10-09-04 - Milwaukee River - King Salmon Run again!
Waters Fished: Milwaukee River
Fish Caught: 8/30ish FAIR + a few fouls (but surprisingly few).
Outing Date: 10-09-04
Air Temp: 60's.
Water Temp: didn't take it.
Water Level: Around 175 cfs
Water Color: dirty & brown, approx 1' visibility
Fish Species: Chinook Salmon, "Steelhead" (Arlee Rainbow),
Brown Trout, Coho Salmon, Smallmouth Bass
Pattern Fished: Eggs Eggs Eggs
Pattern Color: Orange Eggs continue to be a top producer.
Fishing Quality: Best of the fall king run to date.
Do I really have to write a whole report? Do you
guys even read this, or do you just look at the pictures and the
Well regardless, I know someone reads this, but for this Saturday,
it can best be summed up simply as "awesome". A mess of
folks were in town. First, Red
Hat and Dan had come down from Minnesota on Friday morning,
fished all day, and then showed up at the LC house around 10:00
PM while I was turning reel seats in the garage. They didn't even
wake me up when they left at 5:00 AM to make the hour drive to the
Bruce, Kevin and David (you may remember them from the 2003 Canada
Trip) had been out of my reports for simply TOO LONG! Last year
I missed them when they came to town; Bruce always has loads of
sinfully delicious venison sausage with him. Last year, he left
it with FAT, and well, FAT ATE IT before I ever saw it! All week
long Bruce had been taunting me with the possibility of venison
sausage. Granted, I needed no bribe to fish with these guys, but
who am I to turn down a hunk of meat that has substance, lively
spices yet delicate texture and the most sinfully rich finish. WHO
AM I TO TURN DOWN HEAVEN in the form of a MEAT STICK?!
Oh, did I mention I was supposed to pick up FAT's eldest son Cheif?
Well, it was the perfect excuse to allow myself to sleep in and
head to the river later in the morning (otherwise I admit I was
so riled up I would have left with the HAT and DAN but truthfully,
I needed the sleep). Turns out Cheif wasn't able to make it...got
to FAT's house and learned the news (yup, cell phone is STILL FRIED
but as of Tuesday, the replacement has arrived!).
Granted, have I mentioned lately that weekend mornings tend to
be a total ZOO on ANY trib during the peak of a run? While the fishin'
may be at it's peak, that's easily offset by the hordes that decend
on the river. Weekday mornings rock...weekend mornings would probably
be great too except for all the people spookin' fish and crowding
All of this together got me to the river around 11:00 AM. FAT was
getting lunch ready for everyone...I was hungry but more importantly,
I was anxious to fish. I headed down to the river with the message
that "Lunch was ready" and hopefully, maybe FAT would
bring me back a brat???
The Brat never materialized, but what did I care...I was havin'
too much fun fishin. Bruce had asked me to watch their stuff, so
I stuck close to a gravel bar. My goal, was to LAND (not keep) a
bag limit of fish. I had a real good chance of doing it today.
Because I was watching the MO boy's stuff, I ended up fishin' midstream
vs. the shade. All of my fish came from a sun-drenched pool at the
peak time of the day for heat and sun! There is NO WAY I could even
attempt to recount every battle...unlike the steelies where a single
hookup may be the pivotal moment of the day, with the Salmon at
this time of year a single hookup is just one more notch. Red Hat's
report from Friday was that they had experienced a better bite in
the afternoon...my first 5 fair kings (aka. a true BAG LIMIT) seemed
to suggest that the afternoon bite was again quite good!
After I got my first ever true bag, I went off to find Red Hat
and Dan up at the Dam. Along the way I ran into Chromeseeker in
the Parking Lot...cool! We both headed up the dam...on our way out
a couple of kids had a NICE brown on a stringer.
Shortly after our arrival we found Mr. Hat and Flyboy kinda wandering
aimlessly. Up at the Dam's pool, we watched a bunch of guys dredging
a bunch of hardware through it. Only saw one foul hook...while Bart
and I cast for a while we didn't hook squat. Red Hat reported seeing
a Coho up here, but pretty much it looked like upstream was gonna
suck. So back down we went.
