Archive for the ‘Hammocks’ Category

Tainter and Knapp Creek in April   5 comments

On Friday Stephen and I took a drive out to the Kickapoo River Valley to fish the fine waters of Tainter Creek. This river is loaded with fish. Perhaps I shouldn’t kiss and tell, as they say, but seriously, if you don’t already know about Tainter Creek, well, you need to talk to more fishermen.

For those of you who are angry about my use of stream names in my trip reports, I’m sorry. But it’s nothing you couldn’t get from reading a few books, going to a few fly shops, and attending a TU meeting once in a blue moon. Isn’t it sort of like saying there are Musky in Lake Minoqua, or that there are Steelhead in the Brule?

But, I digress.

The thing about trout fishing is that it isn’t a given you’ll catch the trout. Stephen and I started the day looking down into a pool from a bridge over Tainter Creek, where we spied perhaps 250 fish. We fished that pool a few hours later and caught exactly two trout from it. Some days the fish are willing. Other days, they’re obstinate.

After a lunch in the car we fished upstream from the bridge and found more fish, only some of which were willing. The sections we fished on Friday were gorgeous, natural, healthy and thriving with life.

We wrapped up fishing toward late afternoon, found a camp, and then headed to Soldier’s Grove for some food. On the way we crested the ridge between the Tainter Creek Valley and the Kickapoo River Valley, and Stephen’s phone chimed. He checked it and found a message from John Jackels, who said he was in Readstown and hoping to find us. We had driven down the hill a ways and Stephen had lost his signal, so I backed up about an eighth mile to regain the summit, and we gave John a call. He was ten minutes north of Soldier’s Grove, and we were ten minutes west of it. How about that?!

I really wish Soldier’s Grove had a bar with some good food. Or maybe my problem is that I picked the wrong thing to eat. I had the fried fish (Haddock, I think), with “baby red” potatoes. John had the same thing. Stephen had the baked fish with garlic mashed potatoes. My fish was akin to eating breaded and deep fried eraser. The baby reds were really just Russet potatoes cut into chunks the size of baby red potatoes, deep fried and sprinkled with canned parmesan cheese. Stephen’s baked fish was like eating a piece of bone that had been boiled long enough to turn it into a gelatinous lump. His garlic mashed potatoes tasted like pizza.

I’m in a critical mood today. Sorry.

After dinner we got some coffee and eggs from the gas station to prepare breakfast on Saturday, then we headed back to the campsite, made a fire, shot the shit, and went to bed.

Saturday dawned cold and breezy. We had breakfast on the road and headed downstream. We fished what I believe are some of the finest runs of trout water in the state. We all got several nice fish to hand and enjoyed the morning immensely.

We had lunch on the road and then hit a pretty section of Tainter where some “restoration” work had recently taken place.

I suppose after a few years these restored sections come back with vigor, but the section we visited was a ghost town. No fish spotted, and the habitat was much less varied than natural areas. It’s sort of like fishing a golf course. A thing that’s concerning about these projects is that, in the natural world, streams move and meander and find their way. The strategy used for restoration means the creek won’t move. It will stay in its channel for a good long while. Is this a problem? Does it exclude other species besides trout? I didn’t see a single creature moving around in this restored section, whereas the area we fished in the morning was full of birds and voles and stuff. I hope these restorations are being done in a way that considers all of this.

We wrapped up our trip on Knapp Creek, where we came upon a woman walking back along the road after a good day of fishing. Her face said it all. The fish were rising, she had said. We parked and dove in and, sure enough, rising fish! I got one out of a deep pool on a dry. It’s silvery body came from down deep and it shot out of the water straight through the fly. What a great catch!

Tired and happy, we made our way back home after a great trip to the Driftless.

All weekend, by the way, I had great success using a “black tadpole” streamer fly, shown in the fish pic below, with a “brassie” dropper. I got fish on both of these and I’m really a fan of this tandem rig. It seems the bashful fish are willing to go after the small brassie, while the outgoing (and usually, bigger) fish are all about gobbling up the black tadpole.

 

Breakfast on the road.

Breakfast on the road.

 

Tainter Creek Brook Trout caught on my own "black tadpole"

Tainter Creek Brook Trout caught on my own “black tadpole”

 

Stephen Rose casting on Tainter Creek

Stephen Rose casting on Tainter Creek

 

John Jackels on Tainter Creek

John Jackels on Tainter Creek

 

Stephen and John work out wind knots on Tainter.

Stephen and John work out wind knots on Tainter.

 

Lunch on the road.

Lunch on the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bupkis on the Brule   5 comments

bup·kis (bêp-kês) – noun: absolutely nothing; nothing of value, significance, or substance.

Small, round fecal pellets, referring to the shape of goat droppings.

A colorful Yiddish phrase: “Bupkis mit Kudachas”, translating roughly to “shivering shit balls”.

 

8-wt rods stand at the ready

8-wt rods stand at the ready

 

Stephen Rose, John Jackels and I went up to the Brule River in Douglas County, Wisconsin last Thursday night to take part in the annual fall pursuit of Brule River Steelhead. We went with a cocky sureness that we’d be heros, and we left cold and damp, shivering and sunken.

 

Heading North alongside the Brule Valley

Heading North alongside the Brule Valley

 

The rains in October were said to have made for a nice fall run, not at all like the anemic fall run of 2011. Hopes were high for perhaps a dozen fish during our three day outing. But instead, our lines laid limp in the water while we endured soggy-cold skies and frigid water. We saw a few fish roll and jump but none wanted to play.

