I hit Black Earth Creek this afternoon and found trout of all sizes sipping and slamming BWOs fluttering along the surface. I got hits on an Elk Hair Caddis and Adams Parachute, but could not get a hook set.
Cast after cast and the fish just kept ignoring my offerings, but nailing the real bugs. It would have been a perfect scene to film for a National Geographic special on trout or mayflies, with the camera following the bug from larvae to hatching to drying out on the surface, and finally on to that critical step of getting airborne. Some make it, some don’t…
I went subsurface with a Prince Nymph and hooked up with a nice Brown. Then back to work.
The photo below shows how I felt on the ride back in, having missed my chance at a handful of nice fish on dries. Better luck next time.
Wisconsin Author and Artist Gaylord Shanilec has done a guest post on The Biofresh Blog, a blog on the science, policy, and conservation of freshwater ecosystems. There’s a neat story about his interaction with University of Wisconsin entomologist Clarke Garry. Click on the BioFresh logo below to see the post.
Check out Shanilec’s blog “The River“. He lives near Stockholm, WI on the Mississippi River and has done some incredible art related to the animals and scenes that are common in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin.
Why do fish jump?
I also encourage you to investigate his books and works, and his process of making art from wood engravings. His creativity, skill, and talents are self evident. What a wonderful treasure for Wisconsin!
Baetis sp 1. - Gaylord Shanilec
I had a very enjoyable Sunday. My boys and I had breakfast downtown and spent some time walking around our incredible capitol building (perfect for our incredible state, don’t you think?).
Bode San does the swan - He watched the Karate Kid for the first time last week
Sawyer leaping, Shepard drinking
My name is Sawyer. I'm king of this town.
Back at home we enjoyed the first warm day of spring and planted some veggies in our garden with mom, flew kites at the park, and enjoyed ice cream treats on the shore of Lake Wingra.
Then, at about 3:30, I bid farewell to my wonderful family and headed west in my new 1994 Toyota Previa, known affectionately as “Jay Ford Thurston” with Stephen Rose riding shotgun.
After a short stop at the “Cold Comfort” Farm to ask permission to walk across a field (we were summarily denied by the farm owners girlfriend, who told us “He doesn’t even let me go back there!”, but who was also very friendly and helpful and told us an alternate route to the stream), we were at our stream du jour where we saw some fish rising to midges, BWOs, and maybe some mayflies. Try as we did, nothing would take the artificial versions we offered.
A cool thunderstorm rolled through, a large deer was spotted, and the peanut butter and jelly tasted better than ever. Best of all, we found new territory, complete with rock cliffs and incredible water. The only thing missing were the fish tugging on the line.
I did manage to fool a nice fat brown trout out from under a log in about the most beautiful riffle-into-a-bend pool up against a cliff wall that I’ve ever seen. I will forever have the moment and the image of that place burned into my memory, but I can’t share it with you because I didn’t have a camera and my phone had lost its charge. Perhaps that makes the experience all the more sweet, helping me remember that those things done in life but not caught on film still did happen.
And here’s a plea:
Stephen has been a busy man lately. But I miss his voice on this blog. So if you’re reading this now, send a thought out into the ether to ask Stephen to post some photos of our outing last night, and to write some words about the experience. We were both there yesterday evening. Stephen, did you know that this blog is not currently being considered for any awards? You don’t even need a picture of a fish to make a post! Hell, I just put images of my kids in downtown Madison in my posts (and aren’t they great?)!
Our fine little rowboat is back out on the water. I paid the fees for docking it at the Wingra Boat House a couple weeks ago and put it in the water on Thursday night with the help of my dad visiting from Cedarburg.
My three boys and I went out last evening and fished “The Lagoon” at the insistence of a man in a kayak who’d just come from there. There were certainly lots and lots of fish in the lagoon, and we all had some luck.
