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4-16-05 - the first hints of dawn over Lake Superior.
Folks are already out in search of loopers and wild steelies!

4-16-05 - Looperpalooza - Day 2

Waters Fished: Sucker Creek, Silver Creek, Gooseberry River, Baptism River
Fish Caught: 2
Outing Date: 4-16-05
Weather: Mostly Sunny
Air Temp: Up to the 50's & 60's
Water Temp: 40's
Water Level: normal
Water Color: clear on all streams
Fish Species: Steelhead
Pattern Fished: Egg Patterns and Egg Sucking YARN!
Pattern Color: Black with a Red Head was the ticket
Fishing Quality: Fair

I'm still in disbelief that on Day II of Looperpalooza, Renee actually woke ME UP to go fishing. Yup...we were on the River just as the sun was starting to rise; in MN the tribs open an HOUR before sunrise. Don't forget to read the reports by our Looperpalooza Host, Red Hat, on the WWPD Online - 4-16-05 - after reading this one!

There were again loads of anglers on the Sucker and a fair amount of fish around. Again, the action wasn't quite as intense as last year's early morning bite. And again, there were the guys from the Hawg Trough on their same little spot of the river simply whackin' them.

I can't even say that I really hooked a fish this morning...it always seemed like they were just out of reach. Either they were too deep, too far, or closer to someone else who just happened to be fishing them. Something about this morning just felt "too crowded". Meanwhile Freda and Fat were taking a nice easy morning rest back at the cabin.

Well, around 8:00 AM it was time to go back and get them. Freda was interested in seeing some waterfalls, Rich was interested in seeing new water, and well I knew how to accommodate both. With all the crowds of people back at the Sucker, I wondered if perhaps posting my reports last year had anything to do with the increased angling pressure this year. Although days after our return, I brought this up to Rich. As he put it, "Any river with a [30 car] PARKING LOT next to it is hardly a secret". Good point Rich.

Dawn is just around the corner now. Renee is in a prime spot to intercept any fresh fish that make the morning run into the Sucker. The General hooks up and T-Bone is ready to land it!

We decided to mosey our way up the shore in search of less crowded water. Red Hat, B and Fly Boy followed suit and headed to the Stewart. For us, there were a bit too many cars in the lot, so we headed for Silver Creek. With only one car at the road side, this would be relatively free of other anglers.

I can sum up Silver Creek pretty easily - it's a great looking stream, has a really nice barrier fall, and was devoid of fish on this day. We hiked in and hiked back out almost as quickly. Upon returning to the road we were greeted with our fellow angling companions...the Stewart was a bust too.

Fat and Freda follow us up Silver Creek. Renee works the tailout of a run in hopes of finding a fish. Looking downstream at the mouth of Silver Creek as it dumps into Lake Superior.

Renee and I had until around 3:00 PM before we'd have to return to the cabin to meet up with her parents who came up from the Twin Cities. We debated hitchin' a ride back down the shore to fish the mouth of French Creek, but after some further consideration opted instead to keep pressing northeast.

The next stop was an obvious one - Gooseberry Falls on the Gooseberry River. We bypassed some water I'd like to check out, i.e. the Encampment River, Crow River and a couple others. After stopping to check out Gooseberry Falls (I'd already seen them) we went downstream and scouted for fish.

We stopped for a photo-op in front of Gooseberry Falls...Fred and Rich pose first. Renee and I are indeed having a good time on the water.
(Copyright 2005 Rich Brown)
A bit of info on the Superior Tributary Fishery was posted alongside the river.

While we did see an angler walk up with a looper, things were otherwise really slow. It was pretty, and apparently there was some good fishing to be had. For once, we were actually hot, sweating, and ready for a break. The car ride up the shore would do us some good. After a lunch stop at a tiny pizza joint off the main highway, we resumed traveling up the shore until we arrived at the Baptism River.

The Gooseberry River is flowing well. We hiked down the smaller side channel in search of fish; this wasn't such a crazy proposition considering we watch an angler come up from here with a looper. Lots of anglers were out working the main channel.
There's a long riffled run downstream from the 3 falls on the Gooseberry. The Baptism River. WOW. Beautiful.

We had to pay a reasonable park fee to gain access to easy parking and restrooms. Rich had the map, and took us for a short jaunt through the park trying to find a good access point. We ended up returning to a downstream parking spot, and Rich and Freda made their way into the canyon. Renee and I were both pretty drained...she got in a good nap. I tried, but after 10 or 20 minutes I just had to get out and look around.

WOW. I don't need to describe it, just to show you a bunch of pictures. This is a stunning river. While we didn't connect with ANYTHING here as well, this is DEFINITELY a place I want to return to. I'm glad it's a state park - it'll be protected in the years to come.

Speachless. Freda and Rich are headed for the mouth.
The Baptism is shrouded in a huge canyon. Everything about the Baptism feels "big". Another picture of the Baptism River....
And another stunning vista of the canyon. Rich and Freda have made their way to the mouth. Wow, this is just stunning scenery.
Looking upstream from the bridge it's just as gorgeous. Again, it all just feels "BIGGER" than most streams you'll fish. Two intrepid anglers working fast water on the Baptism.
 
Looking back at the mouth, Rich and Freda are working the outflow. Rich is stripping streamers in the deep channel that leads out to Lake Superior.  

I made my way down into the canyon...hardly the hard hike I had anticipated (although going back up was a bitch!). I worked a large, heavily weighted clouser minnow through the deep, fast water in the hopes of getting a strike. No luck. After casting both the lake and river for a while, Rich finally succumbed to temptation and asked to cast the bamboo.

