While David was on the Root, my friend Niall and I make tracks for the Milwaukee. We were hoping to find less people and more water and that is what transpired. The river was on its way down, still relatively full but clear. Perfect conditions to swing. Niall is much more experienced than I am with the long rod, fishing the Milwaukee quite often and heading to the beautiful West Coast steelhead rivers a couple of times each year.
We parked, hoofed it down to the river and, before I had even rigged up, Niall was into a fish. A short fight later a beautiful, dark male was brought to hand, documented for posterity, and released. A few minutes after that Niall hooked up with another but had him come unbuttoned. And that just about finished up the fish catching for the day. David corroborated the same story: fish in the morning and nothing later in the warm, bright sun. The water was around 40 degrees.
Not yet having the proper lines, heads, and tips to swing with my new switch rod I rigged it up to nymph. I was excited to bomb roll casts and have the extra length to execute long mends. Let’s just say that it didn’t really work out as romantically as I had imagined. The wind was really blowing all day long, and almost killed Niall on the Root but we will get to that later, which certainly didn’t make things any easier. But overall, overhead casting and single hand roll casting with the 11′ 3″ rod was quite a workout especially with a heavy nym
phing rig and indicator. I was able to make it work, but it certainly wasn’t ideal, and I would have preferred to have my 9 or 10 footer. One of the main problems I have overhead casting longer rods is the loss of accuracy. When you are bombing Spey casts to cover water the long rods are the proper tool. They are not when you are trying to tuck cast a nymph rig into a specific current seam. Eventually I was able to finagle some good drifts in a historically productive run and caught 3 big, golden suckers. Or as I prefer to call them, Midwestern Dorado.
We decided to change venues and try to meet up with David and his group on the Root but by the time we got there he had conveniently bailed for the Mars Cheese Castle. We talked to a couple of people and the consensus was that nobody had been catching much of anything. I still wanted to hit a couple of holes so we took a stroll. If it had been windy in Milwaukee, and it had, it was blowing twice as hard in Racine. Without any wind breaks it was borderline unfishable. After fishing for about 20 minutes Niall was watching me fish a run when we heard a loud “CRACK!” and a huge branch smashed into the water no less than 12 inches from where he stood. We looked at each other, reeled up our lines, and walked back to the car. Clearly, it was time to head home.