Wisconsin Urban Salmon

You fly fished for salmon where?” That’s a question an acquaintance asked me when I described my introduction to fly fishing for salmon in Wisconsin. A few months after moving from Montana to Illinois, my friend, Leon, took me to the Milwaukee River. It was a cool, damp day in October, and the King Salmon were moving into the river from Lake Michigan.

I brought a nine-foot, eight-weight Orvis rod, and I managed to land a couple of salmon which attacked my purple and pink woolly bugger. I also foul-hooked a couple of others. That was inevitable given the number of salmon moving up the river.

What struck me about the stretch of river we fished was its proximity to civilization.

We were fly fishing the Milwaukee River in Estabrook Park, a half mile east of a McDonald’s on East Capitol Drive in Milwaukee, just four miles north of downtown Milwaukee. It seemed odd to fly fish just minutes from the Bradley Center, home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. On a more macabre note, we were only five miles from the apartment complex where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered most of his victims. Then again, I’ve fly fished in Montana within sight of the spot where another serial killer murdered one of his victims. But that’s a story for another time.

Surprisingly, when I walked down the path from one of the parking lots in Estabrook Park to the Milwaukee River, it was if I had been transported to another world. Hardwood and softwood trees lined the river, their orange and yellow leaves fluttering in the breeze. When the morning fog lifted, the sun seemed to set them on fire. Other than an occasional siren, all I could hear was the sound of the river and the chirping of birds. Once I heard a dog bark. A few times, I heard Leon whoop when he hooked into a feisty salmon a few yards to my right. To be sure, the river did not run as clear as the Yellowstone in Montana. But I could easily see the pods of salmon darting their way up the river.

I’ve caught fish miles away from anywhere. But on this day, I caught fish blocks away from anything you might want — restaurants, a major university, a hospital, and even a professional sports venue and concert arena. No, it wasn’t the Yellowstone. But it didn’t need to be. Those urban salmon didn’t realize they were “city slickers.” They didn’t fight any more or less than the “rural” salmon I’ve hooked on the Wilson River in Alaska. Nor did they have more metropolitan tastes than the big browns on the Madison when it came to the flies I was using to catch them.

It was a good day on the river, and I had plenty of time to reflect on it as the rush-hour traffic slowed to a crawl when we drove out of downtown Milwaukee.

Episode 15: Gary Borger on Fly Fishing Spring Creeks

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Fly fishing spring creeks is not like fly fishing the big freestone rivers of the American West. In this episode, we interview fly fishing legend Gary Borger on fishing in the Upper Midwest and, specifically, how to fish spring creeks.

Listen to Gary Borger on Fly Fishing Spring Creeks now.

At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

What adjustments have you made when fly fishing spring creeks?

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Episode 6: Gary Borger on “A River Runs Through It”

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A River Runs Through It is not so about fly fishing as it is about the love for a family member when you don’t understand him or her. In this episode, we interview Gary Borger, fly fishing legend, entrepreneur, and consultant to the movie “A River Runs Through It.” Gary recounts how he changed the script from “fly pole” to “fly rod.” He tells story after story of the great moments on the set, which was filmed mostly in Montana’s gorgeous Gallatin Valley. Listen to Episode 6: Gary Borger on the Making of “A River Runs Through It”

Listen now to “The Making of the ‘A River Runs Through It'”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last segment of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoy hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experiences.

Are you a fan of the movie “A River Runs Through it”? What moves you most about the movie? Who is your favorite character?

By the way, we’d love for you to refer our podcast to a friend, your TU chapter, or fly fishing club. Be sure to pass along our podcast to others.

More Content about the movie “A River Runs Through It”

Here are other two other posts about the movie “A River Runs Through It”:

    Fun Facts about the Making of “A River Runs Through It”

    Reflections on “A River Runs Through It”

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Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

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The Fly Fisher’s Book of Lists

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