Saturday, January 28, 2012

pistakee lake night bite

night bite crappies on pistakee lake
We just got settled in at home after a nice two hour night bite excursion to Pistakee Lake on the Fox Chain. Me and Lucas gave them hell for the hour and thirty minutes we fished tonight. We proceeded with some extra caution due to the recent warm temps we have been experiencing the last few days. Also, we were the only two out there and to tell you the truth, ice fishing is kinda creepy alone at night. Following the light of our lantern we made our way out to about fourteen foot of water and dropped a hole. I flipped over our hut and moved inside to share a seat with Lucas, this is cozy for now but in a few years he might be a little big to share a one man with. After pounding bottom with a glow tungsten jig the fish moved in fairly quick. We stayed on fish for the entire time we were there and probably caught and released eight crappie in our short outing.

Ice Depth- 5 inches
Water Depth- 14
Fish Location- suspended at 10

Welcome to the night bite ice fishing club son! I'll be back after em in about 7 more hours. Stay tuned...

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

one angler i know...

One angler I know has been waiting patiently since getting some new gear for Christmas...
working some fish with a Ice 35 flasher
the result of his efforts 
"flag up" he called it 
Looks like he got his ice fishing season started, more to come from little Lucas's ice adventures of 2012!
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

long lake ice fishing report

long lake illinois fishing map
Long Lake in northern Lake County is one of the closest lake to my home. Given its location it is odd I have spent absolutely zero time here. Rumors around the area talk of bucket head mobs from Chicago cleaning out the panfish here in the last few years. Rumors are only rumors but my one and only trip here last year wasn't anything to speak of and it has certainly deterred my efforts on Long.

With a few short hours to fish before the rest of my house awoke I snuck out the front door early Sunday morning. Six or seven cars were sharing the parking but anglers spread themselves out fairly well. I fished for two hours under an overcast sky, not venturing out very far at all from the launch. My first hole was dropped in 8 foot of water and I found that I didn't have to look much further. Waves of perch were cruising in groups and held tight on bottom. Eager to feed, they came through the ice hole as quick as I could get a bait down suspended a foot or two above their heads. Keeper size fish were found in about one of every eight catches and certainly would have made for a tasty meal if I was keeping.

Just around 25 fish fell victim for a waxies impaled on a green glow tungsten jig. Oddly enough not one bluegill or crappie decided to come out and play. Maybe the rumors are true and the panfish population here has taken a hit? Or maybe I just need to take the time to explore this further? Either way the action was hot just a short distance from home and that in my book is a winner. Many anglers reports were similar, with the occasional panfish mixed in but one gent did mention some jumbos moving in around 3:00pm the previous day and remaining active till dark.

long lake perch, lake county, il

Ice Depth- five inches
Depth Fished- 7-10 feet
Species Caught- all perch

Be aware that the paid parking on the west side of the lake is closed and will not be open anymore. Some say that the few will ruin it for the many. Trash, litter and a lack of respect will certainly keep property owners from considering allowing ice fishing access so be respectful people and pick up your shit!

****There is no longer public access on Long Lake and you must have permission to fish here****

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Monday, January 16, 2012

First Ice!

 It is finally here! The first fishable ice. As most of you know we have had a pretty warm start to the winter here in the Midwest. Finally the temps have dropped and the snowflakes have fallen. It was the close of the IL hunting season this weekend and the start of the ice fishing season for me. I climbed into my favorite tree stand one last time Saturday morning, but all I could think about was the ice that awaited me when I got down from my tree. I watched the sunrise and make the snow sparkle.I  Listened to birds start to chirp and watched an owl take flight. The squirrels scurried on the ground in search of food, but there where no deer in sight. It was time to get down and put the bow away till next season, and load the ice shack in the truck to start the next season. As I headed home from the deer woods I called my friends Brent and Jenny. We made our plans to meet at my place at noon to head out to the lake for our first ice trip of the year.

