Tuesday, November 23, 2010

late fall coho on the oak creek (south milwaukee, wi)

I made it out this weekend with Neal targeting coho on the fly rod. The coho run is quickly coming to an end in Wisconsin. The fish that were left in the river this weekend were sluggish and tired. Some fish had even started the transformation from silver rockets of pure muscle to the moldy and crusty zombie fish. These are the types of fish we are all scared to grab, God forbid a tail falls off in our hand.

Our search for fish began in the lower section of the Oak Creek where we worked some of the deeper pools stripping streamers. Making our way downstream we spotted a few fish in the shallow holding water and Neal took the opportunity to make a couple casts to them. These fish in the shallows spooked before the line even hit the water. Any movement from the shore and they would fly out of that pool and make their way for safer water. Down river we found the deeper pools close to the mouth already being fished. A few spin fisherman sat above the deepest pool fishing from the wall. They were a hospitable group and we made some small talk about the current conditions and shared a couple stories. The water down there was still and had absolutely zero movement. The salmon were also silent, no courageous leaps, splashes or jumps. This scenario was totally different then last week and in a nutshell it was dead slack water. The group of guys had yet to hook a fish so it was time for us to move on. Neal went down river to fish the mouth and I opted headed north.

Up north I found some better looking “fishy” water and Neal quickly made his way to join me. These pools were still holding minimal numbers of trapped fish. We were able to work these fish relentlessly pulling line as our streamers darted past their faces. I spotted a smaller coho sitting in the shallows and presented the same fly to him 15 times before anything happened. He made a complete 180 turn in the opposite direction of the fly and came back around and charged after it at full steam. Strip, strip, strip, and stop and man did the fish hammer it. Hookset! All this unfolded in the crystal clear shallow water right in front of our faces. Truly awesome!
late fall oak creek coho
We finally decided to head back to the car. Along the way Neal caught a glimpse of some movement in a dark pool. After a closer look we realized that it wasn’t just one fish but actually closer to 8 fish. We devoted nearly 30 minutes to this pool before I hooked up again. After a short battle I beached the fish and Neal swooped in to hoist this fish off the stream bed.

male coho in spawning colors


  1. Looks like you avoided the zombies. Good looking coho's!

  2. Yeah no zombies hitting any flies...