Thursday, December 29, 2011

As Promised....

As promised, here is some eye candy from Dec 17th. My buddy and I worked slowly through this run, he cashed in about 20 yards ahead of me with this fiesty hen brown. She absolutely crushed his pink intruder. Congrats dude!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas Steelhead

My good friend Chris was fortunate enough to wet a line Christmas day. I was glad to see he got out and landed this bright winter Steelhead.

I will be taking advantage of this non typical weather we are having until the bitter end. Keep swinging, low and slow. The fish are there and the water is still flowing.
Happy Holidays, and New Year everyone, more stories and pics to come for 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What month is it again?

With temps reaching the 40's, rain, snow, sleet, and fog, you would think we lived in the PNW or something. If it keeps up like this in Wisconsin, we might not have much of an ice fishing season.

This weekend was a great one. With such rare weather for December, quality fishing has continued in the Tribs. When I got to the bank of the river, flows were looking perfect. The water color/clarity was stunning, not too clear, good stain, and a beautiful green hue. I began swinging my first run with high hopes. One solid tug right off the bat lead me to believe this day was going to be phenomenal. Apparently not so. Not for me anyways, I worked through the rest of the run with nothing to show but these photos, and a shoe floating in a back flow. ( I hope the shoe's rightful owner isn't in the river somewhere...yikes!) 

But that is not all I found along the river that day. Turns out my river finds aren't limited to garbage, and odd rarities of the world. This day, I was fortunate enough to strike a conversation with none other than Author and Abu Garcia reel builder, Mr. Ambassadeur himself, Simon Shimomura.  Now, I don't have the time or energy to go into depth on the iconic Ambassadeur reel from Abu Garcia. If you don't know, look it up. But I do want to say that it was an honor to meet Mr. Shimumura. Simon was an extremely pleasant man, humble, polite and enthusiastic about sharing his hand made, one of a kind, 24karat gold plated Ambassadeur reel. What a beaut! I have never seen one in person. I have only read about these things. This reel was an amazing piece of true workmanship and quality. Mr. Shimomura was also so kind as to show me his hand wrapped Sage fly rod, hand wrapped river rod, and this sweet little gem I managed to snap a photo of.

This reel is a "Record Standard" made by Abu Garcia. This classic has no drag system, just a click and pawl. Simon told me these were not made available in the United States. They made a ported version later in the products life, but this reel is in mint condition. Stamped "Made in Sweden" with the factory hammered sea-foam green finish shining beautifully I found myself lusting over this classic reel.
Like I said, it was an absolute honor to meet Mr. Shimomura. Check out his books, fishing tackle and photos at his website here.

Back to fishing. I worked my way to another favorite run of mine. A run which is usually a great producer. Well, another guy swinging flies politely jumped in behind me and picked my pocket. Fun to see, but a little frustrating.
After working through the run once, I met up with my good friend Adam, who's determination to hook a fish led me to stepping in at the top of the run again. This time luck was on his side. Adam was maybe 30 yards ahead of me, when mid swing his fly was crushed. I quickly reeled in my rig and made my way down for the assist and some photos. We thought for sure it was a Steelhead as she tore line off his Farlow click pawl and thrashed the surface. After a long battle, with a huge bend in his rod, Adam successfully landed a bright, fat, Brown trout hen. (pics to come)
Even though I went without a fish that day, it is almost just as fun when your buddy reels one in and you are there to lend a hand and take some photos. On top of meeting great people, it makes the whole day that much better, and totally worth it.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Will Ferrell in MILWAUKEE!!!

I want to personally thank Mr. Will Ferrell. I don't care if he is mocking the brew or actually enjoys it. I think his message is a good one. Made in America! Nothing wrong with enjoying simple American pastimes in great American cities. I think Pabst Brewery is going to see a definite increase in production in the coming months. Way to go Milwaukee, way to go USA.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Opportunity knocks...

