Archive for the ‘Brown Trout’ Category

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.

 

 

Milwaukee River Trip   4 comments

Stephen Rose and I visited the Milwaukee River yesterday afternoon. Look at that picture down there. Isn’t that a beautiful place? That could just a well be the West Fork of the Chippewa River in Vilas County. But it’s not. It’s in Milwaukee.

Stephen and I have talked frequently about what it means to have “non-invasive” non-native fish in our water system. I found out that the village of Grafton, which had a referendum on what to do with the dam in their community, voted to keep the dam in place, but to put in a fish way to allow fish passage up and down the river. The DNR, later on, determined that it would be a bad idea to allow fish to migrate upstream of Grafton because of the risk of invasive species like Asian Carp invading the upper Milwaukee River system. At some level I agree that it would be good, if Asian Carp were to make their way into the Great Lakes, for them to be prevented from invading the upper Milwaukee River. But I also think it would be a good thing for Brook Trout to be able to migrate from spawning areas in the Northern Kettle Moraine creeks all the way out to Lake Michigan and back. We’re not going to get anywhere in reintroducing native Coaster Brook Trout into the Lake Michigan Tribs if they can’t get from the lake up to the creeks at the upper reaches of watersheds like the Milwaukee River.

So, how do we all determine what’s best? How is the presence of large, non-native predatory salmonids in the Great Lakes appropriate? Salmon and Steelhead are certainly admirable creatures. Their migrations are awe-inspiring and spectacular. But how does their presence negatively affect the native Bass, Pike, Suckers, and Whitefish, not to mention Brook Trout and Lake Trout, both of which are also native?

These questions are larger than me. Many people don’t even care, or don’t even know. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe we humans are programmed to reshape our world to our liking, and introducing Salmon and Steelhead into the Great Lakes is just part of our role in the world.

Anyway, a couple of boys were fishing along the bank and were slinging lures at Salmon. They didn’t know what they were doing. They weren’t having any luck. One ended up snagging one in front if its tail and was having trouble getting it to hand. I asked if I could lend a hand, and waded over to collect the fish, pull the hook out, and give it to the boy for his buddy to take a picture. He was genuinely in awe of the creature, a large, toothy fish half his height in length.

He asked if I’d caught any and I said no, I hadn’t. He wished me luck and as I left he expressed his love for the Milwaukee River. So, did that Salmon get him to fall in love with the river? It probably had a lot to do with it. And that, to me, seems like a good thing. If people care about a place because of their experiences there, it makes sense to provide them with cool things to experience in that place. It’s hard to fall in love with a polluted and fishless river. But a clean, swift moving river full of big fish will draw a lot of visitors to it. Those visitors will want to see that the river is taken care of. So maybe introducing Salmon and Steelhead is overall a positive. It’s hard for me to say. Perhaps you have some ideas? I’d love to hear what you all have to say.

 

Milwaukee River, October 25, 2013

Milwaukee River, October 25, 2013

Milwaukee Salmon (but not Steelhead)   5 comments

I fished in Milwaukee on Saturday with dozens of my closest friends. There are a lot of guys out there after salmon. I haven’t got the strategy figured out yet for catching migrating salmon legally. I’m suspicious that every salmon caught in the Milwaukee River is caught via a snag. I know this debate rages on forums like Lake-Link.com with some saying they are catching them in the mouth while others go on and on about witnessing fish harvested with treble hooks in the dorsal fin. It sure looked to me like the few hooks that found salmon were stuck in places well back from the mouth.

I’m hoping in the next several weeks the salmon have run their course, the weather gets nasty, and the Steelhead are all that’s left of the lake-run fish. I’ll be out there, with a lot fewer friends, swinging streamers for Steelhead.

Speaking of swinging, I got the hang of the Skagit cast to the degree that I made every fourth or fifth cast very adeptly. I have work to do to get power into my cast so I can get them to reach a little further. Right now I’m basically able to cast the shooting head and about ten feet of running line. I need to slow things down a bit on the forward cast I guess.

Cheers!

 

Salmon Fisherman on the Milwaukee River

Salmon Fisherman on the Milwaukee River

 

 

Milwaukee Salmon and Steelhead Spey Fishing   2 comments

I’ll be heading over to Milwaukee for the weekend to visit family and while I’m there I plan to spend some time in the Milwaukee River, swinging intruder spey flies in front of Salmon and Steelhead.

