Driftless Trout Anglers

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Gurth  
#901 Posted : Wednesday, August 28, 2019 3:52:10 PM(UTC)
Gurth
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I have the afternoon and evening after work to fish today but still no idea where I’m going or what I’m fishing for.

Brought my waders and trout stuff and the yak and lake stuff.

Went for a run last night along one of my favorite spring time big fish streams and it looked perfect with decent flow and adequate stain. That’s fools gold though as it’s nearly impossible to wade and the banks are lined with 8 foot grass and I don’t even know if the fish are there at this time of year.

Oh these decisions...

I don’t know sbout everyone else but I often have a hard time figuring out where I want to go and even decide sometimes en route.


EDIT: The blast of wind that hit me as I turned the corner outside my building made at least one decision for me. Trout fishing it is! Likely in a valley.


.

Edited by user Wednesday, August 28, 2019 4:39:40 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
Pete  
#902 Posted : Wednesday, August 28, 2019 5:05:26 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Gurth Go to Quoted Post
Oh these decisions...

I don’t know sbout everyone else but I often have a hard time figuring out where I want to go and even decide sometimes en route.


.




Such first-world problems we have; I don't know how we manage.

I'm in the same boat: sticking close to home tonight, but have to choose between several bodies of water. I've been broken off on three consecutive trips on one small body of water not much more than walking distance from home. Do I go there around sunset with heavier tackle? Or do I go to a bigger pond/lake not much farther away where I saw a couple of big fish swirl close to shore last weekend? There are some big bullfrogs in this one; anything able to eat one of those would be a memorable fish.

I'm glad there is a long weekend approaching so that I can try a lot of different places in the next few days.
Gurth  
#903 Posted : Wednesday, August 28, 2019 5:46:39 PM(UTC)
Gurth
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Originally Posted by: Pete Go to Quoted Post

I'm glad there is a long weekend approaching so that I can try a lot of different places in the next few days.



This.


I can go anywhere tonight and take "risks" with my destination coz I can do something "safer" in the days ahead if I feel the need.

Probably should get out in the yak over the weekend but trout fishing at this time of year is nearly irresistible.

Still have no clue about tonight but did forget my socks at home, so will have to go in that general direction which is fine as it's the west side of Madison lol.

It's not like I was considering the Central Sands tonight although that direction would have been in play for the yak. Too windy thankfully so I don't have to choose.
“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
Gurth  
#904 Posted : Thursday, August 29, 2019 12:20:17 PM(UTC)
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Chose a couple of semi-marginal streams between here and there.

The first was a new section (for me) of a medium to small stream that runs through pasture. Like many of the small streams in this part of the Driftless (20 mile radius of Dodgeville), the flow is somewhat low and the bedrock is close to the surface. This results in skinny water and from my experience, smaller trout.

Caught around a dozen browns from 9-11 inches and called in an outing. Glad I checked out the section as it's a new easement this season. Nice little water, but not much to make me want to revisit.

Headed to the larger stream that the first empties into – a class 2-3 large stream that would be stellar if not for the impoundment lake that is on top of the upper valley of the system.

Used to fish it a ton as a noob and used to think it was awesome and usually did well there for that stage of my Driftless trouting.

Only had maybe 45 minutes of daylight left and got another 5 average browns and a couple of chunky little brookies.


UserPostedImage


Was nice to be back there as memories returned and I had forgotten how much I like that stream. Might hit it again yet this season when I have a bigger window of time.

Didn't cross my mind till I was driving home that I could have gotten a trifecta. The one time I fished this stream last year, I caught around a dozen bows and only a couple browns. Not sure where the bows were this time.

Best part of the night was when I got back to the van…


UserPostedImage


And could hear coyotes howling a valley away.

I very rarely close down a stream and usually trout fish in the morning or during the day.