  Noon quickly came, and Brent and Jenny arrived ready to go. We were set out to fish Candlewick Lake in Poplar Grove,IL, this is where I currently reside. I have called Candlewick my home for 2 years now, and she hasn't let me down one bit when it comes to fishing. Candlewick is fully stocked, well managed, and private. Hence the reason I reside here. My normal ice hole has maybe 2inches of ice right now so we headed into uncharted territory for me during the ice season. I had recently seen some great report for this part of the lake when some brave soles ventured out on 2-3inches of ice the week prior. We arrived at the neighborhood boat launch on the west side of the lake, and knew we where in the right spot when we saw a small shanty town. We dragged our shanties across the fresh snow and hard water. Drilled our first hole and dropped the vexilar in, and already we where marking fish. Brent turned and said to me, you take this hole and we will set up 10 feet from you. Sounds good to me was my instant reply. So we continued to drill our holes and pop up our shacks, and see who could catch the first fish. Once again Lady Luck got the first one! Jenny hooked into the first fish of the day. It was a nice 8inch Bluegill. I knew when she had one cause she always lets out a giggle and a shout. The giggles and shouts went on all day between our two shacks. The bite was hot! I originally  started the day fishing with 2 rods and quickly dropped to one cause the fish would hit my magic jig and wax worm as soon as it got to the bottom of the hole. Needless to say we all caught our limits in 4 hours. In Candlewick residents are allowed 30 gills and guest 15 for the keeping. I always like to get a limit at the beginning of the ice season and from there on out it's cpr for me. Brent and Jenny ended up with a total of 30 gills and 2 crappie. I also hooked into a nice young 10 inch Largemouth Bass. Between the three of us we must have thrown back another 75-100 gills that where under 8 inches. All in all it was a phenomenal first trip out.

  The next morning I was going to hit to the woods again for the very last day of the hunting season, but decided to opt out. I had a great year in the woods, harvesting 3 mature Whitetails. I had meat in the freezer and heads at the taxidermist. So why not get back out and fish while the bite was hot.

  Sunday morning I set out to the lake again, but this time was going to be different from the day before. I was setting out to show others the joy of ice fishing. I loaded up the truck with my son Zack, his friend Ethan, my brother, a friend Jimmy, and Jimmys son Joey. It was going to be all about the kids today, and what a blast did they have. Zack and Ethan ended up with 8 gills a piece, little joey landed 6, my brother 10, jimmy 9, and myself I lost track between running around baiting hooks, unhooking fish, drilling holes, and a little depth finder 101 session for my brother and Jimmy. It was a great day once again. Kids got cold after 2 1/2 hours, but seeing the smiles, hearing them tell there mothers about the great day they had, and brag about whos fish was bigger made me feel ecstatic. There is nothing better then teaching a youth the joys of fishing, and I went to bed Sunday night feeling like I accomplished something great. Getting the kids away from the TV,Video Games, and Computers and showing them what the outdoors is all about is something that we all need to do more often to carry on our outdoors traditions. I will leave this post off with a picture of young Joey age 6 with a huge smile and a fishing pole in his hand. Tight Lines everyone and be safe out on the ice this year.

Fishing Report for Saturday and Sunday on Candlewick Lake
Mostly Sunny
Ice Depth-4 inches
Bait-Wax Worms
Jig colors- Green,Yellow,Pink
Depth-7' of water, fishing 4-6 inches off the bottom
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Friday, January 13, 2012

Does Winter Weather Effect Fishing Through The Ice?

 As yesterdays first winter storm pounded the midwest it got me thinking. I have heard many tales and opinions on the matter, but never really researched it much. Does the weather effect fish during the ice fishing season as much as it does the open water season? After a few google searches and reading some pretty well written articles I came up with a few things to help out fellow ice anglers this season.

 The one thing I have heard a lot about is, snow storms entice the fish to bite. In some aspects this can be true. We all know that Barometric Pressure will have an effect on fish. This still stands true during ice season as well, so keep that in mind. During a snow storm there are obviously cloudy skies blocking the sun. On days that it is cloudy you can definitely find better fishing than on a clear blue sky day. The cloud cover will reduce light penetration, and very often when there is low light penetration the fishing becomes good. Many think that with the snow and ice this reduces the light causing the bite to be better all the time. This is false. If you have a foot of snow and ice on a blue bird sky day the fishing more than likely will not be all that great. Once you see some clouds rolling in on the horizon though,  I would bet that the activity would increase dramatically. I came across an interesting  writing by Bob Jensen on this matter that I would like to share.