Steelhead are what I’m after, of course. But I stopped in and talked with Craig Amacker, the fishing manager over at Fontana Sports in Madison. Craig relayed a story to me about a quick trip he took up to the Sheboygan River the day before. There were some salmon in the river, as you’d expect, and Craig was swinging flies. He found that many of the salmon were moving a long way to smash a fly. If I get some salmon in this manner I’ll be pleased. It’s the endless foul-hooking of salmon that I can’t stand.

So anyway…

Salmon moving to flies? Sure.

Steelhead moving to flies? You betcha!

Perhaps the odd lake-run Brown Trout? Bring it.

I have started to try tying Intruder-style streamers this fall. I found some inspiration at the Oregon Fly Fishing Blog where they have a page full of videos showing how to tie steelhead fly patterns. Last night I tied my first tube fly. We’ll see how they work out in Milwaukee…

 

Tom's "Olde Seminal Vesicle" Steelhead Intruder fly

Tom’s “Olde Seminal Vesicle” Steelhead Intruder fly

 

Tom's "Patrick Petitjean" Steelhead Intruder fly (Click image for a special treat)

Tom’s “Patrick Petitjean” Steelhead Intruder fly (Click image for a special treat)

 

 

 

Why should you put the big fish back?   3 comments

Here’s why you shouldn’t harvest that 30-inch brown you pulled out of the Driftless. Why we don’t have slot limits in our trout streams is beyond me.

Field and Stream touts Wisconsin’s Driftless Trout Fishing   Leave a comment

Uh oh. The cat has been let out of the bag.

Well, maybe not to the degree a front page spread in the New York Times would garner. But Field and Stream, no slouch in the outdoor sporting world, has a short missive on fishing Wisconsin’s Driftless.

The descriptions all sound accurate to me. The technical nature of fishing small spring-fed creeks, the hassles of casting a fly to a spot surrounded by willow saplings, the challenge of navigating country roads past gruff and grim farmers to find pools of 8″ fish, all separate the small stream anglers from those who’d prefer to sit on their bass boats and suck Miller Lite all day.

Let’s face it. There a large helping of “fu-king around” that goes into a day of fishing in the Driftless. It can be hot, buggy, dirty, mucky, and unfulfilling. But if you figure it out, it can be that thing you find it hard to stop daydreaming about.

So let the magazines tout the Driftless. The Driftless deserves it! More press means more attention spent on keeping it nice, on ensuring these beloved streams flourish.

 

Camp Creek on a summer morning

Camp Creek on a summer morning

 

 

 

Black Earth Creek Headwaters   1 comment

I visited Black Earth Creek for an hour yesterday, aspiring to catch some trout on the last day of the inland waters trout season in Wisconsin. I knew it was a long shot though. The sun was out and the sky was blue, but moreover I was fishing in Cross Plains at Zander Park, a spot that just two months ago was being fully rejiggered by diesel-powered earthmovers and men in hard hats.

I saw another angler downstream of the now defunct On The Creek Fly Shop, so I started fishing the second pool in the “re-meandered” section. I saw a few little fish scatter as I moved along, drifting my nymph along. I moved up past the new bridge into the section of the stream that had not been reworked. Funny thing is though, it was getting reworked. With the gradient downstream restored to its more natural state, the speed of the water upstream has increased and now, instead of lots of muck and silt on the streambed, there are beautiful stones and patches of gravel. Water Cress grows along the banks, accompanied by Jewel Weed and Black-Eyed Susans.

Wading upstream, what used to be a chore in slogging through silt is now a pleasant and easy amble with solid footfalls. Trout will find plenty of places to drop their eggs and spawn, and hopefully multiply appreciably.

I look forward to visiting this spot next spring. As seasons come and go, the habitat will settle in, and so will the fish.

 

Black Earth Creek, upstream of the Zander Park bridge

Black Earth Creek, upstream of the Zander Park bridge

 

The cool clear water of Black Earth Creek, running over the newly scoured streambed

The cool clear water of Black Earth Creek, running over the newly scoured streambed