Archive for the ‘Driftless Region’ 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.

 

 

A Nice Day Out on Easter   4 comments

Stephen, Fred and I took some time on Easter to hit the Driftless. There were clouds all morning and patches of drizzle. At around 2pm the drizzle picked up and started feeling like rain showers. At that moment, for a period of about thirty minutes, the fish went mad. Fish were biting flies, nymphs, streamers, pink squirrels, brown beavers, green boogers, and yellow Bio-Strike. Most of the Brown Trout I caught during this period went airborne as I tried to play them to hand.

And then, nothing. Once the showers became steady and constant the fish hunkered down, back to being their normal Trouty selves.

Gosh, that was fun!

 

A Driftless Brown Trout with Easter Egg Colors

A Driftless Brown Trout with Easter Egg Colors

 

 

Stephen and Son Had Luck Yesterday   5 comments

Stephen Rose and his son Heron (named for a bird that Stephen admires, but also named for Hank Aaron, Stephen’s childhood baseball hero) went out to the Driftless yesterday with a spinning rod and some #9 Panther Martins and got after it, with encouraging success.

They found the stream they were fishing loaded with Brook Trout, and the Brook Trout were much further down in the system than they tend to be during the warm months. It is our suspicion that they’re comfortable lower downstream right now because water temps are still cool enough for them to feel comfortable.

The fish in the photo below has some health issues. Not sure what it is, but it looks like fin rot to me. Has anyone seen this before in trout they’ve caught?

At any rate, It’s gratifying to me to see a young fisherman like Heron get out there with his dad and catch fish, especially on a day that snow fell from the sky. Way to go guys!

 

A nice-sized Driftless Brook Trout, suffering from fin rot, me thinks.

A nice-sized Driftless Brook Trout, suffering from fin rot, me thinks.

 

Heron and Stephen after a successful outing in the Driftless of Wisconsin

Heron and Stephen after a successful outing in the Driftless of Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

Back in the Saddle   2 comments

Hey! I went out and fished yesterday with Stephen Rose, and let me tell you what. It felt good!

 

It was a chilly, bright day with a slight breeze and very little evidence of piscine activity. But, whatever. It was fun casting flies again to moving water and watching everything drift downstream just so. And it is evident that the plants and animals in these wonderful creek valleys are all waiting on the edges of their seats (what?) for spring to pop. Let’s hope it will, eventually.

 

Below are some photographs from our outing. Enjoy!

 

Driving the Driftless

Driving the Driftless

 

Bear Valley in springtime

Bear Valley in springtime

 

Tom angling with fly

Tom angling with fly

 

Stephen angling with fly

Stephen angling with fly

 

The rock walls of Willow Creek

The rock walls of Willow Creek

 

Stephen fishing Willow to no avail (but God is it Pretty!)

Stephen fishing Willow to no avail (but God is it Pretty!)

 

Tom exhibiting his "shooting" technique (which works for sh*t, by the way)

Tom exhibiting his “shooting” technique (which works for sh*t, by the way)

 

 

Fishing!   Leave a comment

Stephen got out today, lucky dog!

 

Stephen Rose at Trout Creek, Iowa County

Stephen Rose at Trout Creek, Iowa County

 

Here’s what I did today…

 

I could really use some time on a river.

I could really use some time on a river.

 

 

 

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

 

 

On The Creek Closed?   7 comments

From the look of things, Todd Opsal has closed shop at On The Creek in Cross Plains. I’m sad to think that this is likely the case. I enjoyed visiting the shop, the only good fly shop in the area. Fontana has great flies but the atmosphere and personalities there are not as compelling as what Todd offered.

If anyone knows and cares to share what went down, I’d really like to know.

September Trout Fishing in the Driftless   3 comments

September is one of the best months to chase trout in Wisconsin’s Driftless creeks. Nights are cool and water temps are prime for fish activity. Lots of terrestrials are active in their riparian habitats, and fish hormones are starting to crank up in anticipation of spawning season. All this means good fishing!

Stephen Rose and I headed out of Madison to Crawford County to camp out overnight near a Kickapoo tributary. Hennessy Hammmocks fit the bill nicely for roadside camping because you don’t need a flat spot on the ground, just a couple of stout trees and away you go. Camping in the trees and dreaming of fish. How could you do any better?

The cicadas sung me to sleep and the sun woke me the next morning. We packed up our sleeping gear, put on waders, drank a little coffee and walked a hundred yards to the creek. A fog hung over the creek and it made me feel as though the underwater world and the world we inhabit above the water were melting into one, as if the fish could have swum up out of the water and into the mist lying between the banks.

I tied on a foam cricket and got after it, landing a couple of twelve inch brown trout, and Stephen had similar luck on hoppers. The fishing remained good throughout the morning, but we found fewer and fewer fish willing to rise, so we switched over to nymphs and continued to have success.

If you’ve been putting off a trip to the trout stream, now’s the time to get out there. The season ends at the end of the month, so take advantage while you can!

 

A glorious spring-fed creek in WIsconsin's Driftless Region

A glorious spring-fed creek in WIsconsin’s Driftless Region

 

Success with a foam cricket in early September on a Kickapoo River tributary

Success with a foam cricket in early September on a Kickapoo River tributary

 

Stephen Rose fishes hoppers in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin

Stephen Rose fishes hoppers in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin

 

Pink flowers line the stream in September

Pink flowers line the stream in September

 

A bruiser Brown Trout from a Wisconsin Driftless stream

A bruiser Brown Trout from a Wisconsin Driftless stream

 

Stephen Rose casting to a lie on a Kickapoo tributary

Stephen Rose casting to a lie on a Kickapoo tributary