Archive for October 2012

NY Times Magazine: Photos of Alaskan Sockeye Salmon   1 comment

A friend clued me in this morning to an online article in the NY Times Magazine about the Sockeye Salmon run in the rivers of Bristol Bay in Alaska. It’s worth a look. Amazing creatures, these Salmon are…


From the NY Times Magazine Online - Click image to jump to the article.

From the NY Times Magazine Online – Click image to jump to the article.



Superior X-Legs: The Fly of Choice for Brule Steelheaders   Leave a comment

The Superior X-Legs fly is the eponymous fly for those looking to catch Steelhead in Lake Superior tributary rivers. It is a nymph pattern created by Duluth’s Jim Pollack that many anglers swear by.


Superior X-Legs Nymph - Click for Recipe at the Fly By Night Guide Service Website

Superior X-Legs Nymph – Click for Recipe at the Fly By Night Guide Service Website


A common rig used on the Brule is to tie on the X-Legs below a float or indicator, and then tie an egg pattern below the X-Legs as a dropper (I like to use “Trout Beads”). The X-Legs bumps along near the bottom and the egg flutters along behind it.


Here’s the “Salmonid Seeker”, Dustin, with an excellent video showing how the fly is tied. Check out his YouTube channel for other videos of Steelhead flies. I’ll be trying out a few myself.



Parfrey’s Glen in Sauk County, Wisconsin   5 comments

Stephen Rose and I got the crew back together for a road trip up to Parfrey’s Glen. I think the secret may be out on this place. It was closed down for a few years because the trails were blown out after big rain storms, but today there were plenty of visitors. A beautiful, sunny fall day calls for just such an adventure.

I’ve got loads of pictures below, and I think I’ll just let them do the talking…




The Sheboygan River was fun   3 comments

Stephen Rose, George Reynolds and I fished the Sheboygan River today, and we saw way more fish than anyone should expect to see in one day on a river.

Salmon are crazed, sex-driven zombie-monster fish that are incredibly-impressive natural specimens. They are, as I may have mentioned before, very impressive. Nearly every fish we saw today was a King Salmon. They are all, impressively, equivalently-shaped and sized, meaning they are big. I would guess each one is fifteen pounds and about thirty inches long. That’s big. They can move from the mouth of the river to the falls in Kohler in less than twenty four hours. They are made to swim vigorously up stream, through fast and slow water, jumping if necessary. They are not concerned about anything aside from finding a nice place and a nice partner, and once those two conditions have been met, just leave them the eff alone because it’s time to squeeze out some eggs and milt and then die.

Therein lies the conundrum of fishing for lake-run salmon. They aren’t interested in you or your damned flies. Not in the least. In fact they would prefer that you all just go away. Getting a salmon to “eat” your fly is, for me anyway, nigh-on impossible, because they aren’t hungry! They can get pissed, or curious. And then they might snap at your fly. And then you will have hooked one in the mouth. But there’s this thing called “foul hooking”, which is different from “Fair Hooking”. Foul hooking means you have hooked a fish somewhere away from the fish’s mouth, like the dorsal fin or the tail fin. And this happens a lot because when you drift or swing flies through a pod of salmon the hook often sweeps over them. What you’re trying to do is sweep the fly in front of them so they get pissed and snap at it, but as often as your fly goes in front of them, it also goes past them and over them.

So then you have a fifteen pound, thirty-inch-long muscle hooked in a spot that allows the fish to have incredible resistance to your direction of pull. But you don’t necessarily know if the damned thing is hooked right or wrong, so you play the fish (instead of just snapping the fly off your line with a mighty pull). You play the fish because it feels like the biggest freaking monster you’ve ever had on your line and you just want to hoist that thing up a look at it, and then get your picture taken.

So you play it and play it and play it and it goes up and down the river and hunkers down in the holes and mingles with other salmon who say “Nice new piercing, Larry” and so forth, and then maybe when you get a look at it you see that the brilliant monster is hooked on a fin, and then you feel like a jack-ass because you’ve tormented this fish for thirty minutes only to find out the poor, sex-crazed, dying beast wasn’t sportingly hooked in the mouth, and then you can snap it off.

