Gumbo's Salmon Page

This information is provided by R. J. Brown, aka "gumbo".

I am not a professional fisherman;
I am a computer consultant who just likes to fly fish.

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What the salmon run is all about.

(Thanks to "Pearls before Swine")
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Lake Michigan at Racine Harbor

This is the view from the jetty of Lake Michigan at Racine Harbor, where the mouth of the Root River empties into the lake. Notice the line where the muddy river water meets the clear lake water. This is where the salmon are staging in late August, waiting for the first big rains to increase the flow from the river. When the rains come, the salmon enter the river. Until that time, they stage in the harbor area, and anglers take them on spinning tackle, using 8 to 12 pound line. Favorite lures at this time are green, orange, or chartruesse "Little Cleo" and "Krocodile" spoons, in weights from 1/2 to 1 ounce, depending on the wind. You need to cast long distance to catch these fish at this time of year, so spoons are preferred. Fish the jetty just south of the harbor entrance, and try to work the edge of the mud line.

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Late Summer Lake Salmon Catch

Here is a nice salmon taken on a green 3/4 oz. Little Cleo spoon in late August at Racine Harbor at the mouth of the Root River. This one fought for about 20 minutes before being landed. She was revived and released. The large boulders of the jetty can be pretty rugged, and get slippery when they become wet, so be sure to wear tough rubber soled boots when fishing here.

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My First Salmon

After a couple of tries in early September, with no salmon to show for my efforts, I heard on the Steelhead Site that Rich Brown, the Fishin' Fatman was going to be holding a "salmon seminar" on the Root River at, of all the absurd times, 4 AM! I went to the Fatman's site and verified this via email to the Fatman himself, who said that indeed it was true. At 4 AM on a Thursday morning, he would teach whoever would come how to catch salmon. It sounded good to me, so I was there. Rich taught us how to tie a dropper split shot leader, and how to work it so it "ticked" lightly on the bottom during the drift. When it was 30 minutes before sunrise, we were all in the water at the dam in the Root River. It wasn't 30 seconds after we started to fish that Rich calmly said, "I've got one on." That show off! Well, it wasn't 20 minutes before I landed my first salmon, whose portrait you see to the left. Rich took this picture of my first salmon, not of me, but of the salmon. He chopped my head off. He's a great fisherman, but could use a little improvment as a photographer.

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My First Salmon, a Better Shot of Me

This is another shot of my first salmon. Rich also took this picture. He got a better shot of me, but he cut the tail off the fish. Oh well, without his great help, there would not have been any fish! This fish was taken on a black wooley bugger with an orange deer hair egg on a number 8 salmon hook.

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Another Salmon Seminar Success Story

Here is a really big female king salmon. This one was almost 40 inches long, and weighed 32 pounds. The successful angler was another participant in the Fatman's Root River Salmon Seminar. This was his first salmon also. Note the darkness in these shots. All these fish were caught before sunrise. Rich stresses the importance of getting to the river in time to start fishing 30 minutes before sunrise, when fishing is first allowed. It seems that the fish get to relax overnight, and are more easily caught first thing in the morning before they realize you are fishing for them.

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Salmon Seminar Double

This fisherman had tried for several years to catch a salmon, but with no success. After one Salmon Seminar with the Fatman, he received this double blessing. These fish were taken below the Route 38 bridge near the dam on the Root River.

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A Beautiful Day on the Milwaukee River

The Milwaukee River is a larger river than the Root, and tends to be clearer. Whereas on the Root you pretty much need to use chuck and duck tactics, the Milwaukee has enough room so that you can get clearance for a good back cast. I like to swing larger spey style wet flies here, and had good success with this style of fishing. I find this more fun than chuck and duck, even if I might not catch as many fish. Compare the water clarity to the picture of the Root River above.

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Fish On!

An angler battles a salmon on the Milwaukee River. These are big fish, and can easily break a tippet, so a reel with a good drag is an important weapon to help win the battle. Do not be tempted, as I once was, to tighten the drag beyond the point where it exceeds the tippet strength, unless, of course, you want to practice catch and release without ever touching the fish.

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Fish Landed!

Here is the result of the above battle. This fine male was taken on an olive caddis nymph pattern.

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A Successful Day on the Milwaukee River

These obviously happy anglers proudly display their trophies after a successful day salmon fishing on the Milwaukee River.

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Waiting for the Fisherman to Return

Our cat, Tornado, patiently waits for my return from a salmon fishing trip. He knows he gets the scraps left over after I clean the fish, and he loves sashimi!

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Robert J. Brown
Last modified: Thu Feb 7 13:05:10 CST 2002