Stephen and I are heading up north this morning to fish what many consider the ultimate trout stream of Wisconsin. We hope to bring back lots of photos, videos, and stories of our journey to share with you. Check this space Monday for an initial report.
I got a link to this story on the Driftless Trout Anglers forum.
Dave Vetrano, one of the men responsible for Wisconsin’s excellent trout streams, is retiring after 30 years.
Dave Vetrano at Coon Creek
Vetrano came up with the lunker structure that helps shelter fish after stream habitat improvement work is done. I had no idea that LUNKERS is an acronym (Little Underwater Neighborhood Keepers Encompassing Rheotaxic Salmonids). Vetrano reportedly thought this up.
Vetrano is also responsible for implementing the state’s “Wild Trout” program which takes wild trout from highly successful streams and stocks them in streams that have the capacity to support trout but have low populations. Apparently domestic trout (aka: fish hatchery-raised trout fed with pellets) only lived a couple of years in the wild. Go figure! They probably had no idea how to hunt for food in the wild. Transplanting wild trout from one stream to another has allowed Wisconsin’s trout numbers to skyrocket and has lowered the DNR’s expense of maintaining that fishery.
Click on the picture of Dave above to go to the Journal-Sentinal article.
Thanks for all your creativity and hard work Dave!
I journeyed the short distance from work in Middleton to the upper reaches of Black Earth Creek yesterday afternoon to chase some trout. The weather made the likelihood of success low, being that it was sunny and 75°. But I went anyway because I wanted to make sure of two things. 1) Would my rod and reel work well with the 10-lb line I had put on and 2) Did my wader repair job work?
- Tracks along Hwy 14 upstream of Cross Plains
#1 above turned out to be just fine. My reel is listed to go up to 8-lb line, so I wasn’t sure how it would perform, but it worked like a charm. I had 10-lb line put on because it was recommended for catching the bigger fish up on the Bois Brule, which I hope to do this weekend.
Under the Railroad Bridge on Black Earth Creek
#2 did not work so well. I have some Farm and Fleet neoprene waders that I will be throwing away after fishing season is done this year, but I need to make them work for another month or so. I applied some silicone caulk to the leaky spots a couple of nights ago and it certainly improved the situation. For example, my waders no longer fill up with water to my knees, they’re only damp inside. The dampness is due to a leak I haven’t remedied in the crotch of my waders. I believe the gusseted seam in the crotch has a bad leak all around due to poor quality. I’ve plugged up all of the barbed wire punctures, so I’ll have to take a look tonight at the seam to see if I can fix the leak.
As for the fishing, I found lots of nice holding spots for trout. There are plenty of bends with scoured holes, and there are overhanging banks with water cress that look like very nice homes for fish.
I caught this little guy, the only fish of the afternoon, along the shaded bank of a straight run. Small things are certainly beautiful, don’t you think?
Black Earth Creek Brown Trout
I saw a rather large Brown Trout holding under another bank. He was enticed to come out of his hole twice to have a look at and follow my lure, but he wouldn’t take it. I’d guess it was in the 13″ range. I was surprised to see such a fish appear on a day like this. I figured all the larger fish would be hunkered down in the shade waiting for dusk to come out and eat.
Watercress and Jewelweed on Black Earth Creek
I also scared a Whitetail Buck out of the creek, or perhaps it scared me. It was a beautiful, strong 8-pointer. It made me want to be a deer hunter. You can just make it out in the picture below, inside the red oval (click the picture to enlarge it).
Black Earth Creek Whitetail Buck
I’ll plan to come back to this stretch early or late in the day, as I think it has some nice potential. The water was very clear and running cool. Good for trout and the meals they like to eat. I’d like to walk up to Stagecoach Road when I have more time, just to see what’s what.
Helianthus divaricatus (Woodland Sunflower) on Black Earth Creek
It sure is a convenient place for me to fish, as it is for many people in Madison. I get the feeling if I were to come here on a Saturday morning or evening I might run into a fly fisherman every hundred yards or so, but on Wednesday afternoon there were no other fish hunters around.
