If there is one thing about fishing that has been constant throughout the years, that is determination. From the Native Americans gorging hooks off the coasts of California some 3,000 years ago to Simon Peter the great fishermen that knew Jesus and helmed his own vessel to Brad Pitt acting as though he were fishing in the movie, A River Runs Through It. All those historical characters were determined to catch a fish by day’s end. So, without further ado, and any more hesitation, we would like to dedicate this week’s award of determination to none other than the big bum himself, Dad. That is because in these past 3 weeks Dad has trumped AC in not only amount of fish but size! And what does Dad have to say to this… “Experience my dear AC Watson, it is not so elementary!”
Weekend 1: French Creek River
So with enough experience and determination for a lifetime, we set out to the French Creek River in Iowa. After purchasing our Iowa passes (Open trout season all year long) and nearly forgetting the coffee we embarked on our 5 1/2 hour trip at 3am. Despite the fact that the GPS seemed to malfunction and take over like a scene out of 2001:A Space Odyssey … “RiverBums, just what do you think you’re doing RiverBums…?” we actually enjoyed the scenic detour in the back roads of North western Wisconsin and North eastern Iowa. The river ran right through beautiful hills, private farms, and tons of cows. We’re not kidding, at one point, AC almost snagged a black one with a famous one of her colossal casts.
Dad at the French Creek in Iowa
We had heard from the clerk at our local orvis shop that this here, French Creek, was stocked with brown and rainbow trout. And he wasn’t kidding. The minute we pulled up, hopped out and made our way down to the river, we saw 5 dozen schools of trout just waiting to be netted. But, what the clerk forgot to mention was how skittish and smart these frickn trout were.
Every time we cast out a fly, the trout squirmed away, acting too proud for our flies. No wonder they call this the FRENCH creek river…”Wee, we are da trout dat occupy de franch river and we do not like yor emerican crap you call flies. Be gone you pathetic air breavers and take yor ugly faces wit you.” Leave it to the french to run away with their tails between their gills at the slightest indication of invasion.
The river was very shallow and clear, which meant that sneaking up on them was going to be difficult. Unlike smallies, trout are easily frightened and with clear water like the french, they can see when someone approaches. Not to mention the dozens of cows that sip from the water and make them scurry about. These trout were also use to several fishermen as we had heard from the grapevine (A local grape farmer, no joke!) that this river had seen it’s share of country suitors with rods high in hand. But, we fished it anyways, and after a couple hours of nothing, we moved on.
Fall Colors in Iowa
Caterpillar on it’s way to the river
(This is the same patterned wooly bugger fly we were using)
Just a few miles down the road ran the Upper Iowa river. It was truly an angler’s dream to have 2 beautiful rivers nearly side by side. This time, we left our fly rods in the car and went for the bait casters. We found a nice cozy wading spot beneath a bridge. We hiked down and started casting up river. We noticed pretty quickly that we were getting hits but nothing was biting. So, we hiked back up to the bridge to see what was hitting our lures. Turns out there were about 50 huge carp wading in the shade of the bridge catching things floating down the river. We stood up there, what seemed to be a good hour, just watching their maneuvers. If there’s one thing that kills a fisherman it’s being able to see the fish and not catch it!
However, after making our way down under the bridge again, Dad was able to land a smallie with a hollow belly pattern. The bass was trolling behind the carp picking off eggs and food scraps…
Dad’s well earned smallie on the Upper Iowa River
Dad releasing the smallie
We stood casting in that one spot for a good 20 minutes until we realized nothing else was going to bite us. So we made our way back up. However, on our hike up, Dad found a small path that followed the river down a bit more. Dad took the path and instructed AC to go to the top of the bridge. Once the bums were in their designated spots, Dad casted to where AC motioned to behind the carp. AC could see the smallies waiting some 10 feet behind the carp, bobbing for eggs. So, AC pointed for Dad to cast and he would cast in hopes of catching a smallie. It may seem like cheating, having one bum as the lookout and one fishing. But, we were desperate. And a RiverBum will do just about anything in desperate times. All of a sudden, Dad was hooked and reeled in what he hoped was a decent smallie. But upon retrieval and further inspection, the fish turned out to be an ugly, smelly and revolting carp…
Dad among the weeds with his last prize Carp as AC shoots from atop the bridge.
(It’s no coincidence this picture didn’t turn out well, carp stink!)
So with one smallie and a carp, we packed up and headed home from Iowa. And the score was AC : 0 Dad: 2.
Weekend 2/Day 1: Milwaukee River
It is a rare occasion for a RiverBum to sleep past the wee hours of 4am. But, since our fishing destination for the day was only Milwaukee, we figured a few extra hours of beauty sleep would be good for Dad. Ok, so maybe it would take a whole months worth of beauty sleep to fix that face, but atleast he’s the one who’s catching all the fishing! Ouch, AC is gonna need a bandaid for that one.
So after a snappy one hour drive, we made it to the Milwaukee River, in hopes of some steelies. The spot we usually wade into is quite contrary to our remote and scenic wade in areas of Western/Northern Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa. We park in a power plant lot beside about 4 or 5 other fishermen’s cars. This time of the season is perfect for Salmon. They are laying their eggs and then dying off and fly fishermen flock here to snag them. We say Yuck! There is nothing worse than a rotting salmon, ok maybe AC not catching any fish. OUCH, someone get that girl some antibitotics! Call us crazy, but we don’t think standing in one spot for several hours trolling an orange egg pattern all day and POSSIBLY snagging a salmon is fun. But, we realize there are fishermen out there who do enjoy that. And we say, “Thank you God! All the more for us!” Cause while those BoringBums snag salmon, we fight for the Steelies.
