October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
In between the end of a month long run on the road and the start of another, conveniently placed during the last few days of trout season and my brothers week long vacation, this special part of Wisconsin beckoned once more. And of course Duke Welter joined in.
The day started off overcast and cool with a slight breeze – perfect for us and enough to keep out your average fair weather fisherman. Our first stop was at Little LaCrosse Creek on a newly restored stretch of stream and not much wider than the width of a car. Wind picked up and the overcast went away and it was decided that a PhD was needed to cast in these conditions. Precisely what Duke, Andrew and I all have. Not that I want to lump myself or my brother into the category of Duke Welter’s casting ability – he is in a league of his own but not with that picturesque way out west style casting…
Here you can see Andrew and I in our low class non-orvis fishingwear.
We headed to a stream on a stretch I’d never been before on the Bad-Axe. I hooked into this beautiful 16″ brown, one of many of this size we caught in this stretch. When he slammed my hopper I yelped and hollered and I knew we were in for a good day.
The strong winds of the day made for some good hopper fishing.
Andrew tore his waders open so decided to call it a day, while Duke made one more attempt. I told him we were thinking about heading out, and promptly responded “stay here and watch me catch this fish and take a picture of it.” That’s not the first time he’s done that either. Low and behold……..
Duke suggested we get some delicious pizza from the Driftless Cafe – cracker thin crust and sweet red sauce. We arrived and a couple was playing some Old Time. I listened and enjoyed the looks of the beautiful girls of Viroqua.
Andrew and I camped streamside at Esofea park, drank whisky and played cribbage. In the morning wemade egg scramble and coffee and went back to fish the rest of the stretch we were on the day before. It was strangely reminiscent of the Rush, 2 cars here, 3 cars there, a few more over there… Why today and not yesterday???
We decided that it wouldn’t have been as good as the day before anyhow, fished another creek on our way out and headed home.
February 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Hope everyone is getting their gear ready! It will be upon as before we know it.
Until then, here is a video to wet your appetite.
November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
There are few things that ground me, that tie me to my surroundings, like fly fishing. Even more than fishing out West or dreaming of fishing in exotic destinations, fishing in western Wisconsin is holy. It is beautifully habitual… ritual I guess. One of my favorite things about being home is having great fishing so close. Sometimes fishing almost seems like a job, and I mean that in the best way. I get in the car and I’m determined to get out there – like its some project I’m working on. I gotta get out there, get inspired, and I’m probably going to be a better person when I return home three hours later. It’s that daily renewal and the constant search.
For me, the definition or equation of a successful fishing season is asking myself two questions:
1. Did I explore? Did I find new streams and new stretches of streams and new favorite holes?
2. Did I lose less flies than the year before?
Obviously there’s an immense amount of factors that go into every time you take to the stream, but for me, success can be boiled down to these questions and answers.
Did I explore? Heck yeah I explored. I fished my ass off this year. I fished new stretches of stream and a lot of times, in that exploratory time, I had the best fishing. Its an amazing idea, when you take chances, when you put yourself out there, good things come to you. Ben and I fished some new streams this year. We started to venture down into the Driftless (Ben, more than me). I started to learn that certain stretches of certain creeks were good for certain times of year or even certain types of weather. The exploration is what keeps me going. I love to take out the gazetteer and sit and wonder about different spots. “I wonder if that stretch is any good? I wonder if there are big browns in that lower stretch that nobody really fishes?” There’s too many places. At the beginning of the year, I started a little list of ideas of new spots I wanted to try, new creeks I’ve never fished. I only got a tiny part of that list accomplished.. but that doesn’t really matter, I explored and caught a lot of fish.
As for question #2, did I lose less flies than the year before- Yes. To me, this tells me that I was a more accurate caster, I was more aware of my surroundings, I tied my flies on better, and I was all around more calm and focused. As fellow fly-fisherman know, the calm, precise, focused, hyper-aware fisherman is an artist, and he/she will catch fish. This is something I worked on this year. I get excited. I get rushed. Staying controlled is really difficult. The more calm and collected and patient I could be on the stream, the more fish I caught and the more I stayed connected to my surroundings, to the backyard beauty that is just a short walk up from the bridge.
