Driftless Trout Anglers

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NBrevitz  
#1 Posted : Tuesday, November 7, 2017 6:00:35 AM(UTC)
NBrevitz
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This fall has been an interesting one for me. After my best summer ever in terms of size for Brookies, I quickly became very busy this fall, leaving little time for day long Trout excursions. This left only the weekends for fishing time, and I decided to absolutely maximize that time and then some. I've managed to make 4 separate trips to some excellent migratory fisheries in WI and Ontario so far this fall, and I hope the weather will cooperate for a couple more. Here's a review of what I've experienced so far. This is a long one, so feel free to skip through for the fish porn.

Nipigon is F-ing Awesome
After last fall's successful trip to the Nipigon/Terrace Bay area of Ontario, I was absolutely committed to going again. A great friend and novice Trout Fishing friend of mine asked if he could come, and I didn't hesitate in extending the invitation. After enduring one of the worst downpours I've ever experienced (always, always properly set your rain-fly), we got up into Ontario early on Friday Morning. After my friend and I got lunch and his first legal beer, we quickly headed to an absolute favorite spot that Eddie and I discovered two years ago. I was dismayed to see two other anglers just exiting the stream. A quick chat revealed that they had failed to catch anything but a few Steelhead Smolts despite fishing quite a bit of river. A quick look at their tackle revealed the answer to their predicament. They were using spinners that I'd consider too small for winter fishing, let alone for tempting migratory Salmonids. Confident, I sprinted down the gorge, my friend in hot pursuit.
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My buddy took his first few casts getting the hang of his, "absolutely massive spinner here Brevitz." I, however, connected about two cranks into my first retrieve. A Coaster in the range of 19-20", she ripped drag up and down the run for several minutes before we managed to corral her. She was quickly released and took off with vigor.
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Alex hooked up on his first Chinook about two casts later. A small Chinook but with plenty of piss and vinegar like all Lake Superior Fish.
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Unfortunately, we were quickly high holed by a group of old fly fishermen from Duluth, and we watched them try and fail to tempt a large group of Chinooks just one pool up. Unfortunately, the Chinooks were in no mood to bite after the men had slapped the water with their sinking lines about twenty times. I'm glad we didn't see them again. As it was, we still managed some nice residents, and Alex broke off a Chinook of about 10 lbs right around sunset. Not a bad start to the trip.

Day Two of the trip started with a bonanza of Pink Salmon, unlike anything I've experienced outside of Alaska or the St. Mary's River. We found one pool that was absolutely stacked with fish, and pulled about 40 out of it within an hour. I know which pool I'm pounding with eggs next spring!
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After a while, the Pinks got to be too easy, and we couldn't find any Coasters in this particular stream, so we headed back west to a stream just south of Nipigon. I quickly hooked up on a nice King under the bridge, and got dragged through a rapids before landing this big boy after a 15 minute scrap. They're an incredible fight on 8 lb test!
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Once we dispatched the Chinook, we headed upriver to a picture perfect rapids. There were several pods of Chinooks resting in a large eddy, waiting to continue their end migration. Out came the Salmon Eggs. I quickly hooked up and lost a decent fish, and my buddy followed suit, before hooking into this guy a few drifts later. He played it perfectly, and I damn near shed a tear as I watched him work the fish down through the rapids, then back up again. He has potential. 8 minutes later, I tailed his first legitimate Chinook. He was stoked.
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Unfortunately, my buddy broke his wrist after slipping on a streamside cliff a couple hours later, and the trip was cut short, but we still had a great time.

