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10-02-05 - A difficult day on the tribs

Waters Fished: Milwaukee River, Oak Creek
Fish Caught: 0/4 personally
Outing Date: 10-2-05
Weather: Cloudy
Air Temp: Mid 70's, dropping to low 60's or upper 50's
Water Temp: 64F
Water Level: Milwaukee - 125 cfs, Oak Creek 7 cfs
Water Color: Milwaukee dirty, 2' visibility at best. Oak Creek muddy, visibility < 6"
Fish Species: King Salmon, Coho Salmon
Pattern Fished: Large Egg Patterns
Pattern Color: Chartreuse, Red, Orange

Let me start off by venting some more!!! So, after having dinner last night with Jim and Leanne, Jim offered to help me out with the Bitchin' Camaro's brakes. Yeah, he was in some agreement that perhaps I was getting "stuck" by Midas, just a bit. (check the 10-01-05 report if you don't have a clue what I'm rambling on about). Well, we got started around 10:00 AM...we're taking apart the passenger side brake assembly and we only find one pad. Naw, that can't be right...one pad on the outside of the rotor? We shift over to the other side and there are indeed supposed to be 2 pads. @#$%#^! When Midas "reassembled" my brakes after "inspecting" them yesterday, they neglected to replace the inner pad on my passenger side brakes. Now it all makes sense why the brakes squeaked when I left the Midas parking lot...they didn't squeak when I got there. The passenger side rotor, which I KNOW was fairly OK when I brought it IN..well less than 100 miles, mostly highway, and the inner side of the rotor was almost GONE, as the caliper was now coming in direct contact with the rotor.

Seriously, I'm PO'd with the Kenosha Midas. Had I not gone in, I probably could have limped a while yet and gotten things done right AND gotten to fish a lot more yesterday. Instead, they send me out in a death trap waiting to happen because they made a mistake. For what it's worth, Jim did concede that it IS usually a smart idea to replace BOTH calipers when one is bad...you want EVEN brake pressure on both sides, no? Makes sense to me, but of course the guys at Midas won't even bother explaining something like that. Well, with Jim's knowledge and generous guidance, 4 hours later we had given the Camaro a full front brake job, new calipers, rotors AND pads, for less than $250 TOTAL. Jim not only saved me $400, but potentially saved me from disaster stemming from the um, pretty negligent service I received at the Kenosha Midas. THANK YOU JIM!

So as long as I can, I'm gonna stick with Dan @ the Riverwoods Mobile. If you're in the 'north shore" suburbs of IL and want a good mechanic, drop me an email or look 'em up. And no, Dan doesn't even know I'm recommending him ONLINE - heck I don't think he even knows I have a website. All he knows is that he's given my family service for 20 years and he hasn't let ME down yet!

OH, but you all want to know about the fishin? Thought so. I met up with Renee in Kenosha and headed north...no one I know had been on the Milwaukee for a few days now so I figured we should scout it out. Jim headed over to the Pike, where things continued to be OK.

10-02-05 - Renee patiently works here way over some riffled water upstream on the Milwaukee River.

So yeah, back up on the Milwaukee, we started out as far as the fish can currently go. Renee and I both found vacant spots, saw a few fish, and started fishing. About 20 feet away my flies drifted through a cluster of agitated kings...a male peeled off from the group, turned 90 degree and HAMMERED one of my flies. The fish took off like a bolt of lighting and shook the hook. NOOOOOOO....

The rest of our time there was slow. I hooked up again and line started shooting out my guides. I thought I might see my backing, but all of a sudden the line stopped paying out and my rod tip dropped. What the heck?! Crap, the line was circled around my foot, clamping down around it and locking everything in a "dead stop". Whatever was on the end of my line kept pulling and straining until finally the line went dead. I got untangled and started bringing line back...I figured I'd broke off. No, wait, I DO have my flies. What is that...a leaf? No, it's a JOINTED RAPALA. WTF?! Well hey, I got a nice new lure out of the deal...not sure if I tied into someone ELSE or if I perhaps got tangled up in a lure that was attached to a fish! Interesting.

