A Whopper south of Westby   14 comments

My son Bode (Bo-Dee) and I took an overnight trip to the Driftless on Friday and Saturday and enjoyed ourselves very much. We set out after I got home from work Friday, picking up some provisions in Viroqua before heading to Avalanche to camp.

On the way we passed a few Amish buggies pulled by horses, and some Amish farms where we were greeted by waves and smiles as we zoomed by in our car. Bode had never seen any Amish buggies or farms before and was curious to know what it was all about. I explained it as best I could and he was fairly fascinated, as a boy who likes to make what he can by his own hand, at the lifestyle and talents of the Amish.

We enjoyed a quiet night camping in Avalanche and woke up at six on Saturday to go fishing. Bode was using a spinner while I walked along with him, fly rod in hand. We got to the next plunge pool upstream, the water still churning brown from days of rain. He made several nice casts to the top of the pool when suddenly his line tightened. He initially thought he had snagged something but then began cranking the reel. His line danced, but in the way Andre the Giant might dance, more deeply rooted than ephemeral.

Bode, having had very few large fish on the end of his line previously, cranked and cranked his reel until the spinner was an inch from his rod tip. The fish revealed itself in the surface film and we both let out a hoot.

This fish was one that many fishermen don’t get the chance to catch in a Driftless stream, and Bode had gotten one a few days past his twelfth birthday, in the first half hour of fishing.

Wow! Way to go Bode!


Bode with a 21" male Brown Trout, caught in a Vernon County spring creek.

Bode with a 21″ male Brown Trout, caught in a Vernon County spring creek.



14 responses to “A Whopper south of Westby

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  1. That is a sweet fish!!! Way to go!!!

  2. Lucky Boy for the catch and to have a Dad to take him fishing.  Rich

  3. Pee-Eye-Gee

  4. Dandy angling boys…Im just a watcher/fan of your site, but this is a classic moment to last forever……yer both very lucky indeed! Great fish & picture, great fight & effort to land him Im sure.

    • Thanks John. I agree, this was a moment neither of us will soon forget. It made me realize that catching a big fish like this isn’t (necessarily about preparation, it’s more about getting out there and fishing, with a little luck thrown in. My son is lucky. This isn’t his first big fish (think Bass). The kid loves to fish and he gets out there a lot!


  5. Where’s Avalanche?

  6. Dang! It doesn’t matter how old you are. That fish would make anybody’s day/year! Since you camped at Avalanche, I assume that was in the WF?

    • Agreed. That fish may have ruined my son. Anything smaller will be of limited interest. Well perhaps that’s not accurate. We went on to catch more fish during the day and he was excited about each one.

      As for which stream, I’m pretty sure it’s forbidden to name the streams from which big fish are caught. Let’s just say it was somewhere south of Westby.


  7. Way to go, guys! That is one impressive fish, with a great grin to go along with it. I think it’s commendable that you’re encouraging your boys to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors, Tom, especially given the pattern of endlessly structured activities and rat-race conditioning parents seem so prone to these days.

    Thanks for sharing a gem of a memory, and best wishes to you both on your next adventure.

    • Thanks Ross. I agree with your sentiments on structured activities. It can be easier as a parent to sign your kids up for activities because then you, or your kids, don’t have to try to figure out what to do to fill up the time. But I can count on one hand the number of activities I was signed up for before I turned 12. I remember my dad presenting me with an old lawnmower engine and some wrenches one summer day and telling me to “see how it works”. Brilliant.

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