Crowded Kings

My friend Drew and I fish together quite a bit, and he'd been bugging me about getting onto a Chinook bite for quite some time. Canada was no longer an option at this date, but the Algoma Region of Wisconsin kicks out some huge Kings, and we settled on this as our area of focus. In mid October, we headed over and got into a couple giants. I hooked into this beast, my personal best King, within 90 minutes of arrival. She crushed my home cured eggs, abused me for 10-15 minutes on heavy gear, and even tangled herself up in a deadfall before Drew got her in the net. 37" and probably about 26 lbs, and absolutely loaded down with eggs.
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About an hour and around 90 drifts later, Drew hooked up on another big girl. This is one of two Salmon I've ever seen tear through a net. I eventually just tackled it, Grizzly Style. Drew earned this one. Just a tad smaller than mine, but just as angry. Drew couldn't have been happier.
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As is often the case with migratory fisheries near big cities, the peninsula was soon full of anglers within a couple hours of our success, and after catching and releasing a couple jacks, we fished some creek mouths up near the UP Border, sick of dealing with the snaggers. I had one fresh Chinook take me damn near across the lake before he broke me off, I'd guess it was over 30 lbs... We explored some new Trout water on the way home, and the Brookies were cooperative, with some up to 14". An excellent short trip.

A Day in Sasquatchistan

A couple weeks ago, on a whim, I headed up by myself to the South Shore for the day to chase Steelhead. Unfortunately, the Brule had other plans, running over 200 cfs, and with a minimum of 5 cars at every access at 7 AM, on a Thursday... That's not my game, so I headed further east to Sasquatch's haunts. Unfortunately, as Shebs will tell you, Squatch doesn't do mornings, so I was unable to coordinate fishing with him. The fish caught a break there! As it was, I got into a fresh push of Cohos and had the river to myself. They attacked my #9 with vigor, and fought extremely well. I had a blast.
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I also caught the smallest Chinook of my life. Seriously, I don't know if this guy cracked 15". Unfortunately, he got himself in the gills, and I had no choice but to take him. I'm glad no one saw this fish on my stringerLOL Fortunately, I got a very, very nice resident Brown to end the day a short while later.
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Not a bad day trip by any stretch, and those Coho taste heavenly when they're that fresh.
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When Plans Change

After seeing my success on the South Shore, Drew was bugging me to go on one more trip before closure. Sadly, nothing in the region was fishable as of last Friday, so we quickly audibled to the Milwaukee Area for some Urban Coho action. We wound up driving 10 hours round trip to fish for 6, but it was well worth the drive, as we found perfect sight fishing conditions and secured a large stretch of pocket water with a couple holding pools all to ourselves with a tip from Drew's friends. I owe them a couple spots they were a huge help. I hooked up on this old but game Coho within 15 minutes.
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Micah soon hooked up and lost a carbon copy of my fish, Drew landed a jack Coho, and then the bite was on! I even managed to hook into a couple fresh, late arrival Cohos. I thought this guy was a Steelhead initially!
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About 5 hours and many fish later, I started looking for a lake run Brown to end the trip with a bang. You know, those mutants that devour small children and dogs... I crawled my spinner through the biggest hole in our section time and time again, and sure enough, I got absolutely smoked by a pig. The pool was turned to a froth, Drew and Micah ignored the fish they'd been working, and I gradually played the beast into the net. It turned out to be a massive Coho of around 30", far and away my personal best.
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After the congratulatory festivities, I invited Micah to fish the pool, and he hooked into a Coho every bit as big and colored up, what a great way to end the trip! We managed about 20 fish in 6 hours, including a couple spawned out Chinooks, and Micah got his first taste of Salmon Fishing. Hopefully the Steelhead are in by next weekend!


"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
thanks 2 users thanked NBrevitz for this useful post.
rschmidt on 11/7/2017(UTC), ChadS on 11/15/2017(UTC)
Gurth  
#2 Posted : Tuesday, November 7, 2017 12:51:32 PM(UTC)
Gurth
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Good gawd!

Thought I had an epic fall... Laugh

Nicely done.



I have to get up there sometime.


It's just so far away...
Your mother had a tongue like a trout!
thanks 1 user thanked Gurth for this useful post.
NBrevitz on 11/10/2017(UTC)
catbag  
#3 Posted : Tuesday, November 7, 2017 6:11:05 PM(UTC)
catbag
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All of those trips seem worth every hour of driving. Great report, and fall!
thanks 1 user thanked catbag for this useful post.
NBrevitz on 11/10/2017(UTC)
NBrevitz  
#4 Posted : Friday, November 10, 2017 12:13:18 AM(UTC)
NBrevitz
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Originally Posted by: Gurth Go to Quoted Post
Good gawd!

