Archive for March 2012

No Fish Were Caught in the Making of this Blog Post   3 comments

Here are some scenes from yet another failed (regarding the catching of trout) outing. Lovely morning yesterday, though.

 

Red Livestock Gate, Driftless, Wisconsin

Red Livestock Gate, Driftless, Wisconsin

 

Kind of a nice scene, don't you think? Driftless, Wisconsin

Kind of a nice scene, don't you think? Driftless, Wisconsin

 

Me and my RC. Driftless, Wisconsin

Me and my RC. Driftless, Wisconsin

 

Now there's a sweet fishing vehicle! My van, the "Jay Ford Thurston".

Now there's a sweet fishing vehicle! My van, the "Jay Ford Thurston".

 

 

Sin-tural Resources: Poundry?   Leave a comment

A little wordplay…

Or is that supposed to say "Boundary"?

Or is that supposed to say "Boundary"?

Looks like the guy in charge of spell-checking at the DNR was out fishing when this sign was approved for printing.

Aw Hell…   5 comments

Sunday I was given a hall pass to get out and do some fishing. From about 2:00 till 7:00, was the agreed-upon arrangement. The weather was perfect. Dropping pressure, clouds rolling in, but still warm enough for fishing in my “shirt sleeves”.

In Februaury a scouting trip took place, with a visit made to Smith-Conley Creek (Hwy 18-151 to Hwy K south, to Hwy H northwest, I think). The stream was chocked full of fish in February. I thought for sure it would be the same story now. I cast carefully into the holes we’d looked at earlier in the winter, expecting there to be a bite on the line. Cast after cast, nothing. I decided to walk along the stream to see if I could even make a fish move, but there weren’t any. They were gone. The only creature in the stream was a medium-sized snapping turtle, a fierce-looking bugger. Maybe he ate all the fish? It’s a mystery. If anyone has theories about where the fish went, I’d love to hear them.

I turned the car around to head back toward 18-151, and decided to stop at a pretty stretch of water that turns out to be the headwaters of the Pecatonica River. I walked along the fencerow west and ducked under the barbed wire about 500 yards downstream from the road. Again, careful casting into lovely scoured out holes, bend pools, riffles. But again, nothing. I know this is undesignated water, but not 500 yards upstream, two class II trout streams meet to form the Pecatonica.

Back to the car, back to the north I went. Time’s-a-wasting. Gotta get some fish!

I drove north along Hwy K, north of 18-151, past Blue Mounds Park, looking to my right the whole time, following the West Branch of Blue Mounds Creek. I turned off on a side road and parked at the bridge crossing over the creek. Small water, but a few nice holes. I laced my fly through the canopy of tree branches and got some good drifts through deep pools, but nothing.

 

Blue Mounds Creek, West Branch. Dane County, Wisconsin

Blue Mounds Creek, West Branch. Dane County, Wisconsin

 

North again, along K, I pulled off on a road that looked vaguely familiar. My uncle Tony Kirch had taken me to this spot the very first time I’d ever gone after trout. We caught some nice specimens that day drifting night crawlers through this section. The wind was whipping, the sun was getting lower. 5:30 already! Shit! I drifted some bead-head nymphs, woolly buggers, a streamer. Nothing!!!

Back in the car, north to 14 and that old reliable friend, Black Earth Creek. Park car, run across cornfield, fish. Zilch. 6:30, time to go home.

On the drive home I reconciled my skunking with the idea that “it wouldn’t be as fun to catch a trout if you catch them like panfish”. Right? Whatever lets you sleep at night.

Get the Kids Out   Leave a comment

After an hour of Lego Indiana Jones on the Wii and Minecraft on the PC, kids need to get the heck outside. Saturday morning, Stephen and I took advantage of the glorious weather, put rubber pants on the kids, and hit the water. We found clams, set up a hammock, made a little fire for roasting marshamallows and warming hands, and even sniffed a fish or two (it’s tough to sneak up on a trout with 8 small feet tromping around).

 

 

Rubber Pants, Marshmallows, Hammock, and Republic Clone Trooper DC-15 Rifle. Check.

Rubber Pants, Marshmallows, Hammock, and Republic Clone Trooper DC-15 Rifle. Check.

 

 

Serious Fun in the Driftless of Wisconsin.

Serious Fun in the Driftless of Wisconsin.

 

 

This photo needs a caption contest. Any ideas?

This photo needs a caption contest. Any ideas?

 

 

When the sun reached its peak it was time for some lunch. We took the kids into Black Earth and filled up at the Luckenbooth Cafe. I highly recommend the burgers. And the kids each got a scoop of ice cream topped with whipped cream and caramel to make good and well sure they were full.

 

 

This is what nature does to your kids. Any Questions?

This is what nature does to your kids. Any Questions?

 

 

After the long and lazy lunch we stopped over at On The Creek to visit Todd Opsal. I’d bought a TFO reel (the $60 job) and was having some trouble with it free-spooling in the cold weather. Pulling out line felt like Russian Roulette. Every now and then the drag would just turn off, and I’d be left with a bird’s nest of line tangled up in the reel. I had reported this to Todd, who recommended I try one more time out to see if I could reproduce the problem, and after doing so, Todd kept his word and allowed me to trade the reel in. I paid the difference and upgraded to the large arbor TFO reel. So far, so good. Thanks Todd!

