Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bucket List

 When Mark asked me if I wanted to canoe the Kickapoo with him on Thursday I was definitely stoked.  It was like being a kid in Minnesota during the late 80's and having Kirby Puckett call you up asking if you wanted to meet up and play some ball.

While I really wanted to go I couldn't give Mark an answer right away.  I have taken quite a bit of time off work this summer already and I had to figure out who was going to watch Foxy during my absence.

After a few busy days of work I decided that I only live once and I think Foxy kind of likes it at the dog sitter ladies house.
I arrived at Mark's house around 7am Thursday morning.  From there we headed to Drifty's Complete Canoe Rental in Cashton Wisconsin.  While I was unloading my gear from Mark's car I was disapointed to  discover that rod case that I thought had contained my 7 weight fly rod actually contained my 5 weight fly rod which meant that my 7 weight was still in my car back at Mark's house.  Over the summer I have progressed to using heavier flies which I can cast easily with my 7 weight but not so much with my 5 weight.

I had really been looking forward to meeting Drifty and felt dejected when I discovered that the guy who helped us wasn't Drifty himself.  He did tell us the story of how his cousin purchased the Canoe Rental Business from Drifty years back.  It wasn't very interesting.  Here he is helping a family get ready for their voyage.  
 About 5 minutes into our journey I was casting one of my heavily weighted streamers with my five weight and I heard a snap.  I looked back and noticed that my rod was broken.  I wasn't really too upset about it though and just figured I would spend the next four hours canoeing the mighty Kickapoo with Mark.  About 15 minutes later we stopped to fish a deep hole and Mark caught a small Brown Trout.  He even let me take a few casts with his spinning rod.  I have always wanted to know what it is like to catch a trout on a spinning rod.
 We  continued downriver taking turns paddling and casting the spinning rod for trout.
 The scenery was marvelous!
 The lush vegetation was very cool to look at.
 There was one spot where I noticed some Native American petroglyphs.  I was only able to make out a few words of it though.  One of them states, "Paul loves Kaylynn".
While I was thrilled to be spending the day with a trout fishing legend I could tell Mark was glad that he had invited me to come along.  He is a big fan of my blog.
 Check out those rocks!
 Around every corner there was another natural spectacle.
 Did I mention that I was fishing with a legend?
 Here is a photo of a Shiner that Mark caught.

  It was a fun day canoeing the Kickapoo even though I broke my rod and failed to catch a fish.  Mark ended up with one trout, a shiner and a chub.
The next morning the we met outside the hotel at 5am.  We headed to a bridge where we knew we had a good chance of hooking into a trophy trout.  The only other fly rods I had with me were two four weights.  I opted to use my 9 foot four weight over my 7 and a half footer.  I was definitely missing good ol' number 7.   When we got down to the water I attempted to cast one of my heavily weighted streamers to a spot Mark had told me to cast to underneath the bridge.  I was having trouble making the cast and Mark suggested that I try using his spinning rod.  I was a little apprehensive at first but when I felt the rod enter my grasp a sensation of power flowed through my body.  I cast out to the spot with little effort and within seconds a trout had taken the worm.  I could tell it was large and the muscles in my arms burned as I struggled to keep it at bay.  It was indeed large and I was glad I had Mark there with his net.  Once netted we brought it to a spot on shore where we could get a few photos of the magnificent beast which measured in at 26.5 inches.

After we finished up at the bridge we made our way to the town of Gays Mills where we planned on trying for some catfish.  Check out this 27 inch Channel Cat that I caught.

I was so happy.

Before long we decided it was time to fish for trout again and we made our way to one of Mark's secret spring creeks.  Sometimes when I am out fishing I see flowers and decide to take pictures of them.  I thought this flower was very pretty but I am not sure what it is called.
 The Brook Trout were all over Mark's worms like flies on shit.  Here is one of the nice Brookies that Mark brought to hand.
 Initially I was having trouble catching fish so I decided to listen to Mark's suggestions and I tied on a Pink Squirrel.  This Pink Squirrel was one I had tied myself on a size four hook with a cone head.  I immediately began catching trout at the same pace as Mark.  I was so proud of my Mega Pink Squirrel.
Here is a close up shot.