Meanwhile, Renee was having her own difficulties. I do NOT KNOW what's wrong with people. Seriously. Chances are if you're reading this my following comments do not apply to you...you know better. So, to the 6 different anglers who walked right on top of Renee, her fish, or the water she was fishing...WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM?! Especially those of you who were WET WADING and likely NOT over the age of 18. Um, for starters, LEARN SOME FRICKIN' MANNERS 'cause next time, if I see you acting like that around ANYONE I'm fishing within you're gettin WET, GUARANTEED. And DO NOT walk up to within 3 feet of a fish that someone is CASTING TO. Do you think a) YOU have a fair chance at legally catching a fish when you're standing ON IT, and b) did you ever consider that maybe, just maybe, standing on a fish might actually SPOOK IT away?!?!?!

Renee handled the angling environment as best she could I guess...she's not exactly one to keep her mouth shut but I was honestly shocked when the "topper", a father with two young sons, literally walked a foot downstream from where she was standing and proceeded to wade across the river, right THROUGH her drift. UNREAL. I'm literally looking around...there's at least a FOOTBALL FIELD of wadeable water downstream from Renee. Are "you" just that freakin RUDE? I'm glad I just let her deal with it, 'cause I guarantee not only would someone have been WET, but likely "foul hooked" too. GOD, seriously, what is wrong with people?!?! I now believe there are TWO sets of "public guidelines" that need to be enforced by the law, the first being common sense street parking etiquette in Chicago and the second being that anglers be required to take an angling etiquette TEST before being issued a fishing license. SERIOUSLY...someday someone's gonna walk right into my backcast. IDIOTS. Funny, especially because the gentleman to my right who asked for a couple splitshots was indeed a shining example of how you SHOULD behave on the water.

The falls at Estabrook...too many people for us today.

The Milwaukee is running pretty low.

Obviously, if you're still reading, you picked up on the fact that this was just nuts. The worst part, there wasn't more than a dozen people in the stretch of river we were fishing. Fed up and really pissed, Renee and I left in search of better water. On our way I noticed an angler packing out a fresh buck Coho, just starting to color up. We went downstream to the falls, took a picture and left...I wasn't in the mood to deal with people and neither was Renee.

Downstream on the gravel, we found we relatively had the place to ourselves. A couple anglers worked a deep run and one or two more were downstream. Renee and I set up roughly equidistant between the two anglers who were working faster water and started looking for fish in the pockets. Now, I DO have to laugh a bit, because shortly after we arrived the other anglers left...I kinda got the feeling they might have felt a bit crowded LOL. 4 people in 2 football fields of river...not very crowded by ANY standard.

Unfortunately, the more likely reason these anglers left was because there weren't any fish to be found. All around us, dozens upon dozens of redds had been dug up in the riffles. NOT A SINGLE FISH. OBVIOUSLY in the last 7 days all of my angling companions MISSED IT BIG TIME. DEFINITELY TOO LATE here...at least for the first wave of fish. Or worse still, perhaps this area was literally raked over the coals in the last 48 hours by weekend anglers. This truly would be my worst fear come true, but honestly I would have heard about it from someone.

Well, Renee and I made due with the circumstances. I found a fish and lost it, quickly. They could easily hide just by moving in the deeper sections - only when the chose to leave to go upstream or down could you easily pinpoint a location. If they were comfortable, they allowed themselves to be seen. Well, 1 hookup, again lost to the headshakes, I was PRETTY frustrated.

I still knew where at least ONE fish was holding - Renee came upstream asking if I had even seen anything. My LUCK and wits needed a break, so I put her right on the fish, stood back and watched.

Renee stalks her prey like an egret (sorry, it's a great metaphor).

Renee DOESN'T need a guide, that's pretty clear. She was casting like a champ. She got up on a rock to increase her angle relative to the water - it allows the polarized glasses to cut through the late afternoon glare better. Like an Egret she stalked her prey from 40 feet away (easily). The PERFECT situation literally unfolded right in front of her.

The buck I had been watching had picked up on the location of a hen, and there, right in front of Renee, they started to get it on! Every cast Renee made was dead on, and if it wasn't, she didn't waste a drift...just picked it back up and recast. I got ready with the camera...it's just a matter of time now.

