Archive for the ‘Knapp Creek’ 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving the Driftless   3 comments

Ride along with me and Stephen as we drive from Coon Creek toward Pine River through the Driftless.

First Timer   2 comments

20110910-123232.jpg

That’s my brother Tim gettin’ in for the first time.

We spent an overnight at the West Fork Sportsman’s Club in Avalanche and woke at dawn to work Knapp Creek, the West Fork of the Kick, and the Sea Breeze Creek. All are in close proximity and gave us some different flavors for a days fishing.

20110910-123757.jpg

We did well with Brookies on the Knapp, including a 12 incher , and I think Tim was really taken by the nature of a day knee deep as I know I am. I think I saw and felt those pangs for a trophy that we all sometimes get, of a big fish and some outlandish story to go with it. But I knew that wasn’t likely, or at least, is no longer what brings me out there.

“It ain’t about the fish”, as they say, and you won’t get any argument from me on that sentiment.

I’ve begun to see these streams as nothing more than lonesome highways where a guy can really get way back in the world where a rabbit wouldn’t go.

I mean, how else to see all this very marvelous, very privately owned land?

My fishing pole and rubber pants are license to see that which is otherwise forbidden. For some guys, maybe that’s a pole dancer, others still, it’s the big game on the tube, or throwing oneself into some extreme sports peril. I’ll take a cold running, spring fed stream, up against that stuff almost every time.

I wanted Tim to recognize that there is a world of opportunity out there which requires a relatively small investment in basic gear that provides a lifetime of superlative activity for those willing to give it a try.

20110910-060526.jpg

We left for Avalanche from Madison at about 6 or so and I’d readied us for an evening of hammock camping just off the road somewhere not far from the fish. It’s unfortunate there is so much human contrivance in the world that two guys can’t sling a couple sheets of nylon between two trees w/o feeling like they’re breaking the law. Sadly, we couldn’t find a spot that would keep us close to the car w/o feeling really conspicuous so we opted for the Sportsmans Club after giving up our search at about 10pm.

For all my resistance, the club camping facilities proved to be a very welcoming spot for two late comers and made camp set up a snap. Arriving late, we were told to seek out Trapper in the morning. I knew we’d be gone by 5:30 and bothering someone that early felt like an injustice greater than not paying the very fair $20.00 fee. (10 for overnight + 10 for a seasonal membership)

Trapper, let’s say I owe you one okay?

And thanks much for a great spot to hang your hat for an evening!

We’ll be back I’m certain and settle up then.

After 3 or 4 hours the next morning on the Brookie laden Knapp, we decided to seek out bigger water in hopes of finding some fat Brown trout.

I like to fish w/o other fisherman in sight (minus my mates of course) so the West Fork always looks a little too cozy from the road. Makes it feel too much like some kind of water park or something. I’m looking for the lonesome highway. Not Wisconsin Dells.

But we moved down the creek a ways and I discovered why people fish the West Fork. It’s freakin’ gorgeous! I am very thankful for every inch of effort on that stream and it made for some really fine fishing. Great activity in some long riffles, that are so fun to fish, and beautiful plunge pools and big bend pools so fishy you’re reluctant to ever leave them.

The Sea Breeze, I think that’s what it’s called, was a little trib that I thought might get less fishing pressure than the main branch and give us some solid afternoon opportunities.

We did well in this open prairie like little stream. It recalled many of the Dane County that are familiar to me.

I think Tim was chastened a bit by the day. His anticipation for big fish was natural. But in the end he clearly felt those other less knowable virtues that are what really bring us all back.

Can’t wait to get back there with my crew again sometime soon!

First Timer   3 comments

20110910-123232.jpg

That’s my brother Tim gettin’ in for the first time.

We spent an overnight at the West Fork Sportsman’s Club in Avalanche and woke at dawn to work Knapp Creek, the West Fork of the Kick, and the Sea Breeze Creek. All are in close proximity and gave us some different flavors for a days fishing.

20110910-123757.jpg

We did well with Brookies on the Knapp, including a 12 incher , and I think Tim was really taken by the nature of a day knee deep as I know I am. I think I saw and felt those pangs for a trophy that we all sometimes get, of a big fish and some outlandish story to go with it. But I knew that wasn’t likely, or at least, is no longer what brings me out there.

“It ain’t about the fish”, as they say, and you won’t get any argument from me on that sentiment.

I’ve begun to see these streams as nothing more than lonesome highways where a guy can really get way back in the world where a rabbit wouldn’t go.

I mean, how else to see all this very marvelous, very privately owned land?

My fishing pole and rubber pants are license to see that which is otherwise forbidden. For some guys, maybe that’s a pole dancer, others still, it’s the big game on the tube, or throwing oneself into some extreme sports peril. I’ll take a cold running, spring fed stream, up against that stuff almost every time.

I wanted Tim to recognize that there is a world of opportunity out there which requires a relatively small investment in basic gear that provides a lifetime of superlative activity for those willing to give it a try.

20110910-060526.jpg

We left for Avalanche from Madison at about 6 or so and I’d readied us for an evening of hammock camping just off the road somewhere not far from the fish. It’s unfortunate there is so much human contrivance in the world that two guys can’t sling a couple sheets of nylon between two trees w/o feeling like they’re breaking the law. Sadly, we couldn’t find a spot that would keep us close to the car w/o feeling really conspicuous so we opted for the Sportsmans Club after giving up our search at about 10pm.

For all my resistance, the club camping facilities proved to be a very welcoming spot for two late comers and made camp set up a snap. Arriving late, we were told to seek out Trapper in the morning. I knew we’d be gone by 5:30 and bothering someone that early felt like an injustice greater than not paying the very fair $20.00 fee. (10 for overnight + 10 for a seasonal membership)

Trapper, let’s say I owe you one okay?

And thanks much for a great spot to hang your hat for an evening!

We’ll be back I’m certain and settle up then.

After 3 or 4 hours the next morning on the Brookie laden Knapp, we decided to seek out bigger water in hopes of finding some fat Brown trout.

I like to fish w/o other fisherman in sight (minus my mates of course) so the West Fork always looks a little too cozy from the road. Makes it feel too much like some kind of water park or something. I’m looking for the lonesome highway. Not Wisconsin Dells.

But we moved down the creek a ways and I discovered why people fish the West Fork. It’s freakin’ gorgeous! I am very thankful for every inch of effort on that stream and it made for some really fine fishing. Great activity in some long riffles, that are so fun to fish, and beautiful plunge pools and big bend pools so fishy you’re reluctant to ever leave them.

The Sea Breeze, I think that’s what it’s called, was a little trib that I thought might get less fishing pressure than the main branch and give us some solid afternoon opportunities.

We did well in this open prairie like little stream. It recalled many of the Dane County that are familiar to me.

I think Tim was chastened a bit by the day. His anticipation for big fish was natural. But in the end he clearly felt those other less knowable virtues that are what really bring us all back.

Can’t wait to get back there with my crew again sometime soon!