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.
July 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
Andrew and I took our fly rods out to catch some largemouth bass up on Half Moon Lake near Balsam Lake, WI. They were not biting unfortunately. My very first cast I caught a small but aggressive pike. Nothing bit for a while and Andrew caught the rest of the fish that day… a couple rock bass, one green sunfish, a couple bluegill, a perch, and about a 4 inch largemouth. Six species in all.
It had been a while since I had used my 8 weight, and I’m so used to making shorter casts on a 5 weight anyway, that I struggled a bit at first on making a decent cast. Andrew readdressed how to make a double haul cast, and soon enough a 50 feet cast seemed effortless. Though apparently I was still working too hard and false casting too many times.
Well, it was a fun day anyway. Andrew and I talked about how much we hate the way ‘enlightened people’ or certain NPR personalities try too hard to sound thoughtful in the way they ask a question (e.i. frequent pauses in order to emphasize a word…. and/or inject some kind of noise that implies you are trying to form a word, perhaps you already have a word but are seeking for something better so you seem more intelligent)…
Well, the fishing was good. Maybe I should say… The… (weird throat noises) events that occurrrred today… were, were, such a joyful time, and… I had never experienced a vast variety of.. (noise) species such as this. How…howw did you, feel, about that?
July 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
Wow, yesterday I went to Elk Creek (what’s new….). It was my first opportunity to get out in a little while because of the heat and rain that we had. The stream was still a little high and murky, and the sun was bright which I figured could be a good combination for some good nymphing action. And of course it was.
If you like to slip on every rock, lose a half dozen flies, and get eaten up by the horse flies (and catch the Big One), then this stretch is for You!
Here is a deep side pool with some trees creating an undercut. Just around the corner happens to be a good hole if you like to get snagged up a lot and/or catch big browns.
It ended up being what I would consider a perfect day. There were no flies buzzing around, which instantly makes for a good time. I caught about a dozen fish in a few hours between the sizes of 6 and 14 (I kept two that were just under 10″ and plan to make a grilled trout dinner). A few fish popped off though, which I thought was strange. Something was wrong with my hook perhaps – I had good hook sets and even landed two fish with basically no hook set at all.
Anyway… I arrived at an amazing hole with deep, fast water running along the right side of the stream. My Pink Squirrel was a big hit here – it drove the trout nuts and attacked it before I could even get my line settled in the water. My last fish out of the hole was the biggest, and he snagged up that fly before my strike indicator could even touch the water. Nice fish…oh it’s a real nice fish…oh man, it’s the biggest trout I’ve ever caught…ohhh it’s gotta be about 17 inches, hollllyyyy….ohhhhhh he’s gone.
Usually I’d get a little upset by that, but all the other fish I caught was a fun fight and it was such a nice day – about 80 degrees with a cool breeze. And I decided that my brothers pattern of the Pink Squirrel is the deadliest pattern you could possibly have – I don’t know what’s different about it, but they always catch more fish than any other pattern I’ve used.
I finished the day out heading to Lake Wissota with my mom, dad, and dog Max. Didn’t catch nothing. The walleyes were biting so light it was hard to tell when to set the hook. Well, we just drank beer and got a kick out of Max being a dog.
Good fishing day.
July 12, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday I made a tasty burger from the deer that I shot last year:
Chopped Basil and Oregano (fresh)
Salt and Pepper
Mix and form your burgers.
Green Bell Pepper
Cook until rare (in butter of course) and prepare slices of Green Pepper and Shallots and leave uncooked for a nice crunch. Please, no Ketchup… just Horseradish Mustard. Fresh, spicy, and and the mustard adds a cool bite to it. Holy shnort.
Heat up a pan of Olive Oil
2 or 3 sprigs of Rosemary
Salt and Pepper
Cook until the shallots have caramelized and the beets are still firm. When you plate this up leave out the Rosemary, and add the Capers. This shit is fucking gooooooood.
And then I made a salad of:
All from the garden.
Accompany it with a Leinenkugel’s of course and you’re all set. Don’t forget your brownie and an espresso for dessert.
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.