Monday, October 31, 2011

wisconsins fall coho salmon

This fall Ive had a real tough time landing a lot of cohos. Sure I've caught tons of kings, but it still upsetting in some regards. I should be happy I caught 2 nice ones, right? Well, after the stellar coho fishing we experienced last year, I'm sure anything would pale in comparison.

blake(2) with by far the coolest fish of the year
The cohos enter the rivers shortly after the kings. While the numbers of the kings begin to dwindle the coho are just reaching their peak. Its an exciting feeling when you realize you have a fresh coho hooked rather then a half rotten king you come to expect. You can always tell by their violent head thrashings they are known for just after being hooked. Coho are capable of long and powerful runs but will normally tire after a few good ones. They are built a little more streamlined then kings and their body mass is pure muscle. They typically run smaller then kings but what they lack in size is made up for by their out of this world colors and acrobatics. They will go toe to toe with the larger kings for the best gravel to spawn on and their arrival into the rivers are always anticipated.

So what if I'm 2 for 7 on cohos this year, any man is a lucky man just to have landed one of these great fish! Here is the link to the post on my first coho this fall.

my second coho salmon this year

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Friday, October 28, 2011

egg sucking bunny leech

The egg sucking bunny leech is one of the best salmon or steelhead streamers around and its quite easy to tie as well. Lots of flexibility in color choices and the rabbit puts of a ton of movement in the water.

head- bead
tail- marabou
body- rabbit strip

There's about six wraps of lead under the rabbit strip to give it the extra weight I wanted. You can vary the hook size and some crystal flash (if you choose).
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Monday, October 24, 2011

spawning coho salmon

Coho salmon spawning in the Lake Michigan tributaries in Wisconsin.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

wisconsin's late running king salmon

check out the eggs pouring out of her
Not all of the kings enter the rivers at the same time. They come in waves that are spurred on by the rain and increased stream flows. On a good wet year numerous waves of kings will be pushed up into the rivers all at different times. What that means for anglers is that you have a lot longer time frame to find fresh fish that are eager to bite.

fair hooked with the green estaz egg
King fishing is very easy in some regards but in others it could be some of the toughest fishing around. Keep in mind these fish are not in the rivers to feed, they are on a spawning mission. Yes, you can normally see the fish in the shallows or if your fishing a deeper pool frequently these giants will tend to surface which should give you confidence that your in the right place. What makes them difficult is it could take 100's of casts with a few different fly changes to get them to strike. I have found the best way to avoid snagging and getting fair hooked fish is to fight the temptation of watching your fly and focus your sights solely on your indicator. This method isn't fool proof but so far this fall I've only accidently fouled one fish that I couldn't shake the hook off and had to land.

neal's big male sheboygan river salmon
On our recent trip to the Sheboygan river we had our hopes set on catching a ton of coho but instead we found some eager late running king salmon. Neal's largest king of the trip wasn't ready to be landed even after a near ten minute fight. That fish was just heavy enough to not be able to move even though the fish was done fighting. Its own weight sitting in the current was almost enough to max out the eight pound test fishing line we use. With a little luck, he put enough pressure on the fish to turn its head. With the last burst of energy the fish had, it bolted out of the deep pool downstream and right into a shallow patch of gravel. What a great fight!

fighting a nice king on the sheboygan river
All our kings were caught on egg patterns and the estaz eggs reigned supreme. The estaz were tied in green, pink, and orange. My best king came from shallow gravel drifting a size 17 small trout egg. I'm shocked to say that the hook came back intact. I thought for sure it would have been straightened out of at least a little bit bent but light line and small hooks will force you to play a big fish pretty soft. Now that's what king trib fishing is all about.

sheboygan river salmon on a tiny #17 trout egg

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Monday, October 17, 2011

wisconsin's coho salmon are running

King salmon are still present in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan tribs but their numbers have seriously declined from the pinnacle of their run earlier this fall. Most of the early running kings have already spawned and since then, died. Their stinky corpses pile up in the slack water and it gives a good indication of just how far into their run we are. Late running kings are still present and some can still be quite fresh but look for them in smaller numbers.

