Archive for the ‘Trout Camp’ Tag
Stephen Rose approaches Camp Creek
Plans are in the works for a trip up to the Bois Brule, and perhaps the Cranberry River, Flag River, White River, Marengo River, Sioux River, or who knows where. Hopefully the fish will be our guide.
I can’t wait to see that lovely tanin-stained water, hear the wolves howl, and see the flash of those silvery fish in the riffles. I’ll be keeping my eye on the fish forums to see how our chances look for getting up there during a run.
For now, here are some memories of last year’s visit…
Wood Turtle on the banks of the Bois Brule River, Wisconsin
Stephen Rose: Extreme Trout Fisherman
S. Rose on the incredible Bois Brule River, Wisconsin
The Amnicon River in Douglas County, Wisconsin
On Wednesday, April 6th at about 10:30 pm, Stephen Rose and I bid farewell to our families and drove west to the Kickapoo Valley. We set up camp quickly and woke up to a frosty, bright morning. Our day was, in our short history of fishing for trout, one of the best yet.
The goal was to continue gaining experience fishing with fly tackle, with the hopes of having success connecting with trout. That goal was met, but there were so many other bonuses in the form of beautiful sights, sounds, and experiences. It was an incredible day!
Last Night's Hammocks in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve
Pre-fishing breakfast preparation
A Driftless spring seep running down limestone
Here's lookin' at you, fish.
Tom's Wooly fools a Driftless Trout
This man is happy.
Driftless Brown on a White Wooly Bugger
Stephen Rose working a bend pool on a Kickapoo River Tributary
Beautiful Meander in Wisconsin's Driftless
Working the Wall
Is this for real? Driftless Wisconsin Trout Water.
Brown Trout, Wooly Bugger
Casting to a lie
A Stealthy Approach
The Garden of Eden?
Stephen Rose with at Driftless Wisconson Brown Trout
Working a limestone wall
Stephen Rose, Successful Fly Fisherman
Driftless Trout Stream
Bode wading Gordon Creek
With schools closed and three young boys beating down the walls of my house, I decided to temp fate and drag them all out to the countryside to check out some spring creek scenery. I’ve fished Gordon Creek a handful of times, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to visit the upper reaches of the drainage. Fish were spotted and my boys had a good time playing by the water’s edge (or in the water depending on the wardrobe). The creek ran clear and looked about like it does any time of year. I suppose this is a nice thing about the headwaters of a spring-fed creek. It’s reliably consistent.
- Upper reaches of Gordon Creek
Afternoon sun on Gordon Creek
After half an hour on this upper section – the younger boys really wanted a campfire and a couple of hammocks hung, and this was not public land – we headed down the road a ways to a spot where this sort of thing would be possible. So, here we are enjoying s’mores and the bubbling of Gordon Creek. The water was chocolate milk and was running deep.
S'mores and a nice place to sit!
Nice, isn't it?
Sheppy lounging - Optical Illusion: he is several feet away from the fire...
What a campsite this would make.
Getting out to our coldwater streams is a really big deal. But how to not ‘break the bank’ on our visits can often feel like a huge compromise. When you’ve waded enough of these streams you realize just what you don’t see when you stay in a readymade campground.
Someone bought me a cheap nylon camping hammock as a gift for my wedding. I had planned a bachelor’s river trip down the Flambeau River flowage with a dozen or so of my good friends. That was sixteen years ago and the hammock turned out to be the most revelatory part of the whole excursion. The first night we set up camp, I saw that the moon was bright in the sky and we had little worry about weather. So I strung up the hammock for fun.
But I felt so good in it I didn’t bother to set up my crummy tent and I slept better than I ever had before. I think I was the only one who felt great in the morning. (the beer may have played a role) From that moment on I’ve looked for ways to use the hammock as my primary way to get through the night outdoors.
Recently, Tom and I came across an article in the Times.
Cory and Dana Foht
These guys were doing exactly what I always hoped to do. Why do we sit on our hands?
Anyway, Tom and I have invested in some pretty sweet hammock gear and we can’t wait to find an ideal tree to spend an evening this way. Up in the canopy with the stars.
Wouldn't this be cool.
I’m envious of this dude.
This kind of camping would allow you to get right down to the streams edge without disturbing so much as a leaf. You can string one of these arrangements in two minutes if your not expecting weather and fifteen if you do. And there’s a minimum of wet stuff to contend with in the morning. I’ve been through quite a few serious weather evenings in my hammocks and getting wet has never been as issue. Mostly, I’ve worried about everybody else who wasn’t in one.
This whole idea can be taken to some pretty cool extremes.
This is New Zealand but there is no reason we couldn't figure this out at some point.
