Sunday, July 27, 2014

Banner Day

Today was a banner day of fly fishing at a place I like to call, "Little Labrador".  I could hardly cast without hooking a fish and sometimes I would pull my streamer out of the water prematurely if I saw a little one chasing it.  While I didn't land a true trophy I more than made up for it in sheer numbers of confidence boosting decent sized trout.

I headed east before sunrise.  After getting out of bed at 3:30am I don't know what I did for an hour and a half but I still made it out the door before 5:00am.  

 I didn't have the fly to match this hatch.  In the end it didn't even matter.  Does anybody know what kind of Mayfly this is?
This trout was tempted by a streamer I tied myself.  I was so happy until I lost said streamer.
 I think I pulled 15 Brook Trout of of this spot and then my leg started to cramp up so I started walking upstream again.
 I thought this tree was pretty cool.  The bark had moss growing on it.  Imagine that.
 I was starting to get thirsty as I had exhausted my water rations.  Then I saw this spring water gurgling out of the hillside.  My thirst was quenched and I felt like a new man.
 This ten inch Brook Trout put up quite the fight.  I named him Fighty.
 A good time had by me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A month of awesome

While most of my favorite streams have been on a high water hiatus for much of the summer it hasn't slowed me down all that much.  Between time spent on the water and work the only thing I haven't been able to make much time for is chronicling my adventures.   While I usually prefer to blog about one day or weekend at a time I am going to use this post to regurgitate as much as I can from the last month and a half.

Trout Trek I: Return to the Heart of the Driftless

For the weekend of June 7-8 Kyle invited me to travel with him back down to the heart of the Driftless Area for another weekend of fishing and friendship with our good friend Trapper.  It would be my third trip to the area this year so far and each one has produced a few decent memories.

Kyle becomes visibly excited when he sets his eyes on prime trout water.
 This 17 inch Driftless Brown was the result of a massive team effort.  Trapper instructed me where to cast the fly that Kyle tied and what do you know.  A special thanks goes out to Kyle's friend Eric who designed the fly that Kyle tied.
 It was a nice day to be out.
 Can you say Brown Trout?

 On Sunday Daniel Braun met up with us and we fished some more.  The more the merrier.

I really have to take a page from, "The Book of Trapper" one of these days and learn a thing or two about minimalism.  I swear I carry 30 pounds of junk with me every time I go fishing and Trapper makes due with this small waist pack.  
"Good Times" wasn't just an American sitcom that originally aired from February 8, 1974 until August 1, 1979, on CBS.  It was also a the theme of a story from June of 2014 when four guys decided to go fishing together in the Heart of the Driftless.

To Catch a Predator: If at first you don't succeed

This summer I have ventured out on local lakes with the Freedom Hawk in search of Northern Pike on the fly.  My efforts have resulted in failure so far but the good news is that I haven't given up.
If I have learned one thing in life it is that if you keep smiling people will never suspect that you are depressed.
I have heard that people use flies like this when fishing for Pike.
I usually say the words, "Freedom Hawk deploy" right before I pull the levers that split the back section of the Freedom Hawk in half for increased stability while standing.  I believe that it makes me feel more like a captain of some sort.

I believe that the further one ventures into places that no one else ever goes, the greater their chances are of attaining fly fishing glory.  Too bad this hypothesis doesn't always hold true.

Have you seen Travis's trolling motor?  I guess he left it here a while back.

Usually Dragon Flies climb up on some grass when it comes time to hatch.  It appeared to me that this 
one couldn't find any grass.  Talk about a sitting duck.
 I eventually gave him a hand.  Perhaps he will eat a mosquito that otherwise would have bitten me.

Trout Trek II:  The reunification of Nick and Me

It had been a while since I had made it out fishing with Nick Wilson.  I was almost starting to worry that I made him mad at me or something but it turns out that I'm just a worry wart.

Arriving at the stream before sunrise is one of our trademarks.  That is not so easy to do this time of year.

 This Brown trout would learn all about the Stimulator.
 I gave this Brook Trout a lesson on the effectiveness of the San Eddidino Worm.
 Beautiful Stream.
I call this place, "Birds Nest Bridge".  It's the best BNB in the county!
 I recently tied up some Louie Specials with tungsten eyes.  Sometimes you just want to get deep fast.  Tungsten eyes work well for that.
 After removing my Louie Special from the mouth of the Brook Trout I noticed that he also had a leech hanging out of his mouth.  This sight made me laugh like a child.  Ha ha ha ha.
 The cows thought I was pretty cool.

Trout Trek III: Alone time 

There are times when a guy just wants to go fishing by himself.  Many times I decide to go fishing at the drop of a hat and there is just no time to get others involved.

Look what I found submerged in the water of the creek.  It is time to invent the slug fly.

 I liked the tail pattern on this one.

Trout Trek IV:  Mixing Business with Pleasure

I received a message from David informing me that he needed service done on his locks.  Any time I have an opportunity to mix business with pleasure I take it.  Especially when it involves fly fishing for trout.

It was really nice to meet David and his family.  I was lucky enough to arrive at their house around dinner time and was treated to grilled pork chops and asparagus.

When I was done fixing David's locks I was presented with two options.

Option A)  Travel to a place that David knew well where the fishing would most likely be good.

Option B)  There was another spot that David had been planning on checking out that was intriguing.  It could end up being a complete boondoggle or possibly the "Little Labrador" that I have been searching for my entire life.

