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10-14-05 - Clarence is the first to land a fish in those crucial 30 legal pre-dawn minutes.

Gary gets on the boards early too, the sun isn't even over the horizon yet!

10-14-05 - King Salmon - like clockwork, we're close to Peak!

Waters Fished: Milwaukee River
Fish Caught: 15 between 5 of us.
Outing Date: 10-14-05
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: 49, rising to 73!
Water Temp: 58F
Water Level: low, 85 cfs
Water Color: stained, visibility 1-2 feet
Fish Species: King Salmon, Coho Salmon
Pattern Fished: Small Egg Patterns
Pattern Color: Red & Chartreuse as usual just kicked butt.

This is one hellava day - a FULL day on the river, first a morning guide with Clarence and Gary Robe. Then the first of two 4 hour trips with Jeff and Tadd. If I dare say so, things just KEEP getting better. There's over 50 pictures in this report alone, if that gives you an idea ;)

Another 6:00 AM start time (you'd think I'm getting used to being up at 6:00 AM but you'd be WRONG). One look up at the sky confirmed it was indeed still night - it's amazing how many more stars you can see even in MILWAUKEE when compared to what we can see in Chicago! By the time we were geared up and ready to go, it was time to fish!

Clarence hooked up almost IMMEDIATELY. As I suspected, the fish continued to be scattered throughout the river...some spawning in less than a foot of water. As the pre-dawn light started showing up, Gary hooked up, landed his first of the day. As usual it went back, just long enough for me to turn downstream and again see Clarence hooked up.

Fish on again!

Hold on Clarence!

There's #2 for Clarence, a feisty buck!

Gary ties into a distance runner...

Check out that Monster Hen, Gary's #2

Gary works an active pod.

Most of the morning was simply hookup after hookup. As the light came up, the fish again started moving to the deeper pockets, pools, and shade. However, it seems that the biological clocks are ticking - unlike prior days the fish remained more active and continued to strike with vengeance.

Clarence methodically drifts to a few deeper fish.

Another pounding hookup for Gary.

Not ready just yet!

Another fresh(er) hen for Gary.

Clarence holds on as a buck runs downstream!

Sweet Jack - Clarance lands his third fish of the morning.

I spent most of the morning running upstream and downstream, either getting in position to land a fish OR taking pictures. These guys definitely got the hang of it quick, each hooking up dozens of times over the course of the morning. Clarence had two LONG fights, each time he got walked downstream at least 50 yards.

Clarence is back at it again.

This one has some real fight behind it!

Clarence gets walked downstream!

Ahem - that's a MONSTER - well worth the hike and Clarence's fourth fish of the morning!

Gary puts the brakes on.

Yup, another HEN for Gary!

Here we go again Clarence.

Will Clarence see his backing?

Even when it's run out of water, this fish just keeps heading downstream!

Look at that fish GO!

The last shot of this battle!

Clarence lays out a cast as a buck bolts upstream.


Moments later, Clarence ties into ANOTHER fish!

Check out the power on that fish!

Time for me to get in on the action - my first Coho on the Trout Camp / Rambling Reports 8wt. Bamboo!

Heck, that's one FAT Coho - no complaints considering I really wanted to put a KING on the Bamboo!
(Copyright © 2005 Gary Robe)

Yup, no complaints at all - the 8wt. Cane handles a King afterall!

One more hookup for Clarence before we retire for the morning.

When our official "guide" time was over, I again picked up my rod just in time to catch a flash of red moving upstream. COHO! My FAVORITE!

As you probably know, Coho are relatively "easy" fish in so much as they're more aggressive in striking (and usually more likely to strike). They arguably put up a fight that's every bit as nerve-racking as a King...and yet they seldom pass the 5lb. mark. So, all it took was a few well placed drifts as the fish rested in a seam - a nice 90 degree turn towards the flies and the battle was on! In short order, one OBESE female Coho was brought to shore.

On the upside, Clarence and Gary got to see their first Coho. On the downside, the battle pretty much wore the fish out. After only a couple quick pics, the fish no longer had the "downturned eyes" a healthy fish usually has when being held....instead a vacant stare looked back.

I'm guessing that the battle upstream, followed by the battle with me, was simply too much for this fish. After several minutes of attempting to revive it, I called it. The fish literally just stopped moving it's gills while I cradled it in the current. Thankfully, Clarence and Gary were more than willing to try a fresher fish from the tribs...hopefully she made a splendid dinner.