I just stood there and listened for a while.
“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
thanks 1 user thanked Gurth for this useful post.
Donny Kerabatsos on 9/3/2019(UTC)
Pete  
#905 Posted : Thursday, August 29, 2019 6:31:35 PM(UTC)
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I got out last night after sunset to see if I could find out what's been breaking me off recently. I took the 8 weight, with some carefully tied knots and went with a big leech pattern, hoping it would produce a good silhouette. I wound up catching: a couple of small bluegills. A few days before that , I'd gone to a different pond where I'd caught a couple of the biggest bluegills of the year on the previous trip. This time I was targeting them with a small popper. And I got no bluegills but a lot of small bass. I'm not about to complain about small bass-they're a blast on a five weight on poppers and they jumped like crazy-but it sure wasn't what I was expecting, especially not in the bright sun.

Can't go tonight because of child care responsibilities, but will hit some Fox River tribs tomorrow afternoon. Since I'm hoping for smallmouths, I guess I should prepare for some channel cats or a muskie that's swum up from the main river.
Gurth  
#906 Posted : Monday, September 2, 2019 3:28:00 PM(UTC)
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Stream conditions yesterday were…

Cock-blocked:


UserPostedImage

UserPostedImage


Can’t tell you how many times I came upon a great little undercut or little drop and had one freaking plant reaching out to block my cast.

40 yards of skinny featureless water? Nothing.

Nice spot? One plant.

Eventually, I was like... "Are you F-ING kidding me!?!?" Angry Laugh

Nature has a sense of humor without a doubt.

If I thought I was going back there this year, I might have done some pruning.
“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
William Schlafer  
#907 Posted : Monday, September 2, 2019 4:45:49 PM(UTC)
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That's the conundrum this time of year. The Trout are buried under that stuff, just waiting for a grasshopper, ant, dragonfly or mouse to drop into the water. If you do manage to drop a cast into an opening, anything hooked will make a beeline back to the cover, and extraction will be difficult.

I've had some success with the long fly rod just dangling my fly over and down through any opening I can reach. When you hear splashing, pull straight up and flip em out and over the top. Not very elegant, or effective against bigger Trout, but you do what you have to in those conditions.

A nice big gully washer up over the banks to flatten out those weeds would be just the ticket right now. Or, it's back to kicking cow shit in the pastures.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
Gurth  
#908 Posted : Monday, September 2, 2019 6:12:26 PM(UTC)
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It was still doable and not at all what I'd call canopied.

I just find it funny where the random single stalk seems to always be - have seen it many times on many different streams... even in pastures. Laugh
“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
Smis  
#909 Posted : Monday, September 9, 2019 6:13:11 PM(UTC)
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My boss gave me an unexpected paid day off yesterday so what else would I do besides go fishing? The forecast called for cooler weather and 100% overcast all day, with maybe some spotty showers. Sounds like perfect streamer fishing weather... I'm told. Admittedly, I'm not very confident in my abilities with streamers. This is mostly due to the fact that I just don't use them very much since I'm usually fishing through the middle of the day. The only reproducible way I've been able to catch trout with a streamer is by quartering down stream through a run, throwing a big upstream mend and letting my fly sink a little before letting my line come tight and swinging it directly below me (that's the lousy steelhead fisherman in me). Any other fish I've caught on streamers has been random or unintentional. After doing some research and seeing what a lot of you all are doing I think my problem has been that I've been targeting fish in active feeding lies, instead of going after more reactionary or ambush type strikes.

So I set out to fish a familiar stretch of river. It's a larger stream that's completely overgrown and wild (for Wisconsin anyway). The plan was to target all the logjams, grassy undercuts, and whatever other likely ambush areas I could find. However, when I got to the river it was unrecognizable. Large machinery had completely overturned the earth. No doubt they were doing some stream improvement (many of the banks are eroding away here), but I still don't know how I feel about it. The appeal of this area is that even though it’s no secret to fishermen, it still feels remote. It is one of those rivers that you can really walk down into and it feels wild and untouched. No roads, no powerlines, farms, or any signs of humans. So even though it sees its fair share of pressure I don’t think most anglers are willing to bushwhack over a mile downstream to the lower end of its public ranges (at least that’s what I tell myself). On the other hand I’m sure stabilizing the banks here will pay dividends for the overall health of the river, especially downstream. There have also been stream improvement projects done here in the past that are now mostly unnoticeable to the average person. I’m not sure the extent of the stream improvements being done here, but I suspect next season you’ll see riprap runs and manicured banks though its upper stretches. Short term I don’t think I’ll like these changes. I have a lot of nostalgia here and I fear it will feel like I’m fishing a completely different river. I don’t want this place to become an over accessible man made trout playground. I trust that it won’t, but these are just the kneejerk concerns that popped into my head. In the long run, I’m hopeful these changes will be beneficial. I know change is inevitable and constant on rivers, it just feels different when the changes are man made.

