Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Saturday, January 21, 2017 7:42:19 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,185
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

Thanks: 64 times
Was thanked: 99 time(s) in 85 post(s)
I got out Friday and Saturday for my first Trout fishing outing of 2017. I was at TrapFest on opening weekend, but it was too darn cold to fish then.

Friday I arrived in Iowa county and found my first stream high and muddy. The water was 38 degrees and there were big pools of snow melt water in the farm fields draining into the creek. I drove around Sauk and Richland counties looking for fishable water, but every stream I looked at up to the tops of their banks. It just wasn't happening this day.
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A disappointing start. I reconsidered my options Friday night during my overnight stay in Richland Center. The weather on Saturday was supposed to be in the 40s by mid-day, so the snow melt problem was only going to get worse. I decided I would head west up to Vernon county were there were more spring fed creeks. I would get an early start with the thought that maybe the snow melt would slow down overnight and may be less of a factor during the coolest part of the day.

Saturday morning I was greeted by dense fog, on and off light rain, and 34 chilly degrees.
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I drove up the foggy Kickapoo River corridor at Readstown and started checking out the Trout stream tribs. As expected, the streams further down the valley were still pretty high and muddy. But as I got further north, I started seeing better conditions. I finally found a stream that was relatively clear, but at least a foot higher than normal.
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It's a jungle in there! But I bet a big Brown Trout lurks under those logs.
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I've got a new rig for 2017: an Echo Carbon XL rod mated to a Ross Rapid fly reel, SA fly line and a Cutthroat Furled leader with a florescent orange strike indicator section. It casts similar to the old Carbon rod, but I'm still getting used to the furled leader. I was getting lots of wind knots on the leader, which is annoying.
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While gearing up, a frisky dog suddenly appeared and of course he followed me to the stream. When he wasn't underfoot, he was running up the stream bank and jumping in the creek 20-30 feet ahead of where I wanted to fish. The damned dog would be with my for the next 2 1/2 hours. No amount of shouting, snowballs or curses would deter him. He would try to snatch my fly lines during by back casts, and would occasionally jump into the stream after my fly. Sigh.
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Between dog assaults, I did manage to catch some Trout. Typical cookie cutter Browns. Four in the 12 inch range and the rest 8-10 inch dinks. The water temp was 42 degrees.
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After awhile I discovered the Trout were not lying deep in the pools, but had moved up into the runs along seams with faster water. Because the water was higher than normal and a little turbid, there were Trout found in places where you would normally see them. The Pink Squirrel was working great, so I stuck with it all day. There was a hatch of small flies, probably midges. I thought about trying a Griffiths Gnat pattern, but I didn't see any risers. The takes were extremely light, but I had very few misses. When they took it, they ate it well enough to get a good hookset.
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This stream is slowly being taken over by Willows. Last year by mid summer you couldn't get through the mass of Willow shrubs on this section to fish the stream. This year will be worse.
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And of course, along with the Willows come the Beavers. There used to be a nice run above where this dam is. It's covered with silt now. Hopefully we'll get a couple of nice cleansing spring floods to wash the dams and the Beavers away, albeit temporarily. I hate Beavers.
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Around midday it had warmed up enough that I didn't need gloves or my jacket. But in short order the snow melt cranked up again, the stream temp dropped down below 40 degrees and the fishing shut down. Time to call it a day.
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Despite the annoying dog, it was a good day of fishing. About 20 in the net, all Browns. Which is odd for this stream, which is usually 50-50 Brookies and Browns. Maybe the Brook Trout moved down south for the winter?


-Bill

Edited by user Saturday, January 21, 2017 7:45:41 PM(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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MNFishhunter  
#2 Posted : Saturday, January 21, 2017 8:26:08 PM(UTC)
MNFishhunter
Rank: Dragon Fly

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

Damn!!! I'm kind of jealous, Bill. Looks like a great day.
wibirdhunter  
#3 Posted : Saturday, January 21, 2017 8:52:53 PM(UTC)
wibirdhunter
Rank: Midge

Joined: 4/15/2016(UTC)
Posts: 120
Man
Location: Janesville wi

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Nice work. I was wondering how flies work in the higher water conditions but you seem to be doing plenty good.
William Schlafer  
#4 Posted : Sunday, January 22, 2017 8:52:24 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,185
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

Thanks: 64 times
Was thanked: 99 time(s) in 85 post(s)
Thanks guys!

I was real close to just going home Saturday morning. Driving around was tricky with the fog and muddy back roads. I'm glad I stuck it out, but it took 90 minutes of driving and many miles to find a fishable stream. I'm guessing conditions area wide are much better today. There's no snow at all east and south of Madison. Around Vernon county there was still calf-deep snow in places, but some bare ground too. By now the snow melt should really be knocked down.

I kinda wish I would've tried some small dry flies just to see if I could induce a rise, but the good ole Pink Squirrel was moving the fish, so why change? Although I think that any small nymph pattern with a bead head would've worked just fine on this day.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
trapper  
#5 Posted : Sunday, January 22, 2017 9:34:56 AM(UTC)
trapper
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 3/24/2010(UTC)
Posts: 2,169
Location: West Fork

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Monday will be the first time I fish completely alone in five years.
Will be after Brooks and Tigers.
Get Reel
NBrevitz  
#6 Posted : Sunday, January 22, 2017 9:51:44 AM(UTC)
NBrevitz
Rank: Super Fly

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

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Excellent as usualThumpUp
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
lightningo2  
#7 Posted : Sunday, January 22, 2017 10:42:14 PM(UTC)
lightningo2
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 1/11/2012(UTC)
Posts: 263
Man
Location: Wausau

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Thanks for the report! I finally got out today and Fished Dunn/ Pierce counties. Elk creek was high and a bit muddy. Cady Creek was Crystal clear. Caught a few brookies and a couple of browns.
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