Not So Lost Opportunity

August 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

You would think that living within 45 miles of two world class trout rivers and several very good creeks that get little to no fishing pressure in that same radius, that you could catch me honing my skills on a regular basis. But admittedly, I am not a “die hard” trout fisherman… c’mon, I have a full time job, dad of twins, an avid archer, Mr. Fixit around the house and someone has to mow the lawn, right??? But the truth of the matter is I still have enough of a passion for trout fishing that I try to get out a few times a season. Oh, also, the only time I hit the tying vise these days is when Ben comes begging that he is out of pink squirrels and wooly buggers…

But I recently got bit by the trout bug and decided that the remaining days of the trout season aught not be another lost opportunity for me. I called Ben and told him that I was going to the Rush River and I suggested he come along. Without hesitation, he agreed and we met in Baldwin and within an hour we were fishing on the Rush.

At first, it seemed that our day was spoiled when we had an encounter with an out-of-stater. As we were stringing our poles at the access point, they quickly hopped out of their car and engaged in a foot race to the stream. In situations like this, I typically avoid confrontation, but Ben thought that they should be aware that they were being less than courteous… But we both agreed than two can play they game they chose to, so we walked right past them and cut in a hundred yards ahead…

After the first hurtle had been cleared, we were into the fish right off the get go. Ben hooked into a 12 inch class brown, and immediately tied into a beautiful 16-17 incher on a coachman fly.

My first fly selection was a searching pattern, a generic nymph that I have always fished with confidence. But my efforts were not rewarded as quickly as Ben’s. As we fished through the first big pool my luck didn’t improve. Ben was up 3-0.

As a side note, if you know us two, we are very competitive with each other and have differing opinions on a lot of things which often times leads to a bit strife, however, trout fishing has always been one of those things where we both get along wonderfully and we feed off our successes and failures quite nicely. It is truly one of the things I most enjoy doing with him.

As we exited the pool, I changed my setup to one of my favorite flies, the pink squirrel. No sooner was my fly tied on, I had my first Rush River brown on the other end of the line… Not bad, but a 10 incher.

The last pool we fished deemed most productive. Ben picked up a couple more and I tied into three including a 13-14 inch brown.

After that last good pool, our appetites were high for a cold beer, so we called it a night. All said and done, ten browns and one enthusiastic brookie were caught and released that evening. When we got back to my car, the two Lost Arrow Porters turned out to be the greatest catch that evening after our leaky waiters were peeled off.



The Storm Spot

August 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

With Sean returning home from a six week tour, and I, a four week tour we decided to reunite our insatiable urge to be on the stream.    My original plan was to fish a stream that flows into the Rush, but I woke up at 5:30 and thought about the “storm spot” of the Rush.  I met Sean in Baldwin as I was brewing an Oatmeal Stout over at Twin Lakes Brewing Co. with Andrew the night before.  It was thick, dark, and smelled of chocolate malt-o-meal.

Without even knowing what the weather was supposed to be, I proposed we head to the storm spot (keep in mind I have never fished here and it not been pouring rain with thunder and lightning), and off we went!  The morning was crisp and overcast and the water was stained from rain the day before.


The watercress are in full this time of year, and along with various mints, and you can keep your mouth fresh and spicy – a nice streamside salad I’d say.

We were fishing along with little action and in comes the thunder and rain.  A solid two hours of heavy rain felled upon us and I didn’t even think about bringing a rain coat.  Another leak sprung in my waders as well, so I wet to through and through.  When the rain started, the obvious choice is to put on a woolly bugger, and we did so.  One fish!  Two!

They were still rising in the rain to something.  We tried to figure it out but to no avail, so I put the woolly bugger back on and casted into a slow riffle and let it drag.  A couple ticks on a rock, and the third tick from the strike indicator just looked different for some reason – so I set the hook.  Uh oh….  nice fish!


The rain persisted as did the thunder.  We decided to call it a day.  It was just shy of 10 am, and I happened to have a Cream Ale from the Twin Lakes Brew in my backseat – why not?

2011 Recap by Sean Carey

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.


A Great Day on Elk Creek

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.

June 18th and 19th

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.

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