Thought I had an epic fall... Laugh

Nicely done.



I have to get up there sometime.


It's just so far away...

Thank you, all of the trips were a blast. I think I'm getting to the old man stage of chasing migrators, I actually got a bigger thrill watching my buddies all get their first Chinook, Coho, etc. That is, except for hooking that beast Coaster Brookie, that was pretty coolLaugh

As for Lake Superior, its a blast, but it takes some learning. I had to take my licks and 0 fish days before I figured it out. If you ever wanna head up, I'll PM you some Salmon spots. That part of Ontario is sweet, in that, if its moving water and fairly cold, it has Brook Trout. You'll also catch Walleye on spinners right along with Brookies on the bigger rivers, thats fun!

Racine isn't that bad of a drive from your area, and it has fish all winter, just saying.... I'll be over there with the first January thaw
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
NBrevitz  
#5 Posted : Friday, November 10, 2017 12:14:53 AM(UTC)
NBrevitz
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Originally Posted by: catbag Go to Quoted Post
All of those trips seem worth every hour of driving. Great report, and fall!

Thank You. After this weekend its all about Deer and Grouse, and looking like some actual early ice action for Gills, its been too long!
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
Gurth  
#6 Posted : Friday, November 10, 2017 2:48:12 AM(UTC)
Gurth
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Originally Posted by: NBrevitz Go to Quoted Post

Racine isn't that bad of a drive from your area, and it has fish all winter, just saying.... I'll be over there with the first January thaw



No doubt on Racine... I was referring to Superior with it be far away. Might need to plan a trip next fall.

Almost went to the Root last fall, but never got around to it. That's only a couple hours from me.

I do hope to get over there this fall yet. Come January, I'll likely be back on western streams.

Thing is that I really don't like the idea of shoulder to shoulder fishing and I'm so used to pristine Driftless water that I'm concerned that I'll be disappointed.

Of course if/when I hook into a biggun, that'll all disappear.

Also don't know where to go.

Whhhaaaaaaa!!!!!! Sad

Laugh



Might also look into the one in Kenosha and the Menominee.






Your mother had a tongue like a trout!
NBrevitz  
#7 Posted : Friday, November 10, 2017 3:20:25 AM(UTC)
NBrevitz
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Originally Posted by: Gurth Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: NBrevitz Go to Quoted Post

Racine isn't that bad of a drive from your area, and it has fish all winter, just saying.... I'll be over there with the first January thaw



No doubt on Racine... I was referring to Superior with it be far away. Might need to plan a trip next fall.

Almost went to the Root last fall, but never got around to it. That's only a couple hours from me.

I do hope to get over there this fall yet. Come January, I'll likely be back on western streams.

Thing is that I really don't like the idea of shoulder to shoulder fishing and I'm so used to pristine Driftless water that I'm concerned that I'll be disappointed.

Of course if/when I hook into a biggun, that'll all disappear.

Also don't know where to go.

Whhhaaaaaaa!!!!!! Sad

Laugh



Might also look into the one in Kenosha and the Menominee.







The Root is good anywhere below the dam essentially, and as long as you aren't in the parks, its not shoulder to shoulder. The northern experience is a lot more pure, though you'll probably catch less fish. The nice thing about the northern WI stuff is that, the fish are literally only going to use the best looking stuff, since they aren't exactly crowding themselves out of holding water. On the Lake Michigan tribs, its a case of wayyyyy too many fish for the size of those streams, which is why the snaggers come out and wreck your fishing. They'll then take hero shots with said snagged fish. Kinda makes me wanna say, "Sorry 'bout your...." Yeah...
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
Gurth  
#8 Posted : Friday, November 10, 2017 3:27:43 AM(UTC)
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Snaggers being people actually throwing snag lines?

Isn't that illegal?

I understand that it won't stop people, but if you take a photo with a(n) (intentionally) snagged fish, you're a tool.


Thanks for the tip about the parks coz as a noob, that's where I was gonna start.

