On Memorial Day I was supposed to go fishing with my buddy Stephen Rose. But when I woke up at 5:30 and checked my phone, he had left a few text messages which said, in a somber tone, that he was feeling terrible and wouldn’t be making it out to fish. He must have felt very badly because this man has been on me about getting out to a trout stream. So, I was a little bummed to think I’d be going fishing alone, but I muddled through, got my coffee into the thermos, and hit the road.
Having new parameters from which to work (no fishing partner) I decided to try some new water out. I headed toward Dodgeville and didn’t know where I’d stop. I had forgotten my Gazetteer and trout maps, so I had to rely on my phone for help finding blue lines. Using your phone for this purpose doesn’t hold a candle next to a good Gazetteer and hard copies of county trout maps. I located a creek along Hwy Y in Iowa County. It turned out to be Mill Creek, but not the wonderful Mill Creek of Richland County. No, this was the Mill Creek of Iowa County.
Mill Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin
I dropped in to the creek where it kisses the road on the southeast side and fished upstream for a couple of hours. The water looked trouty, and fish were nipping at my fly, but the fish weren’t trout, they were chubs. When you’re fishing for trout, especially in the “overly-affected” (read: “fancy”) fly fishing method of fishing for trout, a chub is like finding a long (or short, curly) hair in your hash browns. You kind of wrinkle your nose and curse under your breath and think to yourself, “where in hell are the trout?”
This went on for a good long while. I even caught a six-inch shiner. I don’t know what’s wrong with Mill Creek. It looks lovely in the picture, doesn’t it?
So, with two hours of fishing behind me and two hours left, I decided to travel east and a little north to Trout Creek, thinking to myself “at least it isn’t named Chub Creek”.
I didn’t have real high hopes, though the stream looked very nice. But listen, this is Iowa County we’re talking about. How good could it be?
I walked downstream from the bridge past about thirty tight meanders. I got after it and started fishing with a woolly bugger (is it true they call them “boogers” out West?). I tried not to be noisy, but I feel like I was, on account of the sedimentary nature of the stream bank.
Anyway, I drifted the bugger a few times upstream, finishing the drift about even with where I was standing, but along the opposite bank. I began lifting my rod tip and felt a tug, then a whole lot of tug, followed by some really pissed off tugging. The water was a bit cloudy due to the wet weather, so I didn’t get a look right away, and after a minute I thought I might have foul-hooked an average trout, but then I tired it enough to get it to the surface and saw that it was a good size. Sweet! A trout, and a nice one too!
a Sixteen Inch Brown from Trout Creek
I smiled happily, thinking my trout-fishing outing has been a success, and moved up to the next likely bit of tailwater. A few nicely-placed casts later, Bam! Another good fish. How about that?!
Another sixteen inch Brown Trout from Trout Creek
I moved upstream again. I think I had to fish two or three bends and had to endure catching a ten-inch trout before my third dance with another sizeable fish. But low-and-behold, there was my third sixteen-inch Brown Trout in thirty minutes.
Big Trout number three, Trout Creek, Iowa County, WI
I’ve never had this kind of experience, catching three big trout in a little stream in such a short time. I’ve caught lots of “regular sized” trout in one outing, and I’ve had outings where I’ve had one bigger fish to hand, but never before have I zeroed in on what were likely the biggest trout in their holes on one stretch of stream over a narrow window of time.
Was it the weather? The water conditions? The big, juicy fly? I don’t know. I likely won’t repeat it for a long time. But I’ll certainly not forget this thirty minute window of time on Trout Creek that made for a very memorable Memorial Day.
My “fishing car” (which is actually my actual car), affectionately named the “Jay Ford Thurston”, has bit the dust. It all happened in a flash after midnight over the weekend. I was asleep in my bed when I heard a knock on the door. I hoped it would go away but it didn’t, as another flurry of knocks was heard. I turned on the bedside light, looked over at my wife, then sauntered downstairs wondering what the hell I was going to find.
