Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year thoughts from Sir Thomas Best

On this New Years eve, let's take a moment to reflect on the wisdom of the past, poetical musings on the art of fly tying, and a hundred and ninety three year old message about the fly fishing pastime, from Sir Thomas Best, and from his tome;
"Best's Art of Angling" the 1814 edition.
Enjoy ...

page 93 & 94:

"As I am now acting the part of Physician, let me advise you, whenever you are out in the heat of summer, fishing, and are thirsty, never to drink water, as the consequences may prove fatal; but, either take a little brandy or rum out with you, in a wicker bottle, or wait till you to come to some house where you can have a little : the effects it has of quenching the thirst, and cooling the body , are instantaneous"

Every Man his own Fly Maker

And lastly this introductory message from 19 decades ago...

"The art of artificial fly-fishing certainly has the pre-eminence over the other various methods that are used to take fishes in the art of angling. It requires a great deal of ingenuity and attention, and the variety which attends it, makes it both pleasant and agreeable. The angler is not confined to any particular part of the water in fly fishing but roves from one place to another, trying his fortune, by throwing his flies in to the different eddies, and the most likely places he meets with, to make a captive of the speckled trout; enjoying at the same time the harmonious warblings of the numerous songsters of the groves; beholding the diversity of the prospects around him, and gaining the health and serenity of mind, not to be purchased by all of the riches in the universe."


Friday, December 28, 2007

A dog in his element

Showing off the new anti-deer chasing bling.

A little known fact, Brittany's can fly when they want.

Pointing at a sparrow.

Warming up in front of the fire.

The Fourth season from a three season cabin

As long as the wood stove is cranking it stays comfortable.

The stove in the kitchen can be used to cook, this is Italian sausage with sweet red pepper sauce.

Communications have been spotty the last few days. The top of this dead fir has been swinging in the breeze pushing against the cable wire, sometimes its on - sometimes not, not the worst thing in the world.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

All 2007 TR - My March opener

MArch 5 & 6.

I am about 169% sure this post completes the 2007 Trout report, ending, blog style, with the first trip in March.


I worked Saturday so technically missed the opener.

That said I got in a full stream day yesterday, Sunday, and 2/3 of the day today before cold and wind and just plain old exhaustion got the better of me.

Car thermo said 9 degrees after getting geared up Sun morning.

169% bad ass fly fisherman or frozen nut job, you be the judge.

Some scenery - there was some open water...

Did not fish with this fly.
Only put it on to amuse the perpetrators and sustainers of the joke fly tradition.

I got a few like this :

and a few more like this:

and was I glad I could be out with the long rod on some proper, if frozen, streams.

All 2007 TR - more April ...

7 for 10
April 6 2007

So it goes like this: I planned to take three days off from work.

The family was going to the in-laws for the week so I was technically open for fishing, as the regular obligations were potentially lifted.

The first week in April, highs in the 60’s, lows in the 40’s, an irregular mix of drizzly rain and blazing sunshine, bwo’s, caddis, small black stones, the Wisco early season c&r in full swing, the potentials were all there. A deserved three days on the small spring creeks in the driftless.

This was one of the promises to myself, the tricks I use to get me through my work schedule. I don’t dwell on the in process work, so what I do this, I think two weeks from now I will be on a stream, so I access the WDNR interactive map site from CDC/Roissy during the 9 hour layover between ORD and BMO, look at the topos. Ah – that valley - I need to tie up more BWO’s. I need more black small Goddard caddis dries, there’s that timber filled bend that has that big ole brown in it. Such is my fantasy life, a middle aged fly fisher casting to pools and riffles while sitting in an airport lounge, flipping between WDNR topos and google earth.

The week arrived- as did a nasty cold virus starting with the five year old – then the ten year old, then the wife, then me, taking down the entire tribe. Spring break to the in-laws was cancelled. Also arriving was an unusual very late, very intense Alberta clipper. 25 mile an hour arctic winds coming down from Canada. Highs in 20’s – lows in the teens freezing the daffodils where they were and dropping them to the ground as they were about to bloom.

My fishing trip evaporated. By Thursday of the break I had already gone through the progression of sore throat with dripping nose – and was just starting into the hacking cough with headache. I could go back to work on Friday and be miserable. Or stay home in bed and be miserable. Or go on an ibuprofen cough syrup and hot tea one-day thermos fishing run robo-trip.

Left the house at 5:05 am.
Crossed into Beloit at 6:10 am.
Reached Madison at 6:55 am.

Dorn’s bait and tackle was not open. Wisco licenses expire March 31. I planned to get my new license there but had to go on, as I wasn’t waiting and hour for the shop to open. What sort of bait and tackle shop doesn’t open until 8:00 am?

Stopped for coffee, doughnuts and a license at the Fennimore Ace hardware. Was on stream and rigged at 8:25. The car thermometer said 26 degrees, the wind was whipping down from the north, but the sun was blazing.

I fished for the next 10 hours on one little stream, starting in very springy headwaters, and leaping frogging downstream into the main channel of the little river it flowed into to, and fishing a good ways down that. I’d jump downstream, fish up, jump down, and fish up. The creek is small. It has Timber and holes where it carves into the bluffs.

