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


  1. What an awesome fishing trip! Very cool to find a neat stream like that!

  2. What a memory maker that trip was.............

    That Brown on a two weight is something to be proud of!

  3. Wow, that is big for such small water! You should start fishing some bigger streams though if that's your PB.

    1. There wasn't a stream with wild browns this big within 2 hours of me when I lived in MA, otherwise I would have. I have caught plenty of bigger stockers. This fish was bigger than it looks though - you get some forced perspective with the net rim - I wish I had gotten a better picture.

  4. I live in Boston but fish the driftless every summer. I'm always surprised by the fishing out there. It's a hidden gem!

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