The Zumbro

David rested in the car while we drove from La Crosse to Rochester. Cake pop coursing through his veins, he was ready to run when we got to Quarry Hill Nature Center. Unfortunately, the center doesn’t open until noon on Sundays so we just hiked around, looking for snakes, fish, birds and all other beasts possible.

Sun and bugs out it in full force, we found our way to my parent’s condo for a lunch nap.

After nap, my goal was to get him on the banks of the Zumbro River, or the “Scumbro” as we so affectionately called it growing up.

 

The Zumbro really gets a bad rap. Due to extensive flooding, the city of Rochester did some major reworking of the river (and I suppose the dam used to cool the coal plant). As such, it slowly flows through Rochester with muddy bottoms and seemingly nothing but geese crap and carp… Scumbro it was and probably still is in some ways, but if you get just a little out of down town and the city, things really start to get interesting. The river curves and tumbles through forests and fields. As it is pretty wide, the forests don’t do much damage to the aquatic life.

 

A great bike path follows the stream and if you head down south near Mayowood, you can follow the path and jump down to the river banks.

The size of the clam shells here are astonishing. You could make a mean chowder out of these fellas. The crayfish are everywhere and around every bend there is a photo op of a great stream.

 

And form David’s perspective, this warm water fishery is perfect for barefoot wading and rock throwing.

There are plenty of people who know about the good fishing, canoeing and kayaking in the Zumbro. But I think if the down town ZUmbro looked anything like the rest of it, The name “scumbro” could easily be wiped from our memories.

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The love/hate relationship with the Driftless in July

The rush of spring is over now. The fervor with which we hit the streams has settled. There is new water to explore, but this is often when folks start to stay off the streams. Maybe its the heat, but I think it is the height of the brush. The weeds start reaching their peak around this time.

It is not uncommon to be head high searching for the stream. This leads to slow trekking and the potential for falls into muskrat dens, slips down muddy banks and trips over logs.

It also leads to great less pressure on the fish, great terrestrial action, and good cover to sneak up on the honey holes.

Of course you can wet wade as the temperatures usually allow and walk through the stream to avoid the wild parsnip and nettle.

One thing is for sure, a year fishing the driftless will either break you or hone your casting. You’ll be high sticking, roll casting, bow and arrows and side casting to tight spots from even tighter cover.

I suppose July is like winter in that way. The extremes of the conditions keep a lot of folk off the water. Once fall comes and the weeds start dropping (after the awesome August/Sept hopper action), the streams get hit hard again.

For those willing to do the work, hungry trout await.

Bugs were everywhere last satruday morning, but the big rain events kept the water stained enough that few trout were rising. I’ve been seeing Hex around more often lately but have yet to see one actually on the water and not on the sidewalks. This little mayfly rode back home with me on the bill of my hat.

The Gift of the Timber Rattlesnake

In La Crosse, Wisconsin, if you drive up Bliss Road and past Grandad’s Bluff turning left on County FA you pass Hixon Forest Park. Past that, you’ll continue on the ridge to Rim of the City Road on your left. Take that past several large houses with expansive views of the river valley. You’ll reach a cul-de-sac and the there lies entrance to the Rim of the City park.

rim of the city

Some times I go up here at lunch to pick up trash. This is an easy access place that has great views. No biking is allowed, which is controversial. Ironically, the more exclusive a place (not allowing biking) allows more folks privacy to come and drink, graffiti and trash the place. Therefore, this makes for a good place to go and clean up.

It was a gorgeous day yesterday. It was beautiful to look out over the city and river valley.

I walked past a couple groups of kids lounging in hammocks. Enjoying their wide open summer days. Utere, non numera – Use the hours, don’t count them. They were living up to that.


Listening to some music, I was strolling back along the path about 200 meters from the house. In my periphery, my attention was draw to motion ahead.

I saw a snake and immediately could tell by the head shape this was not a rat snake.



This gorgeous timber rattler stopped when it saw me, and then, without rattling, slowly slid across the path and into the underbrush. It was so amazing. A gorgeous adult specimen.


I feel pretty luck to see this awesome snake.  (Here is the video) I posted some pictures on instagram and one commenter said they would have “sent him to meet his maker.” I tried to make a lighthearted response and then went on to say bites are really rare and if they see one, they should let it slide on by. They may have been exaggerating.  But I still find it sad. This was an awesome snake. If someone else had walked across it, it might have died. I’m thankful I got to see it and it went peacefully into the underbrush.