Enough of that. You get the idea. Tom and I hope to locate idealized trees for this activity all season long. There won’t be any campfires but who cares? We came to fish.
On the last day of the season last year, I elected to give the newly restored section of Kittleson Valley Creek in SW Dane county a try. The banks have been nicely cut back and lunker structures added with some really nice riffle runs and on either side of the restoration I’ve seen some pretty big browns. It’s not a big stretch but it has some premium spots for fly casters.
Kittleson Creek is a nice little tributary of Gordon Creek.
This spot may not be a good choice for the early season as I can imagine it getting some significant traffic right out of the gate. But if you can manage to escape work one day you might have a really sweet couple of hours working this water. You might not even need to get wet.
If anybody’s interested, Tom and I will be down at the On The Creek fly shop in Cross Plains tomorrow night tying some flies.
If your local, maybe we’ll see you out there?
An idea taken to a nifty extreme. Just how the heck do they get out of there?
It’s probably not lost on you that my last post offered little insight into actual trout-fishing. This has broken open a debate for me about what motivates me to hit the streams in the first place.
Don’t misunderstand, if there are fish to be had in the streams we visit my unwavering priority is to catching them. But there are plenty of circumstances in which the fishing isn’t likely to be terribly productive. These non-season scouting events have proven to me that fishing is simply a goal to be reached.
An unmistakeable coyote track.
It is the pursuit that matters.
Once your ‘in it’ the story of the day just unfolds and you spend it in rapt observation. There is always something going on. Your responsibility, as I’ve read somewhere recently, is to come home with that story not always told in pounds or inches.
I recently lost a friend to a brain tumor. Young and in every other way unmistakeably healthy, my friend was famous for his love of winter activities. He was a ‘work hard/play hard’ kind of guy and an inspiration to many. His loss gave me ample reason to investigate my relationship with the cold and snow. This has been a revelation. January and February have often felt like a long cold wait in the past. Not this season. This winter everyday has offered possibilities. There is no weather or temperature that does not give you options. The snow and ice are amazingly free surface agents with super neat physical properties that beg for experiment and inquiry. And we have so many new technologies to explore them.
A closer look reveals a classic four-toed canine paw print complete with claws.
As an aside, I have to put in a plug for the guy who really got me out on the streams chasing after salmonids with some measure of success. Jay Ford Thurston’s Spring Creek Treasure has been so revealing with unadorned and specific advice about our Wisconsin trout streams that it has proved as a kind of unconscious series of post-it-notes reminding us where to go and how to do.
I’m sure I speak for Tom and I both about this remarkable work and the big thanks we owe to Jay. I’m not sure anyone has given more of his time figuring out this whole activity than he has.
The view from the 'oculus' of the tent vestibule in Bear Paw campground.
This camping trip really got me excited about the possibilities of opening day. Maybe camping in the snow could open up opportunities for great fishing even when the streams are full of enthusiasts. This activity resets all the variables for where you can go to chase after that next big brown or wild brookie.
It’s snowing again today. I say bring it on. It’s not gonna hurt my chances at finding my bliss. With Tom’s three boys and my two, we are sure to be out in the snow giving our wives a welcome reprieve from the general din as we explore our next series of trout waters.
Bring on the Driftless!
An invitation for summer fun at Bear Paw campground in Oconto county.
Three hours from the heart of Madison (at approximatly 80 mph) you’ll come to the Lakewood Ranger District of the Nicolet National Forest in Oconto County. Photos and videos are currently in post-production and will start showing up on our blog this evening.
Stephen and I kept all of our fingers and toes despite five inches of unexpected snow, a very nearly stuck 4 wheel-drive vehicle, and flaming boot soles.
We also had the opportunity to talk to a gentleman who lives on the South Branch of the Oconto River and is a former Trout Unlimited chapter president. He reminded us how lucky we are to be residents (or nearly so) of the Driftless Area of Wisconsin, where the trout fishing is “at least as good as anything Out West.”
More on that later. For now, we’re back in civilization, enriched by the amazing sights and sounds of moving water in the middle of winter, our goal of locating a beautiful place to take our kids camping and fishing complete.
Stay tuned for photos, videos, and more stories.
The winter scouting trip that Stephen and I have been discussing is being finalized. Our plan is to find a spot to camp in the vicinity of Western Shawano County on Friday night, then up to the North Branch of the Oconto (or somewhere in the Nicolet Nat’l Forest) Saturday night.
The goal is to scout out some great trout water in Central and Northeast Wisconsin to establish a “Trout Camp” for our families. A place where our sons can enjoy some time each summer in the wild, and where they can continue to return for years to come.
If you’ve got any favorite spots you’d like to share, don’t be bashful!