Archive for the ‘Camping’ Tag

Brule Steelhead Trip, 2014   7 comments

My friends and I just got back from the Brule. We fished from Saturday the 11th through Wednesday the 15th and had exactly one steelhead on the line for approximately 10 seconds before it broke off on Monday afternoon.

We were expecting a good bit of rain Monday into Tuesday but it never happened. The weather system went to the east and completely missed the Brule. I’m not sure if this rain would have been a difference-maker but it would have at least given us some hope after completely striking out on Saturday and Sunday.

We talked to many fishermen using every rig along every bit of the river and far and away the story was that the fishing was spotty. There was one peach of a man who called us “buggy whippers”. He said “I’ve got to show you guys something” which turned out to be his centerpin rig with a crappie jig head loaded with a red worm. He had claimed to have brought four steelhead to hand that day using this method and was certain that our “buggy whipping” would not yield a damn thing. I guess we proved him right. Oh well.

We also met a very nice man out walking near Mays Ledges with his wife and dog. He said the key to steelheading when the fishing is spotty is to “hunt” for them. If there’s no action in a particular spot, move along and hunt for them.

Perhaps the funniest part of the trip was a conspiracy theory in the Kro-Bar that the Lamprey Weir gate was completely closed, preventing fish from moving upstream. We posited this question to many people we met and they all shrugged their shoulders as to whether or not it could be true. We went to McNeil’s and walked upstream to the weir to confirm with our own eyes that the fish passage was indeed open. We didn’t see any fish pushing upriver there though.

In the same stretch of river where I had our one fish on for ten seconds we saw big fish slapping the surface every 10 or 20 minutes, sometimes just a rod length away from where we stood in the water. They were in there, but not interested in feeding. And this was a prime spot at a prime time of the day (at dusk) with the sky cloudy and drizzling. Beautiful dead drifts right through the heart of the run did not entice them in the least. On one drift I felt a tug and set the hook but came up with nothing but a single silver fish scale about a quarter-inch in diameter.

We had a great time camping, watching playoff baseball in the evenings with Amy at the Kro-Bar, shooting our bows at a target 30 yards out at Rush Lake, and enjoying the beautiful colors and weather. We also fished during prime periods of the day and put in a lot of time on the water in ideal spots. Our Spey casting session at the mouth was perhaps a highlight of the trip, even though we didn’t sniff a fish there.

Better luck to all you guys out there fishing now or planning to fish this fall!

Sunrise on the Brule River

Sunrise on the Brule River

Gregg drifting a fly through the Brule

Gregg drifting a fly through the Brule

Hunting for Steelhead on the Brule

Hunting for Steelhead on the Brule

Wringing out after a long morning on the Brule

Wringing out after a long morning on the Brule

Warming by the fire along the Brule

Warming by the fire along the Brule

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A Whopper south of Westby   14 comments

My son Bode (Bo-Dee) and I took an overnight trip to the Driftless on Friday and Saturday and enjoyed ourselves very much. We set out after I got home from work Friday, picking up some provisions in Viroqua before heading to Avalanche to camp.

On the way we passed a few Amish buggies pulled by horses, and some Amish farms where we were greeted by waves and smiles as we zoomed by in our car. Bode had never seen any Amish buggies or farms before and was curious to know what it was all about. I explained it as best I could and he was fairly fascinated, as a boy who likes to make what he can by his own hand, at the lifestyle and talents of the Amish.

We enjoyed a quiet night camping in Avalanche and woke up at six on Saturday to go fishing. Bode was using a spinner while I walked along with him, fly rod in hand. We got to the next plunge pool upstream, the water still churning brown from days of rain. He made several nice casts to the top of the pool when suddenly his line tightened. He initially thought he had snagged something but then began cranking the reel. His line danced, but in the way Andre the Giant might dance, more deeply rooted than ephemeral.

Bode, having had very few large fish on the end of his line previously, cranked and cranked his reel until the spinner was an inch from his rod tip. The fish revealed itself in the surface film and we both let out a hoot.

