10-06-04 - HARBOR FLY BROWNS?! ABSURDLY FUN!
Waters Fished: Kenosha Harbor
Fish Caught: 0/1?
Outing Date: 10-06-04
Air Temp: 50's
Water Temp: N/A
Water Level: normal
Water Color: 2-3' visibility
Fish Species: Steelhead, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Kastmasters, Various Streamers
Pattern Color: I went with light (white) and dark (brown/black) streamers
Fishing Quality: better than last time.
"HOLY SHIT" I shouted as my fly rod doubled over and line started SILENTLY peeling off my reel. SILENTLY because the drag got fried back in Canada...I think it got sand in it or something. I jumped from rock to rock, easily 20 feet above the water surface, then scurried down while holding my rod high, the line just clearing the rip rap as the fish dove deep. Rounding the corner I chased my fish as it swam along the wall...if it could this fish would take me all the way to open water! The 7wt. was nothing more than a slight shock absorber that kept me tethered to the beast. "PLEASE BE FAIR" I bemoaned, followed with " and don't be a carp", knowing that I wasn't getting the usual brown trout "headshakes" and I had no ability to turn the fish around. As I got it up, it really occurred to me that fair or foul, this fish totally had me beat...all I could do was hold on. The neighboring angler ALMOST got it in the net, but at the last second it slipped underneath. Moments later my tippet finally gave out as I tried to put the uber-hurt on this fish. Fair...foul...can't say we'll ever know (unless someone gets a big male brown swimming around with 2 streamers attached).
How did my evening come to this? Simply put, I was going to give Kenosha Harbor another shot. DNR info suggested that the South Pier might be good; I made a cursory swing through the regular spots and didn't see any of my buddies cars, so I headed east. I don't have a net long enough for that area so when I arrived at 8:30 PM and found no one I was pretty sure I'd be SOL should things actually go my way. Fortunately, things DID NOT go my way..not a single hookup in the 30 minutes I spent casting.
I figured I may have to simply go around the entire harbor, spending just a bit of time at various spots until I found a good one. When I arrived back at the southwest rocks, I noticed a guy was fly casting. I didn't give it much thought at first...
Meanwhile I was casting spoons, watching fish surface now and again. When I finished one of my many casts, I looked down to see if my spoon was near the surface when I noticed a fish holding on the shade line less than a foot underneath the surface. Curious, I simply dangled my spoon about 2 feet away.
Now as best as I can surmise I know I was caught off guard and turned to my left to see the end of a large brown's crash on the surface. While momentarily distracted, not paying any attention to the rod in my hands, dangling spoon or fish below me, I either must have lifted my rod to cast or the fish literally swam into my spoon. In any event, while still looking to my left, the rod in my hands jerked violently and line started ROARING in spastic spurts from my reel. Obviously my attention was now back where it belonged as a silver fish cartwheeled repeatedly at the surface, ripping out more and more line.
To sum it up, someone came down with a net and we got the fish landed...it was fouled in the belly. I took just enough time to ID this fish as a stunning chrome hen and then, amidst a flurry of inquiries from onlookers asking why I wasn't keepin the fish, asked the gentleman with the net to release this fish. I must have had to explain 10 times that the fish was fouled and that it's not legal or ethical to keep a fouled fish.
So here I am, having inadvertently fouled on a steelhead, when the guy who was fly fishin' ties into a large fish and loses it. He's been stripping silver streamers and has seen several fish working the shore by his feet. Right then and there I kinda decided that if I was gonna get skunked again, it might as well be on the fly rod. NO one was around, wind was really mild, and fish were hitting close to the surface.
Well it turned out that salmon smolts must have been recently stocked, as they were all bunched up like baitfish in the corner. The salmon were crusing around the "baitfish ball", periodically taking slashes at these perfectly edible (and stupid) snacks. It reminded me of some videos I've seen of sharks attacking schooled-up baitfish. I gave my fly-angling friend a fair amount of room, casting from the rocks instead of the wall.
Now it's not like the big browns were thick or anything, but they were indeed out cruising. As I stood on the rocks, I watched a big brown pass through the shallows repeatedly. As the evening wore on I noticed a tail poking from the water; a large fish was sitting face down feeding off the rocks. I placed 3 casts before being within "the zone" and let the flies sink. My line went tight, I set the hook, and now we're back to the start of this story.