Archive for the ‘Wooly Bugger’ Category
On Memorial Day I was supposed to go fishing with my buddy Stephen Rose. But when I woke up at 5:30 and checked my phone, he had left a few text messages which said, in a somber tone, that he was feeling terrible and wouldn’t be making it out to fish. He must have felt very badly because this man has been on me about getting out to a trout stream. So, I was a little bummed to think I’d be going fishing alone, but I muddled through, got my coffee into the thermos, and hit the road.
Having new parameters from which to work (no fishing partner) I decided to try some new water out. I headed toward Dodgeville and didn’t know where I’d stop. I had forgotten my Gazetteer and trout maps, so I had to rely on my phone for help finding blue lines. Using your phone for this purpose doesn’t hold a candle next to a good Gazetteer and hard copies of county trout maps. I located a creek along Hwy Y in Iowa County. It turned out to be Mill Creek, but not the wonderful Mill Creek of Richland County. No, this was the Mill Creek of Iowa County.
Mill Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin
I dropped in to the creek where it kisses the road on the southeast side and fished upstream for a couple of hours. The water looked trouty, and fish were nipping at my fly, but the fish weren’t trout, they were chubs. When you’re fishing for trout, especially in the “overly-affected” (read: “fancy”) fly fishing method of fishing for trout, a chub is like finding a long (or short, curly) hair in your hash browns. You kind of wrinkle your nose and curse under your breath and think to yourself, “where in hell are the trout?”
This went on for a good long while. I even caught a six-inch shiner. I don’t know what’s wrong with Mill Creek. It looks lovely in the picture, doesn’t it?
So, with two hours of fishing behind me and two hours left, I decided to travel east and a little north to Trout Creek, thinking to myself “at least it isn’t named Chub Creek”.
I didn’t have real high hopes, though the stream looked very nice. But listen, this is Iowa County we’re talking about. How good could it be?
I walked downstream from the bridge past about thirty tight meanders. I got after it and started fishing with a woolly bugger (is it true they call them “boogers” out West?). I tried not to be noisy, but I feel like I was, on account of the sedimentary nature of the stream bank.
Anyway, I drifted the bugger a few times upstream, finishing the drift about even with where I was standing, but along the opposite bank. I began lifting my rod tip and felt a tug, then a whole lot of tug, followed by some really pissed off tugging. The water was a bit cloudy due to the wet weather, so I didn’t get a look right away, and after a minute I thought I might have foul-hooked an average trout, but then I tired it enough to get it to the surface and saw that it was a good size. Sweet! A trout, and a nice one too!
a Sixteen Inch Brown from Trout Creek
I smiled happily, thinking my trout-fishing outing has been a success, and moved up to the next likely bit of tailwater. A few nicely-placed casts later, Bam! Another good fish. How about that?!
Another sixteen inch Brown Trout from Trout Creek
I moved upstream again. I think I had to fish two or three bends and had to endure catching a ten-inch trout before my third dance with another sizeable fish. But low-and-behold, there was my third sixteen-inch Brown Trout in thirty minutes.
Big Trout number three, Trout Creek, Iowa County, WI
I’ve never had this kind of experience, catching three big trout in a little stream in such a short time. I’ve caught lots of “regular sized” trout in one outing, and I’ve had outings where I’ve had one bigger fish to hand, but never before have I zeroed in on what were likely the biggest trout in their holes on one stretch of stream over a narrow window of time.
Was it the weather? The water conditions? The big, juicy fly? I don’t know. I likely won’t repeat it for a long time. But I’ll certainly not forget this thirty minute window of time on Trout Creek that made for a very memorable Memorial Day.
What’s that? No, I haven’t been hanging out with the Rastafarians. I’m talking about the water being too high to fish.
Take a look at this picture of little Vermont Creek. Tough going if you’re a trout fisherman right now.
Vermont Creek after a month of snowmelt and rain
Even though no trout were caught, I did catch my personal best Sculpin today!
Mottled Sculpin on a wooly bugger, Vermont Creek
I have a few days of vacation that’ll expire in May unless I use them up, so every time I glanced out the window at work yesterday morning I thought to myself, “Self, it is a beautiful, sunny day outside, and it would be nice to go fishing this afternoon, out in that beautiful sunshine.”
I notified the boss-man of my intentions, called up my fishing buddy Stephen, and walked out into that sunshine at the crack of noon to go chase fish.
Stephen and I started fishing on BEC in the upper part of the drainage, but found the water a bit high and dirty, though Stephen did have a strike on his nymph.
I suggested we move to Vermont Creek to see how that trib to BEC was looking. So away we went to a nice meadow section of Vermont Creek. The water was colored but not torrential, and I felt good about our chances.
I fished a deep pool just off the road while Stephen walked a couple hundred yards downstream to find some nice bends. I didn’t have any takers for a while, but I stuck with it, roll-casting to avoid the tangles that come with false-casting in 20 mph winds. If you’re not using the roll cast as a regular part of your game, I would like to recommend that you start. Here’s a video that describes the technique well.
OK, now that you’re up to speed on the roll cast, you can paint a picture in your head of me standing in a field with a five foot wide trout stream running through it, wind whipping from right to left, and me roll casting halfway up a pool into stained moving water.
