With the previous two weekends up in Michigan ending without fish, I decided to stay local for the last of my free weekends. I had things to do around the house and the DRiFT/ISA Early Show that I wanted to get to. Plus, it didn't hurt to avoid burning the gas.
With a quick look at the forecast and a call to the guys up at The Fly Fishers in Milwaukee, I hatched a plan to sneak out for a few hours. As I was putting my phone down, digesting the report, it rang. CJ had the same idea and we agreed to leave early Saturday and be on the river at sunrise. It would be a cold day, but hopefully one with at least a couple of fish.
We hit the river just after the sun came up, threw on our waders and headed down. The Milwaukee is by no means a secret place and if you've fished it, I'm sure you know what I mean. There's a ton of water to fish, but always a few other guys you'll be sharing it with. Today would be no different as the first few holes we wanted were taken, and we bumped down to another spot I was hoping might hold some browns.
As we slowly waded downstream we noticed some shadows moving and what looked like salmon kicked around as they took their last few breaths. Just below them, a few browns rolling and feeding in a hole just downstream. It seemed like we had found the gold at the end of the rainbow. I had finally found some fish. Now just to try to get one to eat.
It was short lived as the first few casts moved the fish out of the hole and downstream in to some deeper water. We continued to cast and move downstream, fishing the darkness protecting the weary browns. Time seemed to slow. With every cast that came up empty, I lost a bit more hope. As CJ and I changed flies, indicator depths, anything we could, the little bit of fire I had burning for fall lake run fish seemed to fizzle out. I hate to admit it, but the feeling of defeat is a painful one, but I just couldn't fight it.
I don't hang my head, nor end the season in frustration. This isn't the first fall that may end without hooking up, and I'm sure it won't be my last. But getting to spend time with Jay, Nate and CJ was a blast. Seeing two rivers that are so different, but beautiful in their own ways, can't be beat. I don't take my fishing trips for granted. I get out, but would love to spend even more time on the water. When you can only spend a day or a weekend chasing these fish, I've learned you're really rolling the dice. If things don't line up in that day or day and a half I can get away, it's tough on the psyche. So I try to focus on the good times and good company and consider the fishing the upside. I'm hoping it won't be the last time, but if it is, I'm not worried. It'll only make me want it more over the Winter and ensure I get out again this Spring. I may have struck out this fall, but who knows what's around the next bend.