Hey! I went out and fished yesterday with Stephen Rose, and let me tell you what. It felt good!
It was a chilly, bright day with a slight breeze and very little evidence of piscine activity. But, whatever. It was fun casting flies again to moving water and watching everything drift downstream just so. And it is evident that the plants and animals in these wonderful creek valleys are all waiting on the edges of their seats (what?) for spring to pop. Let’s hope it will, eventually.
Below are some photographs from our outing. Enjoy!
Driving the Driftless
Bear Valley in springtime
Tom angling with fly
Stephen angling with fly
The rock walls of Willow Creek
Stephen fishing Willow to no avail (but God is it Pretty!)
Tom exhibiting his “shooting” technique (which works for sh*t, by the way)
Stephen Rose and I went out to Richland County Saturday morning to fish for trout. Our first stop was the upper Pine River at Highway 80 and County Road C. It was about 6am, the sun was about 15 minutes below the horizon, and the sky was clear. Water temperature was 62 degrees and visibility was around 12″.
The first section of stream we fished was right along the road, and a few casts into the morning I pulled in a nice little Brown Trout. I didn’t even have to get my feet wet!
Tom Anderson-Brown with a Pine River Brown
Upstream there were plenty of nice features. Bends, riffles, eddies, undercut banks. Stephen pulled in the little guy below on the outside of a bend.
Stephen Rose with a Pine River Brown Trout
We fished upstream amongst the beef cattle to a spot where the river became calm and straight and entered the woods. A few casts with no success and we headed back downstream to fish near the bridge under Highway 80.
I fished below the bridge hoping to find a big one in the hole there, but I ended up reeling in a 7″ Brown. Stephen, on the other hand, had more luck. He was standing under the bridge casting upstream. A long cast out of the shadow and a retrieve back into it got Stephen this 16.5″ beauty.
Stephen Rose with a 16.5" Pine River Brown
Another shot of the 16.5" Brownie
A little upstream of the Bridge is a tributary creek coming in to the Pine. Neither of us knew what it was at the time, but it turns out it was Melancthon Creek. Stephen and I had fished Melancthon on a trip earlier in the summer and had a great outing, landing lots of fish and some larger ones too. The section we fished then was downstream of County Highway CC and Highway 80. It was through the woods and drizzling. The water was up and the fishing was great.
The Melancthon Creek we came upon Saturday was different altogether. It was low and somewhat still and the fish were hunkered down. Amazing the difference stream conditions and weather can make on your success!
The lower reaches of Melancthon Creek
After that we headed on to the east toward Willow Creek. Along the way we crossed the Little Willow Creek at McAvoy Road and decided to get out of the car and take a look. The section off McAvoy was shaded by trees and running clear. A few casts yielded some interest from small fish but none were hooked. Looking at the satellite image of the area there appear to be some very appealing sections of Little Willow Creek downstream between Willow Creek and County Highway N. We plan to go back for a visit in the future.
The Little Willow Creek upstream of McAvoy Road
We continued on to Willow Creek and fished two sections. The first was just downstream of the little town of Loyd along Highway 58. The stream in this section meanders along limestone cliffs, so we thought we might find some nice holes. Success was had downstream of the limestone in the meanders and riffles. I caught two smaller fish below riffles there. Upstream next to the cliffs we each hooked into fish, but nothing substantial.
Stephen with a Willow Creek Brown
- Tom with a Willow Creek Brown
The locals were indifferent about our presence.
Willow River Donkeys
I love the look of a spring creek running along a limestone cliff.
We fished to the bridge in Loyd and headed back to the car with our tails between our legs. We drove up Highway 58 to Rustic View Road and fished a section we’d been to in the past. Last time we fished it the fish bit on every cast. This time it was as if there was nobody home.
We had hoped for better action in this nice section of stream but didn’t have much to speak of. The conclusion we came to was that the water was down a bit due to lack of rain and the weather was just too nice so the fish weren’t biting. On a day like this the best time to fish is early and late, and we fished Willow Creek in the middle of the day.
We decided to head back toward home and stop if we saw anything interesting along the way. We passed through Spring Green, Mazo, and Black Earth, and decided to pull off and try a section of Black Earth Creek downstream of Cross Plains where the river passes under Highway 14. This was an odd experience in that we were fishing a creek next to the mown yards of homes along County Highway KP. One homeowner was weed wacking near the bank of the creek as we fished our way upstream. It felt a little intrusive for us to be walking up the stream next to a man trimming his lawn, but we continued and I hooked into a little Brown Trout just below the footbridge near Sherwood Forest Lane.
A Black Earth Creek Brown Trout
I can’t recommend you fish this section of the creek because it just feels weird, but we proved there are fish living here.
In the end it was an enjoyable day, even if it was a bit disappointing. We had gone to Richland County to catch either big fish or a lot of fish. The 16.5″ Brown that Stephen caught was certainly nice, but we had limited success.
As we fish more and in different places under different conditions we’re learning some of the secrets of success.
- Fish early or late when the weather is hot and sunny.
- Plan your excursions around weather systems. Look for clouds and maybe some drizzle or rain.
- Fishing after a storm can mean fish are looking to feast on food that’s been washed into the stream. Take advantage of these occassions.
- Find the right amount of turbidity. Too clear and the fish will see you coming. Too cloudy and the fish can’t see your lure. Somewhere in the middle is just right.
- Take a thermometer and take the temperature of the water. If it’s too warm the fish are sleeping.
Another thing I’ve resolved to do after this latest trip is to study satellite images of the area we plan to fish. We were upstream or downstream of some really good-looking sections of stream that we didn’t investigate because we weren’t aware that they looked so nice from outer space. It’s a bummer to figure that out after you’ve returned from a trip.
Get out there and fish!
I love to fish in the spring-fed creeks of Wisconsin for trout. Wild, native trout. I live amongst the finest trout streams in the country and the world. Many people believe the Western US has a cornucopia of trout. This is an arguable opinion for sure. But the production of our trout streams rivals the best rivers of the West.
Stephen Rose fishing Willow Creek
Above is Willow Creek in eastern Richland County. On a recent summer morning my fishing partner and I caught lots of beautiful Brown Trout using spinners. The tenacity and will-to-live that these trout exhibit is like no other animal I’ve encountered. And the scenic places trout are found makes any day of fishing memorable.