At least that’s what a guy like me, who hasn’t done this much, has come to conclude.

All that being said, the Sheboygan River in Kohler is a very beautiful place that I intend to visit again. And I am grateful to George for his hospitality, patience, flies and sandwiches, and I hope to repay the favor to him soon in the Driftless or the Brule or who-knows-where! I had a great day, and feeling the tug of those beasts on the line is really a thrill, no doubt about it.

Also, I’m not sure, but I think I hooked that fish I’m holding below in the mouth. Honestly I was too thrilled to have it in my hands to remember from whence the hook came as George was removing it. I felt like I’d just gotten off a bucking bronco and was happy to have that prize in my hands. These salmon are wonderful, beautiful (and impressive) creatures and watching them today was a great experience.


A female King Salmon in the Sheboygan River

A female King Salmon in the Sheboygan River


George and me in Sheboygan

George and me in Sheboygan


The reason for the season - Salmon Eggs

The reason for the season – Salmon Eggs


Stephen with a lunker on

Stephen with a lunker on


A thirty minute wrestling match with a large fish in Sheboygan

A thirty minute wrestling match with a large fish in Sheboygan


To the Sheboygan!   Leave a comment

Tomorrow I’m heading to Sheboygan with my fishing buddy Stephen, where we’ll meet up with George, a local Sheboygan-area fly-fisherman, for some Sheboygan River Salmon Fishing (S.R.S.F.).

I’m hoping for a few Kings and maybe some Coho. Sheboygan got 3.2 inches of rain over the weekend. The only question mark is whether the water will “look like cappuccino” in George’s words.

I’m hoping to do like this guy tomorrow…


I geeked out this morning and did some extrapolating (or is it forecasting?). The last time the Sheboygan River was up to 450 CFS was in June, and it came down under 200 CFS in a couple days.



Sheboygan Flow June 2012

Sheboygan Flow June 2012


I traced the downward-sloping flow rate and plastered it onto the tail end of the flow graph as of this morning, and by tomorrow the flow should be below 200 CFS. Which hopefully means we won’t drown and there will be some new fish in the river.


Sheboygan Flow Oct 2012

Sheboygan Flow Oct 2012


That’s the theory anyway.

For any of you thinking this data would be worth banking a trip on tomorrow, I’d suggest you wait until I get back so you can read my trip report before deciding to head out.



Brule Steelhead Numbers: 2011-2012   1 comment

Check out the document below on the Brule Steelhead numbers for 2011-2012. The overall run last fall/spring was nearly half of what it has been since 2004. However, the spring run was as big as it’s been in recent history. Looks like those wild Brule Steelhead have strong instincts!

It looks like the Brule rose just a hair this past week. And there’s rain in the forecast this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!


2011-2012 Brule River Steelhead

Bang the image to blow it up!



My 1994 Toyota Previa, aka, “The Jay Ford Thurston”, has seen better days   Leave a comment

Those of you who are fans of my sweet minivan will be saddened by the picture you are about to see. The JFT was involved in an on-the-road altercation last month and lost a headlight, cracked a grill, and narrowly avoided an “un-plumbed” radiator.

I removed all of the suspect parts, straightened out some metal with hammers and crow bars, and drilled out all of the bolts I snapped off while trying to carefully remove things.

At the moment, the vehicle looks a bit like a squirrel that got its eyeballs popped out by an eighteen-wheeler.

But there’s hope. I’ve got two brand-spankin’-new headlight assemblies coming in the mail that will get installed this coming weekend, and thanks to my craftiness in all things related to re-bending sheet metal, you’ll be hard-pressed to see any evidence of hardship on the part of the J.F. Thurston-mobile. In fact, I may finally be able to drive down the road at night an actually see what the hell is in front of me. 90’s era Previa headlights are notoriously dim.

I’ll put another picture up after the new headlights are installed, because I understand how important this is to each an every one of you now reading this.


My 1994 Previa Minivan, affectionately named the "Jay Ford Thurston"

My 1994 Previa Minivan, affectionately named the “Jay Ford Thurston”