Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Thursday, September 15, 2016 4:28:17 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,181
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

Thanks: 63 times
Was thanked: 97 time(s) in 83 post(s)
Every year in early September I plan a fishing trip to coincide with my birthday. I pick a couple of days mid-week, which are normally the least busy fishing-wise in the DA.

Early Tuesday morning a big thunderstorm blew through SW Wisconsin depositing and inch or two of rain in places. When I arrived at my first choice of streams, I found it high and muddy. But no worries, I knew of a couple of streams nearby that clear up quickly after storms.

There was still heavy overcast when I arrived, and it was really dark. But the fish didn't seem to mind. Caught this guy on the second cast. You can get an idea of how dark it was from the picture, even though it was 7AM.
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Once it got a little brighter out, Trout began rising. I even caught a few on dry flies! A bit odd for so early in the morning.
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The Trout were feeding like crazy in the slightly stained water. Nice vigorous Browns and Brookies. Nothing spectacular size-wise. But this stream isn't known for large Trout, but has good numbers. Then, suddenly the bite stopped around 10AM. Not really sure why, but the dinner bell was off. So I moved on. Still pretty gloomy out for 10AM.
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Next stop was a well known Brook Trout stream near Viroqua. The Brookies didn't seem to be too interested in dry flies, but happily ate the always reliable Pink Squirrel. Most of the Trout caught were in the riffles. Like the last stream, a bit of a stain was making it easier to approach and get close enough to cast. This stream is small and typically runs gin clear, which normally can make it difficult to fish.
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All was going well, until... my rod broke. While landing a fish, the tip section broke in two. For some reason it snapped like a piece of dried spaghetti. Rats. Special curse words are reserved for events like this. Fortunately there was no one around to hear them.
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Long time DTA readers will recall that this isn't the first time my Echo Carbon 4W has broken. In fact, it's the fourth time in four years. I've already spent more money getting this thing fixed than it cost originally, and I doubt I'll bother get it fixed again. I did manage to get a season and a half since the last break, so maybe it was due.

Well, it was my birthday. So a quick stop at the Driftless Angler Fly shop and I picked up a little present for myself: an Echo Base 8 foot 4W, for $89. A review of how I thought it fished can be found here..
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Things were brightening up (weather-wise) by early afternoon, so I headed out to stream number three. This creek is also well known in the Viroqua area, as it has a bar located right next door, and a spring pool with giant pet Rainbow Trout cruising around it.

The heavy rains from the previous week knocked all the stream side weeds down. You would think that it made for easy walking, but you would be wrong. The weeds tangled easily with my wading boots and the matted carpet hid many holes and other trip hazards.
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And then of course, the enviable happened. While trying to get into a better position to cast to a rising fish, I took a wrong step and tumbled right into the stream. Fortunately I wasn't hurt, except for my pride. I crawled up on the bank, stripped off my water and mud filled waders... all in full view of the bar patrons. Nice.

So, a trip back to the car for some dry clothes and to wash some of the mud off, and then back to the fishing. Hoppers were now hitting the water and the Trout were somewhat reluctantly taking them. I had about as many misses and refusals as Trout caught. But by the end of the day I netted about a dozen Browns.
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Tuesday night I stayed at the fabulous Central Express Inn in Westby. It's cheap, conveniently located, with a gas station, restaurant and convenience store all rolled into one. After a hearty breakfast I headed down into the heart of the Amish country under beautiful blue skies with white fluffy clouds. The air was cool and there was just a hint of color starting to appear in the trees.

This stream has relatively low numbers (compared to other Trout streams in the area) but is very pretty water and fun to fish. The Amish owner keeps a small herd of cattle in the meadow who keep the grass well mowed and make it easy to walk and fish. Nice healthy Browns and Brookies came to the net. And somehow, I managed not to fall in the stream.
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The final stream of the day is an old favorite, which is also conveniently on my way home. By mid-day the bite slowed down a lot - likely due to the bright sun. But I know this stream very well and knew right where to cast. Aggressive Browns slammed my hopper, coming out from the rocks, weed beds or cut banks where they were hiding. Always exciting to see them charging across the stream in to take the fly.
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The Trout were nothing special again, a few 12 and 13 inchers. But by the end of the day I had caught over 20 Trout, so not bad at all. A great way to spend my birthday.

September is always my favorite time of the year. And despite the broken rod and the unplanned swim, the drive home felt great.
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“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
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MNFishhunter  
#2 Posted : Thursday, September 15, 2016 5:55:47 PM(UTC)
MNFishhunter
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 4/3/2013(UTC)
Posts: 401
Location: S.E. MN

Nice post Bill. Stained water is my favorite condition for small streams because I don't have to be stealthy at all.
NBrevitz  
#3 Posted : Thursday, September 15, 2016 9:20:19 PM(UTC)
NBrevitz
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 3/16/2013(UTC)
Posts: 1,367
Man
Location: Lake Elmo, Mn

Thanks: 49 times
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Excellent as always. I love the looks of that last stream, gorgeous. I'll have to find that one.ThumpUp
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
William Schlafer  
#4 Posted : Friday, September 16, 2016 6:49:56 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,181
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

Thanks: 63 times
Was thanked: 97 time(s) in 83 post(s)
The water on all five streams I fished was excellent. All were running about six inches or more above normal, with just a slight stain. The floods from last week had flushed most of the excess silt and weeds away. The excellent flow and extra depth seemed to really agree with the Trout. I was catching them in places I hadn't normally found fish to hang out. A lot more fun to fish in those conditions than low ultra clear water!


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
shebs  
#5 Posted : Friday, September 16, 2016 11:04:51 AM(UTC)
shebs
Rank: Stone Fly

Joined: 5/12/2014(UTC)
Posts: 923
Location: Mpls

Thanks: 4 times
Was thanked: 26 time(s) in 22 post(s)
William Schlafer wrote:
The water on all five streams I fished was excellent. All were running about six inches or more above normal, with just a slight stain. The floods from last week had flushed most of the excess silt and weeds away. The excellent flow and extra depth seemed to really agree with the Trout. I was catching them in places I hadn't normally found fish to hang out. A lot more fun to fish in those conditions than low ultra clear water!


-Bill


This is shaping up to be a great September (and now October too!)
A bad day of fishing is better than a good day of work. ~Author Unknown
Modern Translation, with respect for the Notorious B.I.G. : "Fuck Money, Get Fishes"
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