This season, I saw some great brook trout fishing. I caught two of my nicest brooks this summer: the first was on a creek in Chippewa county in an unsuspecting spot. I was having a pretty rough day. It took me a while to get going. It was hot. I was trudging through thick woods with little pay off. But as I started fishing into a patch of pines, the holes starting looking better. My only competitor was the sun, which was fading. I started to get some fish, but it was getting dark. Finally I reached a very narrow stretch just beyond the next bridge. The Creek was only 5 feet across and not even terribly deep, but the brooks started going crazy for my leggy-bugger. One after the other, until a big hookjaw brookie hit my line. It was exhilirating. It was dark by the time I got back to the car, but it goes to show how important the twilight hours are in the middle of summer. The best brook trout fishing I’ve ever had was on a stream near Westby. My brother and I drove down to the Driftless and this was the first spot we hit. The first hour was slow, but the stream curved and entered a cornfield. There was a long, deep pool and the fishing was on fire. My brother’s nightcrawler couldn’t compete with the way the sizable brooks were hitting my stripped bugger. I caught a huge mama that came out aggressively from behind a log. Joyous. Colin caught his fair share of trout too including a nice brown.
Oh what a season. Next year my brother’s going to take to the fly rod and Ben and I will guide him in our home waters.
August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Sean Carey and I went to the Driftless Area today and decided it was time to go where the Big Brook Trout hang out at. The night before, Sean asked me where I wanted to go fishing, so I told him to let me sleep on it and let the fishing spirit tell me where to go in my dreams. The fishing spirit did us right, so thanks! After a few hours, we trekked back to the car and drove over the Rush River and stopped for a lunch of Spaghetti, Beer and Pickles. My current favorite food right now is Pickles, I have no idea why… oh, and trout.
We got to see lots and lots of bugs today. Grass Hoppers were flinging themselves into the stream and it felt good to feed the fish. I saw a black and white bee. I don’t even know if black and white bees exist…but I know I saw one. I do have a history of seeing odd animals however, one which includes what I call a ‘bunny-squirrel.’ Sean pointed out this red thing flying through the air, like a hummingbird. It was the size of a pretty large Junebug… I’m pretty sure it was the worlds smallest hummingbird.
Sean was the only one on the board at Rush with a nice brown. Oh, we both caught some chubs. Though mine was a Hornday, as my dad calls it.
August 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Duke and I headed down into the heart of the Driftless area in the Westby/Viroqua area on Thursday, August 11. It’s always one of the best learning experiences fishing with him, not just in terms of fishing techniques, but his knowledge of the Driftless. It’s easy to feel intimidated when he somehow catches twice as many fish in a pool than me, but he’s always insistent on eliminating the competitive ‘fish count.’ Well, sometimes that’s fun, too. A little later in the day I came from behind Duke and he said “Do you want to see if I can catch this big one here in this hole?” Low and behold he did and paid homage by giving it a big fat kiss!
I went up ahead to a small and isolated deep pool and casted my cicada with a pink squirrel dropper… five browns kamikaze-ed my pink squirrel. Even though I had hooked one, and my cicada dangling in the air, the rest of the fish were jumping out of the water at the cicada. It was quite a sight to see, and could’ve been a rare opportunity to hook onto a double catch…
We fished until dinner time on Thursday, and then headed to the Mayfly Lodge ( http://www.mayflylodge.com/Mayfly_Lodge.html ) a cabin up on a hill with a deck overlooking a creek and a large cornfield. We sat on the deck drinking wine, eating cheese and crackers, and watching the sun set. It was a horrible time. After a dinner than consisted of some of the corn you see above, Duke and I retired to the cabin with a glass of scotch and a guitar.
We woke up the next morning to rain, which got me pretty excited for good use of my woolly buggers. After a quick stop for bacon and eggs and one of the most essential vitamins – Vitamin G – we headed over to a creek that Duke informed me you could catch a Grand Slam in. Heyyyy. The rain slightly subsided, and left us with what easily could have been somewhere in North Carolina or East Tennessee. Well, I did end up catching my first Wisconsin Rainbow!
Anyone reading this should stop right now and make your way to the Driftless Area and experience some true World Class fishing right in our own backyard…
July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
(Sean and his extremely leaky waders)
However… Sean and I went to the Driftless the day before and we couldn’t catch the brookies fast enough! Average size was around 10 inches, which felt too good. I was using a small Cicada, and Sean had on an Ant. The sun came out in full force at around noon. Side note: I sure wish I could be a weatherman and tell everyone that severe storms are on the way when hot and sunny is really the case. Sometimes I feel like there is a worldwide plot for weathermen to ruin the fun for everyone planning a day of fun.
We ran out of stream and decided to head over to the Rush, a stretch that was a slow and murky. Sean caught one 11 inch brown and that was it. I missed a nice one that made an attempt to snatch my woolly bugger while I was about to make a new cast. It reminded me of the importance of actively retrieving the fly after what is your target drift zone.