Thursday, September 30, 2010

salmon fishing (milwaukee harbor, wi)

So to say the least, this year hasn’t been the greatest start to the salmon run (mostly due to the lack of rain). I also contribute this to the apparent fact that I’m a terrible harbor fisherman and have had some terrible luck on delivering the fish when I have hooked up in a harbor. Others that I have met do a tremendous job plucking fish off inside the harbor walls before they hit the rivers.

Tom Harris over at Great Lakes Angler seems to be one of those guys who can catch fish in the harbors and in the rivers. I’m beginning to believe he thinks like a salmon. He has some great posts recently on how he’s been taking some big fish out of a little kayak. That takes some real guts. Great fish Tom, thanks for sharing them with me. There’s a ton of great info on his site, make sure you spend some time reading his past posts.

big salmon in a little boat

better shot back on land
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Monday, September 27, 2010

vulcan lakes preview (mchenry county, il)

Ever since I’ve been able to drive and started to travel to different locations I’ve heard the rumors of a private gravel pit that held fish of monstrous proportions. Bass and walleye past the 5 pound range, and pike the size of children always kept me wondering if it was worth the risk of sneaking in? This place has long been a no trespassing area and it was strictly enforced by local police. The signs along the highway clearly stated the cities intent to keep this hidden gem a secret for just a little longer.

vulcan lake, crystal lake, il
Well things do change and a 10 year itch is about to be scratched. Residents of Crystal Lake are probably already aware but Vulcan Lakes is about to be opened to the public. I spent Sunday afternoon in the Huntley area going to my oldest son’s football game (go Timberwolves) and was able to stop by and see it with my own eyes. They are building a beautiful new facility that very much reminds me of Independence Grove. It also seems that it will be operated very much in the same fashion as IG. They will have pricey boat rentals and even steeper prices for those who aren’t residents. I’m not sure if it’s residents of the city or county but either way being from Lake County I’m going to be taking a hit. They are going to be open Oct 1st till the end of the month which is just enough time to give us a taste of what’s to come. From what I read they are going to be strictly catch and release for the first 2 years and haven’t heard anything about ice fishing.

Fishing should be great and people should make the time to check this out. If you’re a fan of IG it’s a must. Here is the link and the map...

View Larger Map
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

fly fishing the fall run (root river,wi)

fair hooked headshot (look close)
Low flow early fall fishing on the Root River in Racine, Wisconsin. This fish was fair hooked on a pink estez that I bounced past her. She was sitting in a pool with a gorgeous brown and a big king. We saw almost a dozen fish today and all were below the weir. This one’s coming home for the smoker!

a root river early fall steelhead
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Monday, September 20, 2010

salmon fishing (racine county, wi)

I set out in the morning with one thing on the brain and that was to hook and land a king salmon. I made my way towards the city of Racine carried by the anticipation of landing an early fall fish out of the harbor. I exited off the highway and turned east towards the lake. On my way the thought ran through my mind of stopping by the Root River and checking to see what was going on down there.

With a quick course adjustment I found myself driving along the banks of the river. For a fall Saturday the crowds were almost non-existent. I’m sure that most people didn’t think that any fish had made their way up the rivers yet even though fish are stacked up in the harbors. The complete lack of rain in the areas have the Wisconsin rivers flowing at a slow low flow. This was the first time I had actually witnessed what the river looks like with a flow less then 50cfs.

the root river flowing under 50cfs
I decided to go to island park one of the parks closest to the harbor thinking that if some fish had made their way up the river they would still be in the bottom reaches of the river. I parked next to the only other car in the entire lot and decided to hop out and take a walk around. I made my way to a nice section and found another angler working a nice riffle. I stopped to asked if he had seen any fish yet. As he began to tell me about the 3 maybe 4 fish he had seen pushing up the river he hooked up almost instantly. The fish ran straight up river over the rock riffles he was fishing and made its way into a deep stained pool under a tree. The angler played the fish with great skill dropping the rod tip to just above the water in order to avoid snagging the tree overhanging the water. One minute later he beached the fish on the bank and unhooked the tiny red and silver fly from the fish’s mouth. The fish was hooked as fair as it gets right inside the mouth in the lower jaw.

hooked up!
a well played fish under the trees
a beached salmon
He turned to me and continued right along with his story of how his brother had landed an even larger specimen here just the day before. With his story complete he took his fish back up to his house (right on the river) where his dad was planning on smoking the fish later that day. I went back to the car and decided to put the harbor fishing plans on hold for a couple hours. I geared up and made my way back to the pool he had graciously given up to me.

my alaska-boo
I fished that pool hard and even made my way around the entire island park scouting for fish. I wasn’t able to land any fish but did foul one that came unbuttoned during the tussle. I was able to spot 3 more fish in the time I was out there but that was it. I did come across an interesting landowner who came storming down to the banks from his backyard throwing huge rocks at the ducks floating the river around his property. He was screaming profanities at the ducks the whole time. Not sure what that was all about but you do run into all types.

harbor side fishing for salmon like they are bass
I took the remaining time I had left and went down the harbor and fished for a few more hours fighting off the wind and drizzle. I was throwing a bait recommended by a new friend that was off the beaten track of just spoons, crank baits, and spawn. I worked my darter head and fluke jr. combo just as if I was fishing for bass. An hour of casting resulted in one solid hook up where the fish dogged me and with an arial display he broke my 8 pound test line. That fish was over 10 pounds and he had my number, today it wasn’t ment to be. For all the disbelievers, there are fish in the river already. One big rain and we will see a nice run of fresh fish. I hope to be there when it happens.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

trout fishing (iowa county, wi)

I did some exploring in Iowa County Wisconsin of a trout stream I’ve never been to before. I fished with a new friend I just met. We worked this stream for almost 3 hours with no fish. The water looked prime but unfortunately no fish spotted and no fish hooked.

an iowa county trout stream
On the way back we fished a Dane County stream where my new friend caught 2 palm sized brookies. We met a local angler in the parking lot who shared some knowledge of streams in the local area. He gave us some great ideas of some spots to try next spring. As far as I’m concerned this was the last trout trip for me in 2010. My focus now is all about the salmon and attempting to fill my streamer box in the next couple weeks.

