Archive for the ‘Early Season Opener’ Category
Well, John and Stephen and I had a leisurely start to the day on Saturday and got ourselves up to Billings Creek near La Farge (French for “The Farge”) in Vernon County mid-morning. The stretch we’ve fished before made for difficult fishing. John got a couple of browns to hook up on a Marabou Leech and actually lost one as it skittered away under an ice shelf. That was the theme of Billings Creek on Saturday, those ice shelves. In some areas, like the deeper pools, there was ice clear across the creek.
The scenery was stunning, with that beautiful fresh snow and sunshine, so that’s what holds prominence in my mind at the moment. The fishing was difficult and the icy lines and even icier guides made for some tedium. But the beauty of the day made it hard to feel too sorry for myself.
After a couple hours and some hot chili we decided to bug out and go down to Camp Creek near Viola. The water there was much more inviting, with no ice and lots of visuals on fish. The water was very clear and the fish were spooky as always. Camp Creek is all about stealth, whether it’s via the long upstream cast or getting down on hands and knees to do some Czech nymphing. I saw two riseforms, so there were trout eating some kind of bug on the surface. Nothing big enough to see though. I finally caught my trout on a small Pheasant Tail nymph trailing behind a streamer, and I held it up in the sunshine and admired it for a moment, happy to be a trout fisherman again.
We all returned to the city happy and tired, hoping to see spring break out sometime soon, when new plans will be made for seeking trout.
I hope those of you who went out to fish the opener enjoyed the great weather and had some success too. Best wishes in 2013!
Billings Creek, Vernon County, Wisc
Stephen Rose at Billings Creek
John Jackels works Billings Creek
March 2, 2013 on Billings Creek
A great bend pool on Billings Creek, frozen over…
Check out that horseshoe tree!
Look at how clear Camp Creek is behind my head
The spot where a hawk and a rodent met.
John Jackels at Camp Creek
The year 2012 was one hell of a roller coaster ride for me and the people in my orbit. Ahead lies 2013, a year that, at the moment, seems to stretch out in front of me forever. There are so many goals, new experiences, trips, and friendships to grow, and healing to be done. I hope your 2013 is off to a good start and continues to deliver on all you’ve hoped for.
The 2013 Early Season Trout Opener is about four weeks away, here in Wisconsin. Have you got a plan? My friends and I have started making plans. Here’s a shot of the stretch we’re planning to fish on March 2nd (sorry, I can’t spray the location all over the internet).
Some Driftless trout water, Wisconsin
Afterwards we’ll wet our whistles here and recount the epic day of fishing we shared.
The Silent Woman
And after that, we’ll come up with many more plans, ideas to improve our success, and talk of hunting Turkeys, Deer, Musky, and many, many more trout.
Here’s to 2013!
Here we are in the thick of wintertime. I was wondering if it would be with us this year. Thankfully it is, at least in my opinion. We are a family of skiers. Alpine skiers. Nothing beats it. I put it on a very high pedestal alongside fly fishing and a good-value-for-the-money bourbon. Like maybe $20 for a 750ml bottle.
Even though I have so much winter to look forward to, with skiing, coaching the Blackhawk Alpine Racing Team with my friend Brian, and some epic games of Cribbage and Euchre to get through the cold, dark evenings, I can’t help but keep my eye on March 2nd, the early season trout opener. I’m not sure if any of you feel this way. Lovers of winter with an eye toward that first spring creek trout of the season.
But since it wasn’t that long ago, here are a few pictures of Christmas with my family. Enjoy Winter, and look ahead to Spring!
Christmas with the Andersons
Rebecca and Wes
It’s fun to feel this way about Christmas
Don’t be mistaken. These two are hell on wheels.
Here are some photos of the beautiful spots Stephen and I visited on Sunday. Though we didn’t catch any trout, the scenery was very nice.
Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin, at sunrise.
Sunrise, Oak Tree, Iowa County, Wisconsin
Stephen Rose on Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin
Driftless Barn, Iowa County, Wisconsin
Conley-Lewis Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin
After striking out on Sunday I decided to swing 180-degrees and go from fishing streams I don’t know to fishing those I know well (or better, anyway). My home stream, as it is for many around here, is Black Earth Creek. Many people frown on it because “there was that fish kill awhile back” and “it gets so much pressure from Madison fishermen”. While those things are true, it is still a lovely stream with lots of fish that is fishable for me over lunch or before or after work.
Monday I drove 15 minutes to a spot on Black Earth Creek and caught a couple of nice Brown Trout, whereas on Sunday I drove an hour and didn’t see any fish.
Black Earth Creek in its broad valley
I haven’t yet fished every stretch of this river, so I have some exploring left to do, which will help my neophilic tendencies. There are a few nice tributary streams as well that are proximal to my location that don’t see as many fishermen, and I plan to increase my knowledge of those streams as well.
The spot I fished was basically “in town” and it sees lots of fishing pressure. Even so, I caught fish. This, to me, says a lot about the health of the Black Earth Creek system.
The guys at On The Creek provided an audience during this hookup.