After arriving back home, hanging up our gear to dry, and settling in for the evening, my oldest and middle sons both thanked me for taking them out to spend time in the natural world. There often seems to be some arm twisting required when it’s time to get out and play in nature, but without fail, everyone ends the day feeling good about soaking up some sunlight, fresh air, and moving water.

Oh, and the rubber pants. Let’s not forget about the rubber pants.

Black Earth Creek on Friday   1 comment

Last November I got an education in fly fishing for Steelhead on the Brule river, thanks to Tim Pearson, the Brule River Ninja. The thing I learned, the thing Tim hammered in to me over 12 hours that cold November day was how important a dead drift is when fishing with nymph flies. That lesson isn’t all that important on creeks that are 3 feet wide. Often the current across that little creek is generally moving at a uniform velocity, so mending your line to keep a faster current from pulling the fly irregularly through the area you’ve targeted isn’t a skill you need to understand.

Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

Black Earth Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin

The sections of Black Earth Creek I’ve been fishing the past few times out have been, to my eye, more like a river than a creek. So my Brule River lessons have been relevant to success. The need to read the water comes into play as well. These kinds of puzzles are really nice, the challenges of fly fishing are increased.

The other great feature of a bigger spring-fed creek like Black Earth Creek is that when you stand with your feet in the stream, there’s plenty of room to unload a nice big cast. It’s not all about roll casting, as it is so much on smaller creeks.

I’m not usually a salesman, or a peruasive speaker for that matter, but deciding to focus on one thing, one place, as I’ve planned to do this season with Black Earth Creek, I’m learning to appreciate things about that body of water that I didn’t take the time to understand in seasons past. Maybe there is a reason the stream is as highly regarded as it is.

So, setting out, putting my best stream-reading and line-mending skills into practice, I found myself attached, via fishing line and hook, to a nice, thick, 15″ Brown Trout this afternoon. Have a look at him below.

Get out there and enjoy the natural world!

15" Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, March 8, 2012

15" Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, March 8, 2012

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, March 8, 2012

Some Photos from March 4, 2012   2 comments

Here are some photos of the beautiful spots Stephen and I visited on Sunday. Though we didn’t catch any trout, the scenery was very nice.

Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin, at sunrise.

Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin, at sunrise.

Sunrise, Oak Tree, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Sunrise, Oak Tree, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Stephen Rose on Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Stephen Rose on Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Driftless Barn, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Driftless Barn, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Conley-Lewis Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Conley-Lewis Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin

Black Earth Creek on Wednesday   4 comments

I took a lunch break Wednesday and visited a few spots along Black Earth Creek. My plan fizzled initially when I pulled up to fish at a particular spot only to find a gentleman pulling on waders at the tailgate of his white pickup truck. He saw me pulling up and gave me a look that said, “You’ve got to be kidding me. This guy’s going to try to budge in front of me even though I was here first?”

Of course I wouldn’t do a thing like that. Instead I pulled up alongside him, rolled down my window and said “You beat me to it! Have a good one!” He chuckled and gave me a wave as I went along on down the road.

I decided to try a spot along Vermont Creek instead. I drove a couple minutes, parked, suited up, and walked along the easement to the stream. Man it was windy! It’s not easy getting a fly into the water on a stream that’s 3 feet wide with dried up wildflower stalks that stand taller than I do. Let’s just say it was a frustrating experience.

Vermont Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin, on a gray and windy day.

Vermont Creek, Dane County, Wisconsin, on a gray and windy day.

“Time to get back to work” I told myself. I turned the car east and headed back along highway 14, watching Black Earth Creek the whole way.

Wait! There’s a really sweet-looking section. Check the rear view (no one behind me), apply the brakes sternly, shove it into Reverse, rewind about 75 yards, and slam on the brakes in a way that reminds me of a scene from The Big Lebowski. “Screech!” go the tires.

I grabbed my rod (my fishing pole, you dirty bastards) and walked down the roadbank to the stream. A really nice riffle, bend, island, some eddies, and no wind! I worked the riffle and the bend for 10 minutes  but no luck. I walked up onto the little island, above which the current split, and fished the boundary between the current and the eddy. Nothing.

I then cast to the eddy itself for a bit, working hard to mend my line as the current between me and the eddy tried to pull the works downstream. On about the 8th cast into the eddy I saw the float bump under, and then noticed a swirl in the water about 6 feet beyond the float. Fish!

I’ve been fishing this spring with 6x tippet (2 lb test). I figure it gives me a little advantage in fooling fish, and I’m unlikely to catch anything much heavier anyway. As a consequence I’ve felt compelled to use more finesse when bringing in a fish. I’ve set my drag quite low and I’m allowing the fish to run a bit more. It’s a lot of fun when a 12″ fish feels like it might snap you off. You’ve got to show the fish some respect, and the “conversation” with that animal lasts a bit longer, which is my favorite part.

After some runs up and down and back and forth, along with a few aerials, I was able to bring this guy in for a look, and he was a beauty.

12" Brown Trout, Black Earth Creek, Wisconsin

12" Brown Trout, Black Earth Creek, Wisconsin

I drove back to work with a big grin on my face and a lightness in my heels. Amazing what a little nature will do for a person.