This fish was one that many fishermen don’t get the chance to catch in a Driftless stream, and Bode had gotten one a few days past his twelfth birthday, in the first half hour of fishing.

Wow! Way to go Bode!

 

Bode with a 21" male Brown Trout, caught in a Vernon County spring creek.

Bode with a 21″ male Brown Trout, caught in a Vernon County spring creek.

 

 

September Trout Fishing in the Driftless   3 comments

September is one of the best months to chase trout in Wisconsin’s Driftless creeks. Nights are cool and water temps are prime for fish activity. Lots of terrestrials are active in their riparian habitats, and fish hormones are starting to crank up in anticipation of spawning season. All this means good fishing!

Stephen Rose and I headed out of Madison to Crawford County to camp out overnight near a Kickapoo tributary. Hennessy Hammmocks fit the bill nicely for roadside camping because you don’t need a flat spot on the ground, just a couple of stout trees and away you go. Camping in the trees and dreaming of fish. How could you do any better?

The cicadas sung me to sleep and the sun woke me the next morning. We packed up our sleeping gear, put on waders, drank a little coffee and walked a hundred yards to the creek. A fog hung over the creek and it made me feel as though the underwater world and the world we inhabit above the water were melting into one, as if the fish could have swum up out of the water and into the mist lying between the banks.

I tied on a foam cricket and got after it, landing a couple of twelve inch brown trout, and Stephen had similar luck on hoppers. The fishing remained good throughout the morning, but we found fewer and fewer fish willing to rise, so we switched over to nymphs and continued to have success.

If you’ve been putting off a trip to the trout stream, now’s the time to get out there. The season ends at the end of the month, so take advantage while you can!

 

A glorious spring-fed creek in WIsconsin's Driftless Region

A glorious spring-fed creek in WIsconsin’s Driftless Region

 

Success with a foam cricket in early September on a Kickapoo River tributary

Success with a foam cricket in early September on a Kickapoo River tributary

 

Stephen Rose fishes hoppers in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin

Stephen Rose fishes hoppers in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin

 

Pink flowers line the stream in September

Pink flowers line the stream in September

 

A bruiser Brown Trout from a Wisconsin Driftless stream

A bruiser Brown Trout from a Wisconsin Driftless stream

 

Stephen Rose casting to a lie on a Kickapoo tributary

Stephen Rose casting to a lie on a Kickapoo tributary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lapland In Waders   2 comments

Here is a fine video of fishing for trout, pike, and Arctic Grayling in Lapland, Scandinavia. The sight of Caribou running about, the long summer days, the wild fish; all of it appeals to me. Wow, what an experience that would be!

Montana’s Beartooth Mountains – Installment 5   1 comment

Last we left off our troupe had just arrived at the unparalleled Fossil Lake. The guidebook stated that the lake is full of Cutthroat Trout, but they are often hard to locate as they tend to school together. Well, somehow, whether because of our superior collective intellect or our luck, we happened to camp in the vicinity of a very large school of these delightful and delicious fish. Bode and Heron were thrilled to have another dynamo fishing spot and were more than happy to put 5 tasty trout in our frying pan.

The boys started off fishing with their spinning rods and an assortment of old reliable Panther Martin Spinners (#6 sized). Stephen, after having set up hammocks for he and Heron, came down to the lake and assembled his fly rod, topped off with a size 14 adams parachute. His first three casts yielded him three nice trout and the boys picked up on this. They demanded to use their daddys’ fly rods and were given them unflinchingly. Some instruction ensued and before long each of these young men were catching 12″-14″ Cutthroat Trout with ease on dry flies. After our first night at Rainbow Lake the boys decided it would be worthwhile to tally the number of fish the boys had caught versus the number the men had caught. At this point I think the score was something like 70-10, in the boys’ favor. What more could a fisherman father want than for his son to catch the trout fishing fever at age 11?

