Stephen, Fred and I took some time on Easter to hit the Driftless. There were clouds all morning and patches of drizzle. At around 2pm the drizzle picked up and started feeling like rain showers. At that moment, for a period of about thirty minutes, the fish went mad. Fish were biting flies, nymphs, streamers, pink squirrels, brown beavers, green boogers, and yellow Bio-Strike. Most of the Brown Trout I caught during this period went airborne as I tried to play them to hand.
And then, nothing. Once the showers became steady and constant the fish hunkered down, back to being their normal Trouty selves.
Gosh, that was fun!
A Driftless Brown Trout with Easter Egg Colors
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.
I got out this morning before work and fished a section of Mt. Vernon Creek in Dane County. There were some very nice holding spots in the section I fished and it looked like the streambank improvement project that was done in 1977 was in really good shape.
My fishing vehicle, affectionately named the "Jay Ford Thurston"
After being denied any action in the section near the road, which looked very “fishy”, I checked my position using my phone (don’t you love GPS overlaid on Google Maps?) and worked my way upstream past some straight sections to a series of nice bends. This was a taxing endeavour given that the grass was making every effort to keep my feet from making foward progress. But I got to a very nice plunge pool into a bend lie and made some casts with a “Yellow Squirrell” (which is a Pink Squirrell but with yellow chenille).
And then, I had a fish on! I retrieved line and then thought “Hey, this might be a sizeable fish! I’d better get this guy onto my reel!” So I got fancy and tried to keep tension on the fish while taking up the sizeable amount of slack with my reel, but guess what? I didn’t keep that line between me and the fish tight, and the numpty bastard wiggled right off the hook.
Back to it a little while longer, and being that I haven’t touched a fish with my hands even though I’ve made epic cast after epic cast with my delicious 4wt, getting incredible hopper drifts through the most enticing lies you’ve ever seen, I fished a bit too long and had to hightail it over the barbed-wire fence and walk-sprint between cornrows back toward the road. And just as I’m coming out of the corn I see the farmer in his pickup truck banging along through the pasture coming straight for me. And I think, “Shit”. But then he takes a left turn and completely ignores me and the fact that I’m on the wrong side of his fence. So that was nice.
Back to my car, strip out of wet gear, check the Google Maps navigator to see how long the drive to work is going to be, and it says “38 minutes”. But my meeting is in 31 minutes! So I texted my boss saying I’d be late for the meeting and I’m very sorry.
Then I’m sitting in my wet skivvies driving through rural Wisconsin following a Mini Cooper going 80 up and down hills, drinking my cup of coffee, eating cashews, putting pomade in my hair so it looks like I tried to look okay, and then I find myself on a slower stretch of road closer to the city and I think, “This would be a great time to change into my work clothes.” So I set the cruise control at 40mph and pull on my pants, socks, shoes and so forth. I waited for a stoplight to pull on my shirt, so don’t worry.
Finally, I pull into the parking lot, walk-sprint the 70-yards across the parking lot, and see that I’m not actually late. Turns out I was the first one to the meeting.
So you see, fishing is not completely about catching fish. It’s about the experiences, according to Burgess Meredith. I couldn’t agree more.
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…