Archive for the ‘Vernon County’ 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2013 Early Opener   4 comments

Well, John and Stephen and I had a leisurely start to the day on Saturday and got ourselves up to Billings Creek near La Farge (French for “The Farge”) in Vernon County mid-morning. The stretch we’ve fished before made for difficult fishing. John got a couple of browns to hook up on a Marabou Leech and actually lost one as it skittered away under an ice shelf. That was the theme of Billings Creek on Saturday, those ice shelves. In some areas, like the deeper pools, there was ice clear across the creek.

The scenery was stunning, with that beautiful fresh snow and sunshine, so that’s what holds prominence in my mind at the moment. The fishing was difficult and the icy lines and even icier guides made for some tedium. But the beauty of the day made it hard to feel too sorry for myself.

After a couple hours and some hot chili we decided to bug out and go down to Camp Creek near Viola. The water there was much more inviting, with no ice and lots of visuals on fish. The water was very clear and the fish were spooky as always. Camp Creek is all about stealth, whether it’s via the long upstream cast or getting down on hands and knees to do some Czech nymphing. I saw two riseforms, so there were trout eating some kind of bug on the surface. Nothing big enough to see though. I finally caught my trout on a small Pheasant Tail nymph trailing behind a streamer, and I held it up in the sunshine and admired it for a moment, happy to be a trout fisherman again.

We all returned to the city happy and tired, hoping to see spring break out sometime soon, when new plans will be made for seeking trout.

I hope those of you who went out to fish the opener enjoyed the great weather and had some success too. Best wishes in 2013!

 

Billings Creek, Vernon County, Wisc

Billings Creek, Vernon County, Wisc

 

 

Stephen Rose at Billings Creek

Stephen Rose at Billings Creek

 

John Jackels works Billings Creek

John Jackels works Billings Creek

 

March 2, 2013 on Billings Creek

March 2, 2013 on Billings Creek

 

A great bend pool on Billings Creek, frozen over...

A great bend pool on Billings Creek, frozen over…

 

Check out that horseshoe tree!

Check out that horseshoe tree!

 

Look at how clear Camp Creek is behind my head

Look at how clear Camp Creek is behind my head

 

 

The spot where a hawk and a rodent met.

The spot where a hawk and a rodent met.

 

John Jackels at Camp Creek

John Jackels at Camp Creek

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Brook Trout Stocking Report from Len Harris   2 comments

Len Harris (you know Len Harris, right?) has a nice report on club-reared Brook Trout stocked in Driftless area streams. Give it a read. And tell Len “Hello”.

http://lenharris.blogspot.com/2012/04/locals-making-difference.html

Len’s report says the DNR gives these clubs fingerlings and the clubs raise them for one year before releasing them. One question I have, that I’ve asked Len about, is where the DNR gets the fingerlings? Do they collect eggs and roe from wild Brook Trout? I would hope so, in order to keep the genetics of these fish strong. The Pacific Northwest is having a raging debate right now about hatchery-raised fish competing with wild salmon and steelhead. Is something similar happening in Wisconsin?

Transition your look from day to night   3 comments

I was going to write a blog post about transitioning your look from day to night, as seen elsewhere on wordpress (http://thestylevoyager.wordpress.com), but I don’t really know much about that aside from having your clothes on to then having them off. That’s just the way I roll.

Instead of all that, I think I’ll post some of my favorite pictures from my trip to Tainter, Reads, and Camp Creeks last weekend. I hope you enjoy them.

An excellent emerger pattern from On The Creek Fly Shop (thanks Nick!)

An excellent emerger pattern from On The Creek Fly Shop (thanks Nick!)


Read's Creek, Vernon County, Wisconsin

Read's Creek, Vernon County, Wisconsin

What's up, buttercup?

What's up, buttercup?

An emerging Horsetail

An emerging Horsetail

Name that flower - Seriously, I don't know what it is.

Name that flower - Seriously, I don't know what it is.