So I made the decision to leave work early yesterday to do some fishing. It turned out to be a good decision. It was around 2pm when I finally got in the water. Air temps were in the low 20's and the water temp was, well, freezing. 
Getting bumped by ice flows while I side step down the river, I see another fisherman starting a small campfire. Did I mention it was cold out? As I move my way down the run, I get my first good bump...hmmm, there's fish in here. I repeat the cast, savor the dangle, nothing. I take two steps, cast my fly down and across, swing the fly across the current. I wait and wait some more. Nothing. This process repeats itself as I grow weary of my chances at catching a fish today. I can feel my legs and feet going numb. I forgot my gloves in the truck. Damn, why did I do this?
Towards the bottom of the run, I finally hook up. An explosive strike to my fly is followed by violent thrashing on the surface of the water. My rod comes alive and the fight is on. As I reel her in, my heart races and I forget the cold for those few  moments. That is of course, until my fly line stops and I cannot reel any further. My guides were iced so heavily that I could not bring the fish to hand! As I struggle to break off whatever ice I can, I feel the line go limp while I struggle to free it. My heart sinks, I ready myself for disappointment. As I begin to reel in the now freed slack line I feel tension, she's still there! The fight is back on. As I pull her towards the bank, I reach into the frigid water and wrap my hand around the base of her tail. I remove her from the water momentarily to snap a photo and say thanks, before releasing her back into the river. She wasn't very photogenic, I was rushing to get a shot and release her in a timely manner, but she was a beauty of a brown trout. Her skin glowed with a purple, and green iridescence over a silver speckled body. She had already dropped all of her eggs, and was on the prowl, looking for a meal. Bright with color and full of life, I watched her as she swam away. I remembered why I had endured these freezing temperatures and ridiculous conditions in the first place.
But, there is a greater lesson within this story. 

Rule number 1: You wont catch fish sitting on your couch
Rule number 2: Respect the dangle.
Part of building confidence is success, with more success we gain confidence. Now I know darn well there are fish in the run I am swinging my fly across. (Not only because I have fished it a thousand times or so, but just ahead of me I see a gear chucker, huck a glob of spawn into this runs vicinity, hook, land and release a Steelhead within 3 casts.) So what do I do? KEEP FISHING. I work my fly through the run, allowing each swing to finish, settling directly below me. I let it dangle. Then, I let it dangle some more. With my success on the river, I have learned a few things. (See rule number 2) So many of my fish have come when my fly is directly below me and I am just about to strip my line in, lift my fly out of the water and start the whole process over. 
When the temps are as cold as they are now, and were yesterday, you have to control your fly, fish it deep and move it slowly across the current. Two handed rods are an extremely effective tool for this.

Remember, you can swing flies in the cold and you can catch fish doing so. Persistence pays off. Don't let the cold numb you so badly you forget your fundamentals and go home with a zero. Trust me, I was preparing myself for it, scolding myself for leaving work early to get skunked, but then I referred to rule number 1.

"Reverb" fly fishing trailer (Close to heart, and home, just watch)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Small Windows

Well it is official, on my drive up to work this morning, I observed one of the slower parts of the river iced completely over. It is sad, but inevitable.
BUT!!!! There is hope. This coming week has a promising forecast, with favorable temps for grabby fish trying to pack in those extra calories before the river really locks up. 

 Originator: Bill McMillan, Fly: Stu Farnham, Photograph: Hans Weilenmann

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Low Holers

Print this and keep it on you whilst  fishing. Next time someone tries to Low hole you, pick a word from each column (left to right) and be sure to call said low-holer thine creation doth protesting such acts with the fury of one thousands suns.

This is going to be HUGE

Sipping Dry trailer from Sharptail Media on Vimeo.
Take a few out of your day to check this out. I love watching these trailers. 

Never a Dull Day

Ah yes, the joys of urban Steelheading. You never know what you will bump into on the river. Last week I found a landing net and an 8 track (score!) and this guy can still be found, relaxing stream-side, observing the many anglers of the Greater Milwaukee Area and beyond....

I think I might start documenting and sharing my aquatic discoveries with the blog.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lake Michigan Tribs have been fishing well in Wisconsin.We have had a very moderate fall/early winter, but it looks like cold is finally here to stay. Dropping temperatures means the rivers will inevitably lock up. Until then, it will be weighted flies, sink tips and bright colors kept close to the bottom to wake fish up. So far this season has been quite productive, with good numbers of large Steelhead returning to the rivers. Lots of Browns are still in the system, some will winter over, with others returning to the harbors.

 Although this report is a few days late, here are some shots of recent fish. The Steelhead was a Thanksgiving Day bonus. The brown was brought Dec 3rd using the same fly with a great assist on the landing by my good friend Adam.