Anyway, back to the report. Needless to say I forgoed fishing a construction site and went to another access point further downstream. The water was carrying a moderate to heavy stain that I’m guessing was due in part to the work being done upstream. This stretch is mostly pastured and also contains recent bank stabilization work (yes, I am a hypocrite). A low growing ground cover has been established along the banks except for the edge immediately adjacent to the stream which still has taller grasses and plants. This provided some nice cover for fish. I focused on casting my files to slower holding lies off the main current along the undercuts and other structures like logs and used mostly a downstream and across retrieve with my streamers. At first, I missed lots of strikes or I would hook the fish only to get my fly line line wrapped around my rod or reel and lose the fish. Nevertheless it was exciting to see the water boil or see the flash of a fish as it rolled on my streamer. It didn’t take long for me to pull it all together and I was rewarded with a respectable, hard fighting brown, that was showing its fall colors.
UserPostedImageIMG_4604 by Stephen MIS, on Flickr

UserPostedImageIMG_4611 by Stephen MIS, on Flickr
[I couldn't take a step without one of these guys jumping into the river. Probably a little tougher meal for a trout than a hopper or a beetle]

While the fishing wasn’t the most productive it was still very engaging as I was getting positive feedback from the fish and it felt like it was making valuable insights to how I approach streamer fishing. Further upstream, the river is purely cow pasture, and the rest of the day was much more of a grind. It is also very deep and slow at times and probably more suited for fishing with a rapala. Picking out structure was tougher here and the fishing slowed. The larger streamers (3-4”) I was using definitely contributed to this, but I don’t think a +15” brown would have any trouble taking one down.

UserPostedImageIMG_4615 2 by Stephen MIS, on Flickr

Despite the lack of plant coverage along the banks there is plenty of coverage in the form of root wads that jut out almost perpendicular to the river current. I tried casting all the way to the far bank and stripping my fly parallel to these logs. Once my fly cleared the logs I would often throw a big downstream mend in an attempt to imitate a fleeing baitfish. In theory this sounded like a good idea, but my execution of it was off or I was doing something else wrong. At the end of the day I only caught 6 browns with no real pattern of success (except for what I experienced at the beginning of the day. No big ones, but no dinks either. That comes with the territory of streamer fishing I suppose, but any advice you have on streamer fishing techniques or places to look for trout would be greatly appreciated.

UserPostedImageIMG_4625 by Stephen MIS, on Flickr
[I love the big bold spots on this beautiful brown]

- Steve

Edited by user Monday, September 9, 2019 6:15:16 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

thanks 1 user thanked Smis for this useful post.
William Schlafer on 9/9/2019(UTC)
Gurth  
#910 Posted : Monday, September 9, 2019 6:36:08 PM(UTC)
Gurth
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That last one is gorgeous.

I don’t find many big fish In that one any more for whatever reason and a 15-16 is a nice one there at least for me of late.

You are far more charitable in your reaction to what they are doing than I am.

I’m pissed. They’ve completely destroyed the character of those stretches and made them sterile.

Changed what made that place unique and made it boring and ugly.

There was never a shortage of fish in that place and the last two seasons has seen my catch rates there plummet.

Far more distressing to me than the catch rate though is the sterilization of what was once a wild place.

Golf course stream? Hell, you could take a cart on it now.


.

Edited by user Monday, September 9, 2019 6:40:13 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
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