After a few dozen casts my biostrike indicator twitched. I lifted the rod tip and felt a pull, stripping in line to take up a little slack. I tried to strip more line in to raise the fish, but it wouldn’t come up. I held the line against my rod grip with my right index finger while my left hand reeled in the loop of line between my reel and my right hand. I now had the fish “on my reel”, so I could play it using the drag clutch on my reel. And to my surprise, it ran away with some line, making my reel buzz. It didn’t run far, maybe only ten feet, back and forth in the deepest part of the pool. But what fun it is to get a fish on the line in a little creek that has the power to take some line off your spool!
I hollered at Stephen that I had a nice fish on!!! And he walked back upstream while I played the fish enough to get it to rise. It was a nice fish. Not a monster. Not a twenty-incher. But a nice fish, bigger than most you’ll catch day after day in little spring creeks.
I scooped it up and posed for a photo. The best trout I’ve held since last March. Hopefully there’ll be more, and if I dare to dream, hopefully there’ll be bigger too.
Vermont Creek Brown, Sixteen and one half inches
Outdoors: Brown catches a brown trout http://bit.ly/Pwu28C
Sunday I was given a hall pass to get out and do some fishing. From about 2:00 till 7:00, was the agreed-upon arrangement. The weather was perfect. Dropping pressure, clouds rolling in, but still warm enough for fishing in my “shirt sleeves”.
In Februaury a scouting trip took place, with a visit made to Smith-Conley Creek (Hwy 18-151 to Hwy K south, to Hwy H northwest, I think). The stream was chocked full of fish in February. I thought for sure it would be the same story now. I cast carefully into the holes we’d looked at earlier in the winter, expecting there to be a bite on the line. Cast after cast, nothing. I decided to walk along the stream to see if I could even make a fish move, but there weren’t any. They were gone. The only creature in the stream was a medium-sized snapping turtle, a fierce-looking bugger. Maybe he ate all the fish? It’s a mystery. If anyone has theories about where the fish went, I’d love to hear them.
I turned the car around to head back toward 18-151, and decided to stop at a pretty stretch of water that turns out to be the headwaters of the Pecatonica River. I walked along the fencerow west and ducked under the barbed wire about 500 yards downstream from the road. Again, careful casting into lovely scoured out holes, bend pools, riffles. But again, nothing. I know this is undesignated water, but not 500 yards upstream, two class II trout streams meet to form the Pecatonica.
Back to the car, back to the north I went. Time’s-a-wasting. Gotta get some fish!
I drove north along Hwy K, north of 18-151, past Blue Mounds Park, looking to my right the whole time, following the West Branch of Blue Mounds Creek. I turned off on a side road and parked at the bridge crossing over the creek. Small water, but a few nice holes. I laced my fly through the canopy of tree branches and got some good drifts through deep pools, but nothing.
Blue Mounds Creek, West Branch. Dane County, Wisconsin
North again, along K, I pulled off on a road that looked vaguely familiar. My uncle Tony Kirch had taken me to this spot the very first time I’d ever gone after trout. We caught some nice specimens that day drifting night crawlers through this section. The wind was whipping, the sun was getting lower. 5:30 already! Shit! I drifted some bead-head nymphs, woolly buggers, a streamer. Nothing!!!
Back in the car, north to 14 and that old reliable friend, Black Earth Creek. Park car, run across cornfield, fish. Zilch. 6:30, time to go home.
On the drive home I reconciled my skunking with the idea that “it wouldn’t be as fun to catch a trout if you catch them like panfish”. Right? Whatever lets you sleep at night.
Over the weekend I took a trip down to Chestnut Mountian Ski Area, south of Galena, Illinois, to do my second job as a ski coach for the Blackhawk Ski Club. We had a great weekend and our kids were second as a team in the Giant Slalom Saturday, and first as a team in the Slalom on Sunday, and we ended up winning the overall meet against powerhouse clubs Tyrol Basin and Cascade Mountain. Way to go Blackhawk!
Coaching skiers at a ski race involves standing at the bottom of the course, cheering on skiers, giving out high fives and fist bumps at the finish, and talking about the run the skier just had. It’s an interesting experience, and a lot of fun. But, I didn’t really move from my spot for two days, and if you’ve ever stood on the side of a hill for two days, you too may want a change of scenery.
So, when the race was over Sunday afternoon, I drove north through the beautiful town of Galena (it is seriously a very cool place) and headed north to Wisconsin. I decided that since I was in the Driftless I’d take in some sights I’ve not seen before. After passing through Hazel Green I checked my GPS to see that there was a river flowing southward on the east side of Benton and Cuba City that I’d not seen before. I took some county roads and made my way toward the river.
The Galena River is not designated as a trout stream, and it likely gets too warm and flows too slowly to support a trout population. I stopped at the river on Twin Bridges Road and got out with my fly rod and camera. I did some fishing with a wooly bugger, a copper john, and a hopper pattern, but didn’t get any interest from the smallmouth bass that may have been swimming there. It was nice to unwind with some casting and waiting, and it made me wonder why trout fishing has to close down for several months of the year in Wisconsin. I can’t, for the life of me, understand the science behind this law. Perhaps there is concern that spawning and reproduction will be disturbed by fishermen wading through redds. Perhaps it’s more of a cultural thing. Winter is for ice fishing, you idiot. I don’t know.
At any rate, being outside along that pretty river was a nice way to end the weekend, and I’m glad I did a little exploring.
Galena River near Benton, Wisconsin
Galena River near Benton, Wisconsin
Galena River east of Cuba City, Wisconsin
Twin Bridge Road passes over the Galena River, Lafayette, County, Wisconsin
Gravestone at Carr Cemetery near Cuba City, Wisconsin
Moonrise over Lafayette County, Wisconsin