The water was a perfect height and the temperature was just right for steelies. The only problem was that it was a bit early for them. Steelies would start making their way from Lake Michigan down through the Milwaukee as Fall and winter approach. But, we were opptomistic as we casted out our hollow belly patterns that had worked so well for us last season (Dad caught his giant brown here in the winter and AC caught her rainbow in late Fall, both on hollow belly trout patterns.)
AC waded one sit of the river as Dad took the other. They weren’t going to let any water pass them by. But, as time went by, we became seperated and at one point could not see eachother as we were so fixed on catching the first steelie of the season. But, it was Dad’s scream from afar that snapped AC out of her concentrated state and had her fleeing in the water towards him. Bear? Serial Killer? A mirror? What could have Dad screaming in such fear??…….
A smallie! Yes my friends, on a day of hoping and praying for steelies, Dad goes and catches himself a smallie. And in 40 degree water in early October. What have the waters come too?
Dad’s smallie on the Milwaukee
(Took the picture himself)
Dad couldn’t hold the smallie much longer for AC so he snapped the photo himself. Good, cause AC wouldn’t have believed him otherwise. So for the day a surprising, AC: 0 Dad: 1 Despite Dad being the champ for the day, AC was the one with the fans. A huge stalker salmon was on AC’s tail for much of the day. If you notice the fin popping out the water as AC snapped the picture below. A peeping fish indeed as it finally scurried away at the sight of her flash. No, not that flash!
Huge salmon following AC
Day 2: ************* River (Sorry hafta kill ya)
So you are probably thinking, why did they go back to the ********** river (Sorry hafta kill)? Well, we found ourselves checking the weather late Saturday night in this particular town where it was going to be a high of 85 and sunny. So, we packed up, woke up around the usual time (3 am) and made our way to the best smallie river we know…
Dad uprooting a tree and boulder.
So, call it magic or voodoo or just plain great fishing, but we caught close to a dozen smallies this day. AC finally caught a fish in over a 2 week dry spell and the Bums were happy to be back. They had thought that the ********** River (Sorry, hafta kill ya) was in it’s hybernation stage and that the Bums would have to go yet another 6 months without a smallie fix. But, the almighty fishing God granted the Bums one last safe passage and were allowed a few trophies…
After 8 hours of fishing and a decent score of smallies, we headed home. The score was finally evened with AC: 5 Dad: 7.
Weekend 3: Return to Milwaukee River
Mid October, cool temperatures and rain. The Bums are a bit bummed out since we couldn’t make the drive to Michigan on account of 40 degree weather, 30 mph winds, and rain. That’s fall fishing for ya, my friends. So, we decided to try our hand at the Milwaukee again. Word on the river was that the steelies were hitting. But, salmon season was ending and the steelies were only in the mood for eggs since there was plenty around. We didn’t want to give in and went with our casters again with hollow bellies. When we arrived at our first spot, we noticed a crowd we didn’t want to be apart of…
Can you count how many fishermen are fishing one spot? We can and it’s too frickn much!
Now it’s time to play “Fishing for a date.” This is a new segment of this blog and due to the increase of online dating sites, we thought we would help out those lonely fishermen. So we would like to introduce you to the lovely man in the picture below, Juanes. Don’t let Juanes’ black crocs, rolled up sweat pants, and $20 spinner rod fool you. Juanes enjoys long walks on the beach, romantic dinners at Popeyes, and shopping at the local Walmart. He isn’t one to shy away from an adventure as he can spend hours in his trusty lawn chair on a rock fishing for salmon below the rapids. Juanes isn’t just looking for the perfect date, he is looking for the perfect life partner that owns their own lawn chair. Oh and perferably women who can cook fish…
Ladies, this one is single and “fishing” for a date…
So, we weren’t so much in the mood for chatting with the bum next to us and found a more remote spot to fish. You see, with the salmon dying off, fishermen flock to this river because it’s all the more incentive to catch the fish and cook them for dinner. Since the fish are dying, why not keep and eat them anyways. Ya, if you like half rotting salmon and a little mercury! You could have left your rod at home and just grabbed a salmon from the water…
Salmon dying off for the year
The smell was everywhere. The whole river smelled of dying salmon. And if you want to know the difference between a fresh salmon and a dying one, you just have to smell it. The fresh salmon were actually quite vivacious, splashing in the rapids and almost pink with sharp silver lines. The dying ones are greenish brown like the one above. Hence, the dead aspect!
And we’re we going to smell a salmon or what? Cause just as we got in the river, Dad caught a 25 lbs. salmon on hollow belly! Take that you egg troll fishermen!…
A good 10 minute fight with the salmon
Dad’s 25 lbs. salmon
The best part about this catch, was the fly fisherman behind Dad. Notice the first picture of Dad netting the salmon, in the left hand side is a wide mouthed flyman trolling eggs. He had been there all morning and Dad caught one on his 4th cast. Classic RiverBum!
So until next time, we’ll see ya on the other side of the river…
AC & Dad