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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.