Driftless Trout Anglers

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donjuan  
#1 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 12:26:15 PM(UTC)
donjuan
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 5/23/2011(UTC)
Posts: 418
Location: WI, IA

They said it wasn't possible. They said it couldn't be done. You can't catch smallies and trout in the same stretches of water - they compete for food, they enjoy similar habitat, and they just plain don't like each other (ok, maybe it's not the North vs the South, but still, you don't see many smallmouth-trout marriages, right?)

I wanted to explore the status of smallmouth-trout relations in some potential combination water, so I planned for some stops in SW WI over the last two weekends as a part of other trips through the area.

And just what did I find? Bill Murray says it best:

MASS HYSTERIA

This past weekend we were attending a wedding in the Dells, and did some camping and fishing on the way up. I targeted an area I thought might provide multiple species action. This was my first time fishing this stream. The stretch I chose was a tough wade, especially initially (very mucky, murky water, banks high and essentially un-navigable this time of year). From the access, it looked like obvious smallmouth type water to me. No action for the first 30 minutes (hey, good choice, Dan!)...then I found the smallmouth:

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First four fish all out of the same stretch/hole. Well, that was easy. Ok, just gotta find the trout. I initially had one follow/short strike that looked like a skinny little brown, but I couldn't be sure. I pressed on, sinking into the muck with most steps, but it was still early enough in the day that I wasn't overheating yet.

Finally, I got to a nice little pocket that wrapped underneath a grassy overhang...float the rapala underneath, yank, and BAM - this 13" brown. That's what I was looking for.

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Another 50 feet upstream and this 16" brown came out of a very nice deep hole in which a highly eroded bank created a different type of undercut bank effect. I did a terrible job of wading too far into the hole and mucked the whole thing up so no more fish from this spot. But looked worth returning.

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Had I passed some unofficial smallmouth/trout barrier on this stream? Nope. Back to the smallies.

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There were some brief rocky stretches the further I went but the fish were clearly stacked up in only the deepest holes that had decent flow at the top. Overall I ended up with ten smallmouth and the two trout. Unfortunately I misinterpreted the map/how close I would be to the road at the end of this stretch and had to wade all the way back to the car. Woof. At least I was moving with the water this time.

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I was so impressed with this stretch I convinced my wife to try it with me the next day on our way back. We started right in the middle of the day (very hot) and only fished for about an hour, but it was worth it as she landed this beast and we got a few more 11-14" fish as well.

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The previous weekend I was making the Sunday drive back from a 3 day weekend up nort (a 6.5 hour drive back to Iowa City) when I decided to stop and fish a very short stretch of a familiar stream with a decent opportunity for both trout and smallmouth. It was mid-afternoon on a bright sunny day, which wasn't going to help my cause much, but I needed a break from the car. I bushwacked downstream from the access a few hundred feet and fished back up. The second hole I came to brought me a follow from an 18"+ brown...which really surprised me as I've never caught a fish out of that particular spot. It was hugging the bank in a shady spot that wasn't more than 18" deep. Hmm. Turned the corner and casted as deep into the bank as I could. The panther martin I was using just barely caught in the overhanging vegetation. I pulled just enough to free the lure and right after it 'plooped' into the water, this broodstock rainbow nailed it. Never caught a rainbow this late in the year there, so that was interesting. Next cast another decent trout came out of that spot but wouldn't strike. Moving upstream I caught 3 smallmouth in the 10-12" range, then stopped and fished under the next bridge in a hole that looks like it should really contain some nice fish...that I can't seem to catch. Two more hand sized smallmouth and I was on my way home.

This spot:
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This fish:
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Hyperbole aside, I think these areas I fished are primarily smallmouth water this time of year with the rare trout thrown in. I think you can get a little bit more of that combination in that mid-May through mid-June time when the smallmouth just start to get more active but the trout are still more spread out, but I agree it's not likely to find good populations of both in the same stretch. So I guess its a working relationship. Maybe one day trout and smallmouth can live together in harmony, holding fins and taking turns eating chubs.

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kschaefer3  
#2 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 1:04:01 PM(UTC)
kschaefer3
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 10/10/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,538
Location: St. Paul, MN

Awesome! Looks like a very nice trip. Too bad you had to be there for a wedding ThumbDown .
Dobber  
#3 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 1:15:47 PM(UTC)
Dobber
Rank: Midge

Joined: 7/24/2014(UTC)
Posts: 30
Location: Madison, WI

Awesome, and gives me hope! Thanks for sharing!
turbomike15  
#4 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 1:23:13 PM(UTC)
turbomike15
Rank: Midge

Joined: 4/7/2014(UTC)
Posts: 119
Location: Madison, WI

Nice post! Some good looking fish. All on spinner gear?
s.t.fanatic  
#5 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 1:24:58 PM(UTC)
s.t.fanatic
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 3/24/2010(UTC)
Posts: 725
Location: Altura

Thanks: 50 times
Was thanked: 16 time(s) in 16 post(s)
there are many places in the Root River watershed over here in Minnesota where you can catch trout and smallies side by side.
FryinPanDan  
#6 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 2:45:08 PM(UTC)
FryinPanDan
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 4/9/2012(UTC)
Posts: 1,174
Man
Location: Sauk County

Very cool report, and nice fish.
"My position is, we should have a clean, healthy, diverse natural environment so I can go fishing. Because fishing makes me happy." - John Gierach
BRAUNTRUTTA
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Josey Wales  
#7 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 3:22:45 PM(UTC)
Josey Wales
Rank: Stone Fly

Joined: 6/14/2013(UTC)
Posts: 229
Location: St. Paul

Great report!
flyfishingfreak  
#8 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 8:32:22 PM(UTC)
flyfishingfreak
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 8/19/2010(UTC)
Posts: 580
Man

the best of both worlds.
Jumpsuit  
#9 Posted : Monday, August 11, 2014 8:40:54 PM(UTC)
Jumpsuit
Rank: Midge

Joined: 5/2/2013(UTC)
Posts: 80
Man
Location: Eastern Iowa

Thanks: 7 times
Was thanked: 12 time(s) in 12 post(s)
Great reports congrats to you two. Donjuan I don't know if you've fished Bear Creek by Arlington, in Iowa. I've encountered the same thing in the lower stretches, especially during the late summer.

Edited by user Monday, August 11, 2014 8:41:26 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

donjuan  
#10 Posted : Tuesday, August 12, 2014 6:50:05 AM(UTC)
donjuan
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 5/23/2011(UTC)
Posts: 418
Location: WI, IA

kschaefer3 wrote:
Awesome! Looks like a very nice trip. Too bad you had to be there for a wedding ThumbDown .


Weddings...the great summertime fun equalizer.


turbomike15 wrote:
Nice post! Some good looking fish. All on spinner gear?


Yep, all on spinners or raps. And I think one on a rebel crayfish.

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