Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, November 8, 2017 1:02:17 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 2,758
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

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Now that the site is back up and running I can post this trip report from back in September.


Every year I schedule a little vacation in September to fish some of my favorite SW Wisconsin Driftless streams. This year's trip took place just before a business trip to the east coast that was supposed to last a week. Turns out, it stretched out to seven weeks! I managed to squeeze in one day of fishing over a weekend just before the end of the season, but I ended up missing all that great fall fishing weather through September and into early October. Oh well, there's always next year.

The stream conditions through the late summer and early fall were simply terrific. Great water levels, cold water temps and very little in-stream weed growth. Even the tall stream bank weeds have been mostly knocked down by August floods making it easier to work the banks. Mat Wagner at the Driftless Angler fly shop described it as some of the best late summer fishing conditions in more than a decade.

The plan was to fish Hoppers as much as conditions would allow. The first day and first stream didn't disappoint as the Trout were happily eating my simple Hopper pattern even at 9:00AM! Lots of these frisky cookie cutter 10-12" Browns went in the net.

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Love the golden fall colors on these Brown Trout.
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Some friendly horses came to visit. Horses have always been a good luck charm for me when fishing. Whenever they're around, for some reason the fishing is always good.
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Lots of evidence everywhere of the August floods. Amazing how much rock and sand can get swept out of a stream by the power of water. Some of the rock and debris piles were 3-4 feet high along this stream. On the positive side, the stream now has more deep runs and at lot of the pesky silt has been washed out.
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The hits just kept coming.
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Yup. I think I'm in the right place. They even put me up in the "Eddie Rivard Suite." A full sized portrait of the master hung over my bed and dreams of Brook Trout filled my sleep.
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The Uber service in this town is a little suspect...
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Day two took me to a great little Brookie stream that is fun to fish, but can be tricky in the bright sun with ultra clear water. I caught a bunch of 8-10 inchers, but also managed these two bigger fish. The one in the top photo had a purplish black mouth. A real primal looking fish.
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Lots of vertical drop in this valley makes for plenty of moving water. Each little pool held a nice alpha Trout waiting for my hopper.
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This Purple hopper was working great, until I lost it in a tree. Love that foam color. I need to tie up a bunch more.
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Day three started off cool and foggy, but in no time the temperature shot up into the upper 80's making it pretty uncomfortable. But the water was cool and the Trout were still biting. For some reason a thunderstorm had popped up overnight, even though there was no rain mentioned in the forecast. Many of the larger streams were running a light stain which helped make it easier to fish.
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Pro tip: a spring feeding water into a stream almost always has a Trout or two nosing up into the constant cool water. Two casts here, and two Trout caught - even though the water there was less than a foot deep. Not big fish, but decent for this stream.
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This creek has long stretches of shallow water. You need to fish the really small pieces of holding water: a basketball size rock, a minor cut along a bank, or small hole carved out in the stream bed by a submerged tree branch. A small bead head fly bounced through the riffles is a deadly tactic. The Trout are in there if you're willing to work for them. They move into these riffle sections in the morning hours to feed on emerging larvae coming up from under the rocks. Learn how to fish these riffle sections and you will catch more fish.
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The flood washed away the stream bank here and exposed an old lunker structure.
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But this fine Brook Trout still lived in there and came out to hammer my hopper as it floated by.
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Gratuitous photo of a spider web full of dew:
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The final stream of the trip is a notoriously narrow little Brookie stream that is even harder to fish now with the grass overhanging the banks. So how good are your casting skills? Really tough to hit those tiny slivers of water.
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Short leaders with stout tippet (3X or even 2X) and a quick downward cast to slap the fly onto the water is the trick here. It's tough treading through the thick weeds, and lots of time wasted retrieving snagged flies, but the rewards were more that worth the effort.
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Nearly every Trout made a bee line for the weeds when hooked. At times I had to reach under the bank to pull them out from underneath.

Opps!
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Yes sir, it's a jungle in there.
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This little guy had ambition. Amazing he could even get the hopper in his mouth.
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I stopped in the fly shop in Viroqua to talk with Mat and Geri. They had one pair of Simms Freestone wading boots left in stock, conveniently in my size. They were on sale so I bought myself a birthday present. My old Freestones are starting to show some wear and tear, but will now serve as decent backups.
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Although the weather was warmer than normal for mid September, the fishing was fantastic and it was fun to string together success on one stream after another. Can't wait for the 2018 season to start and revisit some of these streams without six foot high weeds along the banks!

-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  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, November 8, 2017 1:43:24 AM(UTC)
Gurth
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Great report and I'm gonna tail you next season to find out where all of those brookies dwell although at least one of those photos looked like a familiar spot.
Your mother had a tongue like a trout!
Mark Dahlquist  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, November 8, 2017 4:04:43 AM(UTC)
Mark Dahlquist
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Nice one Bill. Don't ya love how big their mouth can open? The big ones have multiple layers of teeth too.
-Mark
Board Owner
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EddieRivard  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, November 8, 2017 4:51:53 AM(UTC)
EddieRivard
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Great report William. I am also a fan of the Simms Freestones because they are the widest wading boots I have found for my ultra wide feet.
-Eddie
William Schlafer  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, November 8, 2017 2:16:36 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 2,758
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

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Originally Posted by: EddieRivard Go to Quoted Post
Great report William. I am also a fan of the Simms Freestones because they are the widest wading boots I have found for my ultra wide feet.
-Eddie


Same for me - my second pair. I may do a write up later on how the old pair held up over four seasons of fairly heavy use.

Only knock I can give them is they're as stiff as old-school plastic ski boots at first. Takes a few outings to loosen them up. I couldn't say no to the deal I got at the Driftless Fly Angler shop. I think Simms may be closing out this style of boot, or redesigning them for 2018, as I've also seen the 2017 stock on sale at other outlets recently.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
William Schlafer  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, November 8, 2017 2:23:32 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 2,758
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

Thanks: 1 times
Was thanked: 5 time(s) in 4 post(s)
Originally Posted by: Mark Dahlquist Go to Quoted Post
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Nice one Bill. Don't ya love how big their mouth can open? The big ones have multiple layers of teeth too.



Thanks!

This particular stream is known for these deeply colored nasty looking predators. That black/purplish mouth is a bit alarming the first time you see it. Very reminiscent of Arctic Char, which Driftless Brook Trout are supposedly descendant from. It was fun catching them on hoppers on this stream, which can be very difficult to fish at times due to the clear shallow water. I've been shut out there on more than one occasion, so a bit of revenge this day felt good.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
Mark Dahlquist  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, November 8, 2017 7:21:14 PM(UTC)
Mark Dahlquist
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Yeah Bill I always tell people brook trout are not trout they are char.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brook_trout

That's why they are so tasty. I notice their black blue mouth has more rows of teeth. Straight out of a horror movie.
-Mark
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