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.
June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
June 18th my Uncle Tim and I took out my Uncle Dan to Elk Creek, just north of 29. What a great spot for kids, beginners, and people with learning disabilities such as Dan. Since TU did a real nice restoration on this particular stretch, and since it’s so easy to get to, I feel like most fly fishermen have shunned it – deeming it too easy to fish… Well, I imagine that the trout are having a hay day down in those deep lunker structures. Wow, there are nice fish in there! Yep, it’s easy to fish, and perfect if you have even just an hour to get out.
I caught the two browns, and Dan caught the brook. I had never realized the difference in flesh color of stocked fish. One brown was bright pink (like it should be, I guess, right?) and the other was pure white… For some reason I always just thought browns were always a little more pale in color, but the one had the pinkest flesh I had ever seen. Now I know.
The next morning Tim and I met at 5 am to try and beat the crowd on the Rush. We arrived at a place I call the “Storm Spot” because every time I’ve been there rolling thunder like a freight train makes its way. As soon as we started getting our gear together, surely enough a truck arrived and started hurrying to get his pole rigged up to beat us to the stream – seriously? Some of the most rude fishermen head to the Rush River – take note if you are reading this and are one of those people!
The fish were rising like crazy, scarfing down their breakfast before the rain came. A nice emerging caddis hatch. We all know the fish here have a PhD in discriminating taste. No matter the fly I put on, it wasn’t quite right. Fish rose right beside mine, left and right, on a dead drift – completely ignoring my presentation. First fish was an 11″ brown that I watched severely inspect my black caddis before sucking it under. Shortly after I reached a pool of eager brookies jumping fully out of the water for their food. I could only get one…. hmmm Move on. Cast after cast with no results. Eventually I put on a black parachute adams and was relieved to know after one cast that this was the fly. Miss. Another cast and another missed strike. About ten in a row and I missed all of them. I came upon a slow flat area where some very large browns were rising and once again I was ignored. One more cast – big brook jumped out of the water and I missed it! I splashed the water in frustration and gave up. What a day.
Tim and I walked back to the car to find 4 other cars, two fishing down, one guy on our tail and the other unknown… I am just amazed to find how much nerve people have to want step on another fisherman’s time out on the water.
Beautiful river though.
June 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
>This morning started off a bit cool and cloudy which was nice. I figured on a day like today the browns would enjoy having a woolly bugger in front of their faces… I headed to a spot on Elk Creek I’ve never fished before – 10th Ave (just off of Hwy 12). I’m sure people have had success there, but I did not. Few real nice holes, and only one rise. The past couple days I’ve been to Elk the water level seemed below average. Aside from the few good looking holes, everything else was shallow and sandy, with small pockets of structure. Maybe someone needs to show me something I don’t know about catching those fish hiding underneath several logs that prevent you from casting past them… If I did get to a manageable position, I had spooked them… A spinning rod would’ve actually been a good thing to have, I reckon.
Decided to go further upstream to where Hwy 12 crosses the creek. For some reason I went right into the water, rather than walking on land underneath the train bridge. I believe a while ago I had made the choice to walk about 50 yards before making a cast for one reason or another. Well, I took this picture from the creek imagining what would happen if that molten sulfur started leaking into the creek.
I kept walking and started to remember why I normally walk 50 or so yards before putting in. I took a couple more steps, put one foot on a rock and went completely under.
Well…there went my fishing day. Pretty irate I decided it wasn’t my day.
Speaking of recipes. I came across Trout Caviar