Friday, December 30, 2011


Resolutions: a commitment that a person makes to one or more lasting personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit.

With every year that passes, people all around the world make resolutions for change. It’s almost a call to action to set out and make this next year better then the past. I have never been a big fan of these “new year’s resolutions”. I have always thought if there’s something I want different in my life now, why wait?

Brian with a nice wisconsin steelhead
This week, something out of the ordinary happened. I was contacted on my email by another local outdoor writer who expressed a sincere interest in producing some quality content for the Illinois Wisconsin Fishing blog. The thought of expanding the author pool has crossed my mind a few times. I have never actually acted on that thought other than trying to twist Damien’s arm for some more driftless and harbor reports. As I mulled the idea over and over in my head, I became halfway flattered and halfway sick. This blog over the past two years has become my fourth child and the thought of putting it up for adoption was scary. My fears were put to rest after having a chance to really look at this mystery mans work. He brings to the table a diverse fishing spectrum chasing almost everything that swims. His thoughts come across very well written and his videos are off the hook. Then I had the opportunity to talk to him… and what I found is an individual who is very motivated to share his outdoor experience with all who are willing to read. We share many similar goals and have very close family dynamics.  With all that being said, it’s my pleasure to introduce Brian Schiller as a new writer for the blog. Welcome to the team and I’m very excited about the new opportunities your presence will bring to the table.

another driftless trout addict
Anyone who has ever written a blog or produced an online website that frequently updates its content knows it takes a certain type of person to stick with it. I've seen many bloggers come out strong but quickly their interest wanes. This isn't a paid job and these chosen few who stick with it must have a strong passion for sharing with others about the outdoor diversity found in our backyards. I’m confident that we now have two of these “chosen few” to take this site into 2012.

Here is our short list of goals-

  • expanded coverage of new water and different species
  • upgraded photo quality with my new cannon t3i
  • new videos
  • more flies (recipes and instructional videos)
  • new product reviews
  • finally convincing Damien to write a few posts
  • hunting?
May your 2012 be filled with many wonderful moments, good health, and good fortune. Thanks for reading!
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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

black prince

Noted as one of the worlds oldest steelhead flies, originating from the Umpqua River System.

thread- black
tail- red hackle
rib- tinsel
   rear- 1/3 yellow wool
   front- 2/3 black wool
wing- black bear
hackle- black

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

a cool salmon sketch

turned this photo into a sketch
I think I could have cleaned the edges up a little better but I think you get the point...

Here's the youtube video I followed-
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

early winter harbor trout

early winter milwaukee harbor steelhead
It’s a pretty simple equation, the longer we go without cold enough weather to create any ice, the longer we can take advantage of the open water harbor fishing opportunities. Some anglers like Damien have been hanging around Southeast Wisconsin’s harbors all fall. On a bad day you might not get a single bite or maybe just a few. On a good day harbor fishing you just might get double digit opportunities to hook a monster.

Damien swears by tiny tube jigs in the one and a half inch white variety. He will normally hang these under a slip bobber at a depth around six feet. Constant twitching or the occasional pull of the bobber is all it takes to attract some attention from big cruising trout. He insists on an instant hook set saying “that trout are notorious for spitting the baits in under five seconds”.

So, normally the ice fishing season is well underway by now… For those who have the itch to get out and catch some fish, try your hand at some harbor trout to pass the time.

a real milwaukee harbor monster steelhead

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

estaz egg

It is a super simple tie for anyone and its deadly. This is our go to egg pattern, works especially well in stained or cloudy water.

hook- size 8 mustad egg hook
body- med chenille in pink, chartreuse, or orange are most popular
tail- few strands of yarn

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

an icy milwaukee river

Made it out to the Milwaukee River this weekend. Flows were perfect but the ice and slush being washed down the river certainly made fly fishing tough. The good pools were covered in slush and completely unfishable. The faster runs kept the water churned up enough to not collect the slush like the big pools. My fly always seemed to get caught on a piece of ice and never could make it down to bottom. On frequent roll casts a chunk of ice would come flying forward attached to the fly. It didn’t take long for me to give in and head with Damien to the harbor.

the milwaukee river flowing ice and slush
At least it was scenic...
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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

a mid november recap

salmon bones - all that is left from the run
I don't find myself having to play catch up here on my blog very often, well actually ever. This past November was of course filled with lots of hard work at the office, time with friends and family, Thanksgiving, black Friday shopping, launching a new website, and of course fishing. Despite all the things that go on in my sheltered little corner of the world, there is always time to wet a line. Fishing in general has been slow this month but consistent. Take a group of three guys out fishing, and one of them is guaranteed a fish but the question is who? Well lets take a look at the last few weeks and break it down a bit further.