Back in lower Estabrook I ran into "Birdman" Jay from
MO along with two of his buddies...we chatted for a while (heck,
we've talked for two years via email but never met)...meanwhile
Red Hat, Flyboy and Chromeseeker went on down to the river. After
probably a good half hour chat, I figured I should really go down
to find my cohorts for the afternoon....when I got there I didn't
see them anywhere! I thought perhaps they had gone WAY WAY WAY downstream...so
I just sat around and enjoyed the afternoon. Since the 5 fair fish
came easy, I needed a new goal. A Bag for 2 you say? Can I do it?
Meanwhile Bruce, Kevin and David were getting off the water. They
do like to harvest the fish and put them to good use; I noticed
on one of the stringers a bright silver fish....STEELHEAD! I asked
Kevin about it; he said he was fishin' right where I had told them
to go earlier that afternoon, the shaded pools on the far side of
the river that I had not touched while watching their stuff. Kevin
saw this smaller one amongst the larger fish...targeted it with
his eggs and got lucky!
I noticed the finclips on this fish and made a
mental note as well as photographic record. I did give Kevin just
a little grief about keepin a steelhead, but it was friendly ribbing...there
was no doubt that it would be the best tasting fish they'd harvest...I
encouraged him to savor that fish! Well anyway, it turns out this
fish is not really a true Steelhead...the finclip was ALP (Adipose
Fin, Left Pectoral Fin). Turns out that the ALP clip is used for
ARLEE Strain Rainbow Trout, a fish the WDNR started stocking a couple
years ago in an attempt to improve our near-shore fishery. Arlee's
are probably on par with a looper (Kamloops strain); it's not a
strain of Rainbow Trout that's wild counterpart is "designed"
to migrate (the basic definition of a Steelhead is a anadromous/potandromous
Rainbow, aka. a Migratory Rainbow Trout). I guess however, since
this Arlee was definitely MIGRATING, perhaps it should be considered
an Arlee Steelhead! Regardless, it was a Rainbow Trout that obviously
came up from the lake. Additionally, this was the first rainbow
I've seen that we could 100% identify as an Arlee Rainbow Trout
based on finclips. Based on it's size, which suggests some age to
the fish, it was likely from the 2001 stocking. Pretty exciting
on the rainbow front...I'm into "strains" of fish from
my fish hatchery days.
Back out on the water for the evening I pretty
much had things to myself. Landed a few more kings while FAT
was guiding a couple guys into their first fly rod King Salmon upstream.
Bart showed up around maybe 4:00 PM...turns out that Red Hat, Flyboy
and himself had been upstream around a couple bends..hence I totally
The highlight of the evening for me was when a
large fresh buck King came into the pool I was working. He settled
in the gut and in just a few drifts he turned on my eggs and the
wild ride was on. I shouted upstream "WHOO HOO, I GOT THE BULLET!"
(think about it). Followed up with "Bart, HELP, I'm gonna get
SCHOOLED by this fish!"
I did indeed get schooled. This fish was a rocket
and there was no turning it around...it just kept taking line. I
got to see my backing (always fun). I shouted up to Bart to try
and land the fish if he could; shortly thereafter this fish handed
my ass to me when he simply shook his head violently and disgorged
my hooks. Actually, he may have been the one that BROKE my hook
(yeah, only noticed that a while later).
My last 7 fair hooks could have EASILY brought
me up to the 10 mark...unfortunately I may have still been fishin'
with that broken hook. In fact, I recall a total of 3 broken hooks,
all #10 Eagle Claw Salmon Egg Hooks. I was only fishing 8lb. Pline
Flourocoated for tippet, so I'm kinda thinkin that these hooks simply
aren't enough for kings. I know Rich loves them for their value,
but I don't think he goes as small as #10 with them!
While we can't say for sure, I think BART caught
my bullet....I lost it in his vicinity and not too long thereafter
he hooked into a fish of the same size, freshness etc. What a stunning
way to end the day....granted I was 2 away from my new goal...but
10 fair kings landed in a day will come at some point! BTW, I went
the entire day without eating...that's how addictive fishin' for
the kings can be!
For those interested, you can read Dan's (aka.
Flyboy's) account of his Friday/Saturday outings at Red
Hat's WWPD ONLINE! I'm guessing that Red Hat's account will
be online soon as well!