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.
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.
Heron and Stephen after a successful outing in the Driftless of Wisconsin
I took a little time to get out to my home waters and I didn’t see a lot of action, but there were beautiful swallows swooping all around, the trees were flowering and smelling like honey, and the air breathed crisp and fresh.
I hope you can get out to catch some trout this weekend. I’m likely to be seen on the shores of Monona Bay, chasing down a hunch overheard by my ten-year-old son at school about big bass being caught at sunrise. Hopefully I can convince him that Sunday will be the better day to fish. Saturday morning looks like rain and cold. I’d prefer to read the paper and drink my coffee in that kind of weather. But it ain’t easy to make an eager kid wait.
Last weekend Stephen Rose and I took our boys on another close-to-home road trip to see if we could find some reptiles and amphibians. Our first stop was Spring Green Prairie, a dry hillside full of Prickly Pear Cactus and, if you’re lucky, Box Turtles and Bull Snakes.
We walked along carefully, trying to spy a living creature, but didn’t have any luck. It’s a wonderful place though, with a landscape unlike any other in Wisconsin. I highly recommend you go check it out.
Our second stop was Otter Creek in the Baraboo Hills, a sure bet for frogs, creek bugs and wonderful plants. And sure enough, we found lots of frogs, lots of creek bugs, and lots of plants. I wish I knew the names of most of the things I’ve taken pictures of below, but I don’t.
Maybe my friend Stephen, or perhaps one of you, would be kind enough to post a comment if you know the name of something you see in the pictures below.
Spring is springing and it’s a great time to get out and explore.
It’s the regular season trout opener today too. For those of you heading out, good luck!
Spring Green Prairie
A Boring Insect found in a dead tree
Spring Green Prairie
Four boys in a cave, Spring Green Prairie
The Wisconsin River Valley
Boys in a big landscape
Flowers at Spring Green Prairie
Shepard at Spring Green Prairie
Prickly Pear Cactus, Spring Green Prairie
Skunk Cabbage, Otter Creek
Wildflowers at Otter Creek
Shepard at Otter Creek
Sawyer in rubber pants at Otter Creek
A frog, a trout, and a tadpole walk into a bar…
The boys share their findings at Otter Creek
A juvenile predaceous diving beetle?
A wildflower at Otter Creek
Otter Creek in the Baraboo Hills
Big frog, Little frog
Shepard checks out the “kick net” full of creek bugs at Otter Creek
Sunday, by all accounts, was a day everyone should have stayed inside. It was 34° and raining. A friend of mine cleaned out his gutters on Sunday, so I suppose you could do worse than taking a hike through the woods.
That’s where our troop was, tromping through the woods enjoying the sights and having a good time.
I hope you enjoy the photos!
Skillet Creek runs through the gorge at Pewitt’s Nest
Pewitt’s Nest pine bough
Water drips off the limestone at Pewitt’s Nest
A crew of buddies in the woods at Pewitt’s Nest
Shepard on the slide at Pewitt’s Nest
Sawyer on the Slide at Pewitt’s Nest
Bode on the Slide at Pewitt’s Nest
Heron and Joe on the Slide at Pewitt’s Nest
Bracket Fungi reaching for the sky at Pewitt’s Nest
The work of large woodpeckers was everywhere at Pewitt’s Nest
Stephen Rose and I got the crew back together for a road trip up to Parfrey’s Glen. I think the secret may be out on this place. It was closed down for a few years because the trails were blown out after big rain storms, but today there were plenty of visitors. A beautiful, sunny fall day calls for just such an adventure.
I’ve got loads of pictures below, and I think I’ll just let them do the talking…
A picture says a thousand words. An animated .gif says, perhaps, ten-thousand words?
Stephen and I went up to the southern slope of the Baraboo Hills yesterday and fish one of our favorite spots, Otter Creek. The fish weren’t cooperative, but it was a glorious morning and we both enjoyed being back in the forest.
As you can see, Stephen’s casting hasn’t suffered at all. He did struggle to remember how to tie a blood knot, but I explained that he had only just learned that knot earlier this summer, and struggled with it then. The hike got him breathing a bit and he told me on the way back to the car that he was experiencing an endorphin rush. Cool!
Otter Creek in Sauk County, Wisconsin
Jewel Weed blossoms on Otter Creek, Sauk County, Wisconsin
Lobelia Cardinalis – Stephen told me so…
Later in the afternoon a gaggle of friends gathered at Wingra Park for a “last day of summer” picnic. Courtney and Brian, the Balsleys, the Cookes, the Anderson-Browns, and Stephen Rose and his son Heron all got together for grilled sausages, chips, fruit, beers (and sparkling mineral water), and lots of fun.
Brian broke out the frisbees and guess who can throw the frisbee like a laserbeam?
Stephen Rose (with his son Heron in the blue shorts) at Wingra Park, September 3, 2012