4-20-03 - Easter prevented a full day of fishing,
but I still landed one!
Rivers Fished: Sheboygan River, Milwaukee River,
Fish Caught: 1 fouled
Outing Date: 4-20-03
Weather: Cloudy then Rain then Mist then Mostly Cloudy then Mostly
Air Temp: 50's to 60's
Water Temp: 36-38F
Water Level: average
Water Color: overall moderately stained and semi-clear
Fish Species: Steelhead & Small Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Black
Heron Spey, Winter's
Pattern Color: Black & Silver, Bright Orange, Blue, Purple &
Fishing Quality: Fair
The morning of Easter I had only a few hours to
fish before our traditional family gathering (we've dropped from
something like 40-50 people to 6 this year, as most have moved away
from the area!). We got up at 5:00 AM, having stayed overnight at
the Motel 8 in Sheboygan (FYI do NOT drink the coffee...it smelled
and tasted like urine! However the Danish was perfection for a 5:00
Bart was familiar with Sheboygan and took us to
a spot he had seen good luck at several times before. We hoped in
at 5:45 AM; it was still QUITE DARK as you can see from the photos.
Water temps were 38F; as things brightened up I could see that visibility
was about 1 foot in the off-brown stained water. The Sheboygan is
roughly somewhere between the Root & Milwaukee Rivers in size.
We had (for the most part) a fishless morning.
I thoroughly covered the upper riffles of the section we were at,
swinging the Black Heron. As dawn arrived, the sun came out and
things got bright for a bit, so I changed up to the Winter's Hope
Spey (going along with the bright day = bright fly theory).
Bart moved upstream from me, working another short
riffle as well as the pools above. He disappeared around the bend
and I continued to work the same area. I learned something about
patience from my Root experience on 4-18-03. Eventually I abandoned
the riffles and decided to find CS. The only fish I had seen were
probably suckers, including one half-dead specimen who bumped into
me from behind as he floated downriver. Talk about a small unexpected
surprise from behind!
I made it up to the bend where I had seen CS disappear;
he was nowhere to be found. So I whipped out the cell and rang him;
he had landed another rather chunky yet small (ca. 10") Brown
Trout. Sounded a lot like the smolt I had landed Friday on the Root.
The funny thing, 10" browns are perfectly acceptable trout
to catch when stalking them in the streams out west. Yet here we
sometimes just consider them a nuisance.
So at 7:15 AM I waited below the bridge for Chromeseeker
who was heading back, and decided to swing the pool. Rather unexpectedly
around 7:20 I connected with a LARGE fish. It ran my line several
times; at first I had the drag set rather lightly and I had to take
a moment to hunker it down. I let the fish work against the drag;
he'd run down then turn and come up, so I did a fair amount of reeling
to keep the line tension on. Out of the corner of my eye an angler
approached and watched the fight. He offered to help land the fish
for me; which I eventually accepted. I tried to beach this fish
2 or 3 times, each time he made another run into the deep only to
eventually come back to shore. Eventually I got her on shore and
the angler (who I came to know as Adam) tailed her for me. A LARGE
spawned out female, easily 30" from my recollection. Adam held
her while I found my fly, which turned out to be fouled on her snout.
Got the fly and Adam asked if I wanted a picture. While tempting,
this female's entire head was covered in columnaris (see the Brown
Trout landed back in January....this steelhead was in similar condition).
Rather than shoot such a sickly fish, we let her go.
Adam and I chatted for a bit while Chromeseeker
made his way back downstream; his feelings was that on a fish like
that, it very well could still be a fair because sometimes a fish
lunges for the fly but misses...and you end up still connecting.
This got me thinking about certain other hits, where for example
a fish could sip a glo-bug, going for the "egg", and in
the process getting hooked on the underside of the chin when sucking
the hook through such a narrow opening. I'm not trying to debate
the current definition of "fair vs. foul" as laid out
by the WDNR, just saying that there are certain instances where
a fish that's "foul" according to their rules could in
fact have been a "fair hit".
Adam was a local who currently lives in Milwaukee;
a really friendly guy who I want to thank for helping me land the
fish! He filled us in that many of the steelhead by now were coming
up crusty in the Sheboygan. He suggested Kohler upstream as a good
place for someone willing to spend $ for river access. Since not
everyone wants to do that, he felt it was one of the better chances
for healthy, unmolested fish. I will be keeping that in mind!
So at 7:25 or so it started raining; CS's girlfriend
was with us all weekend and wasn't really keen on staying out fishing
in the rain, so we decided that the Sheboygan wasn't where we would
spend the majority of our time. After some debate we were going
to visit the Pigeon and maybe even head up to Manitowoc, but the
weather reports on the radio suggested that south would be a better
way to head. Back towards Milwaukee we went!
We got back to the Milwaukee at 8:30 and headed
down to Kletzsch Park. Unlike the past few weekends, there was almost
NO ONE to be found! A temp check showed 40F! We fanned out, I was
back to swinging the Black Heron in the misty morning. An hour and
20 minutes later I had not seen a single fish try to jump the dam,
and all I had landed was someone's lost chartreuse crankbait! A
$3.00 lure for an hour or so of fishing? Not terrible I guess! Chromeseeker
had one on (using egg patterns) but lost his fish. I was eager to
get to an area where the fish would be more concentrated, plus I
was getting VERY hungry, so we headed to the Root at 9:50!
I made a mad dash for Quarry Park, got in the water
right about 10:45 AM. The Root's temp was back up to 42F. EXCELLENT!
By this time the weather had gone from rain and then mist to cloudy
with brief breaks of sunshine. I wanted to hit the lucky hole on
Friday; there were only a few minor differences between conditions
then and now, so I tried the same swing of the Black Heron in the
same holes searching for fish. An hour later I had not seen a fish
and produced 0 hits! I really wanted to stay out, but had to make
it back for Easter Lunch in Chicago with my family.
11:45 saw me back on the highway doing 75 mph on
a beeline for the city! By the end of the day Bart had been on the
Root downstream and produced 4 more steelies, 1 fouled 3 fair. Kinda
wish Easter could've waited a day ;) Oh well...I'll probably get
in another "45 minute trip" on Tuesday evening unless
I try the insane "fish before work" scheme again!