Damien, it was very nice to meet you and enjoyed hanging out even if we didn’t catch a lot of fish. Thanks for your insight into harbor fishing and looking forward to seeing you in the tributaries.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

bass fishing a private lake (lake county, il)

Today my friend Scott sent me these shots of a nice bass he caught on a private lake in Lake County IL. He was working jitter bug over 20 feet of water during the evening hours. Nice catch buddy!!!
nice lake county bass
here's a second look
Please feel free to send your stories and fishing pictures to be featured on this website. You can reach me from the email under the “contact us” page.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

bass fishing (waukesha county, wi)

Spent the day fishing with my buddy Neal. I picked him up early and headed north to fish a few different Waukesha county lakes. The journey was pretty painless other then the slight navigation error which put us behind twenty minutes or so. The fact that we were a little slow getting there wasn’t completely a bad thing because the last quarter of our drive we watch some nasty storms roll over the entire county. Even after arriving we had a number of intermittent small storms roll through the area . One minute it would be sunny and the next thunder and lightning would warn you of the approaching rain shower. It was like that all day long and the fishing seemed to be better during the times it was raining. Neal thought that it hid our presence better from the wary game fish in these crystal clear waters.

Lake 1
the channel that opens up to Lake 1
We used some different presentations given the circumstances. Spent some time trolling live bait harnesses and spoons, dropshoting finesse plastics, and mini-mites and live bait under slip bobbers.

The dropshot accounted for the majority of our fish and was especially deadly when working the deep drop-offs. You were even in better shape if you could find the isolated patches of weeds located close to where the bottom began to taper off. We tried some different shapes and sizes of worm but the fish ate a purple zoom 4 inch finesse worm the best. We landed maybe a dozen bass on that zoom worm. Here’s a couple of my better largemouths.

a nice bass

another nice bass
Trolling live bait on bottom bouncers gave up only one strike from a meager bass that I lost half way to the boat. We took a fair amount of pan fish on mini-mites and crawler pieces. We even landed a rock bass and a tiny perch that would have been better suited for the fish tank.
me with my friend Bill the gill
rock bass
Lake 2
can you say portage?
neal strecthing his legs after our portage to Lake 2
Halfway through our fishing day we made a portage to a different body of water. The tunnel was narrow and we had to carry the canoe through to the other side. We managed a couple small bass on this side but from what I saw they were not nearly prevalent as they were on Lake 1. I’m glad we spent some time exploring Lake 2 because we picked up some awesome bonus fish that more then made up for the smaller and more inconsistent largemouth fishing.

Here’s my one and only fish (a rainbow trout) that I took on a slip-bobber and minnow combination. The fish took the hook deep and couldn't be revived so it came home for dinner.

a bonus stocker rainbow trout
Here’s Neal’s bonus fish (a nice smallmouth bass) that crushed the dropshot and worm combo right on the drop-off.
a smallie to top off the day
I had a great time on the water today with Neal. We caught a lot of species of fish, and even though none of them were lake monsters it still felt good to bend a rod during the holiday weekend. Happy multi-species Monday, Happy Labor Day and god-speed to the salmon making their way to the tributaries to spawn.
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Saturday, September 4, 2010

salmon fishing (racine harbor, wi)

With a couple hours to spare this morning, I made my way down to Racine harbor. Any one who knows me knows I hate harbor fishing unless maybe in the winter. It’s just so hard to fight off the urge to sink a hook into a fresh chromer. I fished the outer wall right in front of the harbor club. There were maybe 8-10 others out there casting when I finally arrived just after the sun rose, and the charter boats were in fishing close. Looks like the cooler weather we've been having this last week is pushing some fish into staging position.

sunrise at racine harbor
The first thing I hate about harbor fishing is navigating the giant boulders (some the size of a small car). Some of the cracks in between these rocks are 8 foot drops into a nasty looking holes. Throw in some strong wind, spray from the waves, and darkness and I’m freakin out!!!

The second thing I hate about harbor fishing is throwing a half ounce spoon 500 times. Not only is it tiring but it’s a little boring, if you ask me. Some may not agree but where’s the finesse in that?

rocks in front of racine harbor
Either way, there I was tossing my half ounce blue and silver k-o wobbler blindly, over and over. It took thirty minutes before something smashed my spoon. The hit came seconds after the lure hit the water only able to take a few cranks on the reel. I fought that fish from way out all the way back to the rocks where I was standing. Then the fish , which was only 15 yards out, makes a sudden turn followed by a deep throbbing head shake and the hook shook free. Rats… Why am I not sealing the deal?

The fish was chrome and it was big. It never jumped and the headshakes were big. I think it was a fresh king salmon but who knows? Every one I met had caught no fish either. The guy fishing the closest to me was the only one that told me they hooked one also. He lost his much quicker though. On the walk back to the car I did find some fresh blood on the rocks, somebody was catching them… The kings are moving in close right now and with some lucky weather we will be stalking the tribs again soon. Monday I’m fishing a carry-in access only lake, and next weekend I’m going drift less, hope the salmon are running by then.
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