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4-15-05 - Sunrise over Lake Superior as seen from Duluth.

4-15-05 - Looperpalooza - Day 1

Waters Fished: French River, Sucker Creek
Fish Caught: 0/5 Personally
Outing Date: 4-15-05
Weather: Sunny, Windy
Air Temp: 40's
Water Temp: low 40's
Water Level: Low
Water Color: Clear & Stained
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Egg Patterns
Pattern Color: No specific color was king...
Fishing Quality: Good

FINALLY I've gotten the opportunity to sit down and write about Looperpalooza, the brainchild of our dear friend RED HAT. I will start off by saying that Red Hat is also in the process of writing up some fantastically detailed reports of our three shared days together and I HIGHLY recommend you check them out - as this was a large group outing I especially appreciate the different point of view, especially since no one can be everywhere at the same time! So, immediately after reading this report you should read Red Hat's version on WWPD online for 4-15-05.

For me this was almost like an extended double date. It was FATMAN's anniversary weekend and somehow his wife, Freda, had agreed that they'd go to LOOPERPALOOZA for their anniversary! Renee and I where in as well, so the four of us carpooled up to Duluth, Minnesota, leaving SE WI well after 11:00 PM the night prior. Rich drove through the night...the following morning we found ourselves at the Holiday gas station getting wakeup juice and our 2005 full boat nonresident fishing licenses for MN. After that it was STRAIGHT to the river. Just like driving to the PA tribs in the fall, where a stop at Trout Run is a requirement, so too is a stop at the French River, one of the broodstock rivers for Loopers in MN. After confirming that indeed, the loopers were in, we moved on. For some reason I didn't even bother to take pictures this year! RATS!

We had a good idea where we'd find the rest of the clan - Sucker Creek. Heck, I even knew where they'd likely be fishing...surprise surprise there was Red Hat, Brennon, Dan, The General and a couple guys I hadn't yet met!

I'll let RED HAT cover all the details...suffice it to say the river was quite busy for a Friday AM. There were indeed loopers moving in, although not nearly in the numbers we saw last year. So more anglers and less fish. No reason to complain though, we were here, so we better enjoy it ;)

Lots of anglers out for the early morning bite this Friday!
Our Host Red Hat... ...will now be known as "Strawberry Red Hat". Some fish were stacked at the base of the first fast water.

Things were slow...unlike last year the fish just didn't seem to have the urge to bite. I was out fishing with a brand spankin' new 8' 9" 8wt. Garrison Taper Bamboo Fly Rod that together with Ron Caimi of Trout Camp Rods we had built up just in time to catch the tail end of this year's steelhead season. This would be one of the 2 Bamboo Salmon & Steelhead Rods I'll be able to offer up with my guide services. I was on a mission, determined to get a picture of this rod with a steelie before the runs are done.

Fat goes for the net job on Red Hat's fish. Freda nets one of Fat's fish. Fat and Freda with one of the first loopers of the day.

Well, 3 hookups later it was already checkin time at the Island View Resort. Exhausted from our trip, I think all four of us took naps. Rich and Freda headed out a bit later to fish the Knife River, only to return and let Renee and I know about a great little place to get lunch. Darnit if I can't remember the name right now. Renee and I whiled away the afternoon in this great little cafe...the food was superb, complete with a view overlooking the lower section of the Knife River. I think we spent 2 or 3 hours there!

Finally we returned to gather up Rich and Freda...we might as well try for the evening bite. Justin and Jason from the Hawg Trough were out fishin' and seemed to be doing quite well. Meanwhile I struggled between foul hooks and thrown hooks, only managing 2 more bites.

Flyboy Dan goes to town on a looper! Dan with a great female looper. I'm tied into one of my first few fish on my new Trout Camp 8wt. Bamboo..
(Copyright 2005 Renee)

Looking back on it now, being out with the new bamboo rod I realize what was going on. I was treating this stunning piece of $1000 equipment like it was a fragile piece of fine china. I was very "gently" setting the hook on these massive fish.

Somehow it managed to get free shortly after this picture.

(Copyright 2005 Renee)

If there's one thing I can tell you this trip taught me, as you'll read in the next report, the one thing you can't do with bamboo is be GENTLE on your hookset. I don't consider today a day of being skunked; had I been fishing my typical gear I would have landed fish. So chalk this one up to the learning curve of something new and exciting!

That evening, back at the Island View Resort, we convened in Red Hat's Cabin for Spaghetti dinner. The beers were out, fun was had. Regardless of the fishing quality, it was absolutely great to be back with friends!


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