I finally convinced Rich to give the Bamboo a few casts. Look at that loop! Another tight loop. It's strange how bamboo makes any good caster "better" in an instant!
Coming forward from his backcast... ...the line shoots forward with ease.
A couple more roll casts...check out the S-Curve in the rod! Wow, this is just a normal roll cast - I'm amazed at how much the tip bends while loaded! A wide-looped roll cast..it looks so darn graceful.

After spending some time on the Baptism we turned back and made the drive all the way back to the cabins. Not too long after, Pat and Craig showed up to give Renee a break from all this fishin! I wish they would've stayed longer...it's not like either Renee or myself get to see them very often.

While Renee and her folks explored downtown Duluth, I returned to my mission...I still haven't landed that Bamboo Fly Rod Steelie yet! We got back to the Sucker in advance of the evening push of fish and picked our positions. After watching Justin, Justin's Dad and Jason relatively hammer the fish for the past 24 hours, I was pleased to find their spot deserted for the moment. I slid in and started fishing.

The move paid off once the three anglers returned. All weekend we'd been fishing micro eggs, a standard for pressured fish. However, if I was to gauge accurately, these three Hawg Troughers were definitely outfishing us. I finally broke down and asked what they were using. Easy - Egg Sucking Leaches.

I looked through my flybox knowing full well that I didn't have many large patterns with me. I did however, have small red micro eggs and big black looped yarn flies. Now, depending on your interpretation of MN law, it may or may not be legal to fish a dropper. Some anglers do, some don't. The most official answer I ever got from the MN DNR was that in essence you need to fish a one fly rig. Now, last year the Conservation Officers didn't say a word about my 2 fly rig, but I prefer to be on the safe side of the law, so I'm fishing a single fly.

So what to do? I took one of the micro eggs in my hemostats and clamped down on the bend. I bent the hook back and forth until the steel finally gave way, leaving me with a small red ball on a steel shaft. I tied this on. IMMEDIATELY following, leaving only the slightest millimeter of line behind the dismembered red glo bug, I tied on the black looped yarn fly. Viola - INSTANT Egg Sucking YARN Fly. Justin chuckled.

FREAKIN' FINALLY, a looper on the bamboo!
(Copyright 2005 - Jason).
The "rod shot" didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but there's the first "steelie" next to the bamboo!

And of course, wouldn't ya know it, within a couple drifts I was connected to a steelhead. It was a VERY hard hit...so hard I didn't even have to really set the hook...so hard it jerked the rod forward. I took a while to land the fish - I believe it was Jason who came to my aid. After a few photos, a nice hen was put back in the pool. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

We all fished for a bit and had varying degrees of success. Neil got to partake in a Sucker River 100 yard sprint as a looper took him down to the lake. Seeing one of your angling buddies do this is always classic!

Red hat ties into one! Looks like Red Hat's getting taken for a walk. Oh oh oh...will it make it to Lake Superior?
 
Flyboy steps in with the netjob...that's far enough for you Ms. Looper! Red Hat raises his fish up for the best shot I can get from 100 yards+ upstream.  

Meanwhile Rich and Freda had disappeared; shortly thereafter Red Hat came down to tell me it was time to head to dinner at the Looper Lounge - we had reservations. I put in a few more casts before giving in to the fact that I HAD to go. The only member of our angling party who was still around was Flyboy.

I started to cross the stream in a shallow spot when there, right between me and my exit point on the far bank, lay a looper. Now, there's NO WAY I'm going to just walk through a fish just so I can get to dinner on time. NO WAY.

I drift my egg sucking yarn in front of her. A gaping white maw appeared and in went my fly. I sent the hook and it popped out. She simply sat there. What?!

A few casts later and my drift was dead on again. There goes the chewing motion, a dead giveaway that my fly has been taken in. Again, I set the hook. After a brief tug, my fly pops out. WHAT THE HECK?!

A third time my fly is hammered, and a third time it pops out. I check my hook...is it broken or something? Not only is it not broken, it isn't bent, and it is ANYTHING but dull. What is going on here.

The "clutch" looper - YEEHAA!

There it is, a fantastic fish and a fantastic rod come together to make the perfect end to a great day on the water.
(Copyright 2005 Dan Brom).

A few more casts later and yet again, she hasn't learned, she simply wants to eat this fly. She moves forward and inhales it. I am so pissed off that without thinking I simply stick it to her like I'm fishing with a 2 X 4. FISH ON!

She simply goes nuts, running upstream, downstream, across stream, anywhere in the stream as long as it's away from where I'm standing. Now that she's gone from that spot between me and shore, I make my way over to where Dan is standing.

The battle rages for several minutes before she's finally subdued on shore. And again, a couple quick photos are taken and back she goes to be caught again.

We're definitely late for dinner...we still have to stop at the Cabins as Flyboy needs to change some clothes. I'm wondering what the heck happened to FAT and Freda - they have my shoes in their van. And where is Renee?

During the wait and drive to the Looper Lounge I had some time to reflect on exactly what had happened with that last hen looper. It all became very clear. Bamboo is SOFT. It's VERY flexible. It has a LOT of give. It is a VERY good shock absorber and dampener. DOH'! That's when it clicked. When compared to the graphite I'm usually fishing, this new bamboo rod absorbs much more of the hookset force than a graphite rod will. No WONDER I've been missing all my fish.

After a good dinner at the Looper Lounge, we all reconvened and got to tying. I wasn't going to be without a ESL type pattern for tomorrow and I passed that info around. Sure, I had been hooking fish, but by comparison to the prior day and half, the egg sucking yarn worked far better.

I won't even tell you what pattern was hot the next day after tying up all those egg sucking yarn flies. Well, I will say that just knowing how things go, you can bet the hot fly was NOT the egg sucking yarn. Go figure.

  MP 

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