Written by Bob Jensen:

I was on the ice recently with ice-fishing expert Tony Roach. We were on Mille Lacs Lake in central Minnesota and for days prior to my arrival, Tony and his guests had been pounding the walleyes, lots of'em, and big ones.
Our day on the ice coincided with a sizable drop in air temperatures and high blue skies. Tony knew right away that the bite might be off a bit, but you can't catch'em if you don't drop a line through the ice, so away we went.
Tony is a proponent of drilling lots of holes and covering lots of ice, kind of like trolling on the ice. We would fish a hole maybe five minutes, keeping a close eye on the sonar. If a fish didn't show up, we moved.
If a fish was seen on the sonar, but didn't eat our bait, we moved.
We moved a lot that day.
Tony had us on fish. I could see fish on my Humminbird 55 ICE unit come up and look at my bait, then slowly drift away. This sonar does an outstanding job of revealing fish just a few inches off the bottom. We tried smaller baits, bigger baits, different colors, different jigging actions: We tried everything we could to get bit, and every now and then we did get a walleye to eat our bait. But we saw a lot more fish than we caught.
We tried different areas, and saw fish in most areas. However, one area had quite a few more fish.
In the early afternoon, we noticed clouds building on the horizon. The wind picked up for a while, then calmed down. The weather was changing. Tony suggested we get back to the area that had the most fish. He wanted to be on the best spot when this weather system arrived.
A little later in the afternoon, when the cloud cover was heavier, the walleyes went on the bite. Action picked up noticeably. It was another lesson that weather does affect fish under the ice. If you're one of those folks who likes to fish through the ice, keep in mind that weather will affect the bite. If you're on the ice and notice a change in weather, keep your bait where the fish are. That's the only way to get bit

Good Luck this ice fishing season! Tight Lines and Happy Fishing!
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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

mid winter on the root river

Back on December 27th I posted a fly pattern called the Black Prince which had been noted as one of the oldest steelhead flies around. Even though this info is a tad delayed to hit the wall of our blog, the Black Prince past the test on the Root River in Southeast Wisconsin.

mid winter brown trout still chasing flies
This wonderful specimen of a great lakes brown trout fell victim to the fly after a succession of short 2 inch strips and put up quite a wonderful fight. Fishing the tribs this late into the winter has been a real mind trip!
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Monday, January 9, 2012

trout river, iowa driftless report

County- Winneshiek
Miles- 13.5
Tributary To- Upper Iowa River
Nearest Major City- Decorah
Access- 133rd St. between Hwy 9 and Old Stage Road
Trout Caught- Mostly browns with a few rainbows

trout river in iowa has some pretty browns
Who would have thought that I would be trout fishing in January? Inspired by a blog post from John over at “Currents“, a somewhat local blog I have been following intently more recently, I pack my bags and headed on a road trip west. Located just a few short miles from Decorah, the Trout River is noted in the Fly Fishers Guide To Wisconsin and Iowa as a beautiful and scenic trout fishing experience. The Trout is said to contain all three common species of trout with some natural reproduction found in the brown and brook trout. There are two separate access points for anglers to enjoy on the Trout, both are on the same stretch of 133rd Street just a mile or so apart from one another. The water here was clear enough to see good numbers of trout holding around the deep wood and in the guts of the pools. That super clarity also made for some extra spooky trout. Tread lightly and cast no shadows seems to be some good advice on the Trout River.

the upper wooded access on trout river
The upriver section is a much more woodsy fishing experience. Here, the Trout River zig-zags through the landscape at a much quicker pace. Riffles and fast runs scar the stream bed carving out some dramatic cut banks and some nice pockets on the outside of bends. Rock and gravel substrate deposits were found frequently especially in areas where the constant flow had worn and cut away at the streamside bluffs. Working your way downstream you will come across 2 very deep and very fishy pools. Both of these were very productive stops but end of the public access comes up fairly quickly. Working upstream from the parking area there is plenty more water. On the way to the headwaters you should take note of the much higher gradient. More minor cuts and pockets and a lot less of the very deep pools were found in that direction.

