Wisconsin Salmon — Santa Claus is Dead

I have always longed for big fish, there is something about the power and smarts they show when a big fish realizes it has something in its mouth that isn’t natural and then the fight is on.  After my trip to Wisconsin last year, where I was with Tim Biesendorfer when he caught and landed a 10lb brown trout on the Root River (an obvious Lake Run Brown Trout), I knew that I would be back.  The potential opportunity of a 30″ fish in excess of 20lbs was the target of this now 2nd annual pilgrimage to the Wisconsin tributaries of Lake Michigan.

This trip was planned for months in advance and it was something that we were all looking forward to.  So on Wednesday morning (10/03/07), Brent McClane, Todd Butzlaff, and Tim Biesendorfer headed north to Wisconsin.  Craig Peterson, Brent Hinds, and myself were scheduled to head up later in the week on Friday (10/05/07) after work.  The trip finally arrived, but with less suspense than anyone going on said trip had hoped for.

The weather was unseasonably warm, with bluebird skies and temps in the mid to low 90’s and there of course were water levels to deal with (which were low, but the area did recieve some rain earlier in the week).  The loss of suspense on this trip was when the 3 anglers that headed up earlier decided to do a little homework on these species and visited with local fly shops and guides in the area to find out exactly the best flies and methods to catch these fish.  To be rather blunt about it, these sources indicated that most fish in the river system are caught by lining flies in the mouth and not by the fish actively feeding on the flies (with the exception of the occassional buck salmon crushing eggs).

We rolled in to Kenosha, WI around 9:30pm on Friday night to meet up with the guys already up there, and we traded stories about the trip up and the past days fishing.  We made plans for tomorrows fishing, and decided we were going to tackle the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee.  After getting everything situated the night before, we rolled up the parking area (along a busy city street) and walked down to the river to find a group of about 15 anglers from the Belleville area (including Brad Eirling).  In the first, and only, two hours of fishing on the Milwaukee River I ended up with 3 hookups (2 with decent runs and jumps) and zero fish landed.  The crowds, the skank fish, and the heat had everyone in the group ready to get the hell off of the water.  As we crested the hill back up near the Durango, there are several homeless people across the street from where we parked.  It was definitely an urban fishing scene that I was not ready for.

The highlight of the fishing trip came from fishing Kenosha Harbor for big crusing browns and salmon, catching little salmon smolts off of the pier with fly rods while the bait fisherman got annoyed, watching two kids cast treble hooks into the harbor without any abandon for what was behind them at the time they wanted to cast, and the hoards of non-english speaking fisherman.  The highlight of the non-fishing time was when I got the chance to buy 3 cubs fans some Budwieser in the bottom of the 8th inning as the Cubs went on to lose.

With regards to continuing the annual trip to Wisconsin, I think it is safe to assume that we are looking for another destination for the upcoming October trip.

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