Archive for September 2012

My Last Day in the Driftless   5 comments

I took the morning to ride out to Grant County to a spot I’ve been scoping out. It’s a large stretch of river not crossed by roads, running through a deep valley in the Driftless. It looked very promising on all of my favorite mapping resources like Bing.com/maps, maps.google.com, Google Earth, the Wisconsin DNR Managed Lands website, and the USGS Digital Download Topo Maps website. But seeing a section of a river on a map or via satellite image is not the same as being there.

So I went. When I arrived, I was very pleased. I spent the morning, did a bit of exploring, caught some fish, then had to head back east to do some work. Next time I’ll hope to spend the day, but for now, it was a great way to end the 2012 Inland Trout season, and it will feed my dreams for the next four months.

Hope you enjoy the photographs.

Driftless farm track

Driftless farm track

 

Feels more like Scotland than Wisconsin

Feels more like Scotland than Wisconsin

 

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

 

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

 

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

 

 

First Trout of the day

First Trout of the day

 

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

 

Best Trout of the Day

Best Trout of the Day

 

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

 

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

 

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

A Driftless Trout Stream, September 28, 2012

 

 

Yowza!   12 comments

Outdoors: Brown catches a brown trout http://bit.ly/Pwu28C

Lucky man!

Posted September 18, 2012 by troutseeker in Driftless Region, Fly Fishing, Wisconsin, Wooly Bugger

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A New Spot   2 comments

I’ve been working my way up and down Black Earth Creek over the past few years, attempting to lay eyes on every stretch of that river. I was looking over satellite images of the valley and saw a bend I had not yet visited. So like any curious adventurer I headed west, rigged up, and hiked in to see it for myself.

The section is comprised of a few lazy but significant bends and riffles, and surely there are hundreds of trout hunkered down over a length of 100 yards of the stream. As I approached the tail of the bend I saw a few rise forms upstream where the current collides with the bank. Fish!

The sky was overcast and the stream was slowly coming up in temp from the 50’s to the 60’s. I tied on a little Elk Hair Caddis and cast to the rise forms. On my fifth or sixth cast I was drifting the fly through the zone and saw something floating downstream that I couldn’t identify. It was about the size of a baseball, but brown and shiny, half-submerged in the water. As it passed I looked back upstream to find my fly, but instead saw a turbulent ring in the water. A fish had slurped my fly. And I missed the take. But I had the fish on!

A short tug of war, dominated by yours truly, resulted in my holding the fish below, a beautiful, if diminutive, Brown Trout.

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012

 

I fished a while longer, moving upstream through the bends, casting carefully with dries and nymphs to likely spots. After some time I put on a Pink Squirrel and made a few nice “reach” casts, making the fly swing around to the left and out of sight, hoping to sneak up on something. I felt a big tug and started stripping line. The fish came toward me with a strong fight and headed straight for the plunge pool downstream. I kept good tension on the line and tried to bring the fish up where I could see it, but I couldn’t raise it. The fish kept diving and fighting and I kept easing the rod tip upward to get it into view.

And then, nothing. Somehow my pink squirrel got spit out by that good fish and I was left to wonder what I might have held in my hands.

I noticed that the chenille collar of pink that was once wrapped around the neck of my pink squirrel fly had come unraveled and was now hanging there seductively, looking like a pink worm emerging from a dark gray husk. Perhaps the big fish I’d had on saw the fly in this new arrangement. Perhaps it was just the thing to entice that big fish. Or perhaps the fight with that big fish caused the fly to unravel. Either way, the thing now looked even more appealing, to me anyway, so I continued to fish with it like that. Funny enough, I caught five chubs on it but no trout. I may tie a few like this to see what happens.

I can’t complain about the outing. It was a lovely place with lots of wild and pleasing sounds, and I feel so blessed to be able to zip out and fish there for brief moments almost anytime. Hopefully you’ve got such a place in your life to unwind, recharge, and prepare for what life throws at you.

 

The Virtues of a Guide   1 comment

I’ve been a guided client a few times in my life. I never thought much about how the guide felt during the experience. A guide’s job is to shepherd you through an activity that they know a great deal about, not only teaching you how to do it, but also going a step further to make sure that you are actually having some success while under their tutelage.

What I mean by this is, if you haven’t done something before, you will obviously need to learn a bit about it before you can do it, unless you’re bungee jumping, I suppose. Not much learning there, I wouldn’t think.

Bungee jumping is an easy thing to do successfully, even if you’ve never strapped in to a bungee cord before. The “guide” who shepherds you through the bungee jumping process does arguably half the job of a fishing guide or mountaineering guide.

 

A newly-made fly fisherman, learning to cast to a dinner plate-sized target.

A newly-made fly fisherman, learning to cast to a dinner plate-sized target.

 

A fishing guide must show the client how to approach the water, how to cast, where to cast, what to use, how to adjust, and on and on, all the while working his damnedest to find the fish and get them to take the fly so the client can feel successful.

Last November when Stephen Rose and I went up to the Brule and hired Tim Pearson as a guide to show us how to fish for Steelhead, I was generally satisfied to understand the what and the how. I was hoping to catch a fish, but it wasn’t something I expected. If I were to learn the ways of fishing for Steelhead I knew I could return year after year and put that knowledge to use to have success.

But Tim had a serious look of relief when both Stephen and I had each caught a fish. And now I understand why.

 

A cold water spring dumping out of the hillside in Iowa County, Wisconsin

A cold water spring dumping out of the hillside in Iowa County, Wisconsin

 

Showing Eric the ways of spring creek fly fishing on Saturday, I was happy with the job I did teaching him the “how”. I believe he could go out and gear up, hit the water, and make casts to likely holding lies. And if you do that enough, you’ll catch a fish.

