New water, new friends, new camera

With a sudden opening in my schedule, my habit of storing my fishing gear in the car paid off. Instaagram again gets a nod for connecting fly fishers. I connected with @hotdishflyfish recently and shot him a message. His work schedule usually results in free days/mornings, so we met for a couple hours on his local stream.
The water was new to me. It had plenty approachable holes and runs, but the clarity was a little too clear. Even with the overcast skies, the fish were jumpy. I managed a few flashes and finally landed a standard driftless brown.

Hot Dish spend the morning casting his Blue Halo with a nymphing rig. He had a few takes that were not sticks but nothing to hand. That was fine by him. Dry hands are warms hands in the winter.

We have a warm spell coming through. That should bring the trout out to feed especially as the snow melt leads to turbid waters.

On another note, I finally gave in and bought a camera other than my phone. We will see how it goes. I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures, so I think the Sony a6000 will do well for me. If not, you may see it re-listed on ebay 🙂

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Winter Season Begins Jan 1st/8th

I found time to get out twice in the early winter season. The first day was a shot at some new water. There is so much water between Minnesota and Wisconsin. I’ve found some great streams, but it is really fun to try new things from time to time. In fact, in general, I prefer to fish a new stream than fish the same stream twice (unless it is a new section).

So, for my first day out in 2017, I found a new section on a this phenomenal trout map. I don’t know who made it for Minnesota, but it is awesome. I love it. I’m hoping someone will make it for Wisconsin.

The section I fished had easement access but it was really hard to find so I stopped at someone’s house to ask for directions. They were very helpful and said I could fish anywhere I liked. Score!

The stream has only a mile of publicly fishable land that had work done on it back in the 80s. A beaver did some work on it this last summer, but that is another story I’m sure.

Anyway, after finding the easement, I hiked my way down to the stream and found myself facing a phenomenal run and pool.
There was a nice undercut near the run so I threw a streamer through the run and caught a healthy driftless brown on my first cast. It is one of those sparsely spotted browns with good olive and gold color. It amazes me how variable these fish can look.
 
I got a new Patagonia hip pack.  I love it. I’m a hip pack person for sure.
I fished down stream until I came to a long, slow, deep section. I started hoping over a few muskrat or beaver dens and quickly saw when the section is so deep.
A broad, sturdy dam was doing its job. I wonder how that affects the fish population in that part of the stream. Darker water. Deeper water. Bigger fish?
 
On my way back out, I hit a few spots I a spooked earlier and manages a gorgeous native brookie. There is something special about the native brookie. Sure they don’t get as big as the big browns, but, man, I really love them.
 

It was a great way to finish a first day out on the water in 2017. My next outing would prove to be a bit tougher as far as fishing is concerned.

We recently had a bit of a cold snap in Wisconsin, as such finding open water was more of a task. I hoped a favorite stretch would be open, but it was much harder than I thought. I should have searched for a sunnier stretch of water. So all in all, no fish came to hand.

I threw streamers because I’m not that confident in my nymphing technique or skill.
 
You can see how sparse the pockets of water were at times. It made for a gorgeous day. At times, I was able to simply walk across slow runs because the ice was nice and thick.
 
A couple amazing finds were this frozen hawk. I think it is a Nrothern Goshawk, but if any of you know can identify it as another type, let me know! I looked closely, but left the bird to the wild.
It was surprisingly light weight for its size. I suppose that’s the deal when you are a bird.

I also found this big buck. I presume is a hunter’s lost harvest. a gorgeous rack, just squeaking out that 9th point.

By the time I got back to the car, I decided to leave the waders on for the drive home. My gators were frozen to my laces. My feet were warm though.

Once we have a slight warm up, the water will get a slight stain and the fish will get hungry. The bite will turn on again!

Early Adventures in Fly Fishing for Musky

It is pretty awesome when you move outside your fishing bubble and meet new people. You never know what you might learn. For instance, I learned I have a wadable stream not to far from where I live that supports a healthy musky population. I also learned how to tie articulated flies (which, by the way, big brown trout also seem to like). 
The musky season in Wisconsin runs May through December. I didn’t start my search until the last days of November. The last couple outings were in snowy cold weather. 
I essentially spent time looking for dark water. Deep pools where big musky might be waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey. 

Lots of bushwhacking and exploration over several short trips yielded no follows or fish seen. 