After dinner we wandered across the way to the snowfield to have a snowball fight and look around. This was a moment we’d all been hoping to have and it was a great time. Afterward Bode and Heron and I walked up to the top of a prominent dome overlooking Fossil Lake. The flora was incredible and setting sun gave the surrounding peaks that wonderful warm hue that seems to make them glow. As we were sitting on top of this knob taking in the view I noticed a marmot not ten feet away resting on a rock, joining us in our repose. We sat there for a while admiring one another and then Heron grabbed my camera and tried to see how close he could get to snap some photos. As it turns out, Heron is good with marmots, so now we call him “The Marmot Whisperer”.

Night fell and all went to bed, but I decided to lay back on a slab of rock above our campsite to watch the stars pop out and see the moon rise over in the East. I saw one shooting star and couldn’t help but think to myself how fortunate I was to have taken on this new and unfamiliar challenge with my mates. We hadn’t really known what we were going to find or how our bodies would perform on the climb, but now with over half the trip behind us and each of us settling in to our routine I felt assurance that we wouldn’t run into undue hardship.

 

Heron and Bode fish Fossil Lake barefoot, East Rosebud Trail

Heron and Bode fish Fossil Lake barefoot, East Rosebud Trail

 

The headwaters of East Rosebud Creek trickle down the moutain into Fossil Lake

The headwaters of East Rosebud Creek trickle down the mountain into Fossil Lake

 

Stephen with a nice Fossil Lake Cutthroat, East Rosebud Trail

Stephen with a nice Fossil Lake Cutthroat, East Rosebud Trail

 

Dinner at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Dinner at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

How's that for backcountry cooking? (East Rosebud Trail)

How’s that for backcountry cooking? (East Rosebud Trail)

 

Bode chills at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode chills at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Wes watching over Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Wes watching over Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Snowfield on Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Snowfield on Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

 

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

Let the snowball fight begin! (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

 

Stephen brings out the big guns, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Stephen brings out the big guns, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Round two, this time with feeling (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

Round two, this time with feeling (Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail)

 

Where's Wes? Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Where’s Wes? Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Castle Peak and Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Castle Peak and Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron wandering the alpine wonderland around Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Heron wandering the alpine wonderland around Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode and Heron at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Heron at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Incredible wilderness all around, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Marmot spotted, Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Amazing tiny flowers at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Amazing tiny flowers at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Our campsite was in the trees above Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Our campsite was in the trees above Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron's marmot, photo 1, East Rosebud Trail

Heron’s marmot, photo 1, East Rosebud Trail

 

Heron's marmot, photo 2, East Rosebud Trail

Heron’s marmot, photo 2, East Rosebud Trail

 

The marmots ducked for cover when a hawk was spotted overhead. East Rosebud Trail

The marmots ducked for cover when a hawk was spotted overhead. East Rosebud Trail

 

A baby marmot at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

A baby marmot at Fossil Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Montana’s Beartooth Mountains – Installment 3   4 comments

After setting up camp and staying put, cooking dinner in the meadow, cleaning up and getting to bed, we all woke up leisurely and packed our sleeping bags, hammocks and tents back up.

While we were eating I asked my dad how he slept. “Fine” he said, “Except for that bear I saw last night.”

We all got wide-eyed and pressed him for details. He had been dozing and had to get up to water the flowers, so to speak. He unzipped the tent fly and started walking out of the wood toward the meadow where we’d made dinner. He looked up and fifty feet ahead of him a “huge damn bear” was sniffing around our cook spot under the full moon. He said it had to have been a grizzly because of its size, as big as a cow.

He backed up slowly and the bear took no notice of him, or if it had, it didn’t pay him any mind.

A bit of envy and some relief flowed through me upon hearing this. Bears are something you don’t want to see because of the perceived danger, but I still wish I’d seen the bear.

His story was supported a bit later when Ranger Jenny May came back around to check on things and break up the fire ring in the non-campsite we’d used. My dad told her about the bear-sighting and she said “Yep, that same bear was sniffing around my tent last night.” One night out and we’d already run into a grizzly.