I really, really wish I could have gotten a fish onto Eric’s line, but it didn’t happen. I’ve heard stories of clients who were angry with their guides when the didn’t feel like they got their quota of fish. I can’t imagine how I’d handle a client who acted that way, but I know that’s what paying clients expect from a day out with a fishing guide. That’s a big reason for hiring the guide.

Eric was a model client, and I really appreciated that. There was not a hint of blame from him, indeed just the opposite. He showed an appreciation and new knowledge for the challenges of spring creek fly fishing. Eric can do what he pleases with the skills and knowledge he picked up on Saturday. Hopefully the skunking won’t deter him from trying for trout another day.

As for me, I can’t say I’m longing for another chance to be a guide. It was a pleasant day out with a new friend, but I can see how a fisherman who turns his hobby into a job by becoming a guide might start to have mixed feelings about fishing. I plan to get out and teach others to fish, and hopefully more often than not, we’ll get some fish on that line of theirs.

 

Eric executing a nice roll cast to waiting trout.

Eric executing a nice roll cast to waiting trout.

 

 

Black Earth Creek in September   2 comments

I made good on my decision to get out and fish often this September. Today was an ideal day to spend a little time on the water, with the overnight temps in the 40s, recent rain, and spawning instincts starting to kick in to gear.

A one hour break from work was just the thing, and I hit a big old pool (formerly a millpond spillway, according to local lore) where large trout have been encountered (again, according to local lore).

I decided to throw a Clouser Minnow for a while, letting it sink for a good-long while before stripping it back in erratically. After five minutes of enjoyable long-reach casting I had my fish on, and upon our initial exchange of pull and pull-back I believed it to be sizeable.

It was “respectable”. Which is all anyone can hope for when fishing at 11:30am on a cloudless day in a hole that sees many, many fishermen. I was and am happy to have caught anything, and my time away was satisfying and refreshing.

I have a plan to get out Thursday afternoon and evening with a good friend, and I hope we run into some fish, maybe a big one, or maybe a lot of “respectable” fish. At any rate, I continue to be a happy fisherman and I’m looking forward to more successful outings this September and beyond.

 

A fifteen-inch Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, Dane County, Wisconsin

A fifteen-inch Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, Dane County, Wisconsin

 

 

A Beautiful Day Out   Leave a comment

On Saturday I went out fishing with a fellow New Morning Nursery School dad, Eric. Eric had never been out trout fishing and the last time he cast a fly rod was in the Appleton West H.S gym back in the early 90’s. Interestingly, Eric and I both attended the College of Engineering at UW-Madison during the same period, but never crossed paths.

Saturday was a beautiful day. With Eric being new to trout fishing I decided to take him to a few of my favorite streams, where I was sure we’d be into fish. The first stream we visited, a tributary of the Kickapoo, had many many fish, but the water was low and clear and sneaking up on them was not easy. The second stream, a trib of the Blue River, was also very low and clear, and the fish were numerous there as well.

By the end of the day Eric had become a good caster. His roll cast is second to none, and his fly cast is much better than mine was after one day out. I hope to have taught him enough to allow him to carry on with fly fishing spring creeks if he chooses to.

What struck me was how much I rely on a long cast in conditions like these. Sneaking up on fish is well-nigh impossible, and the only way to fool them is to cast from such a distance as to make them think you’re not there. Of course a first-time fly caster can’t rely on a long cast, and so our luck was not good in catching fish. However, a few fish did bump Eric’s fly. I tried to convey to him that I’ve had many many outings with no fish to hand. Hopefully he believed me.

I intend to get out a few times this week to chase after trout. September is a special month to pursue trout, and I plan to take advantage of it.

 

A sizeable brown trout trolling the bridge pool of a Blue River tributary, Iowa County, Wisconsin

A sizeable brown trout trolling the bridge pool of a Blue River tributary, Iowa County, Wisconsin

 

 

Stephen Rose fishes Otter Creek!   5 comments

A picture says a thousand words. An animated .gif says, perhaps, ten-thousand words?

scr on Otter

Stephen and I went up to the southern slope of the Baraboo Hills yesterday and fish one of our favorite spots, Otter Creek. The fish weren’t cooperative, but it was a glorious morning and we both enjoyed being back in the forest.

As you can see, Stephen’s casting hasn’t suffered at all. He did struggle to remember how to tie a blood knot, but I explained that he had only just learned that knot earlier this summer, and struggled with it then. The hike got him breathing a bit and he told me on the way back to the car that he was experiencing an endorphin rush. Cool!

Otter Creek in Sauk County, Wisconsin

Otter Creek in Sauk County, Wisconsin

 

Jewel Weed blossoms on Otter Creek, Sauk County, Wisconsin

Jewel Weed blossoms on Otter Creek, Sauk County, Wisconsin

 

Lobelia Cardinalis - Stephen told me so...

Lobelia Cardinalis – Stephen told me so…

 

Later in the afternoon a gaggle of friends gathered at Wingra Park for a “last day of summer” picnic. Courtney and Brian, the Balsleys, the Cookes, the Anderson-Browns, and Stephen Rose and his son Heron all got together for grilled sausages, chips, fruit, beers (and sparkling mineral water), and lots of fun.

Brian broke out the frisbees and guess who can throw the frisbee like a laserbeam?

 

Stephen Rose (with his son Heron in the blue shorts) at Wingra Park, September 3, 2012

Stephen Rose (with his son Heron in the blue shorts) at Wingra Park, September 3, 2012