Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Sunday, September 9, 2018 12:20:56 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

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

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I really needed to get out and fish.

The season will soon be over and I haven't gotten out as often as I had hoped this year. But the recent flooding in SW Wisconsin limited the number of streams that might possibly be in fishable condition to just a few around the margins of the flood affected areas.

After being chased off my first stream by cattle (and a unhappy looking Bull), options two and three were busy with other fisherman at the best spots. The places I found open were fishing very slow.

Option four is a very small Brook Trout stream within the flood zone. But I knew this creek is short and usually clears quickly after high water. The stream was unfishable earlier this summer due to really thick and high weeds along the stream banks. I was hoping that the high water would've beaten the weeds and brush down enough that I could get into the stream in places.

And in fact I found that the weeds were matted down, but walking along the banks was very difficult and dangerous. The grass and brush wrapped around my feet and legs making every step misery. The ground under the mat was very soft and it was easy to step into a void or slip on the mud. Wading was possible in spots, but obstacles required repeated trips into the weeds.

The combat zone. Short, accurate casts, with short stout (2X/3X) leaders needed here.
UserPostedImage

Welcome to the jungle. Wussies need not apply.
UserPostedImage

After 45 minutes, I was beat. But the fish were greedily taking my hoppers whenever I could snake a cast down into the narrow strip of water. You had to immediately steer the Trout away from those undercut banks and weeds, or they would dig in and you would have to go swimming to get them out. The small purple bellied hopper was effective once again.
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Nice orange belly on this one.
UserPostedImage

After awhile I heard voices upstream which turned out to be an electro shock survey crew from the WDNR. Matt and Emma (they may be fish biologists - I forgot to ask) were using portable equipment to work up the small creek teasing Trout out from their hiding spots. They were looking for small stocked Brook Trout that were placed there the previous season. I decided to sit and rest and watch them do their work for awhile. An amazing number of Trout went into the net and it was fun to watch them work their magic.
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I talked to Matt and Emma on the walk out and they said they only found three of small Brookies they were looking for. It's possible that the recent high water may have washed many of the smaller fish downstream to the deeper and wider parts of the stream. Or, they may have become dinner for the bigger Brook and Brown Trout that occupy the creek. Interesting stuff!


-Bill

Edited by user Sunday, September 9, 2018 12:22:09 AM(UTC)  | Reason: damned typos!

“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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Gurth  
#2 Posted : Sunday, September 9, 2018 1:53:50 AM(UTC)
Gurth
Rank: Stone Fly

Joined: 11/7/2016(UTC)
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Cool report and cool being there when they show you what's behind the curtain.

It's amazing how many fish we just walk by, none the wiser.

Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
Buckman  
#3 Posted : Sunday, September 9, 2018 11:55:00 AM(UTC)
Buckman
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Looks like you had a very worthwhile time out there, that last brookie certainly had the colors on display. Not everyday you can run into the DNR folks doing their research projects, I would have stuck around for that too.
weiliwen  
#4 Posted : Sunday, September 9, 2018 5:53:53 PM(UTC)
weiliwen
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I had the same issue with the grass when I fished Mt Vernon Creek a couple weeks ago. My legs cramped up when I got home, they were so overstressed by "wading" through the grass.

I fished a similar piece of water this spring - usually no more than 10 feet across, but probably another 18 inches each side under the matted prairie grass. It was perfect for hiding trout, and often too deep to wade easily.

If I put my fly in the middle of the stream, nothing.

If I put it too close, stuck in the weeds.

If I put it exactly an inch from the edge of the overhang, I'd often get a strike. Then, as you say, the fight to keep the fish from returning under the overhang was on. My biggest fish that day, I had to jump into the creek and push the rod top down so I could pull the trout down below the weeds as I pulled him in. It was a learning experience, for sure.
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
William Schlafer  
#5 Posted : Sunday, September 9, 2018 9:19:07 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)
Using heavy leaders (2X/3X) really helps when hopper fishing. You can put immediate pressure on the fish after the strike without fear of breaking the leader. I like to force them to the surface as quickly as possible and then skate them down into open water away from the undercut bank and weeds.

If the hopper lands in the weeds, don't try jerking it out. You can end up breaking your fly rod tip (ask me how I know this...) Instead, just pull slowly and steady on the line. Often times the fly will drop down into the water, just like a natural might fall out of the weeds.

When the hopper bite is on, Trout are super aggressive. If you get a miss, recast to the same spot. Many times a Trout will come right back and take the fly the second or third time. This is especially true with Brookies who just can't help themselves.

Some think twitching or jerking the hopper can help induce strikes. This might work on a larger stream or river, or maybe on a lake or pond. But I don't bother with that on the small streams I fish. If the strike doesn't come within the first 3-4 seconds of the fly hitting the water, it probably won't come at all.

I rarely cast into the middle of open water or in a pool, and I almost never get a strike on a long drift. Just keep peppering the edge of the banks with casts and the strikes will come. The Trout hiding under those banks won't spend much time examining the fly. They'll fly out to ambush it and then dart back under cover. Making the fly splat when it lands can often produce a huge strike by the bigger fish.

Another of my favorite tricks is to pull the hopper down under the water in fast current and begin stripping it back as fast as possible. This must look like some kind of fleeing food to Trout. I've had some terrific strikes doing this in pools and deeper runs.

Prime hopper water.
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Fishing hoppers is so much fun. With luck, and if the warm weather holds up, hoppers should still be effective right up until the end of the season.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
big_river_bum  
#6 Posted : Monday, September 10, 2018 12:33:37 AM(UTC)
big_river_bum
Rank: Dragon Fly

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the best hopper fishing i ever had was the sunday of the 1st fall trapfest with my dad on a natural prairie section. hot, glaring sun, mid-afternoon. every cast drew strikes. we must've caught 100 fish in a few hours. many mid-teen fish.

i cut open the stomach of every fish we kept to eat and each one had 12 to 24 waterboatmen/beetles in them
William Schlafer  
#7 Posted : Monday, September 10, 2018 4:26:47 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)
Originally Posted by: big_river_bum Go to Quoted Post


i cut open the stomach of every fish we kept to eat and each one had 12 to 24 waterboatmen/beetles in them



Funny you mention that. One of the Trout I caught last weekend burped up a black mass of what looked like water walker bugs. They look like spiders with long legs that walk on the water film.

UserPostedImage

There were lots of those things clustered up in the shallow still water. I was doing just fine with hoppers, but it got me thinking about expanding my terrestrials fly box to include some more black bug types.


-Bill
“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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