the lower pasture access on trout river
Down stream was more of a pasture setting where a fat and swollen river tends to meander into some much larger pools. Fast water was more infrequent but when found on top of a nice pool it was sure to be holding some fish. Much slower flows added to extra ice build up around the edge of the banks but I still found this water to be very fishable. This section I didn’t have the chance to explore as thorough as the other but if I was searching exclusively for some larger fish in this system it would be my first choice for a starting point.

In summary, nymphing faired much better then streamers today with the majority of the fish falling for the trusty pink squirrel. The upriver pools yielded all browns and I didn’t get into the rainbows until I moved downriver.
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Friday, January 6, 2012

Fox Chain Angler Lands Monster Muskie!

It was just another day of fishing for the Fox Chain Angler Ryan Stochl,  except for the fact it was November and there is usually ice by now where he was fishing. With the weather being abnormal lately in the Midwest, Ryan decided to hook up the boat and go out chasing fish. It was a windy day, the winds where blowing 20+mph at times which made boat control not so great. Either way the angler was just happy to be on the water as most anglers would be. Ryan started out drifting suckers for the day in hopes of catching a Muskie. Well to his surprise that is exactly what he did. This time was like no other before though. Ryan has spent a good amount of time chasing Muskie all over the midwest. His biggest to date before this special day on the Fox Chain was 49in. He has spent 14 years chasing ski's and has never caught one 50in. or more. This was the day though. Ryan felt a tug on his line and in no time set the hook, but little did he know he was going for the ride of his life. At first glance Ryan knew she was at least 50". The fish took him on a dance around his entire boat during the fight which resulted in a very sore back. Ryan got her up to the boat, scooped in the net, and out came probably one of the biggest Muskie ever caught on the Fox Chain. Ryan couldn't believe his eyes and what he had accomplished. With no camera in the boat or another sole on the lake, Ryan called his wife and son at home asking them to meet him for a photo shoot at the nearest pier. The wife grabbed the camera and son and headed to the dock. Meanwhile Ryan made sure the fish was live and well, and put her in his livewell and headed for the dock. As the wife and son arrived Ryan pulled her from the box, and to his sons amazement was almost scared to go near the monster fish due to the size. They snapped a bunch of photos, gave hugs and kisses, and Ryan went on his way back to the spot he caught the monster to release her for another day. Ryan put the fish back where she came from and asked that she came back to visit him another day. The fish was a whopping 50.75 inches long with a girth of 23 inches. Ryan didn't get a weight on her, but he had stated it was an extremely heavy fish. The following are a few of the photos that he had taken with the beast.
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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bethke's Pink Squirrel Part 1 of 3

All I can say about these is amazing! They are a great year round fly and they get the job done. I fished this fly and only this fly for three days straight. Needless to say I ended up with the most fish out of the entire group on the trip. This is a must have in your fly box. I am going to do a 3 part thing with this.First will be the article below that was written by John Bethke himself. Part 2 will be a quick how to tying video on the fly. Part 3 will be a video of me fishing with the fly this past season in Wisconsin. Sit back and Enjoy!

Pink Squirrel – My all-around favorite fly
By John Bethke

 While contemplating the writing of an article on my signature fly, the pink squirrel, I found myself with writer’s block. So I went to my tying bench in the bat cave, aka the basement, and tied some up.

This November I made a trip to Cabelas to buy 200 3906 #12 Mustad hooks and a couple hundred 1/8” brass beads. I have a large pile of tiny puffs of coral pink chenille pills on my tying table. It’s the scrap generated from stripping the fluff from the cotton core of chenille in order to tie it into the fly. The final step before I double whip finish and cement the head behind the bead. That pile represents a couple thousand pink squirrels tied in the past year — probably 2/3 of them given to friends, acquaintances, students, and donated with other flies to fundraisers for trout organizations or other groups. That leaves about 700 of them that I must have used myself. My present inventory consists of four containers with two dozen each of size 12s, plus a couple dozen in various fly boxes or vests.