With a good portion of the kings gone the cohos now have plenty of access to the spawning gravel. The mild rain we experienced last week was just enough to stimulate a run of fresh coho salmon into the Oak Creek in Milwaukee Wisconsin.The coho are active enough to chase a fly on a fast strip or move to hit a fly on a dead drift. Look for these salmon to be active for the next few weeks taking into consideration the flows.

This coho was taken on a heavily weighted streamer retrieved at a lightning speed. She hit from the darkness of a deep pool and her power was tremendous.She took two very impressive runs leaving me with some serious slack line when the fish came racing back towards me. But, it was my day, and I got the best of her. She was beached in just a few short (but adrenaline pumping) minutes. Neal made his way over just in time to squeeze in a photo.
an oak creek fresh female coho on the strip
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Monday, October 10, 2011

milwaukee river king salmon fishing

We’ve had only one good soaking of rain so far during this fall tributary fishing season and all the water has quickly run out from the smaller rivers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled we even got some rain this year after looking back at last years dry fall. But, I’m eagerly anticipating the next dose of heavy rain, maybe it can push some of these cohos that are currently staged in the harbors up into the river systems. Not every day of king fishing goes like this but we hit the timing just right. Some fish are spawned out and half zombie already but there are plenty of fresher fish that can still be convinced into eating.

Its not to often I fish with a large group of guys but this past Saturday I hit the water with four other guys. Blake(2) and his father Pete, Neal, and Paul all met me early for some king salmon action on the fly. It was an early morning and it looked that plenty of people all had similar intentions cause cars were lined along the local “hotspots”. We walked a good distance downstream to get away from the congregation of people. As we climbed down the steep bank the sun was barely over the horizon but it was evident that a good number of fish were present by the amount of swirls and splashes close to shore.

After the sun really stared to give off some good light, it became evident truly how many fish were in the river. Blake(2) was the first one to fair hook a fish on a hot glue egg pattern trailing a natural colored streamer and everyone was quick to follow suit. Being such a large group, it seemed like every 5 minutes someone was hooked up.

Of the five fish I hooked clean, here are the two I actually landed-

a spawned out milwaukee river salmon
my second milwaukee river salmon gave me the best fight of the year!
Paul got his very first king salmon on the fly! And then his second…

congrats paul on your first of many
You always hear about the steelies and browns coming up the river after the kings just to snack on the protein rich eggs. These smaller trout should be found hanging right in back of the salmon gorging themselves on their eggs. They should only stop to avoid a pissed off king that came racing back to chase them off their reds. A few short moments later that trout should be right back in the feeding position. We saw this play out right in front of our eyes over and over. This fish was the result from drifting a power egg across the back half of the spawning gravel.

a small milwaukee river steelhead with some awesome colors
I really loved just sitting on the bank under a shady tree hanging with a few guys talking fly fishing. Today wasn't all about the good fishing, but it sure helped. I don't think anyone left without a sore shoulder or feeling pretty beat up from chasing fish down the river but everyone made some new friends.

I’m looking forward to seeing what photos Blake(2) has on his camera and I will throw the link up as soon as he puts his post up.You can also find everyone of these guys over on the forums so be sure to stop over and drop em' a line.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

southeast wisconsin tributary update

The water we had last week caused some quick swelling in the tribs but a lot of the smaller rivers have dropped very quickly. Even though the root had a tremendous push of fish in the last week, flows have fallen to under 30CFS leaving most of the fish in the rivers spooked. This weekend tons of people were out snagging fish and keeping them and the fish currently in the river don't stand a chance with their back half out the water. The root, oak, and pike need some more rain before considering them in good condition.

This weekend look to the bigger rivers like the Milwaukee and the Sheboygan to just be coming down to fishable flows. The action could be tremendous there this weekend.

Here's a nice brown Neal took on skein floated on a fly rod at the Root. Too bad that wasn't a driftless trout...

neal with a nice male root river brown
root river brown trout close up
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