Kodiak In-line spinners Ultimate Alevin Assortment
As fly fishermen are given to a meticulous attention to detail I see no reason why a spin fisherman cannot show an equal pleasure in finding something carefully done.
Panther Martins have been the mainstay of my summer’s fishing success. Please forgive my promiscuity.
I’m hoping to have a couple of these in my arsenal for our coming adventure.
Stephen and I are gearing up for a year-end trip to the Bois Brule River in Douglas County, WI.
We’ll be hiking in and camping in hammocks, trying to find some good resident trout and perhaps some larger fish at the lower end of the river.
Right now it’s nothing more than a topo map and some whispers of places to try. We’ll do our best to document what we find and bring it back home for you to enjoy! Expectations for success are low, this being our first trip to the area to fish. Our wives wish we’d reconsider, and they think we’re crazy to be driving 5 hours to chase fish, but you only live once, right?
Wish us luck!
Bois Brule TOPO (Click for full PDF)
Well so much for grand schemes. After my recent post suggesting the value of rainfall I am shamefaced in admitting that early this morning I set out to Vermont Creek in hopes of catching every fish in the stream.
On our last visit, this stream was running very clear and I figured yesterday’s thunderstorm would be just the thing to set up some ideal conditions. Instead, I fished a stream that was too turbid and warm to even bother pulling out the gear. In three hours not even a sign of fish. The rainfall was significant enough to send this stream over its banks and made wading quite an unenviable chore.
I started out above the bridge on hwy JJ having gotten wind of some recent success by another fisherman. Today this portion was almost un-navigable. Before I entered the stream I found the super of a Joe Daniels construction crew waiting to plow into a 3500 ft stretch on the downstream side of the bridge that is scheduled for habitat improvements. We spoke at length about the plan. With one large bulldozer, one sizable backhoe and an even bigger digger the work is to be done by a small crew of two to three guys without virtually any handwork to speak of. He told me that this kind of work is highly prized right now because building is so slow. Bids are competitive and difficult to secure. All 3500 feet is scheduled for completion within 30 days. Another section downstream is to be done next year. A portion of the stream will actually be moved to accommodate a property owner. Lots of riprap will be added but he mentioned little of particular features. He mentioned that the salesman who secured the bid was a serious trout fisherman. I guess that probably helps lubricate the process with the DNR.
Anyway, neither he nor I were destined for luck with our plans today. The banks are saturated and his crew went home for the day as I should have done.
I fished for about 500 yards before I decided wading in an unknown section of flooded stream is probably a bad idea. I moved down to the HI area above the bridge on hwy KP hoping that my past experience in this section would help me work it with more skill. Nothing Doing. The same flooded mess was encountered here. I worked every artificial I had as it felt like a good time to experiment. As I mentioned in my last post, I am interested in finding success using weighted streamers on spinning gear. I put my heaviest ones through trials but to no effect. Because these baits are quieter than the spinners I’m inclined to believe that they are not a sound strategy on a really turbid stream unless they are significantly bright. (mine were not)
A word or two about Panther Martins is warranted. I have tried all kinds of other spinners and have concluded that the rest simply don’t measure up for performance. Something about how the hole through the blade is farther aft than on other spinners appears to generate a good deal more liveliness and action. With other spinners I often bring them in and find that the blade is simply not spinning at all and the lure has no “al-lure”.
The #9 Panther Martin is an idealized bait for casting on light gear. It requires no extra lead to push it down into holes and casts beautifully. And its large enough to inspire larger trout to come out for a look but small enough that I’ve caught my share of six inchers with it. The #9 reminds me of my cocker spaniel when I was a kid. It has exactly the same sound as her tags did. What’s more, Panther Martins are made of better steel than the off market brands and this shows when you put your lure up against stonewalls, brush, and gravel bottoms enough times.
Today made me realize that you can’t game a trout stream. I thought I had picked an optimal moment and instead I got skunked. I am chastened. At least until two days from now when it will be absolutely………….