 It appeared as though trout large and small wanted a taste of the Mega Pink Squirrel.
 This spot was quite challenging to fish but after several minutes I figured out that if I cast close to the tree and let the squirrel sink to the bottom the Brookies would hit is as I lifted it off the bottom.  Figuring this out made me feel like a fly fishing champion.
That night I stayed at the Westby Rod and Gun Club where the bi-annual gathering known as Trapfest was taking place.  It was fun seeing friends both old and new.  I made plans to fish with Aaron Avestruz the next morning at 5am.  Here is a shot I took of Aaron.  I have named this photograph Aaron in the Mist. 

 While the trout didn't seem to be biting in the early morning mist of Coon Valley I did have some fun taking photographs of the grasshoppers.  They seemed to prefer a certain type of weed for their nighttime roosts.  I'm sure they starting hopping all over the place once the sun came out.

 After failing to catch a trout at Coon Creek we made our way to one of my secret rivers known as West Fork of the Kickapoo.   Within a minute of our arrival Aaron caught a Creek Chub.  After taking a good look at the chub I was really excited to match the hatch so I tied on a Fish Skull Craft Fur Deceiver minnow that I had purchased at Lund's Fly Shop the week before.  It wasn't long before my plan proved successful when I landed this nice Brook Trout.
 Followed by a Brown.
 Followed by another Brown.
 Followed by another Brookie.  I was stoked because catching a trout with a Fish Skull Streamer is something that I have wanted to accomplish since they first hit the market a few years back.
 I caught this beetle in the West Fork.  Since that time I have come to realize that aquatic Beetles are a major source of food for trout during the later months of summer.  I have been in the early stages of research and development for a new beetle pattern that I am inventing.  I haven't quite settled on the name yet but it will probably have something to do with the words Eddie and Beetle.
After complaining to Aaron that I hardly have any photos of myself trout fishing that are not selfies he agreed to take a few photos of me.  Ain't I cute.

 After having lunch at Culver's in Viroqua we traveled to another area creek.  We didn't catch anything but I took this photo of Aaron casting.  I have named the photo Aaron Casting.
 That evening we made our way back to the campground where Trapfest was in full swing.  One of the things I have always wanted to do in my life was to meet a famous person.  Well it was a good thing that Dan Small from Dan Small Outdoors was there because I can finally say that I have met someone famous.  Other than myself that is.  Here is a photo I took of the group.

It's always great when you can check things off your Bucket List.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Eddie's Clearwater Revival

While I had a originally planned on heading to the U.P. for Labor Day weekend my plans changed when Foxy had an irritated front paw and I didn't feel like bringing her with or dropping her off at the pet sitters in a dilapidated condition.   I did know however that she would be fine if I left to go fishing for a few hours at a time.
If you were to ask me, "Have you ever seen the rain" my reply would probably be something like, "Yes it's been coming down in sheets for much of the summer".  Heavy rains Friday night sent the Kinnickinnic and many other western Wisconsin Trout Rivers into an unfishable state Saturday but after spending my morning working I knew of at least one place where I could find clear water.

While perusing Facebook earlier in the day I noticed that Lund's Fly Shop in River Falls was having a sale.  I had been planning on restocking my assortment of Seagar Grand Max Flourocarbon Tippet and it was buy one get one free.  It was a lot of fun talking with the owner Brian Smolinski.

 I checked out the Upper Kinnickinnic from a bridge in downtown river falls and it looked pretty much like I expected it would.  Things would be different at Clearwater Creek I told myself.
 I've always thought this was a cool mural.  I had my cans of spray paint with me but I figured I would find another less pretty brick wall to deface.
 On my way to Clearwater Creek I stopped by a few other places to see what they looked like when the water is high.  At some point I will return to this spot on the Rush to see what it is like when water levels are normal.
 The rain clouds were blown away and the sun emerged.  I wondered to myself, "Who stopped the rain?"
When I finally made it to Clearwater Creek I was reminded how much of a little gem it is.  If you ask me how I heard of this place I'm not going to tell you that, "I heard it through the grapevine" because that would be a lie.  My good friend Nick Brevitz brought me here once and told me to keep it a secret.  That is why I never refer to it by it's real name.  Traveling up this creek is kind of like taking a, "Run through the jungle".