A Tiger Swallowtail

A Tiger Swallowtail

Whitetail Deer skull near Read's Creek

Whitetail Deer skull near Read's Creek

A Brown caught on a mangled, overused Pink Squirrel

A Brown caught on a mangled, overused Pink Squirrel

Camp Creek, and some very happy cows

Camp Creek, and some very happy cows

A Brown caught on a BWO dry pattern - I stalked this one for 30 minutes.

A Brown caught on a BWO dry pattern - I stalked this one for 30 minutes.

This is how I feel after a day of trout fishing

This is how I feel after a day of trout fishing

Barns of the Driftless   4 comments

A dirt road in the Driftless

A dirt road in the Driftless

On Saturday I went to Crawford and Vernon Counties in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. My eye was drawn to the beautiful old barns surrounded by hills and streams in the area. Driving around the Driftless you’ll see lots and lots of barns. Some are in good shape, many are not. The days of family farms have come and gone, and sadly what you see now in rural Wisconsin is a lot of poverty and abandon buildings. Farm houses and barns may still be standing, but they’re either not used or not maintained.

Crawford County Barn

Crawford County Barn

These old buildings are wonderful to look at, and I can imagine the care that went in to running each of these farms 70 years ago. Many of the barns were built with lumber that was felled and milled right on site, and they’re made using traditional timber framing methods.

Tainter Creek Valley

Tainter Creek Valley

I’ve heard it said that to make a similar structure today would cost $200,000. I wish I had the money and the resources to restore old barns because they really hold within them the rich history of the Driftless Region. Sadly, many of these structures cave in or are picked apart for their fine timbers.

Vernon County Barn

Vernon County Barn

If you have deep pockets and agree with me that these buildings should be saved, send me your money and I’ll see that it’s taken care of.

Is this heaven?

Is this heaven?

Fly Fishing the Kickapoo Tribs   2 comments

On Wednesday, April 6th at about 10:30 pm, Stephen Rose and I bid farewell to our families and drove west to the Kickapoo Valley. We set up camp quickly and woke up to a frosty, bright morning. Our day was, in our short history of fishing for trout, one of the best yet.

The goal was to continue gaining experience fishing with fly tackle, with the hopes of having success connecting with trout. That goal was met, but there were so many other bonuses in the form of beautiful sights, sounds, and experiences. It was an incredible day!

Last Night's Hammocks in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve

Last Night's Hammocks in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve

 

Sun's Up!

Sun's Up!

 

Pre-fishing breakfast preparation

Pre-fishing breakfast preparation

 

A Driftless spring seep running down limestone

A Driftless spring seep running down limestone

 

Here's lookin' at you, fish.

Here's lookin' at you, fish.

 

Tom's Wooly fools a Driftless Trout

Tom's Wooly fools a Driftless Trout

 

Nicely!

Nicely!

 

This man is happy.

This man is happy.

 

Driftless Brown on a White Wooly Bugger

Driftless Brown on a White Wooly Bugger

 

Stephen Rose working a bend pool on a Kickapoo River Tributary

Stephen Rose working a bend pool on a Kickapoo River Tributary

 

Beautiful Meander in Wisconsin's Driftless

Beautiful Meander in Wisconsin's Driftless

 

Beaver Lunch

Beaver Lunch

 

Strike!

Strike!

 

Working the Wall

Working the Wall

 

Is this for real? Driftless Wisconsin Trout Water.

Is this for real? Driftless Wisconsin Trout Water.

 

Brown Trout, Wooly Bugger

Brown Trout, Wooly Bugger

 

Casting to a lie

Casting to a lie

 

A Stealthy Approach

A Stealthy Approach

 

Wow.

Wow.

 

The Garden of Eden?

The Garden of Eden?

 

Nice Fish!

Nice Fish!

 

Stephen Rose with at Driftless Wisconson Brown Trout

Stephen Rose with at Driftless Wisconson Brown Trout

 

Working a limestone wall

Working a limestone wall

 

Stephen Rose, Successful Fly Fisherman

Stephen Rose, Successful Fly Fisherman

 

Driftless Trout Stream

Driftless Trout Stream