Laugh


But yeah, I want that northern experience. I went to Eagle Lake in Ontario this summer for a group lake trip and was very disappointed to find out that there wasn't really any trout water in that part of the province.

Seems they never recovered from a huge ancient lake emptying in a cataclysmic flood that washed down the St. Croix valley thousands of years ago.

If I go to Ontario next fall, I'd definitely love any advice you're willing to share.


Your mother had a tongue like a trout!
thanks 1 user thanked Gurth for this useful post.
NBrevitz on 11/10/2017(UTC)
Gurth  
#9 Posted : Friday, November 10, 2017 3:54:09 AM(UTC)
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Actually, the water emptied into Hudson Bay.

Here's what I had found about brookies in NW Ontario...

"Brook Trout are mainly found from the eastern border of Manitoba through Ontario, Quebec and onto the east coast of Canada with the greatest eastern populations being in Newfoundland and New Brunswick. Brook Trout are actually a species of Char and in prehistoric times evolved to be exclusively a sea-run trout. They lived in the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic Ocean and only traveled into fresh water streams and rivers to spawn. Over a millennium the Brook Trout became distributed from central Saskatchewan through Manitoba and into Ontario and evolved to live permanently in fresh water lakes and streams.

During the last ice age a giant wall of ice stretched right around the border of Hudson's Bay and James Bay. This wall of ice prohibited the arctic watershed from draining water and it formed an enormous lake called Lake Agassiz. This lake eventually covered many of the small lakes and streams and the Brook Trout were free to swim around in Lake Agassiz. Near the end of the last ice age this wall of ice eventually broke with trillions of tons of water per second flowing into Hudson's Bay and the Brook Trout were swept away with the water. This basically wiped out the major Brook Trout populations in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

To this day, the previous location of Lake Agassiz is where Brook Trout are at their lowest concentrations."


When you're there it's like, how are there not trout in that stream?
Your mother had a tongue like a trout!
NBrevitz  
#10 Posted : Friday, November 10, 2017 3:56:07 AM(UTC)
NBrevitz
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Yes, the DNR doesn't really enforce it unless you keep the fish. You can be obviously attempting to snag, and as long as you release the fish they won't do anything except maybe give you a warning. There is also flossing, which is the act of running your lure or bait into the fish's open mouth, then setting the hook. At times, it is harder to accomplish this feat than actually getting a fish to strike, and as a result snagging is far more popular.

Not even so much that, its a case of them loading up a stringer of those fish. They're hatchery fish, the returns are much higher than what they need to sustain the program, so it doesn't endanger the resource, just ruins it for the guys who are trying to do it legitimately. They scare the living hell out of the fish and make it to where they won't even grab spawn bags, let alone artificials. They also have no concept of personal space or etiquette.

I have no problem with someone intentionally snagging a clipped King in order to have their kid/wife/gf get a good pull, as long as they release that fish. It's not my thing, but I can tell you as a kid growing up in Northern Michigan, hook into one of those fish, legal or not, and your kid will be hooked on that adrenaline high that only comes with a big Salmon or Steelhead. I'll admit I once snagged a Pink intentionally on the N Shore of Lake Superior to show a couple kids what they looked like. The fish was quickly released, I'd made the kid's day when I let him reel it in, it all worked out. The difference there is I had absolutely no intention of keeping that fish, and I had heavy enough tackle to where I could control it and not have it fight itself to death. I hate seeing snaggers release old, beat up Chinooks that fight themselves to death after being snagged in the tail.

Also, I should specify, don't fish the small, open parks. Fish the ones where you've got to walk in a few minutes to get to the river. You'd be amazed at how much 5 minutes of walking will scare some peopleLaugh Laugh

And yeah if you go, let me know and I'll shoot you some spots! If you just want Trout, I'd go in June if you have the choice. The Chinook Salmon run starts up in the last two weeks of August, and continues through September, with a few fish into the first week or two of October. Brookies close in all but the stocked lakes (tons of those) in the first week of September, so the last week of August is prime for a combo trip. You've got Coho and fall run Steel in October too, plus those incidental Coasters.
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
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