A & 13, there were 16 cars. I'm betting each car had at least 2 anglers in it, as most that were coming and going had at least two folks in them. Eh, scratch that, I wasn't about to combat fish (and for those who say that the second picture is combat fishing, you really, really need to get to the Pike on a day like that and fish).

Heath leads the way down the Pike to a spot we gambled with.

Turns out our last ditch effort came up short on the fish on the gravel.

We tried another secret spot; admittedly it would be a gamble. As luck would have it, the gamble DID NOT pay off. I got to some gravel where earlier this year I had seen as many as 50 steelies, despite the kings being ready to spawn, they were anywhere BUT on this gravel patch. A whole lot of wading for nothing.

So that pretty much sums up the day's fishin. The four of us BBQ'd, debated, told stories etc. Easily 12 hours of fishin was had. MANY, MANY, MANY fish landed fair (Heath beat us all with 9 including ONE steelhead).


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