Of course I chose option B and in the end I was glad I did.  In a short time I ended up catching an 11 inch brook trout and a 17 inch brown trout.

This sparkly green bugger like thing has probably been my top producing fly this summer.
 Run with me, roll with me, rock with me, roll with me, skip it dee do da day.  I'm the happiest boy in the whole USA.
 The brown trout had a massive peck wound.  I decided to name him Pecker.
 If you hold a fish away from your body it will end up looking bigger than it actually is.
 I never keep a trout that I name.  I believe that naming them humanizes them.
 See you later Pecker!  Notice the massive Crane Fly in in the lower left hand corner of this shot.

Trout Trek V:  The Fourth of Fly

I received a message from Malcolm O'Donnell informing me that he was going to be in the Twin Cities area over the fourth of July weekend.  I never pass up on a chance to go fishing with a fellow Driftless Trout Angler.

Many of the larger rivers nearest to the Twin Cities were still a bit colored up over the fourth of July weekend so Malcolm and I started out at a place I like to call Clearwater Creek.  To get there takes gas but Eddie always kicks ass at Clearwater Creek.
 Malcolm was prepared for both the bugs and the sun with his beautiful multicolored neck thing.

 We had spooked a pod of Brookies in a deeper slow moving section of water but I knew that they would still be suckers for the Gartside Sparrow.

Jack Gartside invented the Gartside Sparrow and here is what he had to say about it on his website where you can find instructions on how to tie some of your own.

"I tied the first Sparrow over twenty-five years ago while camping at Baker's Hole on the Madison just outside West Yellowstone, Montana. Being a lazy fisherman, I hated changing flies any more than was absolutely necessary and wanted a fly that I could fish as a nymph or as a streamer or even as a passable hopper imitation (greased to float, sunken as a drowned grasshopper). So I was looking to come up with an impressionistic fly that would combine some of the common features of both insect and baitfish, a fly that could look (depending on how it was fished and its overall size) like lots of things in general and nothing in particular. I would let the fish make up its own mind as to what it was.
After the usual trials and errors, I eventually hit upon the combination of materials and structure that has come to be known as the Sparrow, a name given to the fly by my friend, Pete Laszlo of New Hampshire, who when he saw a pile of newly-tied flies, said that they looked like of flock of sparrows. At various times and in sundry places, the fly has also been called the "Philo Fly," the "Gartside Pheasant Nymph," and the "Swallow," a name given to it by Don Kast and which is still used along the Gallatin. "Sparrow" or "Swallow" — whatever you choose to call it, it's a fly well worth tying and trying."

Here is a photo of a Brook Trout with a Gartside Sparrow firmly embedded in it's lower jaw. 

 I do not know what this plant is but Clearwater Creek seems to have an abundance of it.  I noticed that much of it gets washed away after a rain event.

 Not every mouse that falls into the river gets immediately engulfed by a trophy trout.  This little guy seemed to be taking a nap underwater.

 We ended up fishing a section of the Willow River which was still flowing with a bit of a stain but Malcolm managed to pull a decent Brook Trout from it's depths.
 The Willow River has no shortage of Crayfish.
There is some animal who's paw print looks much like a human hand print.  I think it's a raccoon but I could be wrong.  

Trout Trek VI: Little Labrador where are you?

My quest to find my own Little Labrador in Wisconsin continued on a section of the Hay River upstream of Prairie Farm, Wisconsin.  There are special regulations in place on this section of river that only allow for one trout to be kept and that trout has to be over 15 inches.  This section of river is out of the Driftless Area and the rocks are much more slippery which makes for tough wading conditions.  I figured that exploring this river with my kayak would be much easier than it would be on foot.  I did catch one 8 inch Brook Trout, countless Creek Chubs and one Smallmouth Bass.  In the end I decided that despite it's beauty the Hay River is not Little Labrador.

Trout Trek VII:  More Solo Trouting

I found another section of creek to explore where I went from one bridge to the other while staying in the river the entire time.  It was a nice section.

Trout Trek VIII:  The beginning of mousing season

While I'm sure mousing for trout would work to some degree year round I prefer to start mousing around mid July when warm sunny days can send trophy trout into a night time feeding frenzy.  So far I have been out twice and I have caught one Brown Trout on the mouse.  The main problem I have with mousing is that I usually get tired around 10pm and want to sleep.

One night before it got dark enough to mouse I explored a feeder of one of my favorite rivers.  I will explore this feeder more during the day.
 There are many mouse patterns out there to choose from.  Ger says the Moorish Mouse pattern is the best.
 I had almost given up on catching trout at this point in the night when I caught this one almost by mistake.  Even though it wasn't very big it was so nice to catch a trout.  I think Ger out fished me 10 to 1.
 On Friday the 18th I thought I would do some mousing on the Kinni.  This place looks so much different now than it did in the wintertime.

 On my third cast with an Olive Rubber Legged Wooly Bugger I caught a Smallmouth Bass.  Eventually I would switch to the mouse and fail to catch a fish.

Trout Trek IX: The Search for Grass Creek

I have spent an inordinate amount of time searching for Mark's Grass Creek.  He taunts me with photos of trophy Brown Trout.  I believe it is my destiny to find this place.  There have been times where I thought I was close only to find out that I was wrong again.

This place was very beautiful.  I thought to myself that it must be the headwaters of Grass Creek.  I no longer think that this is Grass Creek.  Back to the drawing board.

Somewhere a midst the fields of corn lies a place where trophy trout swim.  I will find this place.

You have reached the end of this post.  Thanks for reading.

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