I’ve always wished I had a peanut butter jar full of them, but fishing is my first priority, and I often find myself tying a half dozen pink squirrels before I head out the door to fish. The water based head cement I use is sometimes not even cured before the fly is in a fish’s mouth. I can be on a quality trout stream from my house in 20 minutes or less in any direction you care to point.

Some people have a lot of money. I have a lot of trout streams. I’ve not sold 100 pink squirrels in the five or six years I’ve been tying them. It’s not hard to figure where my priorities are.

So, why all the pink squirrels? I, like most people who fly fish, was overwhelmed with the variety of creatures fish eat, and even more so by the variety of flies made to imitate them. For season upon season I plied the waters of many places with countless varieties and techniques to try catching trout and panfish. I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed this experience, but I always in the back of my mind wished for a fly and technique that would always be effective. I suppose always is a little strong, so I’ll settle for 90+ percent of the time. Eureka! Eureka! I have found it.

In spite of the volumes of books and articles that deal with selectivity, I have concluded from personal experience that selectivity is a relatively rare phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong. I carry eight fly boxes in my vest, not including salmon, steelhead, and bass flies which I have for occasions when they are assembled for specialized trips. When I encounter a hatch or a steady riser, I have the knowl-edge and experience to know what to do. But day in and day out, I know trout and panfish will consistently take a well-presented pink squirrel. With this fly I’ve caught suckers, carp, bass, trout, steelhead, perch, crappie, sunfish, bluegill, and sheephead.

A few years ago, my friend, Hal Maier, invited me to fish his home water, Black Earth Creek. We drove from Black Earth to Cross Plains looking for an open stretch to fish, but found none until we were about 1/4 mile downstream of the town of Cross Plains. This stretch runs from town through a small neighborhood of homes and up to what amounts to the junk yard of the local farm implement dealer at the edge of town. After putting on our gear and assembling our rods, Hal asked what I was going to fish with.

“A pink squirrel, size 14,” I said.

“You’ll have to go smaller than that on this stream.”

“We’ll see,” I said.

There was no need to change my plan. We fished for over two hours and caught more than a dozen trout between us. In deference to delicacy, I added two feet of 5X to my usual 7-1/2-foot 4X leader. There were few risers, but those that did rise took a pink squirrel cast slightly up stream and drifted through their lies. Sacrilege, I know, but I’m apparently not too bright and think I’m having a good time when I do that.

I have some friends who are not inclined to even tie a pink squirrel on their leaders, not to mention use a strike indicator. These people prefer to fish in a more dignified or sophisticated manner. On rare occasions, I feel that way myself, and I can play those games fairly well. But mostly, I fish to enjoy the travel along my streams. Simply making proper presentations in often challenging environs gives me satisfaction beyond what the application of my time and labor might produce in, say, more commercially profitable pursuits. I suppose that might make me a trout bum candi-date, but I work a 40-hour week, and life is short, so I fish a lot.

If you want to make your own pink squirrels, I give the recipe at the conclusion of this article. Just having the fly will not make you catch fish. You still need to read the water, move with stealth, and make good presentations. People occasionally tell me they aren’t catching fish with the pink squirrels I gave them. I’ll bet they are failing in at least one of the three things mentioned above. Scared fish don’t bite, period, and you won’t catch fish where they ain’t.

I can tie about 20 pink squirrels in an hour, but I have more experience tying this fly than anyone. Any good tier can do 10 per hour. If you’re having trouble, call me and I’ll try to help. I’m usually at home after dark or if the weather is nasty.

Since I live within about one hour of northeast Iowa, my trout season never closes. Yesterday after my visit to Cabelas, I went to Iowa and fished in a 25 mile per hour wind. I caught seven trout, browns and rainbows. There were some fish rising to something I didn’t see, probably midges. Let’s see — 10’ leader, 6X leader, #20 fly, 20 mph wind. Guess I’ll throw a squirrel.

