Stephen Rose and his son Heron (named for a bird that Stephen admires, but also named for Hank Aaron, Stephen’s childhood baseball hero) went out to the Driftless yesterday with a spinning rod and some #9 Panther Martins and got after it, with encouraging success.
They found the stream they were fishing loaded with Brook Trout, and the Brook Trout were much further down in the system than they tend to be during the warm months. It is our suspicion that they’re comfortable lower downstream right now because water temps are still cool enough for them to feel comfortable.
The fish in the photo below has some health issues. Not sure what it is, but it looks like fin rot to me. Has anyone seen this before in trout they’ve caught?
At any rate, It’s gratifying to me to see a young fisherman like Heron get out there with his dad and catch fish, especially on a day that snow fell from the sky. Way to go guys!
A nice-sized Driftless Brook Trout, suffering from fin rot, me thinks.
Heron and Stephen after a successful outing in the Driftless of Wisconsin
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
Stephen Rose at Billings Creek
John Jackels works Billings Creek
March 2, 2013 on Billings Creek
A great bend pool on Billings Creek, frozen over…
Check out that horseshoe tree!
Look at how clear Camp Creek is behind my head
The spot where a hawk and a rodent met.
John Jackels at Camp Creek
Here are some photos of the beautiful spots Stephen and I visited on Sunday. Though we didn’t catch any trout, the scenery was very nice.
Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin, at sunrise.
Sunrise, Oak Tree, Iowa County, Wisconsin
Stephen Rose on Flint Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin
Driftless Barn, Iowa County, Wisconsin
Conley-Lewis Creek, Iowa County, Wisconsin
The Southern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited chapter organized a work day Saturday morning on a stream in Dane County. Stephen Rose and I went out to lend a hand. There were 34 volunteers clearing Buckthorn, Box Elder, and Honeysuckle away from the stream corridor, and in 3 hours we cleaned out over 1,000 feet of streambank. This section of the stream went from a choked up mess to a wonderful place to chase after trout and take in the beauty of a spring creek.
(Click on the picture below to see 13 more pictures from the cleanup day)
SWTU Cleanup - Photo Copyright James Beecher, 2012
Kurt Welke, the Fisheries Manager for the South Central Region of Wisconsin, was on hand and working hard. He set aside some larger tree trunk sections that would be placed in a section of the stream that was wide, shallow, and silty. He said that the trunks would be used to alter the flow of the water to create faster flow, which would scour away the silt, deepen the stream, and oxygenate the water.
SWTU will be holding two more maintenance/cleanup projects this spring. One on March 17th and one in April. If you’re interested check out the chapter’s website at http://www.swtu.org/, or contact Conservation Committee Chairman Steve Wald (email@example.com) for more information.
It feels really good to help transform an unusable section of stream into a beautiful trout fishing destination. Each section of stream we improve provides another trout fishing destination for all of us to enjoy. Come on out March 17th and help improve your trout fishery!
Yesterday Stephen Rose and I did some exploring with our kids and my dog. We went to eastern Iowa county to take a look at Smith-Conley Creek. We checked out a parcel of land Stephen was curious about. And then we went to Donald County Park, a place neither of us had ever visited, even though we’ve each lived in Dane County for over a decade.
Donald County Park is the piece of land that spawns Mt Vernon Creek, at the confluence of Frye’s Feeder and Deer Creek. There are some great hiking trails, beautiful views, and of course, trout.
We had a great time exploring and relaxing in the February sun, sheltered from the wind behind a rise in the Driftless. It’s a neat place to check out, and I’ll surely be back with my fly rod when the trout season is in swing.
Shep and Joe at Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Joe and Stephen relaxing in a Hennessy hammock, Donald Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Shep, Joe, Bode, and Stephen, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Frye's Feeder runs through Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin
Maybea-Dog enjoying her free time, Donald County Park, Dane County, Wisconsin