I managed to catch about four or five Brook Trout but this one was by far the prettiest.  
I was so happy but remembered feeling like this many times before.  It was kind of like, "Deja Vu all over again".
 While stumbling up the stream I came across this curious looking rock. It appeared to have an image of an elk on it but I couldn't tell if it had been etched or if it was naturally formed.  Either way it was probably one of the coolest rocks I have ever seen.  I wanted to keep it so I picked it up and was immediately transformed into an elk.  It took me a moment to figure out what had happened but it was kind of neat being an elk.  I pranced about for a while before I realized that there were no other elk around to prance with and I became lonely.  I walked back over to the rock and placed my front right hoof upon it and was immediately transformed back into a cool dude.  I decided to leave the rock at the creek.

 When I returned to my vehicle I took a moment to admire my sticker collection.  While some guys have girlfriends I spend my days fishing and collecting stickers.
 It was quite dark out by that time so I decided to switch up my tactics.  When fishing for trophy Brown Trout some would say that, "The night time is the right time" but none of these flies in my mouse box has done well enough yet to earn the nickname, "Midnight Special".
 I did manage one small Brown Trout on a Chernobyl Ant pattern.

The next morning came and while I was lookin' out my back door I noticed that it seemed to be another nice day.  I talked to Taylor "Trippy Trouter" Spraungel and he was out exploring with Kincaid Edwards.  I thought it would be fun to meet up with those guys and while I couldn't share the location of Clearwater Creek with them we made plans to meet near another creek that I knew would be running clear.  I had very specific instructions for them on where to meet me and it sounded a little something like this.

Catch a ride to the end of the highway

And we'll meet by a big red tree,

There's a place up ahead and I'm goin'

Come along, come along with me.

When we made it to the creek we walked over to the bridge and peered down into the frigid clear waters.  We could see several large fish but we we unsure if they were suckers or trout.  I figured there was only one way to find out so I decided to start fishing there.  Kincaid and Taylor drove the vehicles up to the next bridge crossing and I told them that I would fish up to them.  I started a fishing a little ways downstream from the bridge fishing in shallower water.  While the water didn't seem to contain any fish it was a great spot to make a few practice casts before moving up into the prime spot.  I can't even count how many perfect practice casts I executed.  I was ready for prime time.  I made my way up to the pool that I knew contained large fish and launched my cast.  When my streamer hit the water so did about five feet of fly line directly on top of it.  I couldn't believe my cast was so bad but I started stripping in line while my streamer sunk into the depths.  Then from out of the the bottom of the pool came a "Denizen of the Deep".  His great jaws clamped onto my streamer and I set the hook with all my might.  The race was on.

While the fight only lasted about a minute something happens to the time space continuum when you are engaged in a battle with the biggest Brown Trout of your life.  My first swipe at the goliath was unsuccessful and when he moved into deeper water I moved with him.  Seeing an opportunity and sensing weakness in his eyes I lunged forth and as cool water gushed into my waders the largest brown trout of my life entered the confines of my net.

 I felt like such a Fortunate Son to have caught such a beast.
 He measured in at 24 inches.

I tried taking one of my trademark selfies with him but for whatever reason my camera wanted to focus on the background instead.  Getting him back in the water alive was more important to me at the time than having an awesome selfy with the fish.
 Here is the streamer I used to catch him.  It was already starting to come unwound when I took this photo.  I had just purchased it a few weeks ago at a fly fishing garage sale I visited in Eden Praire one day.

After uploading a photo of Goliath to Facebook I continued fishing upstream excited to share the news of my catch with Taylor and Kincaid.  I was glad I decided to go fishing yesterday.

The End

Eddie Rivard Fly Fishing is now on Facebook

Popular Posts