The standard Minnesota (and Wisconsin) trout season closed Sunday and I realized I hadn’t gotten out for about 6 weeks. Monday afternoon, I sometimes find a few hours to fish, so I seized the opportunity to jet over to Beaver Creek State Park. Recently, Minnesota started running a catch and release season in several Southeastern state parks (Whitewater, Forestville, and Beaver) plus a section of the South Branch Root River outside Preston, Mn.
I’d never really fished Beaver before, but I’ve heard good things. It is an obscure park that doesn’t get much traffic relatively, but also is hard to fish for several reasons. There is really only one main fishable section in the park that runs for a fair distance, but the water is absolutely crystal clear. We had rain the two previous day and you would have thought this water was born yesterday. Ah, the beauty of spring creeks.
The further downstream you go the better the holes, but the more dense the stream side brush and obstacles.
I really rushed to the downstream section and only fished up about 1/4 mile fishing pretty slowly. Temps were in the 60s and the valley and bluffs were sporting Martha Stewart’s finest fall colors.
Had an awesome couple hours on the water last Monday afternoon. The cloud cover was good. Air wasn’t too warm. And a breeze made for good upper conditions. It isn’t at its peak, but hopper season has well begun here in the Wisconsin Driftless.
We saw plenty of fish. Only a few rising.
Throwing a hopper/dropper combination we caught fish on top and bottom. They aren’t quiet into their fall feeding frenzy, but it is coming.
The trout are starting to put on their fall colors.
I tried to get a shot of Hot Dish setting the hook on a rise. I got the set, but not the rise 🙂
This was an ambitious trout with big eyes for a big meal.
August is hot. August is humid. You are bushwhacking through nettle and wild parsnip with sweat on your brow, burning your eyes and fogging up your sunglasses. Finally, your choice to wet wade seems so like the best decision since you switched to fly fishing. The cool water surrounds your feet and legs. You swing your hat through the cold water and slosh it back onto your melon while chills run down the back of your shirt.
You're tempted to even take a drink… But you don't. You know better. You won't give in to swishing out your mouth until later in the day when you really get thirsty. (Don't worry, you most likely will not get giardia.)
I don't get to fish cooler early mornings or twilight often these days due to being blessed with a 3 year old and 10 month old, so I take the time on the water without reservation. When I get to spend it with another angler, it is an added bonus. I like seeing water from another's eyes. And in the heat, sometimes it is nice to just watch someone else cast.
These blurry days of August are intense, but they are also brief. There is a maple tree outside my office that always gets a jump on changing her wardrobe. She just can't wait to put on the blaze orange and marshal in the colors of fall. I saw the first orange leaf today. And though I'm tempted to wish for fall, just as I'm tempted to take in even the smallest sip of crystal cool spring creek water, I want to savor this hazy heat. It doesn't last long. If you are going to lust after colder days or take that sip from the creek, be prepared for weather cooler than you'd like and diarrhea that may be relentless. Take a dip in the spring, and enjoy it; don't drink it. Giardia isn't worth it.
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.
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.
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.