FISH ON - yeah, that first picture is literally a split second after I saw her rod first double over! It was a good fight...Renee even got her knuckles busted on the reel. EXCELLENT!!!! I ran back to the gravelbar, got the net and finally let Renee catch her breath....DAMN she's outfished me again!!! Congrats to my sweetheart (she may end up being MY guide someday if she continues at this pace..OK that's a flagrant ass-kiss on my part). All compliments aside, Renee does deserve congrats on a hard won fish.

FISH ON! HELL YEAH RENEE!

That fish isn't going ANYWHERE!

Check out the size of that FAT HEN. WOW!

Well, it was almost time for Renee to go...I thought I might stay on the Milwaukee but the rain started drizzling down. I'll tell you now, it wasn't enough rain to even make the river flows bump 1 cfs...just enough rain to be annoying and make me worry about the camera. On her way upstream, Renee called me up. It was time for her to return the favor - she had spotted another pair.

I quickly set to the task of annoying the buck..he helplessly responded to a few repeated drifts by making a rapid 45 degree turn towards my flies to crush them. FISH ON! WHAT the heck? FISH OFF?!

He settled in a pocket a few yards downstream and again I started drifting. Again, it only took a few well placed drifts before the furious king struck again...and AGAIN WHAT THE HECK - FISH OFF!

I think the second time he learned his lesson - he bolted downstream. I gave chase, determined to find his next lie and see if I was lucky enough to get 3 strikes out of the same fish. Unfortunately, this time he'd had enough of my game - I simply can't run that fast downriver.

I KNEW there was still a hen upstream and as luck would have it, I found her. Renee was still watching from the bank, just about ready to go. YEEE HA! "Renee, FISH ON!". I can't believe it. Fish off. I'd had enough of the Milwaukee for today.

Renee headed home to Chicago - I had a bit of legal fishin' time left. Mind you, it's October 2nd, there's no confusing it. Fishing time ends promptly at 30 minutes past sunset. It was just before 6:00 PM...I got on the road to Oak Creek. As I sped south, the last bit of sun was visible on the west horizon at 6:24 PM. To my left, right around where South Milwaukee should be, a sliver of Rainbow reached down from the clouds to touch the ground. Darn Leprechauns and their "pot of gold"...Oak Creek would turn out to be anything but the prize at the end of the rainbow.

I got to Oak Creek with roughly 15 minutes of time to fish. Cars were EVERYWHERE> I've heard that Oak Creek is INSANE when the kings run, but until now I've never even bothered visiting during King season. Man, the rumors were true...talk about a ZOO. I didn't take a rod out of the car at first, instead just a quick walk to survey the situation. I found several kings, hens to be precise. They weren't in the river, they were tucked under some bushes along the road...the only reason I found them was the unbelievable stench. Bellies sliced open...obviously "harvested" for their eggs, the rest left to rot AND offend. Oh, but that's the least of it. I caught sight of some kids pitching trash into the yard of a house that's "kinda" right next to the creek.

Well, I took a temp - 64F. Might as well fish - I had 10 minutes to go. There are definitely FISH in the river...as the last bit of light was fading they started appearing out of the pool. Seeing as how the dam pool was literally shoulder to shoulder, I went downstream and fished another pool, this time only have to share space with 2 other anglers who weren't drifting the head to begin with...thus there IS room for another person.

On my 2nd drift in the black water I hooked up and held on...whatever it was was definitely foul (unfortunately). This is by far the fastest I've seen a fish move in a long time - 2 seconds flat he was in the riffles downstream, having cut in front of the two other anglers on the pool. Guys, seriously, my apologies for not being able to put the brakes on this fish sooner. As luck would have it, no amount of tugging would pop the fly from her tail...a chrome hen king. I got her back in the water and muttered, "this is hardly how I wanted to spend my last 10 minutes of legal fishin' time". 2 minutes to go, I packed it up and checked things out back at the zoo.

Yeah, seems like people just don't give a shit about our fishing laws either. PLENTY of folks were still sitting/standing intently around the dam pool, casting away. Legal fishing time had ended minutes ago. The LANTERNS ON THE BANK suggest that these people weren't leaving anytime soon. So yeah, that's Oak Creek during a king run on a Sunday night. What a freakin' waste. I realize we don't have enough CO's in the region, but this was EASY pickins to generate some revenue. Yeah, this IS tributary fishing - if there's one thing I've learned it's that on pretty much every trib you have anglers who just don't follow the rules.

  MP 

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