Speaking with Todd Opsal at On the Creek Fly Shop, I found out the section between Hwy P and Hwy KP is going to get some special attention in the next few years from the DNR and Trout Unlimited. Many moons ago this section was channelized and dammed to serve industrial purposes. The project in the works will put the stream back into its original stream bed, with lots of meanders and natural gradient. It will be used as a national example of stream restoration practices and will only serve to increase the fecundity of Black Earth Creek, and we’ll all have more fish to catch and lovelier places to catch them.
Tight Line! Channelized section of Black Earth Creek.
I plan to keep up the blog posts as a sort of journal this season, so hopefully I’ll be taking many more pics of fish and nice places as the weeks go by.
Skipping out on fishing the opener March 3rd, I was lucky enough to get a hall pass to head out on Sunday morning. I’ve heard from several anglers that opening weekend is a silly time to go exploring unfamiliar streams. You should head to a place you know holds fish. Well, my wanderlust got the best of me and I convinced my partner in crime, Stephen C. Rose, to venture out to Iowa County to fish some streams that look good from space (i.e., satelite imagery via Google and the DNR Managed Lands website).
We went north of Blackhawk Lake to a stream called Flint Creek. See the pic below? Looks pretty promising doesn’t it?
Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin
So off we went at 5:30, and we hit Esch Road at sunup. The sound of riffle water was promising, and the valley was certainly a beautiful example of the Driftless. We walked downstream (upwards with respect to the picture above) and began fishing. Bend after bend, hole after hole, we saw nothing. The stream didn’t appear to get any fishing pressure, but it also appeared to not have any fish in it. A mystery.
We decided to head back to the car and warm up with some coffee and make a new plan. And guess what we decided? Let’s try another stream we’ve never heard of!
So we drove south and east through Dodgeville and along Highway 191 to Conley-Lewis Creek, another beautiful, promising-looking stream. But again, no damn fish. The funny thing is, we had done some scouting over the winter to find streams with fish in them, and we had certainly found some streams that were new to us that held fish. Why hadn’t we visit them on Sunday, fly rods at the ready, to partake in some actual fish catching?!
Looking back on it, I think we had talked ourselves into targeting Brook Trout, because they’re a bit less selective and wary than Browns, so we figured we’d be sure to catch some trout. But in adopting this strategy we pursued fish on streams we had no prior knowledge of. It was as if we were still in scouting mode.
Oh well, lesson learned.
The silver lining is that both Stephen and I had opportunities to fish Monday (Stephen) and Tuesday (Tom) and hooked into some fish. Check back in tomorrow for tales of success.
The opener is this Saturday. I plan to stay local for much of the season. I’ll take a few trips further afield, but I’m scheming to get intimately familiar with water that is within thirty minutes of home and work. An hour here and an hour there will make up the bulk of my fishing time this season.
My friend Stephen Rose on local water, Driftless, Wisconsin
Weekend trips this year are going to involve my three young sons and a few good campsites, and there will likely be more variety to my weekend Driftless Area stream time. Whatever it takes to keep it fun for my kids, that’s where I’m trying to aim. I want them to want to join me in trout country. I’m building relationships with them that I hope will grow into their love of the same places I love. If that takes campfires and marshmallows, lunches at the local burger joint, and a few hands of UNO at the campsite in the afternoon, I’m game.
Shep at Parfrey's Glen, 2009
I was recently called “the best parent when it comes to making things fun”. It was a compliment, but it was a statement made to temper criticism that followed. The criticism was that I acquiesce to my children when decisions about “what to do” have to be made. It’s not as if I let my children choose to do whatever they want to do whenever they want to do it. I’m not a wet noodle that bends to their every demand. But I’ll admit, I fall into the role of joining them as boys in the activities we share. I want my kids to like me, to want to invite me along when I’m an old man.
Childhood is not only about “Protestant-Work-Ethic” character building via depravity and rigid time management. It is just as important, perhaps more important, for children to understand what they have to fall back on when they need some reprieve from the trying times that come from all directions in a person’s life.
Let's dig a hole in the backyard! (Madison, WI)
When I think back to my boyhood I don’t remember with fondness those things that adults had me do to “prepare me” for the real world. I remember spending time with my mom, dad, and sister, or my neighborhood buddies, doing things out in nature or around the neighborhood, exploring unfamiliar places, revisiting familiar ones. I remember my dad waking up on Saturday morning just in time to watch Looney Tunes with me and my sister, and I thought it was so cool that he took an interest in something I really liked! And I also remember the excitement of being invited to partake in activities that my parents liked too.
My dad, The Man. (Cedarburg, WI, 2011)
My dad had plenty of “advice” for me that I didn’t appreciate and still don’t take any stock in. However, he’s been more than open to trying things I’ve discovered on my own so that he can share experiences with me. That’s the approach I’m trying to take with my sons. Show them things I like. Try things that they like. Meet in the middle. Skip out on responsibilities once in a while for the sake of freedom and fun, to feel like you’ve got some say in your life. Not all the time, but rules can and should be bent once in a while. Like that time in 8th grade my parents took my sister and me out of school for a whole week to go skiing in Montana. There’s one I’ll never forget.