On my porch stood a young man. I spoke with him through the glass, asked him what he needed. He asked if that was my “car parked out there on the street?” I said yes and he said “I just ran into your car.”
We went outside to check it out. The stink of coolant was in the air. The night was chilly in my t-shirt. This dude certainly had run into my car. I figured he’d rear-ended the JFT but saw that he hit it head-on. He said he was texting. He said he’d take care of my car. We exchanged information and I went back to bed.
The next morning, here’s what I found.
The JFT took one to the chin
The car was pushed about five feet!
The texter’s airbags deployed. No one was injured.
So now the question is, will the car be totalled? Yes it will, according to the Progressive Insurance agent. I can expect to receive compensation in the amount that would allow me to buy a similar vehicle in similar condition to this 1994 Toyota Previa with 232,000 miles on it. Great.
So what do you do with that kind of money? Well, if you’re me, you look for other Previas. That’s my task now, to find another “cherry” Previa to call my own. I’ve got a few leads.
In the meantime I’ve got a late model Chrysler rental to get around in. I figured it would be great to have a new car to drive around for a while, but you know what? I don’t prefer it to my Previa. It’s not boxy-yet-aerodynamic. It certainly isn’t as roomy. The transmission is not perfectly married to the engine like it is in a Previa. It’s front wheel drive, so you can forget about spitting gravel on dirt road turns. And where in heck would I put an 8’9″ 4-wt in this rental car? How would my muddy wading boots look on that nice black carpet? Where would I put the console cooler?!
I’ll find another vehicle, fingers crossed it’s a Previa. I’ll name it Jay Ford Thurston Jr. But geez, you never forget your first Previa.
I took a little time to get out to my home waters and I didn’t see a lot of action, but there were beautiful swallows swooping all around, the trees were flowering and smelling like honey, and the air breathed crisp and fresh.
I hope you can get out to catch some trout this weekend. I’m likely to be seen on the shores of Monona Bay, chasing down a hunch overheard by my ten-year-old son at school about big bass being caught at sunrise. Hopefully I can convince him that Sunday will be the better day to fish. Saturday morning looks like rain and cold. I’d prefer to read the paper and drink my coffee in that kind of weather. But it ain’t easy to make an eager kid wait.
Last weekend Stephen Rose and I took our boys on another close-to-home road trip to see if we could find some reptiles and amphibians. Our first stop was Spring Green Prairie, a dry hillside full of Prickly Pear Cactus and, if you’re lucky, Box Turtles and Bull Snakes.
We walked along carefully, trying to spy a living creature, but didn’t have any luck. It’s a wonderful place though, with a landscape unlike any other in Wisconsin. I highly recommend you go check it out.
Our second stop was Otter Creek in the Baraboo Hills, a sure bet for frogs, creek bugs and wonderful plants. And sure enough, we found lots of frogs, lots of creek bugs, and lots of plants. I wish I knew the names of most of the things I’ve taken pictures of below, but I don’t.
Maybe my friend Stephen, or perhaps one of you, would be kind enough to post a comment if you know the name of something you see in the pictures below.
Spring is springing and it’s a great time to get out and explore.
It’s the regular season trout opener today too. For those of you heading out, good luck!
Spring Green Prairie
A Boring Insect found in a dead tree
Spring Green Prairie
Four boys in a cave, Spring Green Prairie
The Wisconsin River Valley
Boys in a big landscape
Flowers at Spring Green Prairie
Shepard at Spring Green Prairie
Prickly Pear Cactus, Spring Green Prairie
Skunk Cabbage, Otter Creek
Wildflowers at Otter Creek
Shepard at Otter Creek
Sawyer in rubber pants at Otter Creek
A frog, a trout, and a tadpole walk into a bar…
The boys share their findings at Otter Creek
A juvenile predaceous diving beetle?
A wildflower at Otter Creek
Otter Creek in the Baraboo Hills
Big frog, Little frog
Shepard checks out the “kick net” full of creek bugs at Otter Creek