Midway through the trip we were so unsure of ourselves that Stephen gave our guide friend Tim Pearson a call to confirm that there were, in fact, still steelhead swimming up the Brule River. He assured Stephen that there were, and encouraged us to keep trying, saying that the most important part of Steelheading is having that fly in the water, working hard to present it with a dead drift.

So after a lunch at the Kro Bar we were back on the water doing our thing.

 

This is Steelheading on the Brule River

This is Steelheading on the Brule River

 

After more of the same we retreated to camp, dry gas station firewood in hand, and Stephen cooked up some venison steaks and tomato soup. Staring into a campfire on a cold fall evening can lift even the most weary angler’s soul. And a superlative sleep in a Hennessy Hammock is a thing that by all rights should be reserved for the gods on Olympus. Don’t be a dink. Get a hammock to camp in.

 

Sleep on a cloud

Sleep on a cloud

 

In the end, the trip was a beautiful thing. The Brule River and the forested valley that it runs through are soul-cleansing, and I’ll plan to go back year after year. And when I hold another chrome trout in my hands it will be all that much sweeter.

 

John and Stephen absorbing heat

John and Stephen absorbing heat

 

 

 

Tough Summertime Fishing in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region   10 comments

Stephen Rose and I have been planning to take a trip to Vernon and Richland Counties for a few months now, and the stars aligned in our schedules to allow that trip to happen. We didn’t plan on Wisconsin being in the middle of a drought, though, and that made the fishing a bit tougher than we’d hoped.

We managed to catch a dozen fish between ourselves, but nothing with any real size. We saw a pike in Coon Creek and scouted a pair of 20-plus-inch fish as well, but the sun and biting flies got to be a bit much so we headed in to Borgen’s in Westby for some burgers, beers, and pie.

We caught our suppers each night, supplemented with venison brats and tabouli, and washed down with cold beers. We camped for free in Hennessy Hammocks and avoided a few bulls in their pastures without incident.

Stephen and I both agreed that we won’t be taking another extended trip to fish for trout until we get some more rain. Water levels are low and many streams are warm (though some are suprisingly cool, even well down their drainages). I was happy to see that even though we’ve been without rain, the streams appear healthy and the fish happy, and for the most part, the Driftless continues to show off its lushness.

Enjoy the photos for now, and looking forward, expect a few videos of our trip on the site too.

 

Coon Creek in Vernon County, Wisconsin

Coon Creek in Vernon County, Wisconsin

 

Scouting some big trout, Vernon County, Wisconsin

Scouting some big trout, Vernon County, Wisconsin

 

Stephen enjoying lunch at Borgen's, Westby, Wisconsin

Stephen enjoying lunch at Borgen’s, Westby, Wisconsin

 

Sharp Car...

Sharp Car…

 

Pecan Pie? Are you kidding me?! Borgen's in Westby, Wisconsin

Pecan Pie? Are you kidding me?! Borgen’s in Westby, Wisconsin

 

Coon Creek Brown near Coon Valley, Wiscsonsin

Coon Creek Brown near Coon Valley, Wiscsonsin

 

Preparing supper along Coon Creek, Wisconsin

Preparing supper along Coon Creek, Wisconsin

 

It always tastest better right out of the stream...

It always tastest better right out of the stream…

 

The Big Dipper above Wisconsin's Driftless

The Big Dipper above Wisconsin’s Driftless

 

 

Camp Creek Brown Trout, near Viola, Wisconsin

Camp Creek Brown Trout, near Viola, Wisconsin

 

 

 

This stretch of Camp Creek is kind of pretty, don't you think?

This stretch of Camp Creek is kind of pretty, don’t you think?

 

Stephen with a fish on, Camp Creek, Wisconsin

Stephen with a fish on, Camp Creek, Wisconsin

 

The Camp Creek Bandit.

The Camp Creek Bandit.

 

If the biting flies hadn't carried us away, we'd have stayed all day. Camp Creek, Wisconsin

If the biting flies hadn’t carried us away, we’d have stayed all day. Camp Creek, Wisconsin

 

 

 

Frye’s Feeder and Donald County Park   4 comments

Yesterday Stephen Rose and I did some exploring with our kids and my dog. We went to eastern Iowa county to take a look at Smith-Conley Creek. We checked out a parcel of land Stephen was curious about. And then we went to Donald County Park, a place neither of us had ever visited, even though we’ve each lived in Dane County for over a decade.

Donald County Park is the piece of land that spawns Mt Vernon Creek, at the confluence of Frye’s Feeder and Deer Creek. There are some great hiking trails, beautiful views, and of course, trout.

We had a great time exploring and relaxing in the February sun, sheltered from the wind behind a rise in the Driftless. It’s a neat place to check out, and I’ll surely be back with my fly rod when the trout season is in swing.

Shep and Joe at Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Shep and Joe at Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Joe and Stephen relaxing in a Hennessy hammock, Donald Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Joe and Stephen relaxing in a Hennessy hammock, Donald Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Shep, Joe, Bode, and Stephen, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Shep, Joe, Bode, and Stephen, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Frye's Feeder runs through Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Frye's Feeder runs through Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Maybea-Dog enjoying her free time, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Maybea-Dog enjoying her free time, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin

Camping in the Trees   2 comments

You may or may not have known this, but camping in the trees beats sleeping on the ground any day. Hennessey makes the finest hammocks around. Stephen and I each used a Hennessy on our trip to the Brule River last week, and from setting up camp in a flash at 2am to packing up camp at 5am in a flash, I had the best three hours of sleep I’ve ever experienced. The next night was great too, when I slept from 9pm to 7am.

I highly recommend you give this way of camping a go. You’ll feel so much better in the morning.

Stephen admires a Hennessy Hammock slung in the Brule River Forest

Stephen admires a Hennessy Hammock slung in the Brule River Forest