Archive for the ‘Gordon Creek’ Category

More Driftless Moving Water   Leave a comment

Here’s some footage from a trip I took last year in April to the upper reaches of Gordon Creek in Dane County, Wisconsin. Just a hop, skip, and a jump from my home.

Pictures from the Weekend   6 comments

Stephen Rose and I got out over the weekend to a creek that has baffled and battered us for some time now. This creek doesn’t give up its fish easily. There may not even be that many fish in this creek, but it is certainly enticing. It is a beautiful place, not far from home, with lots of fishy-looking spots. Others who’ve fished it have reported successes and failures. It is popular with fly fishermen, probably because of the many “improved” areas that allow a person to cast a fly rod.

Stephen got a few strikes but couldn’t connect. I got one fish on a wooly bugger. The fishing that was had would not make a very good extreme fly fishing movie. But, like you’ll hear from many fly fishermen, it was a beautiful experience.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Double Surgeon's Knot, by Stephen Rose

Double Surgeon's Knot, by Stephen Rose

Clipping the Tags

Clipping the Tags

Stephen working an Adam's in a very attractive pool

Stephen working an Adam's in a very attractive pool

This flower is every fly fisherman's nightmare (Black-Eyed Susan)

This flower is every fly fisherman's nightmare (Black-Eyed Susan)

Pretty, isn't it?

Pretty, isn't it?

Another failed attempt to lure a fish from a fantastic bend pool

Another failed attempt to lure a fish from a fantastic bend pool

Ha! I fooled a fish!

Ha! I fooled a fish!

Please, God, just let me catch a fish! There have got to be fish in there!

Please, God, just let me catch a fish! There have got to be fish in there!

This farmer mows a path along the stream. Thanks buddy!

This farmer mows a path along the stream. Thanks buddy!

 

 

 

Yesterday was One Hell of a Day to go Fishing   Leave a comment

Yesterday was about the nicest fishing weather you could ask for. My good friend Stephen Rose and I hit a local coldwater fishery named after the man who spearheaded saving spring creeks in the Midwest by working with farmers to change their planting and plowing practices to reduce runoff in the Driftless area hills.

We worked with hopper patterns from daybreak till about 10am. All told we had 5-6 fish caught and released, the largest of which was about 8-inches, all browns.

Stephen Rose with a hopper-caught Brown Trout

Stephen Rose with a hopper-caught Brown Trout

 

No wonder the hoppers were working. There were grasshoppers everywhere, and not just a few had hopped right in to the stream. The baffling thing for me was that I didn’t see one grasshopper get slammed by a trout. I’m talking real, actual grasshoppers now, not imitations. Stephen and I both thought the trout would be nuts to turn down these tasty fat hoppers, but perhaps they’d eaten their fill? I don’t know. And why would the hit an imitation but not the real ones?

I decided to find out, Nick Adams-style.

 

An incredibly lifelike Hopper Pattern

An incredibly lifelike Hopper Pattern

 

What did I find out? First, Grasshoppers are surprisingly easy to catch by hand when there is still dew on the grass and the sun hasn’t warmed things up yet. Just pretend you’re a Praying Mantis and snatch one off a tall blade of grass.

Second, the most secure way to hook a hopper is through the collar behind their head, as shown in the photo above. Even though this looks fairly bomb-proof, I still lost a bunch of hoppers while casting. Extra-smoot casting is a must.

Third, the anecdotal evidence suggests that rudimentary hopper patterns are as effective as real hoppers for catching fish. I only tried this for about an hour, but much of my time was spent collecting hoppers and losing them while casting.

During trials with the actual hopper shown in the picture above, I was casting and drifting this bug happily, but not getting any bites. On the third or fourth presentation I noticed how perfectly the bug was drifting in the current. I couldn’t believe the finesse I had suddently obtained in drifting a dry fly past a likely holding spot. As the hopper drifted beyond the holding lie I retrieved to make another cast but found that the hopper continued its incredible drift. My relationship with that grasshopper had come to an end the moment my tippet had hit the water, about fifteen seconds before my retrieve. Oh well.

I did end up taking a fish on an actual hopper. It was about 8 inches long and had the hook nicely placed in its lip. The hopper was in the fish’s stomach, so that made me feel good. At least the fish got a meal for his trouble.

Spin or Fly?!?!   3 comments

Yesterday I hit the world-renowned Gordon Creek. I decided to take both my spinning rod (w/ a Panther Martin lure) and my fly rod along.

The idea was to use the spinning rod sparingly if the fly fishing was slow. So, the first five casts I made into Gordon Creek were with my spinner. I pulled out five trout, from eight to twelve inches long. Nice! “The fish are hungry today!” I thought to myself.

I took a short walk back to my car to put the spinning rod away, figuring the fly rod would land me enough fish to keep things interesting.

Off I went with fly rod and fly box in hand. I tied everything but the kitchen sink to the end of my tippet and in two hours had only one fish bump my fly. There were hoppers in the tall grass, so I tried a hopper. Scuds, Pink Squirrels, Wooley Buggers, Adams. Nuthin.

So, either I stink at presenting flies to fish, or spinners are much more irresistible to trout.

