This fall saw our Wisconsin waters lower than normal, but the fish didn’t seem to mind. There was a large run of kings, an exceptionally large run of cohos, and a few early-run browns. Oddly the cohos came in with the kings. Normally they run near the end of the king spawn. And, oddly, the cohos were quite closed mouth. In normal years, the cohos are very aggressive, taking streamers with gusto, and even sucking skated dries off the surface. Oddly, too, there was a small run of browns mixed in with the salmon. They, too, usually come in much later—near the end of the coho run. So, we found all three in the rivers at the same time. Perhaps there will be a later run of browns and steelhead, perhaps not.
The kings were about as cooperative as they every get. That is, a day of ten fish fairly hooked and landed is a good day. Because I use barbless hooks, my fairly-hooked to landed ratio of usually about 10 to 6—some days better, some days worse. The fish often throw the hook when the get into shallower water and have a chance to wallow about wildly.
I was initiating Jason’s SC20 rod this year, so I used it when fishing for browns and cohos. I carried the four sections of the rod in a tube slung over my back, and the reel in my vest. When I encountered browns and likely looking cohos, I would assemble the SC20 and fish with it. As noted in an earlier post, the first fish on the SC2o was a 14 lb, 11 oz. hen brown. It took the size 6 Hair Leg Woolly Worm on the second good drift. I also took a 22 inch brown of about 5 pounds and a 26 inch brown of 9 pounds with the rod. A 33 inch male coho inhaled a size 2 Icicle on the third cast. It showed interest on the first cast, chased the fly a short ways on the second cast, and then grabbed it fiercely on the third cast. It fought with all the rigors of a big male coho.
On the fourth day of the trip, the night temperature dropped sharply and the fish got lock-jaw. I took only two kings during the warmest part of the day, and the forecast was for even colder night temperatures. I cut the trip short, and headed home. It had been a good trip, plenty of big kings, three nice browns, and one really fine male coho.
One of my favorite riffles showing the low water conditions. Typically the gravel bars are well underwater.
Low water or not, the kings flooded in.
The big kings are very powerful and if they want to wallow, run, jump, then they do exactly that.
Bright kings like this one will give you more than a decent tussle on a 9-weight.
This year, our leaves hung on longer than normal, so even in late October, there was plenty of leaf color.
The 14 lb 11 oz hen brown was the first fish on Jason’s SC20 (also shown in a earlier blog).
This 22 inch brown was holding in a deep slot and took the bead head Hair Leg Woolly Worm very positively.
This big male brown took the bead head Hair Leg Wooly Worm on the the third drift, and the 905 SC20 handled it with ease.
The big male coho grab be the swinging Icicle, cast on the SC20, on the third pass. It fought just as nastily as it looks (also shown in an earlier post).