Hooks — My favorite is a #14 scud hook, but they are expensive, so I use Mustad 3906 #12. Tail — Use 1/8” V of crystal flash. I have used several colors, but rainbow #13 is good, as are yellow or light purple. Rib — I use medium red copper salvaged from electronic fluorescent light ballasts. It’s not a critical element. Medium gold, copper, or silver is fine. Dubbing — Fox squirrel body hair off the back and sides. Shave them close to get the under fur which is gray to mix with the multi-hued guard hair. With this hair I blend amber antron chopped 1/4-1/2” in length. Lately I’ve been adding some chopped Ice dubbing to the blend, but go easy on this. You want to keep any flash subtle. Collar — Use 1-1/2 wrap of medium coral pink chenille. Sometimes I tie smaller and larger pink squirrels from #18 to #6. For these I use a smaller or larger bead and chenille. The smaller ones usually require a light dry fly hook. Thread — I use navy blue 000 Cortichelli belding thread. I bought a 1/4 pound spool of it 10 years ago at a garage sale for 50 cents. I like the way it handles so I use it. Pretty much any thread will do. Dubbing wax — I make my own. There are all kinds of dubbing waxes on the market. Most of them don’t work well for tying with hard hair dubbing. I mix toilet ring seal wax with bees wax and put it into Chapstick containers. It does the job.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Quest For A Trib Trout

 A few weeks ago a good friend and fishing buddy of mine landed his first Lake Michigan Trib trout. This was a never ending battle with him to get the job done, but he finally accomplished his goal. My friend Eric, is a smart guy. He reads a lot, he is college educated, and he is a school teacher. When it comes to fishing on the fly though it always seemed like he had a bit of trouble. I just could never understand why though. He had read every book you could think of on the fly fishing subject. You would almost think he could walk into the stream and land a trout where there weren't any trout because he read up on fly fishing so much. Not the case at all. I believe you can read as much as you want, but the the real challenge comes when actually going forth and doing it. This was the exact case with Eric I believe. 

 It was the fall of '09 when I first approached Eric on picking up fly fishing. I had showed him pics and told him stories of catching some nice King Salmon on a small river in Wisconsin. He was defiantly astonished when I told him I had landed a 17lbs. fish with a fly rod. I am sure you could tell it was a real gas when I told my stories of landing big fish on the fly. This intrigued him and his fishing past that he hadn't revisited since his childhood. So he did what any normal teacher and history major would do, pick up a book and start to research the subject of interest. This was soon followed up by a few trip to Cabelas to start purchasing some gear. This all started to turn into a challenging addiction.

 Time to get the feet wet. We headed to the Root River in Racine,WI to try and catch the tail of the fall king run. I believe Eric might have connected once on these 2 or 3 trips, but ended after a 10 second head shake from the fish he sought after. I could see it was a bummer for him, but the enthusiasm was still there. We had spoke all winter about chasing the steelhead in spring and what a gas it would be. Spring came and we fished several times. I landed a few that spring but Eric once again came up empty handed. Although he did not land one, he had fought a tank of a steely that spring that ended up being a broken line at the end of the fight. I could now see his frustration flaring up like a bonfire out of control. I felt bad for the guy. He had worked his butt of for a fish, and he defiantly deserved it. That following fall I had missed most of the King run due to the hunting season, but I did manage to get out two or three times with Eric but still no fish for him. 

 We tried to fish the Spring run this year, but it seemed like nature just didn't want us too. Every time we made the trip North the stream conditions weren't rite. Either the river was raging or it was at a minimal trickle. Frustrating for the both of us to say the least. Needless to say this past Spring we both came home empty handed. This Fall, I again didn't get to hit the King run due to the fact I busy in the woods chasing and videoing Whitetail hunts across most of Illinois and Wisconsin, but the whole time I couldn't help myself to think I could be reeling in a monster King on my fly rod when the hunting was slow.  I had encouraged Eric to make the run North him self a few times this fall, but with the busy lives we live he just couldn't make it up.