I had a discussion early this year with Nick Volk at On the Creek Fly Shop in Cross Plains, discussing spinning vs fly fishing for trout. I asked him “Nick, am I ever going to catch as many trout on flies as I can on spinners?”. He said, “You’ll catch more on flies.” He was adamant.

 I hope Nick is right. I want Nick to be right. Casting a fly rod is so much fun, and catching fish on a fly rod is so much fun too. Fly fishing has everything going for it. Except I can’t seem to catch many fish on flies.

Perhaps it’s time for a fly-fishing-for-trout hiatus. Spinners seem to be the ticket this time of year. The flies do seem to work well on the Bluegills, however…

Recent Success   Leave a comment

Here are some photos of locations and fish on a recent outing in Dane County. I’ve been told by Todd Opsal of On The Creek Fly Shop in Cross Plains that the fish are still sluggish and that with warmer weather, we’ll get more active trout. None the less, these outings are good for my soul! 

Gordon Creek Headwaters

Gordon Creek Headwaters

 

 

Brown on a Wooly Bugger

Brown on a Wooly Bugger

 

Sandhill Crane near Gordon Creek, WI

Sandhill Crane near Gordon Creek, WI

 

Brook Trout, Gordon Creek

Brook Trout, Gordon Creek

 

Driftless Area Farmhouse, WI

Driftless Area Farmhouse, WI

 

Tree Roots sipping from Gordon Creek

Tree Roots sipping from Gordon Creek

Gordon Creek in February   1 comment

Bode wading Gordon Creek

Bode wading Gordon Creek

With schools closed and three young boys beating down the walls of my house, I decided to temp fate and drag them all out to the countryside to check out some spring creek scenery. I’ve fished Gordon Creek a handful of times, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to visit the upper reaches of the drainage. Fish were spotted and my boys had a good time playing by the water’s edge (or in the water depending on the wardrobe). The creek ran clear and looked about like it does any time of year. I suppose this is a nice thing about the headwaters of a spring-fed creek. It’s reliably consistent.

Upper reaches of Gordon Creek
Upper reaches of Gordon Creek

 

Afternoon sun on Gordon Creek

Afternoon sun on Gordon Creek

 

After half an hour on this upper section – the younger boys really wanted a campfire and a couple of hammocks hung, and this was not public land – we headed down the road a ways to a spot where this sort of thing would be possible. So, here we are enjoying s’mores and the bubbling of Gordon Creek. The water was chocolate milk and was running deep.

S'mores and a nice place to sit!

S'mores and a nice place to sit!

 

Nice, isn't it?

Nice, isn't it?

 

Sheppy lounging - Optical Illusion: he is several feet away from the fire...

Sheppy lounging - Optical Illusion: he is several feet away from the fire...

Trout Unlimited Meeting Last Night   1 comment

Last night Stephen Rose and I attended our first Trout Unlimited meeting. The Southern Wisconsin TU Chapter meets monthly in the banquet hall at the Colliseum Bar in Madison. The reputation of Trout Unlimited precedes itself, and there are strong opinions about the influence and motivation of the organization.

We didn’t know what kind of atmosphere to expect. On the way to the meeting we jokingly agreed that if we saw anyone wearing an ascot ala Judge Smails in Caddyshack, we’d probably have to excuse ourselves and make our way downstairs to the bar for some stiff drinks.

Judge Smails

"Do you stand for *goodness*, or - for *badness*?" - Judge Smails

It turns out no one was wearing an ascot. Most were wearing flannel shirts and faded jeans. The faces in the crowd of 50 people were exactly what you’d expect to see in a bar on a Tuesday night in Wisconsin.

The meeting started out with a few items of business, mostly that winners of raffles from the last few meetings had yet to pick up their prizes of fly boxes or trout books. There was a request to sign up to man the booth at the upcoming Madison Fishing Expo, and a call for members to help with streambank improvement work on Mount Vernon, the West Branch of the Sugar, and Gordon Creeks on April 30. Bring your loppers, chainsaws, and work gloves!

Raffle tickets for the evenings “Bucket Raffle” were handed out. Up for grabs were fly boxes with a dozen hand-tied flies.

Then the presentation began. Four members had taken a trip up to Lake Creek, Alaska for a week of river fishing. The stories and photos were terrific and make me wish I was better at saving my money so that I could afford such a trip (which, according to the speakers, was very reasonably priced compared to other trips offered in Alaska).

Wilderness Place Lodge

Wilderness Place Lodge

The question I asked myself while looking at the slides was “Are they going to eat any of these fish?” and I was surprised and relieved when I saw them showing off giant salmon filets and talking about how delicious all the fish tasted. They also brought along two kegs of beer to keep them company. Sounds OK to me!

After the 45-minute presentation the bucket raffle got underway. Three winners were picked from a hat and they each took home a fly box with some flies.

Announcements for the next meeting were made (March’s meeting is an auction) and the crowd slowly dispersed.

The impression I got was that each of these people enjoyed trout, trout streams, fishing for and catching trout, and spreading the word that trout fishing is a great way to spend time outdoors.

I didn’t stand up and say “Would any of you have objections to me fishing with a chub tail at the April outing?”

I’m not sure how that would have gone over. But I’m going to continue to attend the meetings and become a member. I look forward to helping with stream work, learning how to tie new flies, and create new friendships within the trout fishing community.

I also look forward to fishing with that chub tail in April.