Driftless Trout Anglers

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William Schlafer  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, July 3, 2019 9:06:27 PM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,460
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

Thanks: 155 times
Was thanked: 173 time(s) in 134 post(s)
I just couldn't stand another day sitting at home watching the radar hoping for better fishing weather. Maybe, just maybe there are a few streams in fishable condition with this brief pause in the thunderstorm train that has been hamming southern Wisconsin for the last couple weeks. I knew it was going to be stupid humid today, but cloudy skies were forecast throughout the morning with reasonable temperatures. And most importantly, no rain expected.

Found the first stream I visited high and very muddy. Stream two looked a little better, but after 30 minutes it was clear the Trout weren't biting in the dirty water, so I pushed on. Stream three held promise, but was blocked at the bridge by a head of Black Angus cattle with numerous calves. They began beallering and pitching a fit the moment I got out of the car. There was not getting around or through that herd safely, and they were doing a bang up job of mucking up the already muddy stream.

So, what's a guy to do?

Well, there's one stream nearby I know of that clears quickly due to the short length and steep grade. When all else fails my "hail mary" stream has often bailed me out in the past. But... there was just one big problem. This was the same stream I fished just a week ago with four to six foot high weeds, nettles and brush blocking access to its banks. I was able to catch a few Trout, but had to give up after a short visit. Without anywhere else to go, I thought I might as well go back and take a look.

The water wasn't exactly clear, but it looked better than anything I'd seen all day. Maybe 10 inches of visibility. This stream runs through a county forest and has horse trails running through its length. The trails are mowed and in several places they come close enough to the stream that you could push through the tall stuff to get to the water. It would be completely inaccessible in the summertime without these mowed paths.
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Most of the creek is completely canopied with weeds, but I know there are a half dozen or so open spots that could be fished, if I can bulldoze my way in. In places only 10 yards separated the mowed trail from the stream. In others, more like 100 yards. Most of these open water spots may be only 5 to 10 yards in length.

Well, it's either man up or go home, so I picked a line towards a likely spot and swam though the weeds. It helps that I know this stream quite well and from memory I thought I might be able to find a few places not choked with weeds. Without a clear view forward, It would be very easy to step right off the bank and tumble head first into the creek with basketball size rocks lining the stream bed. Yeah. Let's not do that.

No, really. The stream is right there. Somewhere...
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Watch that first step! It's 20 feet down to the creek walking over boulders, though four foot high weeds obscuring each step. Yeah, this is fun.
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A typical little open run. Getting down to the creek was one issue. Figuring out how to make a cast through and around this stuff was another. Not much freedom of movement and the line or the rod would get fouled in the grass on most casts.
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After several false starts I found a narrow ribbon of open water and was able to thread a cast through the overhanging grass. Immediately I felt a hard tug on my line. It took some gymnastics to reach through the weeds with the net while wrestling with the fly rod, but I was finally able to get the net under this fine Brookie.
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A couple more spots yielded a few dinky Brookies. It was very difficult getting my Pink Squirrel through the grass and down to the water. Pretty tough to squeeze casts through this stuff.
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Something top water might be a little easier. How about a hopper? I saw plenty of small brown grasshoppers in the tall grass, so maybe it was worth a try. Several casts later, I had my first Trout of the season caught on a hopper pattern.
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What an awesome and pretty little Brookie. He simply exploded up underneath the hopper coming completely out of the water. He went into paint shaker mode as soon as he felt the hook and made several more flipping jumps before landing in the net. Really bright fall-like colors on this one. To quote Eddie Rivard: "I was so happy!"

I caught a few more smaller Brookies with the hopper before I decided I'd had enough of the weeds. But, I was determined and I fought the good fight to beat the crappy water, the humidity, the cows and the damned weeds. With a couple quality fish caught, I guess I would call this one a successful day.

Sometimes you just got to fight for what you believe in!


By gum!


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
thanks 1 user thanked William Schlafer for this useful post.
Gurth on 7/4/2019(UTC)
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Pete  
#2 Posted : Thursday, July 4, 2019 12:13:59 AM(UTC)
Pete
Rank: Dragon Fly

Joined: 6/30/2011(UTC)
Posts: 589
Location: Far west suburbs of Chicago

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What a jungle. I’d need a bottle of water or two after busting through that high grass in waders and a long sleeved shirt,

That’s a beautiful Brookies; you paid the price to get him. Good news about the hoppers too.
Smis  
#3 Posted : Thursday, July 4, 2019 12:49:33 AM(UTC)
Smis
Rank: Midge

Joined: 5/28/2018(UTC)
Posts: 28
United States
Location: Chicago

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Way to make it happen. That’s about as down and dirty as it gets. Looks like a cool little stream.

The grass was tough to work with. Only way I could really get my flies where I wanted was to cast off the bank and just hope there was a favorable current that would push them back close to the bank and under the grass. That or just hope I could wiggle my hopper dropper rig off the grass. For that reason eight and ten pound test was the real hero of the day for me.

I only got one fish to take the hopper I was using and I didn’t seem much on the banks yet either. I did see a lot of damsel flies though (I think that’s what they were). I caught a damsel fly hatch in Michigan once and it was cool to see trout slapping the surface as they crawled out of the river and onto the bank.

- Steve
William Schlafer  
#4 Posted : Thursday, July 4, 2019 1:34:20 AM(UTC)
William Schlafer
Rank: Super Fly

Joined: 7/24/2011(UTC)
Posts: 3,460
Location: Sussex Wisconsin

Thanks: 155 times
Was thanked: 173 time(s) in 134 post(s)
Damn.

Just checked the radar and the area I was fishing is getting absolutely pounded this evening. NWS is saying 3-4 inches of rain per hour in Richland and Sauk counties with flash flooding in Reedsburg. Sunny skies when I left around noon.

Guess I made the right choice to fish today.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
weiliwen  
#5 Posted : Thursday, July 4, 2019 2:05:22 PM(UTC)
weiliwen
Rank: May Fly

Joined: 4/16/2014(UTC)
Posts: 467
Man
United States
Location: Madison, Wisconsin during the week and Lincolnshire, Illinois on weekends.

Thanks: 113 times
Was thanked: 43 time(s) in 37 post(s)
Nice brookies! I've still yet to catch one over about 10" but I don't fish all that often.
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
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