 A few days before Christmas I had called Eric to wish him a Merry Christmas, and to see how life had been treating him. All was well with him, and as our normal phone conversations go the subject soon changed to fishing. We had talked about the fact that we may not get to ice fish this winter due to the warmer than normal temperatures that we have been having so far this year. So I went out on a limb and said you know we could always give the Root or The Milwaukee a shot. The was a slight pause and then a response of excitement. How about Monday? Eric had asked. I responded with a quick "I'm in!" We made our plans, and anxiously awaited Monday morning.

 Monday morning finally came after a long holiday weekend. We packed the truck, fueled up with coffee, and headed to the Milwaukee River. As we arrived we noticed quite a few guys out in the water already so we figured the fishing should hopefully be good. We started working a few of our favorite runs and pools, but only saw one fish caught by noon. This was discouraging but we didn't want to give up yet.We headed South to the Root River in Racine, and it seemed like we hit the dead end there as well. We were about to throw in the towel for the day, but for some reason I had suggested a hole I had fished once or twice prior, during a King run a couple years back. Eric almost seemed like he had given up for the day already, but he figured why not. We started to fish the piers under a bridge, with Eric being on the upstream side of the bridge and myself being on the downstream side. A few casts in and it happened. Eric screamed," I got one"! I swiftly ran to the bank throwing my fly rod and grabbing a net as Eric worked the healthy Brown Trout to shore. I scooped him up in the net, and it was done. The pure look of amazement, accomplishment, and happiness was written all over Eric's face. We of course high fived, punched knuckles, and cheered for the event of the day and the amazing close to the year. We snapped some pics and sent the trout back to the hole he came from. I remember sitting there for a moment and thinking to my self, this is what fishing is all about. The continued effort put forth by Eric was never ending, but it just goes to show hard work pays off in the end. No matter how many times Eric got knocked down he kept getting up and continuing to fight. I, myself may have not caught a fish this day, but I felt great about the fact that Eric had finally out fished me. We ended the day on this high note. As we walked back to the truck I told Eric that he had beaten me in the game of fishing that day, and that I hoped he had many more victories to come in the new year ;)  Tight Lines and Happy Fishing!

Eric Itzenthaler's First Root River Brown Trout

I apologize for the picture quality. All I had was my camera phone handy.
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Resolutions, First Introductions, And A Head Start On The New Year


  Christmas came a few days late for me this year, but it rewarded me with a big present in disguise. I went out on a limb this past week and sent Blake an email, stating I was interested in becoming a contributor for his Blog. I had watched the Illinois Wisconsin Fishing Blog grow over the past year, and liked what I had seen. I also realized that Blake and myself had a lot in common when it came to fishing. We both like to share our passion with others, and what works and doesn't work for us when on the water chasing fins in hopes that other anglers in our area may have better success the next time they go out. 

  I hit the send button after composing a list and an explanation of things and ways I thought I could help the Illinois Wisconsin Fishing Blog grow. I contemplated all day if I had written enough info about myself, or if the blog would even respond back. Constantly hitting refresh on my email box all day, I got a response. Blake had responded! He was questionable on the thought, but also said the thought had crossed his mind on getting some more contributors to his blog. We spoke back and forth via email, and came to the conclusion that it was worth a shot. 

First Introduction:
 My passion for the outdoors started at a very young age. The lucky age of 7 to be exact. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. It was a cold and wintry Sunday spent on the ice with my father. I had never been Ice Fishing before and this was going to be a new adventure for me. We set up on a favorite hole of my dads as he grew up as a kid. We had been out for an hour or so and there wasn't much action until right before sunset. It happened! I hooked in to the start of my addiction for life! A slab 19 inch Crappie. From here on out, It was an addiction that would continue for the rest of my life. As a kid growing up I would try to fish and catch anything that swims. Soon after graduating from High School, I started to get into the techniques and different styles of fishing. This led me to my newest and more profound addiction in the fishing category, Fly Fishing. Fly fishing has been put in a class of its own for me. As the ups and downs are far from different of those that I have experienced prior to giving it a try. Over my entire fishing career there is one thing that I have defiantly learned, and that is you never stop learning.

