Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Signs of Spring

Spring is finally here in Wisconsin. We had an unusually warm February, but March and April have been more typical. Lots of rain, but that's certainly not a bad thing as fishing goes.

Round Lobed Hepatica Anemone Acutiloba Madison WI Baraboo

I haven't been able to get out as much as I would have liked, but I have had a few good days recently.

Last weekend I decided to check out my current favorite stream in the area. Unlike the slow, winding spring creeks that are common in this area, this one is a swift, high gradient freestone where brook trout, rather than browns, dominate. It flows out of an ancient eroded mountain range, and although hills would probably be a more accurate description these days, the surrounding area is steep with dramatic rock outcroppings.

In the fall I had seen the leaves of one of my favorite flowers - Hepatica. Given that they typically bloom in early April, I was hopeful I would find some - and I did.

Round Lobed Hepatica Anemone Acutiloba Madison WI Baraboo

I couldn't go 10 feet without seeing a clump of flowers, in varying shades of pink, purple, blue and white (though they are all the same species). I also found a few other species in bloom - bloodroot and Dutchman's breeches (probably my favorite flower name), as well as the first leaves of numerous trout lilies (named for the mottled texture resembling a brook trout's back).

After taking in the flowers I decided I should probably get to fishing. Conditions were perfect for streamer fishing - the water was slightly high and off-color, but not so much that the fish stopped eating.

Southern WI Madison Wild Brook Trout

On my first cast I caught the best brook trout of the day from a fast riffle. As I moved downstream my luck didn't stop - I had hits in nearly every pool and pulled in several more trout - I lost count of the exact number.

Now is crunch time for fishing - conditions should be good throughout the state, but I don't have time to visit every place I want to. Do I keep coming back to this woodland stream to see the stunning variety of wildflowers before they disappear?  Or do I venture to the Driftless streams that will be nearly covered by prairie grasses and thus difficult to fish by July?

Driftless Brown Trout Spring Creek

In any case, having too many fishing opportunities is a good problem to have - I'm certainly not complaining.

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