Dead Dear Run is one of my favorite spots on this new found stream. Named as such for obvious reasons. 

Lots of frozen guides and cold fingers until finally… finally…

I caught my first musky on the fly. He took it right at my feet. It was so fun to watch. No too big. Maybe a little over 25′ (though, naturally, he gets bigger every time I tell the story).

Big hunks of meat for these big toothy fish. 

Here is @normalicious showing off his o’pros dragonfly rod holder. they are handy in certain situations. I like when standing in a stream and tying on a new fly. Sometimes line get’s caught up in it, but in general, it is a nifty too to add to the arsenal. easy stocking stuffer too. 

The Beginning of My Driftless Wisconsin Exploration

Even before my recent trip to British Columbia which resulted in big fish on streamers and bountiful drive flyfishing, I think I have developed a natural expectation to always find fish each time I go fishing, even if it is a new stream it unfamiliar area.

I think the same held true when I went out fishing for a couple hours on Tuesday morning. I had a little bit of time to spare forgetting my son to his doctors appointment, so I found a stream on the map that was designated as class one waters meaning that it is capable of sustaining populations of naturally reproducing trout without the need for stocking, and I headed out the door. Much to my chagrin I found myself cornered into a valley where a bridge was out walking my way towards the stream about another 15 miles down the road.

There was a stream that had been meandering along the road as I drove through the cornfield blanketed valleys. It didn’t look like a large stream, but presumably there were fish. I just had trouble finding access points. Eventually the stream went under the road and I noticed an old beat up sign on the telephone pole stating “public fishing grounds.” That was the sign I was looking for. I charged around through tall weeds in raspberry tickets to find a stream slightly murky and shallow. The water was cold and there were definite signs of stream improvement projects, but this look like a section of stream that had been forgotten and possibly had a little too much cattle traffic.
I found another section and walked through the designated access point over the fence and pessimistically explored this text stream through the farm field. There were a few small runs but the depth of the water and pour clarity increased my doubt that I’ll be catching any fish in the stream. I waved to the farmers he drove past smiling. With his grin because he knew my efforts were in vain?
As it starts to get hotter and closer to noon, I knew it was time to go. I also started thinking how I don’t really have the right to have such high expectations for myself when heading out fishing on an unknown stream in a location that is, though not foreign to me, still new. The Wisconsin area of the driftless region is somewhere I’ve never fished before. There are literally, hundreds of miles of streams in the counties that surround me. I will never explore them all. As such, my approach to new streams really must be that of a person seeking exploration and education of new waters as opposed to grip and grin glory.
Driving back, I had my tenkara rod and fanny pack in the trunk. I decided to just pull off the road anytime I could see new sections of the stream to see how the depth and clarity changed as I got further downstream. 
I pulled off at one bridge where there was a small damn creating a large pool downstream and a slow deep section of water upstream. The sun was high and the buzz of grasshoppers getting louder. After about five minutes of watching the water, I saw what may have been a rise.
A couple minutes later, with a heightened level of where Ness, I saw what definitely was a fish rise.I grab my gear out of the trunk and started charging through the grass that was easily up to my chest.

I pulled a respectably small brown trout out of the stream pretty quickly. Man did it feel good to catch my first Wisconsin trout.
I watched the stream a little while longer. There were ants and Beatles grasshoppers and caterpillars everywhere. This is hands-down terrestrial season. And then I saw a large arise about 30 or 40 feet upstream. I had a mini hopper tied on, my last one. 

That was then that I got to feel the addictive shockwave that makes fishing with a tenkara rod so fun. I landed a healthy 12″+ brown.
Now, it really was time to go. I had decided I’d beat the odds. I was fortunate to catch one fish on the day like that, but I caught two and one of them was pretty nice fish.

I went home and found the stream on the map. It is classified as a class to stream, meaning there are some naturally reproducing trout but the stream still requires some stocking. The section I had found was very slow and deep water. I imagine this section is a perfect one for naturally reproducing brown trout that like to slowly swim up and sit dry flies. The water is so slow moving that it definitely choirs 4X or 5X tippet. 
Driving home I decided I was going to make an honest effort to approach each stream with humility. As a Minnesotan transplanted to Wisconsin, I’m a foreigner in a strange land. Therefore, I’ve got to approach these Sconnie streams respectfully. They are a strange breed after all.