We all continued fishing until around 11:30 AM...more hookups but overall the action was slower. I had brought out the 8wt. Bamboo to "risk it" against some Kings - afterall, that's what Ron and I built these for! Turns out it handled a good sized King just fine...that's 2 new species landed on the cane!!! I was hoping Ron could make it up for the runs this year to give our creations a whirl, but alas that will have to wait until 2006 I think!

Totally worn out from an extended morning of relatively nonstop action, Gary, Clarence and I called it a day. I took some time to find food and then sat down in the Camaro with the laptop. Kinda got some shuteye, but mostly just worked on the pictures from earlier in the morning. When Jeff and Tadd arrived 45 minutes early, I was kinda awake and at least had something really COOL to show them while I got ready. Kinda neat in some respects, they got to see what the morning had been like before they set foot on the water!

Back on the water for the afternoon and within seconds Jeff has hooked his first King.

Jeff puts his weight into the fight!

There it is, Jeff's first King, a honkin' huge hen.

What is it with people kissing their first Kings this week?!?!

As we walked down to the water, I did my best to temper over-expectations. Afterall, usually the best bite (for Kings) is the first 2 hours of legal fishin' time and the last hour of legal fishing time. Early afternoon is historically not the best.

Well, the fish were right where we left them before noon - Tadd forgot to put on the wading boots, so while he ran up to the car to switch I got Jeff on the water and gave him the basics. To my surprise, before Tadd even got back Jeff landed his first king of the day.

Now, Tadd, let me tell you up front, I am in NO way picking on you :) It was not only Tadd's first time Salmon Fishing, but only his 2nd day ever holding a fly rod, actually ANY kind of fishing rod. I spent MOST of my time working with Tadd while Jeff kinda went off on his own. Right off the bat, while demonstrating some basic techniques, I hooked up with another COHO and handed Tadd the rod. Fish off.

Another pleasant surprise, "Birdman" Jay and his crew were in town from Missouri! It's always nice to know the folks who are fishing upstream from you. At one point, Jay tied into something fierce and got taken for a slosh downstream through our drifts. Now THAT's what Kings are supposed to do. If you're not getting your ass handed to you once in a while, it's really not that fun.

Upstream, Jay "Birdman" has come all the way from Missouri for this!

Yeah, that's a king running downstream in a hurry Jay!

Tadd works some aggressive Kings.

Every once in a while Jeff would hookup, sometimes land a fish, bring it in and call me down for the pictures..otherwise I continued to work with Tadd. At the time I worried I was over instructing him. I was kinda starting to doubt if putting someone who's basically NEVER fished on the water during the PEAK of a King Salmon run is a good idea...afterall...there's FISH EVERYWHERE and to not catch something MUST be frustrating. I don't think anyone ever said King Salmon were an EASY fish to legally catch either. Heck, I'll remind you all right now that I went my entire FIRST SEASON without landing a legal King.

Jeff has connected again!

So has TADD!

Jeff's 2nd King for the day!

Jeff is ON FIRE!

Check THIS OUT - Jeff lands the fish fair without even hooking it, his fly instead catches on ANOTHER fly that's already in the king's mouth! AMAZING!

Top it off with the fact that this is a BEAST if there ever was one - maybe the only 25-30lb fish I've seen this season!

Another king released to fight again!

Tadd lands the first King Salmon of his life. EXCELLENT!

The sun is down, the moon is up, less than 30 minutes of legal fishin' time left on the Milwaukee River.

Tadd ducks as Jeff gets "Schooled" by a king that tears downstream.

It's a LONG fight and another walk downstream trying to gain on the fish.

Jeff lands his fourth King, the last fish of the day.

Well, turns out Tadd is a teacher and Tadd has MOUNDS of patience. He went through SEVERAL hookups...most lost to not keeping enough tension on the line. But then the last hour of legal fishing time hit and things underwent the usual CHANGE. The fish started moving, fighting increased. How would our day turn out?

Tadd struck the rod HARD and held on as a King started running downstream. I got out of the way and started "barking" instructions. Yeah, I felt bad about it but shouting during the chaos of the fight was WORKING. After the first minute the fish was still ON and well, I think everything CLICKED in Tadd's mind. After a GREAT fight, Tadd brought in his first King Salmon of his life, a mean looking buck. The look on Tadd's face is priceless.

We fished right up until the very end. Jeff had come back upstream to hang closer as quittin' time approached...of course he hooked up with a fish that took him for another long walk downstream! What else can I really say here - today was a fantastic day on the water, EVERYONE got fish, and better still, Jeff, Tadd and I would be right back at it in less than 12 hours!


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