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4-01-05 - Kramer Brown, all of 6 or 7, is already a steelhead addict!
Todd Olson watches Gerry Green battle a steelie while Kramer gets ready with the net.
Gerry's one keeper for the year, a small buck destined for the grill!

4-01-05 - Part 1 of 2 - 2 days with a "Fly Guy" and his buddy!

Waters Fished: Pike River, Oak Creek
Fish Caught: 1/2 personally
Outing Date: 4-01-05
Weather: Overcast, then Sunny, then RAIN starting at 1:15 PM
Air Temp: upper 30's, rising to 40's
Water Temp: Pike 40F, Oak n/a
Water Level: Pike around 40 CFS, Oak 20+ and rising
Water Color: both dirtier from recent rains
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Egg Patterns, spawn, waxworms
Pattern Color: Chartreuse was the ticket
Fishing Quality: Surprisingly difficult

So it's April 1st, April Fool's Day, and the start of one of the busiest times of year - April is historically, without a doubt, the peak of our Southeast Wisconsin Steelhead runs. I'm only getting to play catch-up now, April 25th, and hopefully I'll get 13 days of successful, sometimes fantastic fishing, finally written up. While I've been in WI, away from my computer, I've been keeping notes on my phone and at The Steelhead Site (TSS), the only easy way to keep track of what now simply blurs together as day after day on the water.

April was kicked off right - Todd Olson of The Fly Guys Guide Service in SE MN had contacted me earlier in the year - he wanted to come on down and hit the steelies the right way. April 1st is historically a date I feel you can count on for a guaranteed chance at landing some steel, so we planned it out! Todd and his good friend Cory arrived at my house in the wee hours of the morning, ready to go! Brian wasn't able to make it, but reminded me to outfish Todd at any opportunity I got - "remember last summer" he emailed ;)

As the seasons tend to go, by the time the water warms and the fly bite starts in earnest, first light is the best time to be on the water. We were perhaps just a bit behind schedule - we showed up at the Pike to find FAT, his son Chief and Gerry Greene already whackin' the fish in the prime spots - we'd have to take up the secondary spots for now.

Thankfully it was a workday, so around 8:00 AM or so our fellow anglers had to take off, leaving Cory and Todd prime access to the fish. While downstream, Cory had briefly tied into a fish without success. Todd came up to work the tailout of the bend - a common spot for steelies to congregate in the early morning hours. 3 hits later and still no luck. While Todd retied, I tried my luck and lost one two.

Todd keeps a low profile while fishing over nervous fish. Todd would get a cast or two..they'd move off, then come back. Cory picked up fly fishing like he was born to do it...low profiles help keep fish at east.

As it's been going, a couple hours after sunup the fish moved deep and the bite literally shut off.

We head downstream for a bit to drift spawn and waxworms.

We opted to head downstream to some deeper, slower spots where fresh fish tend to congregate and can be readily enticed with bait In other words, we broke out the centerpin and spinning rods!

No such luck...the only thing we had to show for it was a small brown "smolt" on a waxworm! Even this honey spot had failed to produce.

Not willing to conceed defeat just yet, we headed back upstream to look for more steelies that would be on the redds. Surprise - we found some and promptly proceded to spook them. A lot of hiking, just a couple spooked fish; this was not what we were hoping for. We even plyed the deep holding spots - I managed a hookup (and loss) and that was it. At least the suckers upstream were providing some fun!

Around 1:15 PM it started to rain - it was time for lunch. We weren't sure if we'd be rained out or not, so the best option was to eat and then head north.

Back upstream we find a few fish on the redds. Todd and Cory ply the deeper water..we KNOW there are fish in there somewhere!
Whoo hoo what?! A fair sucker?! This is not really how I was planning this day. Yeah, they're easy to foul up in all the time, but suckers like the light colored eggs, especially pinks and whites.
YEEEEEE HA! There it is...a beautiful chrome hen comes to shore...thanks for the net job Cory! One steelhead is better than none..anyday.
(Copyright © 2005, Cory Potter)
Todd patiently covers the water where a hen was sighted. Quite possibly the same hen I landed a bit earlier..this time she came to shore tail hooked for Cory. Hey, he lost a couple fair, it was his first day EVER fishing a fly rod...that's something. Tomorrow, I vowed he'd get his first fair fish.

Oak Creek was our other stop for the day - my hope was that the rain would quickly bring the stream up and perhaps fresh fish would arrive in the evening. The water was already dirty when we got there!

Clutch time came as sunset and the ensuing darkness would arrive. We walked the stream, taking turns. Upstream, I FINALLY broke our collective group skunk with a fantastic fresh hen that slobbered all over a large chartreuse egg.

Shortly thereafter we spotted a redding hen hiding in the murk and Todd took his shot. She'd flash, then move, and in the darkening water Todd had to constantly adjust his drift, never quite sure if he was on target or not.

As the end of the day approached, Cory hooked up...the fight was on. When it came in, Cory had landed his first steelhead on his first day ever fishing a fly rod. Quite an accomplishment even though she came to shore fouled in the rear quarter section. Todd came back upstream having hooked up with (and losing) the hen downstream. For now, it was time to call it a day...we knew where we'd be fishing tomorrow.

  MP 

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