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After fruitless effort during the first thirty minutes of my fishing time today I gave it one last shot. Actually I was about to do the responsible thing and go back to work after snapping off my pink squirrel on some underwater object, but as I was leaving I saw a trout rising to Blue Winged Olives consistently in a spot I hadn’t targeted on this fine day, so I decided for one last attempt to connect with a trout.
I had to tie on a new 5X tippet because the previous tippet had snapped off in the aforementioned incident the with aforementioned unseen object. So I unspooled my leader and some line from my reel, tied on a new tippet with a double surgeon’s knot, tied on a size 18 elk hair caddis, and realized I hadn’t threaded my line through my rod guides. No worries though. A size 18 fly is small enough to fit through all the guides on my 3-wt rod.
So, anyway, I managed to do all this without spooking the fish, which I assumed would be another 6-inch toddler trout. Making a terrifically difficult but stunning backhanded cast and avoiding any entanglements, I presented the fly at intervals of increasing distance, hoping to avoid spooking the fish in this very still pool. On about the sixth cast I had put the fly right above the area where I’d seen the fish sipping flies. I let it sit. Nothing. More nothing. Then, something!
I had barely noticed the slight tug in my line, but I tested to see if I’d made a connection. I don’t recall seeing any fish lips breaking the surface of the mirror-smooth pool, but they must have because my rod was suddenly bent over. I tugged to set the hook and gave the reel a spin. The tension was gone and I wasn’t sure if I’d kept the fish on. The logical place for this fish to make a run was downstream, toward me, and I suppose that’s what it was doing. So I cranked the reel as quickly as I could to keep any hint of tension possible on the line, but it was tough keeping up with that fish.
Then I saw that it was in fact a respectable fish. When I saw him, he saw me, and he turned back upstream to the pool. I let the reel reverse as he made a run back up. I was worried about breaking that size 18 hook off. But I didn’t. I played that nice fish back to me without incident and it was a very enjoyable conversation he and I carried out via that fishing line.
He sure didn’t want to hold still for me to scoop him out of the water for a picture, but I finally got my hand under his belly and brought him out. What a terrific fish and a memorable catch! A picture and then back in he went, and back to work I went…
Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, 13-inches, on an Elk Hair Caddis
My parents took me out into the wild with them and I’m grateful for it. The “wilderness” of the Driftless Region has a lot to discover, not the least of which is good fishing. I’ve seen turtles, deer, beaver, skunk, herons, otters, frogs, and an enormous number of plants and rock formations.
I’m blessed to have boys who are game when it comes to stepping outside. It pays to expose our kids to the wild lands around them. I’m better off for having done it as a kid, and I’m happy to expose my own children to it, and they seem to love it!
Stephen Rose with his son at Love Creek, March 2011
Tom A-B with Bode and Stephen's son, Love Creek, March 2011
Content after a day outside
My 8-year-old son Bode had been asking for a few weeks when fishing season would be starting. He’s been anxious to get out and catch some fish. He wanted to go to Lake Wingra nearby, but the bite there has been slow in starting up, due to the cool spring we’ve had (I think). I talked him into heading to a trout creek instead. I’m glad I did!
Into the truck we went, and Stephen drove us up to Lodi Spring Creek. We fished a section west of town and found some very productive areas. Stephen fished with wooly buggers on his fly rod and had some good success, finding a nice spot where 4 fish were caught and released, and several more that charged his fly but didn’t take.
Bode and I worked downstream from Stephen and found a couple of nice holes for him to toss a #9 silver Panther Martin in. At first he got lots of “bumps” on the lure but no hookups. But after a dozen casts he pulled out a nice 12″ rainbow. We were both jazzed about it!
Bode with his first fish of 2011, a 12" Rainbow
Bode caught another fish too, a 10″ Brown Trout. Both were taken home at Bode’s request and fried in butter with garlic and herbes de Provence. We both enjoyed our first trout dinner of the season.
Next week we’ll put our rowboat in at the marina in Lake Wingra and it’ll be panfish mayhem, but with this successful trout stream outing under his belt, I’m hoping Bode will join me often on forays into the Driftless, to take in the beauty of the land and the adventure of fishing my favorite creeks.
Spring Water, Baraboo Hills, Wisconsin
Stephen and I fished a Baraboo Hills stream Sunday with our kids in tow. The kids had a great time exploring and Stephen and I caught about 15 Brook Trout on flies (without really trying).
Stephen Fishing a Baraboo area stream
Great article on a father-son duo who’ve been fishing with Len for six years…
Outdoors: Harris watches angler grow up http://bit.ly/fYalLA
Here we go. The next six months are shaping up to be a whirl-wind tour of the state in rubber pants. One year ago this was unimaginable.
I now feel like a moth to a flame. God I hope I don’t go totally feral this year.
There is so much cool stuff on the net related to this activity.
Tomorrow's quarry. Tava Evericulum
Shortly after Tom and I visited the Wisconsin Fishing Expo the outdoor page for Madison.com recreational sports posted an article on the cumulative condition of our state’s streams over the last sixty years.
The article suggests that the near future of Wisconsin trout-fishing will be terrific. This felt like the nicest thing happening in our state right now. I considered how fortunate we were to be around at this idealized moment to take advantage of these conditions. But I noticed a comment had been posted and upon opening it I realized that, for some, this article fails to tell the whole story.
I’m usually wary of when I get too comfortable about the state of things and this was one of those times.
Patricia Randolph is a state columnist for the Capitol Times and her take on the trapping of fur-bearers gave me a moment of pause. I found an article she’d written back in February.
This article felt shrill, myopic, and over-reaching. It didn’t take much research after-wards to turn some things up that might refute some of her claims.
It’s true that beavers are harshly killed in these traps and there is little getting around that. When Tom and I visited the Tipperary Creek a few weeks back we came across one of these.
Found abandoned, loose, rusty, and unset on the bottom of the Tipperary Creek
It is also true that this kind of trapping can be indiscriminate and take down unintended other creatures. (my kids was the first thing that came to mind) I can’t speak for Tom but I know I actively seek out beaver dams for their storied fishing potential. According to the DNR document above, we aren’t likely to find beavers in this part of the state in great numbers as we lack ideal habitat.
I think we may have seen a few beavers all last season. But I do recall seeing plenty of evidence of the presence of beavers along the river’s edge. And I recall that beaver’s were very close to being extirpated from Wisconsin by the early 1900’s. The thing about beaver is that they are a naturally hardy creature that given the right circumstances may be prone to boom and bust cycles not unlike a rabbit population. When the fur trade died the beavers returned with a vengeance.
So how to feel about Trout Unlimited pulling down beaver dams in the name of better trout water? I can’t say that I am terribly interested in personal involvement in this activity as they aren’t actively killing the beavers I’m inclined to think that this may be a fairly innocuous activity in South central Wisconsin. Keeping those streams cold and flowing does alot for many species beyond the salmonids. And when these streams are recognized it very likely helps the people who live on these waters to pause and consider before they decide to make changes that could disrupt their health and efficacy.
This coming season I intend to take advantage of the natural fishing holes that beaver dams so famously create. Should someone come along and opt to take these marvelous structures down I will hope it is done taking account of as much good science as is currently available.
I sure would like to hear some comments regarding this matter as it pays to be as informed as possible. Anybody?
Here’s the latest and greatest information on the Climate Change Impacts associated with our coldwater fisheries.
See ya’ out there.