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10-08-05 - A chilly early-fall morning on the Pike River.

10-08-05 - "Angler Challenge" with FATMAT and SKINNYMITCH.

Waters Fished: Pike River
Fish Caught: 0/12 Personally
Outing Date: 10-8-05
Weather: Overcast
Air Temp: rising into the mid 50's
Water Temp: 55F
Water Level: 10 cfs
Water Color: stained, kinda blue, visibility < 1.5'
Fish Species: King Salmon, Coho Salmon
Pattern Fished: Small Egg Patterns, Egg Sucking Leeches
Pattern Color: Chartreuse, Red, Orange, Purple & Pink

Alrighty, this is the weekend when EVERYONE shows up from all over the place! Well, actually, truth be told, many folks had to back out at the last minute which is fine I guess. Judging from all the folks who were initially coming to town vs. how many actually did, if I extrapolate I'm guessing that many anglers skipped this weekend, which was probably a good thing for those that ended up chasing fish DESPITE the purported conditions.

Being a weekend and not having any guides in the AM, that freed me up to hang out at home and wait for Renee so we could both fish. We moseyed on up to Wisconsin in the late morning - most everyone had been out on the Milwaukee since dawn. As we got close, I got the call that the party had moved down to the Pike - might as well join up. We hit the water around 11:00 AM and hiked in to find our buddies.

It took a bit longer than I expected, but the first person I caught glimpse of was Mitch. Matt was surely nearby. I walked in and found Mitch (who already had a few for the day, as did Matt) working a small plunge at the end of a riffle, complaining that the fish were there a minute ago. I looked right out in front of me and said, "Mitch, is THIS the fish?". A few casts in I hooked up briefly but lost it. Another few drifts and again my flies met with a vicious strike from a Jack Chinook. AGAIN the fish popped off. Mitch hooked up with a larger king that flew upstream - it busted him off and scattered the little jack to deeper water upstream.

Renee came down and there at the tailout was the fish that Mitch had just lost. Her first drift produced nothing. 2nd drift - WHAM. The battle was on. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

Renee ties into a fresh King that immediately TRIES to go downstream.

Yeah NETBOY, that's a fish! ;)

It's not quite ready to be landed yet.

Grab Attempt #1.

Check out the lightning fast move on Matt's part.

Whoops - the king pulls an unexpected evasive maneuver, squeaking by right between Matt and Renee.



DOH! - Matt, are you tickling the fish or actually TRYING to land it!

Finally, Matt gets a good tail on Renee's King! Congrats to both!

I'm workin the faster water.
(Copyright © 2005 Renee)

The same view from a different perspective.
(Copyright © 2005 Renee)

Renee checks out a timber-tangled pool for fish...

OK, so that was quite a battle! Upstream, Mitch and I found the jack I was fishing early. I issued an "Angler Challenge" - specifically we'd both fish the same fish, alternating drifts, and see who would get lucky.

DAMN - I fouled it. It quickly came to shore and was released - for a moment it settled right back and the challenge continued. Mysteriously, not sure how, but even though two pairs of eyes were trained on it, the Jack STILL managed to simply vanish. Meanwhile Matt and Renee simply sat and chatted, content to watch Mitch and myself duke it out. After "losing" the angler challenge by fouling, I convinced Mitch that we should head upstream. Matt and Renee followed.

We both found a few fish, but for the most part things were slow. It's worth mentioning now that the bottom of the pools were littered with dead kings. Even in the riffles, corpses of STILL SILVER fish were commonplace. I did find the remains of a very fresh COHO along the bank as well. It's clear to me now that the 85F Wednesday we had definitely KILLED many of the fish that had come in following the rains.

Gerry Greene showed up for a bit - he was done for the day (also already having a fish or two from earlier on the Milwaukee). Matt and Mitch disappeared upstream. Renee, having already landed a fish, was content to simply drift deeper spots and every once in a while, point out a fish that I should go after. I had a few more fair hookups that ended in quick popoffs. We continued to fish deeper water where there was obviously a few fish strikes here despite at least two males who were VERY aggressive - I watch one literally bite the tail-wrist of the other and push it around. Whomever things Kings don't strike, let alone out of aggression, can check that theory at the door.

Jim showed up looking for a couple of his work buddies - I hadn't seen them but while standing there he got the call. They decided to try further upstream, so we said goodafternoon to Jim for now. Matt and Mitch then returned from downstream - Mitch spied a fish tucked up to the riffles immediately behind and downed tree. From where he stood he had virtually no chance of hooking the fish, let alone landing it. I walked up, said something to the affect of "This is how it's done" - took 2 drifts underneath the log and connected with a big buck. All too quickly it popped OFF!