 Over the past year I have been getting more and more involved with outdoor writing, videography, photography, and a few youth outdoors programs. I try to spread the great word of the great outdoors in any way, shape, or form that I can. I like the thought of my childrens kids being able to enjoy our wonderful but fragile outdoor natural resources, as I did growing up. Illionois Wisonsin Fishing Blog is another step in the right direction for me, I feel. With Video Games and surfing the web on the rise, and outdoor activities on the decline among youth, the next time the opportunity presents itself, take a kid fishing.

A Head Start On The New Year:
  This past Saturday(New Years Eve) I headed to the Root River in Racine,WI to meet Blake for the first time. We figured that spending a day on the water was one of the best ways to get acquainted with each other. I met Blake a little after 7:30 A.M. that morning after I had got my gear on and he finished up photographing a local mink. We said hello and immediately went to discussing where we were going to start the day off. I had fished this certain stretch of river the week before, so we headed to the spot where a friend of mine hooked his first ever root river trout(another story on this is coming).  There was a small set of riffles upstream, with the far bank being cut deep leading up to a bridge where the fish where hiding behind the bridge piers. I waded slowly in working my way to the bridge piers. A few casts in followed by a few 3 inch strips of my egg sucking leech and BAM! Fish ON! It made a run trying to wrap my line around the bridge pier, but he turned back my way followed by a breech out of the water, and running upstream ten yards. WooooHooo! I shouted, as the start of the day was starting with some action. After working him for a few minutes he soon tired him self down and ended his battle in my net. There where high fives and pictures taken, and then a quick release back into the river. I simply looked at Blake and said "It's your turn."

   We went back to fishing and no more than a half hour later I saw Blake's rod twitching. He hooked into a nice Driftless Trout as he called it. It was about 10-12 inches in length, but needless to say it was still a fish. I grabbed my camera as he unhooked his first fish of the day, and snapped a few pictures before he released his fish. Once again high fives were given and I simply said to Blake we didn't get skunked and smiled. 

  We continued fishing are little honey hole and once again Blake connected. This time it was something bigger. I quickly turned on my video camera because I knew this was going to be something good. He fought it for several minutes, and the film was rolling. He landed a nice Brown Trout that went a good 24+ Inches. We snapped some quick photos and videoed the release. I asked Blake what fly he was using, and it was the Black Prince that he had recently tied and posted up a few days prior. He said to me he was putting it to the test and making sure it worked. If you ask me it worked out great!

  Now the bar was raised for me, and I did not want to disappoint. Blake had 2 and I had 1. It was time to even the score, so to speak. I continued tossing my egg sucking leech and stripping it through the deeper pools. All of the sudden I thought I had a snag, but the snag started fighting back. Fish On! This one felt bigger than my last. Sure enough it was. It was a big sagging bellied Female Brown. It was roughly the same in length as my first but the belly is what did this fish justice. I was ecstatic that I not only landed one, but two Root River monsters. 

  This pretty much concluded our day on the water. It not only was nice to be on the water, but share it with someone who has a passion for chasing fish. We headed back to our vehicles and moved on to another spot, but ended up empty handed mostly due to shallow water. We discussed a few things about the things to come throughout the year, and how pumped we were at the possibilities at hand. We said our goodbyes and headed for home for the evenings festivities. On my hour and a half drive home I couldn't help but think about the days events and the opportunity that had been given to me as a contributor. The ideas for things to come are endless. It's the effort we put in that will give us something out of it in the long run,and this was my final conclusion. This related to my day of fishing. It was that extra effort that I gave to catch that second fish of the day that made it that much more rewarding for me. It got me thinking of all those times I had been out fishing in my life where there was little to no action at all, but right towards the end of the trip out I always managed something by that little extra effort. So keep an eye on the Illinois Wisconsin Fishing Blog for 2012 because we go forth with that extra effort! Tight Lines and Happy Fishing!

Root River Fishing Report:
Brown Trout are schooling up in deeper pools with slower moving water.
Flies of choice: Egg Sucking Leech, Black Prince, And Egg Patterns
Temp:32-38 Degrees
Mostly Sunny 
Wind:5-10 mph out of the North
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