Rob Kolakowski

Rob Kolakowski began fishing at age 2. He has been fly fishing for the last 25 years and teaches casting and beginning fly fishing. He's the vice president of the Western Wisconsin Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America and belongs to several other conservation organizations.

Posts about Fishing

Part II - Out of the Ordinary

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: July 29, 2009 - 10:42 PM

Where do you find carp on the Great Lakes? You’ll have to discover exact spots on your own. For some reason we had plenty of company this year in one of our carp‘n locations. You’ll find that after you catch a number of fish they will vacate the area, so more people equates to less opportunity per person. To find the fish look for shallow rocky areas that are home to a good population of crayfish. Common carp have crushers in their throats, so hard foods like crayfish are not a problem for them to eat.

Look for a stable weather pattern to get them in a feeding mood. Cold fronts and high winds really mess things up. You’ll find them cruising the drop off in search of pockets of warm water. They are hard to catch in this state. A breeze or a light wind blowing into shore will push warm surface water into the shallows. A good amount of daytime sun will heat things up and provide the visibility needed to get your fly in front of the fish. The best fishing seems to come when it is miserably hot and sunny during the summer months. Dead calm conditions can test your nerves and send the fish packing when you try to drop your fly in their vicinity. You may find carp lazing or rafting around just under the surface. I suspect they are soaking up the sun. It’s rare to get these fish to take a fly. Fish that are moving around slowly near the bottom in shallow water will offer you a good opportunity. If you see one head down and tail up, like it’s inspecting a crayfish den, get your fly in front of it. This will be your best chance for a hook up.

An 8 weight rod with a weight forward floating line will work good. Something that loads up quick for casts of 20 to 60 feet. Big Great Lakes carp will definitely test the strength of your eight weight rod with their large fins and bulky body. The farthest I had them run is about 150 yards. Make sure you have enough line and backing to handle that distance or more. Even the small ones can take you into the backing. An abrasion resistant leader of about 10ft is a good staring point with tippets of 8-14lb test. Start heavy until you get a feel for what the fish can do. You’ll also lose less flies to the rocks. We found fluorocarbon sparkles and spooks the fish so use tough monofilament instead. For flies use something that represents a crayfish. The pattern does not have to be exact. Something weighted to get to the bottom and about one and a half to three inches long.

Carp will chase down your fly when in the mood or refuse everything you throw at them. They are challenging, exciting , and the experience will be memorable. Lastly, watch your knuckles when they’re headed for the deep.

Fly Fishing the Soup

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: May 6, 2009 - 1:14 AM

Sometimes you are not able to check the water conditions before you go fishing. What do you do when you get to the water and find the river or stream level is up and it’s looking murky? If it’s looking like chocolate milk, then flies are not going to work very well.

If you have the time and means head up river until you find clearer water. The farther you go the clearer it should get. The small tributaries will be the first to clear after the rain, that is if they even got all that dirty. The sediment will move downstream leaving the headwaters clear while the lower river may still be brown. The middle of the system will be the various shades in between. This holds true for most systems, but not all. I have seen rivers that will be dirty up river and clearer down. This is usually due to excess soil erosion in the upper river that does not exist further down. A little rain will muck up the upper river and settle out before it gets downstream. If you get a lot of rain you can bet that the whole river will be off. If the soil was stable in the upper watershed then the whole system would run clearer.

If going up river is too far, than another alternative is to find some small tributaries that dump into the river near your location. These should provide clearer water where the fish can see the fly.

Somewhere in the system you may find that wonderful color in between. Water clarity is just plain ok. It’s not clear and it is not dark. This can be the place to catch good numbers of fish and some big ones. Use some good sized streamers and have at it. The fish are less spooky in these conditions and know that plenty of food will be washed downriver. They can’t make out your fly real well and will get on it before it gets away. Cast to likely fish holding spots and be ready for whatever comes.

Lets say you are stuck fishing real dark water. Flies don’t make a lot of noise unless you are using surface poppers. The fish are not going to move far to get something they can’t see or hear. Use the biggest flies that the fish will eat. This usually means a good sized streamer. You’d be surprised how big of fly a fish will try to chomp. My favorite color is black for all species. It has a good silhouette in both clear and dark water.

If the flies are not working you can prick their sense of smell with bait or call them in with the sound of hardware. Sometimes you have to fish the soup or go home.

He said the trout fishing's been real good

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: April 29, 2009 - 10:32 PM

Have you ever gone fishing and had a wonderful day on the water? Everything was working out in your favor. The weather was just right and the fish were liking what you were tossing in front of them. And if that was not enough, you had the whole place to yourself. These are days you tell your family and friends about. You even share the joy with people you meet at the tackle shop when stopping in to pick up some necessities on your way to your next outing. All fisherman like to hear stories of success, so why not spread the joy.

When I was in the fly shop yesterday an employee and I listened to an angler tell his story. He spoke of the wonderful day he had on a trout stream in Wisconsin. His contented smile turned to a sick worried look when we told him that the trout fishing season was closed.

This is the point where I’ll inject some words of wisdom for all. Read the regulations. It’s not a good idea to assume that you’ll be within the law if you do the same thing you did last year. Regulations and fishing season dates change. This is why they are updated every year. A wise fisherman would read them cover to cover. If the places you fish and the techniques you use vary quite a bit, you’d do good to get a few copies. One for home, one for the boat, and one for the vehicle. Also check for signs at the boat launch or access points on the river. They will tell you regulations that are specific to the body of water you are on.

If your going to be trout fishing in Wisconsin, watch out for the five days that it is closed between the early catch&release season and the regular fishing season. I’ve talked to a few people who have mistakenly been on the water at this time. The chances are pretty good that the fishing will be one of those days that you tell everyone about. The chances are also good that the warden will not share in the joy when you tell him you were having a wonderful time with the fishing all to yourself.

The fisherman relaxed a little when he realized we were not going to rat him out. He did not say where he was going after picking up some flies, but I suspect it was home.



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