Rick’s book Advanced Fly Fishing for Great Lakes Steelhead is a great read as well.
Well, John and Stephen and I had a leisurely start to the day on Saturday and got ourselves up to Billings Creek near La Farge (French for “The Farge”) in Vernon County mid-morning. The stretch we’ve fished before made for difficult fishing. John got a couple of browns to hook up on a Marabou Leech and actually lost one as it skittered away under an ice shelf. That was the theme of Billings Creek on Saturday, those ice shelves. In some areas, like the deeper pools, there was ice clear across the creek.
The scenery was stunning, with that beautiful fresh snow and sunshine, so that’s what holds prominence in my mind at the moment. The fishing was difficult and the icy lines and even icier guides made for some tedium. But the beauty of the day made it hard to feel too sorry for myself.
After a couple hours and some hot chili we decided to bug out and go down to Camp Creek near Viola. The water there was much more inviting, with no ice and lots of visuals on fish. The water was very clear and the fish were spooky as always. Camp Creek is all about stealth, whether it’s via the long upstream cast or getting down on hands and knees to do some Czech nymphing. I saw two riseforms, so there were trout eating some kind of bug on the surface. Nothing big enough to see though. I finally caught my trout on a small Pheasant Tail nymph trailing behind a streamer, and I held it up in the sunshine and admired it for a moment, happy to be a trout fisherman again.
We all returned to the city happy and tired, hoping to see spring break out sometime soon, when new plans will be made for seeking trout.
I hope those of you who went out to fish the opener enjoyed the great weather and had some success too. Best wishes in 2013!
John, Stephen and I went to Wingra on New Year’s Eve to chase lunkers. Suffice it to say, we didn’t catch any.
John did have a flag go up only to find that his shiner minnow was gone, so that may have been something, but for the most part the experience taught us how nice a shelter of some kind would be to have.
Hope you enjoy the photographs! There’ll be more throughout the winter, hopefully some of which will have us holding some nice fish.
Here are some photos of the beautiful spots Stephen and I visited on Sunday. Though we didn’t catch any trout, the scenery was very nice.
This place, no doubt, is special. There is a good-sized spring that empties into a crystal-clear pool, and this pool holds some of the best-educated Brook Trout in the state, and perhaps the nation. The reason: These fish are captive and they are hunted, almost constantly, by trout anglers. When I arrived I expected to see a car in the lot, maybe two at most. But the lot was full. Half of the cars belonged to fishermen. The 50-degree temps didn’t help to keep the crowds down.
The two anglers I spoke with, both from Illinois, were on their way out and claimed that they had each “got a couple” of fish fooled.
So I went up the short trail, found a spot amongst 5 other anglers, and tried a copper john below a hopper. A cast into this pool is like an explosion going off. The ripples travel forever across the water and there’s no sneaking up on anything. One by one, the other anglers relented and I did too. There was one solitary fisherman left once I had decided to reel in my line and become a day hiker. I never did see anyone catch a fish, but they’re in there, and they sure look appealing.
Over the weekend I took a trip down to Chestnut Mountian Ski Area, south of Galena, Illinois, to do my second job as a ski coach for the Blackhawk Ski Club. We had a great weekend and our kids were second as a team in the Giant Slalom Saturday, and first as a team in the Slalom on Sunday, and we ended up winning the overall meet against powerhouse clubs Tyrol Basin and Cascade Mountain. Way to go Blackhawk!
Coaching skiers at a ski race involves standing at the bottom of the course, cheering on skiers, giving out high fives and fist bumps at the finish, and talking about the run the skier just had. It’s an interesting experience, and a lot of fun. But, I didn’t really move from my spot for two days, and if you’ve ever stood on the side of a hill for two days, you too may want a change of scenery.
So, when the race was over Sunday afternoon, I drove north through the beautiful town of Galena (it is seriously a very cool place) and headed north to Wisconsin. I decided that since I was in the Driftless I’d take in some sights I’ve not seen before. After passing through Hazel Green I checked my GPS to see that there was a river flowing southward on the east side of Benton and Cuba City that I’d not seen before. I took some county roads and made my way toward the river.
The Galena River is not designated as a trout stream, and it likely gets too warm and flows too slowly to support a trout population. I stopped at the river on Twin Bridges Road and got out with my fly rod and camera. I did some fishing with a wooly bugger, a copper john, and a hopper pattern, but didn’t get any interest from the smallmouth bass that may have been swimming there. It was nice to unwind with some casting and waiting, and it made me wonder why trout fishing has to close down for several months of the year in Wisconsin. I can’t, for the life of me, understand the science behind this law. Perhaps there is concern that spawning and reproduction will be disturbed by fishermen wading through redds. Perhaps it’s more of a cultural thing. Winter is for ice fishing, you idiot. I don’t know.
At any rate, being outside along that pretty river was a nice way to end the weekend, and I’m glad I did a little exploring.