Mitch made his way down and another "Angler Challenge" was issued. After several drifts I asked FatMatt to come on over and take my camera. "Someone's gonna hook that fish, and I think it's going to be me". Matt had barely gotten set when I again tied into the buck. Again, I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Turns out this is the site of "Angler Challenge" #2 for the day. Mitch takes a drift...

BAM! I've hooked up.
(Copyright © 2005 FatMatt)

Mitch goes for the tailing of the king...
(Copyright © 2005 FatMatt)

WHOOPS! That's a king going downstream between Mitch's legs!
(Copyright © 2005 FatMatt)

Just after I screamed as the hook popped out - again!
(Copyright © 2005 FatMatt)

Shortly thereafter it was decided that we'd head out...I voiced the notion that I was not about to leave skunked. We had barely made it 10 yards downstream when I spied another Jack in the riffles. After a few quick hits that were not followed with good hooksets on my part, I found myself right back in the river chasing this fish down.

The roars of laughter that erupted when I set the hook on what I thought was the King, only to find myself launching a small creekchub somewhere far downstream to land along the bank, DID NOT distract me one bit from this fish. Like a man possessed I moved as the fish moved, constantly adjusting my drifts. I got several more strikes (Mitch would even shout out "MAN you missed that one too!" from up on the bank). Matt and Mitch had to go - Renee stuck it out for at least another 5 minutes while I continued to present flies to this increasingly skittish Jack. Finally the pressure sent him running for the safety of a deep pool downstream. Now 0/8 or so, we started downstream ourselves.

Mitch takes another shot as we all head out.

It's amazing to see what a lack of angling pressure will do for the fishing...our walk back down was punctuated by several more sightings of fish in shallow, easily targeted. I worked my way up to 0/12 on the walk back. Renee even suggested I check my hooks - nope, they ARE SHARP.

The grand finale of course had to go down like this. Literally just upstream from where we initially met up with Matt and Mitch, I sighted 2 GIANT bucks and a third, smaller, fresher fish. While making my way downstream, Renee stepped out just a bit too close to the edge and spooked the 2 males into deep water. I thought I had blown my chances. Upon closer examination, the smaller fish had stayed behind.

On my 2nd drift, and Renee will even vouch (as she had a birds eye view) the fish veered to the left and appeared to hammer my flies. I slammed the hookset and the fish took off like a bolt of lightning. In under a second at least half my flyline had peeled off the spool, the handle slamming against my jacket all the way. The fish then went airborne, landed in a splash, ran still further upstream and cartwheeled counterclockwise several feet into the air again. THAT'S HOW THEY ALL SHOULD FIGHT! YEAH!

I did all I could to bring the fish back downstream but man, it felt like it was hooked in the tail...I simply couldn't turn it. This still-golden king was like a runaway freighttrain...the only thing I could do was start following it upstream and take in some of my line (I was now only a few turns away from seeing backing...and this is the PIKE River..there really isn't room for that kind of run!). The fish was now all the way around a bend upstream...I basically walked, keeping the pressure on, until finally making up most of my ground. Once close in, the fish turned to head downstream and was quickly swung onto the shore..I did have head control afterall.

The lack of headshakes should have given it away...the fish was hooked just outside the lower jaw, on the "near" side of the fish. I don't have the slightest clue how that kind of foul hook was VERY apparent that I didn't floss the fish, nor did I drag my flies across the fish and chin it or gill it. Beyond physics, and with a confirmed HIT from the eyes above, this fish remained foul hooked. Disheartened by the turn of events, the 7-8 lb. fish was simply unhooked and turned to the pool where it simply bolted for the deep.

Time to call it a day on the Pike...we ran into 3 CO's back by the cars. It turns out some folks had been NETTING fish down at the bridge and unfortunately got busted. Guess the gear confiscation will teach them a lesson? I'm glad to see the CO's out doing their part - cracking down on snaggers and "netters" will help leave more fish in the streams for the ethical anglers.

Check out the size of that $3.50 Club Sandwich from the Georgetown Market!

HUNGRY? Heck, it's 2:30 PM and we haven't even eaten yet. For those of you who fish the Pike, it's probably a good time to remind you all of my favorite lunch spot in the area - the Georgetown Market which is just north on Y at the intersection of X. Check out that HUGE Club Renee is eating - that's a $3.50 sandwich. Can't go wrong and the QUALITY is excellent too. I LOVE drooling over the butcher's counter too...I should bring a cooler so I can do a bit of GROCERY SHOPPING next time!

After our late lunch Renee and I both agreed that we'd already had a great day on the water. There are MANY more to come and I had reconciled with the personal skunk for the day. Afterall, I'm supposed to BE at the Root at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning for FAT DAYS - I NEED TO GET TO BED EARLY!


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