This morning we were at it again and I had the opportunity to row around the entire lake. I’m feeling it a bit now in the upper back. My oldest son, Bode, got several panfish on tube jigs, and we made our way around to the Vilas beach and the Zoo, where we spent some time playing on the big zoo playset hoping for the rain to stay away.
Well, the rain came after a little while and I called up my wife and asked her to come pick up the boys to take them home, while I rowed the boat back to the boat house in the rain. On the way back I took the opportunity to use some panfish popper flies along the cattail reeds and got lucky about 10 times. I missed another 10 at least, either because the realized they were being duped or because I pulled the trigger a bit early.
I also saw what looked like some carp making big ripples in the water. It’s my goal to catch carp on a dry fly, so I cast the popper toward the ripples, but no dice.
Below is a shot of the prettiest fish in the lake, the Pumpkinseed. The cool factor of a fish rising to the surface to slurp a fly is definitely present with these panfish, and they put up a good fight on a 3-wt rod.
A Lake Wingra Pumpkinseed - Copyright Tom Anderson-Brown, 2011
I arrived back home sated for the day, having got my fly fishing in, however brief. There was a noted change in my level of stress (or relaxation, for those of you who like the glass half full). Incredible how fooling some fish can alter your mood.
Tomorrow it’s back to the trout stream with Stephen. I hope to get the dry flies out tomorrow to see some beautiful trout rise to take them
On Saturday I went out to the Driftless with my uncle Tony, my cousins Mike and Nathan, and Nathan’s father-in-law Randy. All of these men are true outdoorsmen, logging lots of time in blinds, tree stands, trout streams, and pheasant fields. I’m grateful to have spent the day with them chasing after trout in this beautiful part of our state.
My uncle Tony has been fishing since he was a very little kid. I only realized a few years ago how much of a trout nut he is, and I have him to thank for opening my eyes to all the trout fishing opportunities out there. About three years ago Tony took my son Bode and I out to the Blue Mounds area to fish for trout, and I remember my amazement at how such beautiful, big, healthy fish could live in a stream that’s only 4 feet wide. And unlike many of their lake cousins, trout aren’t scaly and spikey.
Tony grew up fishing with his dad and uncles in the Driftless. The family farm is across the street from Dunlap Creek north of Mazomanie, and Tony has told stories of his uncles pulling plenty of 20″-and-better fish out of that creek. I wish I could have been there.
My cousins Mike and Nathan grew up near my grandfather in the town of Dunn and had summertime trips to trout streams with him. I didn’t know my grandpa was a trout nut either, until just recently. His favorite spot was on Mill Creek near Boaz, where he drifted worms with Mike and Nathan during the summer.
My grandpa always had work to do for his grandsons, something I only got a taste of since we lived a couple hours north. But Mike and Nathan were put to work plenty, doing chores with grandpa. Their reward was a trip to the trout stream the next day. Nathan told me that when they got to the stream grandpa would remind him, “Don’t get to close to the creek.” But as any curious kid does, Nathan got too close and fell in, and grandpa’s big hand would reach down and pull him out of there by the back of his shirt.
On Saturday we fished water that was all new to me. Below are some images from our day out. Thanks for a great time guys!
- Tony Kirch in the Driftless
Hang on Nathan!
A farm in the hills of the Driftless
Tony and Mike on the Mill
Tony with a trout
Mike working a bend pool
Mike drifting a crawler
Into the net
What a beauty!
Sabin School, Sylvan, WI
Holsteins in the Driftless
Mill Creek, Richland County, WI
We'll be back...
I was out again over lunch and I hooked this beauty on Black Earth Creek. The fish were rising here and there but wouldn’t even look at my dry flies. So I tied on a Pink Squirrel and had some luck!
Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, 13 May, 2011
Your favorite fly shop and mine, On The Creek in Cross Plains, will be hosting author and Muskie expert Robert Tomes this Tuesday night! Stop over from 6-8 to hear Robert discuss his secrets. Nick and Todd will have the door open for you. Bring refreshments, they’ll provide the snacks! See you there!
This could be you.