Our second day on the trail brought another long hike from Rainbow Lake up to Dewey Lake. From Rainbow to Lake-at-Falls we’d had a pretty nice hike. Our party had been somewhat rejuvenated by the night of sleep and warm breakfast. But as the day wore on we pushed forward past Impasse Falls, past Twin Outlets Lake and on up to Dewey. The scenery along this stretch gets better and better and it would have been great to fish for Golden Trout in Twin Outlets and take a hike down underneath Impasse Falls. But, the day stretched out and we needed to make it to Dewey.

We finally made it, finding a good camping spot up on a knob. The boys caught more fish for dinner, this time Cutthroats, and we all made it to bed an hour earlier than we had the night before.

Another incredible day on the trail, with many waterfalls and amazing snowfields dotting the peaks.

Enjoy the photos!

 

Ready for another hike on the East Rosebud Trail

Ready for another hike on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode on the East Rosebud Trail

Bode on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Scenery above Rainbow Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

Scenery above Rainbow Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Rainbow Lake from above on the East Rosebud Trail

Rainbow Lake from above on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Pushing up the East Rosebud Trail toward Lake-At-Falls

Pushing up the East Rosebud Trail toward Lake-At-Falls

 

Water falls at Lake-At-Falls

Water falls at Lake-At-Falls

 

Bode and Heron Duel on a bridge over a creek on the East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Heron Duel on a bridge over a creek on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode and Heron Duel on a bridge over a creek on the East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Heron Duel on a bridge over a creek on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Snowfields feed East Rosebud Creek

Snowfields feed East Rosebud Creek

 

Heron on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Sharp peaks along the East Rosebud Trail

Sharp peaks along the East Rosebud Trail

 

Tom on the East Rosebud Trail

Tom on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Stephen on the East Rosebud Trail

Stephen on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Beautiful peaks along the East Rosebud Trail

Beautiful peaks along the East Rosebud Trail

 

More water falling down to East Rosebud Creek

More water falling down to East Rosebud Creek

 

Bode and Heron resting on their way up to Dewey Lake

Bode and Heron resting on their way up to Dewey Lake

 

Impasse Falls of East Rosebud Creek

Impasse Falls of East Rosebud Creek

 

 

 

 

Impasse Falls of East Rosebud Creek

Impasse Falls of East Rosebud Creek

 

Hiking along Impasse Falls on the East Rosebud Trail

Hiking along Impasse Falls on the East Rosebud Trail

 

A cataract of water falls below Twin Outlets Lake, East Rosebud Trail

A cataract of water falls below Twin Outlets Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Lovely Twin Outlets Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

Lovely Twin Outlets Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Meadow Flowers begin to appear en masse on the East Rosebud Trail

Meadow Flowers begin to appear en masse on the East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode and Heron prepare to catch dinner at Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Heron prepare to catch dinner at Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Cutthroat supper from Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Cutthroat supper from Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Bode and Heron fish Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode and Heron fish Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

Stephen's first-ever Cutthroat Trout, Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Stephen’s first-ever Cutthroat Trout, Dewey Lake, East Rosebud Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montana’s Beartooth Mountains – Installment 2   2 comments

Here are pictures of our hike from East Rosebud Lake up to Rainbow Lake.

What had seemed reasonable at 9am that morning turned into a death march as the sun fell toward the west. The hike from  the trail head to the campsites on the west side of Rainbow Lake is eight miles. There is some significant elevation gain, nearly 2,000 feet, from East Rosebud Lake up to Rainbow Lake. Much of the upward climb is tempered by descents on the backsides of ridges, so actual elevation gain and lost is perhaps 3,000 feet.

But, we were all struck by the beauty around us and amazed that we were in such a place. The trail between East Rosebud Lake and Elk Lake is lined with berries. We had some ripe raspberries, but for those of you who might go in a week or two, you’ll have a real treat! Just watch out for bears munching berries right along with you.

We arrived, finally, at the far end of Rainbow Lake where a sign says “Remember, you must not camp within 200 feet of the water”, or some such thing. Well, we went right for a site that looked to have been a camping spot since the beginning of time, with nice trees from which to hang our hammocks, a fire pit, and water access.

