Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Off Season

The WI trout season closed on October 15. I unfortunately had to travel for work for the first 10 days of October, but I did get a couple trips in before the end of the season.

The season opens back up January 2, so fortunately I don't have to wait too long. In the meantime I can still fish lakes and ponds.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Beautiful Weekend in Wisconsin

driftless wisconsin rock outcropping trout fly fishing

The weather this weekend was gorgeous here - sunny with a high in the low 70s both days. I took advantage and did some fishing out in the Driftless. The fishing seems to have slowed down bit. It's been colder at night, so it might have been wiser to fish in the afternoons rather than the morning.

driftless wisconsin brown trout fly fishing

driftless wisconsin brown trout fly fishing

I found a couple of fish though, so I was happy with the fishing, and I found a lot of cool scenery, including some rock outcroppings that wouldn't look out of place in the Whites.

Wisconsin driftless wild brook trout fishing

The leaves are just starting to change. I'm excited to see what this area looks like in a few weeks when the colors are at their peak

Thursday, September 15, 2016


I just realized how badly I've neglected this blog - no posts in the month of August. The last two months have flown by. It's hard to believe it's already mid-September. I've appreciated the shift to cooler weather. I'm not sure how thrilled I'll be come winter, but there's good winter fishing out here at least. I haven't had as much time to fish as I would have liked, but I guess that's just something I'll have to get used to.

I have gotten some fishing in though.

On Monday I drove about half an hour to a trout stream after work. I only caught one fish, but it was a big one. This stream has wild browns, and I couldn't find any evidence of rainbow stocking nearby. It looks like a stocker, so I guess it must have come a long way away. It absolutely smashed my chernobyl ant - luckily I was using 3X so I didn't have to worry about breaking off.

Madison WI Area Fly fishing for rainbow trout

I also made a few trips to some Driftless streams farther west. It seems that the stream gradients are higher there, which mean rockier bottoms and slightly easier conditions that some of the glassy low-gradient streams near Madison.

Driftless trout stream fly fishing

Driftless brook trout fly fishing

Driftless brook trout fly fishing

Driftless brook trout fly fishing

Driftless area scenery Wisconsin

Monday, July 25, 2016

Big Fish, Tiny Stream

Driftless scenery wisconsin corn and soy in valley
Deep valleys dissecting a flat plateau
I made two trips west to fish this weekend. On Saturday I was kept off the water by thunderstorms, but on Sunday the weather stayed relatively clear. Thanks to the recent rains, the first stream I tried was very stained. I decided to drive upstream to the headwaters in search of clearer waters.

Tiny Driftless Wisconsin brook and brown trout stream
The stream was tiny in most places...

Near the top of the valley I crossed a small tributary. It wasn't on my map of classified trout streams, but it was somewhat clear and the pool near the bridge looked deep. I fished the bridge pool first, but caught nothing but a few small chubs.

Bridge pool wild brook and brown trout driftless wisconsin iowa county
...except for under the bridge
I moved downstream and realized the stream was tiny - below the bridge pool it was just 1-2 feet wide in most places. I didn't catch any fish in the few small pools I found here, so I decided to try the big pool one more time before leaving.

This time I tried to cast a bit farther under the bridge. I let my small wooly bugger sink for a few seconds then began slowly pulling it in. I felt a tug much stronger than one from a chub, and soon pulled in an extremely light-colored brook trout.

Small stream driftless Wisconsin brook trout iowa county
Almost colorless
Emboldened by my success, I decided to try again. A few casts later, I felt an even strong tug. A nice wild brown put up a great fight, at one point jumping a couple feet out of the water.

I kept going, and soon found the best fish of all. Unlike the previous brown, this one never came near the surface. It stayed deep and pulled hard, putting up a strong fight against my 2 weight. Luckily he had nowhere to go in the small pool, so I was able to net him. I don't know exactly how big he was, but I would estimate somewhere in the 14-16" range and very fat with a bit of a kype. Easy my personal best wild brown.

Small stream driftless Wisconsin brown trout iowa county

Though a great fish anywhere, it was even better catching it out of such a tiny stream.

Driftless scenery wisconsin rock outcrop

Friday, July 22, 2016

Freestone Brook Trout

I had a great outing to a small brook trout stream this past weekend, but I’ve been busy and haven’t had time to post about it until now.

I’ve spent most of my fishing time over the past few weeks exploring some of the nearby spring creeks. While these creeks can offer some great fishing, they’re pretty tough to fish this time of year. Streamside navigation is difficult, with my East Coast nemesis, poison ivy, being replaced by stinging nettles, wild parsnips, and 6’+ tall prairie grasses. The silty bottoms found in these streams make wading an even more unpleasant proposition.

With those difficulties in mind, I decided to set out for the stream I fished my first weekend here. There, at least, I knew I could probably land a few fish without waging constant battle against the local environment.This stream, unlike most nearby, is essentially a freestone, flowing down from the Baraboo Hills, the remnants of an ancient mountains range.

I decided to try a foam hopper, one of my go-to flies for freestone brookies, especially later in the summer. I wasn’t disappointed, and I soon began picking up fish in nearly every pool. This stream is quite small volume-wise, but it forms plenty of deep pools as it moves over the boulders in its path.

In one place I found a large pool alongside a giant boulder. The water moved slowly along the edge of the boulder, where it must have been at least 3 feet deep. I bounced my fly off the edge of the rock and watched as a dark shape emerged from the depths and grabbed it. I ended up landing 4 or 5 brookies out of this pool before the fish finally decided to stop biting.

After catching a good amount of fish I contemplated leaving, but I decided to try one last spot. It didn’t look like anything special, just a small plunge feeding a small pool about 5 feet wide. But when I cast my fly into the current tongue I was met with a surprise - a heavy and hard-fighting brookie.

I was amazed to find such a fish in this stream - ~10” and very fat - the only brookies I’ve caught that rival this one are salters.

It was a great day, and more than made up for my struggles on the spring creeks. We got 3-4” of rain over a period of about 2 hours last night here in Madison, so I think the local streams will be blown out this weekend, but I’m going to head west into the heart of the Driftless in search of clearer waters. If only we could send some of this water back to MA - I know you guys need it out there.