a pretty root river steelhead stuffed with eggs
Trip #1- I fish the Root River alone for a peaceful morning searching out some trout. This was meant to be a scouting trip before meeting Neal and Paul on the same stretch of river the very next day. All morning goes by and without even a nibble, I decide to fish one last spot before calling it quits. Mending a pink estaz egg under heavy wood cover I get 2 hits from some very acrobatic trout. Steelhead to be exact. The tiny and more colorful of the 2 was the best looking colors I've seen on a fish ever and she was packed with roe. Her I harvested. The second was such a powerful and acrobatic fish that it took me out of the water airborne three separate occasions. I pulled the fish from the water and the adrenaline running through the fish was so intense that its muscles quivered over and over. Much respect for that battle so I turned it back. Awesome fight.

with much respect for its power, I turned this steelhead back

paul and his first trib brown trout
Trip #2- The very next day Paul, Neal, and I hit the same stretch of river anticipating some similar results. We found the conditions to be as tough as my previous day on the water. A whole lot of water was covered and finally Paul came up with a solid biter on an orange estaz. God, I love those flies. If there was one fly to use this fall... that has to be it. This fish was sitting in a fast water pool way down in the undercut. Paul has done a great job this year and has caught a brown, a steelie, a coho, and a king. Not bad for your first few month of learning the tribs. Well done buddy.

a whole lot of work went into this fish, he cost us 15 flies
Trip #3- Neal and Blake decide to work a pod of rising fish in the gnarliest spot ever imaginable. Two males were moving in and out of the pool with a giant fresh female sitting in its depth shaking eggs loose. The pool was tucked behind a tree trunk so very little water or current came directly though the center of the pool. The current was just tickling the edge of that pool but a large boulder just outside the pool obstructed a clean drift. Just over hanging the pool was a mess of tangles and branches just waiting to grab any fly that even came close. Believe me, many flies came close, too close. I alone retied 10 times not counting Neal. Stubborn as hell, we decided to stay. We tried adjusting angles and shortening leaders down to only a few feet. We added a ton of shot but even that couldn't get our flies into that tucked away pool. Neal, being the smart one, decided to drop the fly in from in front of the pool. It didn't take long before one of the males came up and slapped that estaz egg! What about the female you might ask? Sure he hooked her, but she proved to be too smart for us. Up and down the Root River she splashed giving Neal a serious run for his money. Just when you think you have it, you realize your not even close. That hen dogged him so hard under a stray branch and that was it. Snap went the line and airborn went the rod. At least he landed the male?

the one that gave us the eggs
Trip #4- Finding some fresh brown spawn has eluded us this fall. We have caught a more then usual amount of browns this year. The problem is the ones we are finding are either males or they have already been processed and are empty of eggs. This trip last weekend we decided to put ourselves in a better position and fish below the steelhead facility. No chance a fish down there has been processed. We took the cured steelhead spawn from trip #1 and floated some of the deeper pools in Lincoln Park with our fly rods, Just dragging bottom Neal got a great hit. He had just lifted the spawn over a rock when his indicator went down. Good decision on where to fish because we are now the proud owners of some fresh brown trout spawn that we are looking forward to dropping down some holes come this winter.

brown trout spawn

a ditch running some cold clean water into the Root
So, the last four trips we haven't left the Root one time. You can scan the pictures and say wow, impressive day but please understand that this is a culmination of 4 separate fishing trips. My sights have been fixed on getting back on the Milwaukee to wrap the season up. This week is bringing some arctic temperatures and if it hold like this I imagine it wont be long now till the hard water season kicks off. Stay tuned to see how we finish out this wonderful fall trib season and look forward to some winter ice fishing action with my best fishing partner Lucas. My 6 year old boy can't wait to get back on the water.

fishing just below the fish sanctuary on the Root River

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Monday, December 5, 2011

brown trout watercolor

Neal and I fished the Root River this weekend. It was cold and wet the entire day but we did manage to capitalize on our only bite. Neal was flinging some spawn on his fly rod in Lincoln Park, just barely bouncing bottom when this fish decided to take him for a ride.

brown trout watercolor 
I did my photo editing with gimp following this tutorial--

I think it made for a nice effect considering the original was blurry.
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Root River Brown Trout

This was some footage from last weekends fishing outing. We found a pod of fish sitting in a very tough pool to get a fly into. Two very nice males were moving in and out of the pool with on giant female holding down the gravel. We must have lost about 15 flies to the branches that over hung that pool. Neal actually hooked this male from upstream just floating the fly repeatedly back into the pool.

So did we end up hooking that female? Sure did, after 3 hours of working her. She put up one hell of a fight and ended up taking Neal under a branch that promptly broke him off. It was a 10 pound hen that has to have some of the best colors I've ever seen on a Lake Michigan brown trout. Oh well...
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