Meanwhile the boys caught Rainbow Trout for supper, including a few large fish. Bode’s was eaten, and Heron’s was returned to the water. They were thrilled! Real Trout Fisherman!

Having set up camp in this lovely spot and contending with a little alpine sickness and serious fatigue, fish were cleaned and dinner was prepared in the meadow some distance from our sleeping area.

Ranger Jenny May stopped by to say hello and said “I’ll bet you guys know what I’m going to tell you…” We had no clue. Really. We were tired and could think of no rule we’d broken.

“You’re too close to the water and you’ll have to move your camp” she said. We all hung our heads and perhaps shed a few tears. Stephen and I proceeded to gather up our bags and begin hauling them into the woods. But Wes came to the rescue, saying that “you’re an EMT, you have to recognize that we could really get into trouble if we don’t get fed and get to bed.”

Somehow he convinced Jenny May to let us stay put. Amazing.

Enjoy the pics.

Heron and Bode on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron and Bode on the East Rosebud Trail

Wes, Heron, Tom, and Stephen on the East Rosebud Trail

Wes, Heron, Tom, and Stephen on the East Rosebud Trail

East Rosebud Creek tumbles downhill

East Rosebud Creek tumbles downhill

Heron, Bode, and Stephen on East Rosebud Trail

Heron, Bode, and Stephen on East Rosebud Trail

Incredible Alpine Scenery, East Rosebud Trail

Incredible Alpine Scenery, East Rosebud Trail

Flowers bloom where a forest once stood on the East Rosebud Trail

Flowers bloom where a forest once stood on the East Rosebud Trail

Beautiful Fruits, East Rosebud Trail

Beautiful Fruits, East Rosebud Trail

Twisted spires, East Rosebud Trail

Twisted spires, East Rosebud Trail

Heron rests at Elk Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Heron rests at Elk Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Sheer walls on the East Rosebud Trail

Sheer walls on the East Rosebud Trail

Wes and Bode on the East Rosebud Trail

Wes and Bode on the East Rosebud Trail

Stephen Rose on the East Rosebud Trail

Stephen Rose on the East Rosebud Trail

East Rosebud Creek

East Rosebud Creek

Onward and upward, East Rosebud Trail

Onward and upward, East Rosebud Trail

East Rosebud Creek

East Rosebud Creek

Heron on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron on the East Rosebud Trail

Tom resting on the East Rosebud Trail

Tom resting on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron near a pool on East Rosebud Creek

Heron near a pool on East Rosebud Creek

Heron on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron on the East Rosebud Trail

Tom, Wes, and Stephen take a breather on the East Rosebud Trail

Tom, Wes, and Stephen take a breather on the East Rosebud Trail

Incredible waterfalls were everywhere on the East Rosebud Trail

Incredible waterfalls were everywhere on the East Rosebud Trail

A pool on East Rosebud Creek. Trout were rising...

A pool on East Rosebud Creek. Trout were rising…

Bode with a fly on East Rosebud Creek

Bode with a fly on East Rosebud Creek

Rimrock Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

Rimrock Lake on the East Rosebud Trail

Heron on the bridge over East Rosebud Creek, below Rimrock Lake

Heron on the bridge over East Rosebud Creek, below Rimrock Lake

Bode resting on the Rimrock Lake Bridge, East Rosebud Trail

Bode resting on the Rimrock Lake Bridge, East Rosebud Trail

Hiking the "Rimrock" above Rimrock Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Hiking the “Rimrock” above Rimrock Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode hiking above Rimrock Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Bode hiking above Rimrock Lake, East Rosebud Trail

A high falls above Rainbow Lake, East Rosebud Trail

A high falls above Rainbow Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Heron and Bode with their Rainbow Trout from Rainbow Lake, East Rosebud Trail

Heron and Bode with their Rainbow Trout from Rainbow Lake, East Rosebud Trail