Where you can get some nice brook trout like these.

It also goes through nicely cropped meadow sections where the cattle and Holsteins keep the grass cut in the summer, not that this is a problem now when grass is just coming up. Each of these little riffles have a little hole right at the base. Sometimes is can go down four feet, and be three feet wide.

Caught this brown in one of these. The wind was whipping right down into my face here. Had to sit at the bottom of these pools and wait it out, cast into a lull, and then wait it out before you could cast again. Hunkered down, sip a little tea, sip a little cough syrup, make a cast.

And it goes through pool and riffle sections when it passes through the woods.

This section is essentially unfishable after mid July. The grass gets to be 7 feet tall and completely overhangs the water. Can’t walk along the shore, impossible to cast.

Where you have good brook and brown reproduction in small spring waters here in the driftless, both fall spawners, and being somewhat promiscuous, these somewhat rare creatures show up sometimes. The unholy hybrid offspring of the natural native and the naturalized immigrant.

By late afternoon, the wind, and the cold had beat me down. Took the very long walk back to the car, and headed back home at 6:00 pm. Three and half hours with a recharge on the tea thermos and only mildly delirious landed home about 10 pm. I drove 7 hours to fish 10.

The final piece of the story is this. I spent the winter tying some flies, restocking my favs, and getting involved in several fly swaps for the first time ever. I spent some time thinking about the large fly searchers that I use, and modified a few different ones to come up with this. Probably not original, except for me, but I think I have a good combo of sizes and feathers and materials in this one. Fished this fly all day. Caught all my fish on this fly.
I think I’ll call it the robotripper.

Global warming, upper midwest trout


"The 68th Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference was held in Madison last week, drawing more than 1,200 fish and wildlife professionals from Midwestern states to hear reports on recent research and management experiences........

John Lyons, fishery researcher with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said that a predicted one-to five-degree Celsius increase in summer air and water temperatures could have the affect of increasing the number of warmwater streams, thus reducing the number of streams capable of supporting trout populations.

Matt Mitro, of the DNR, said that Wisconsin currently has 44,000 river miles of which 10,371 miles are trout streams.

Mitro predicted that a 5-degree increase in temperatures could result in the loss of all brook trout streams in the state, and a decrease in 96 percent of the brown trout streams."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Still more all 2007 Trout Report

I have decided I am going to try to complete the all 2007 trout report by the end of 2007. This was April 18 2007 - a post I'll call, Esta Noche Du...and MORE THEY ARE ALL NAMED SPRING CREEK.

The stream here in the pic above is 5 to 10 ft wide, and goes down five feet in holes. I hooked a big trout for me - 17/18 - maybe 25 who knows, that came straight up on the set - did a tail for head flip -and I saw the barbless hook arc up away ... kinda cool . To get close, it is strictly lo crawl belly style approach.

I'll say this - on these creeks a red/pink/white shirt is a good way to put a skunk on.
The fish round here won't up with that kind of a western/southern sartorial display.
That particular fly is my robotripper - seems like the fishees like it despite its size, and in the afternoon a gray caddis hatch came off - and I got several fish, my firsts on a dry this year on my preferred caddis pattern - a gray goddard.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

All 2007 TR - more June ...

This was from the first week of June. The annual trip with the boys to the U.P. place, the old man, my brother and I and the seven year old. I landed in Chicago at 5PM after 22 hours and three planes and 13 timezones, and put the boy in the car and headed north to the cabin at 5AM the next morning.

When we got there, the pink moccasin flowers were blooming.

Morning remains of one of the many lakeside bonfires.

These guys were popping out all over.

Went to the river with the boy.

He caught alot of these.

I caught a lot of these.

The one fishing incident of note took place here:
That grandfather rock in the middle of the stream has a set of submerged little sisters all in a nice row, about two feet below the surface. I can usually tag a couple of nice brookies here, off of the rocks, but got nothing. I swung a robo-tripper through the tag elders on the right and was feeling it tick along the bottom. It hung up - on a big brown - that came up and swirled on the strike, nosed shaking down into the river bed and ran that tippet along each of the edges of those submerged sister rocks. Me and the fly parted ways. I saw the fish on the swirl at the surface. It would've been the biggest trout I ever caught on this trib of the Escy. If you're ever in the area, it's a small trib that flows into the branch that comes from the north out of Gwinn, about 8 - 10 miles on the second dirt road past the cemetery road turn off. There is a spot where the road does this funny sort of not needed hairpin, after the soil changes from really red and sandy to just sort of red and sandy with maybe a hint of ochre and if you walk about 200 yards through the woods, that fish is still there.

Of course, we ate these.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More all 2007 Trout Report

Back to the all year in backwrads fashion trout report.
July - the month where I fished one day, and late June in Jellystone.

A tale in numerous parts.


Part 1 -June 20th.

2 Days driving across IllWiscoMinSoDak and 2 days at the KOA at Devils Tower, and we were at Cooke City. After hiking the kids along the canyon in the 95 degree day they were ready to crash with several hours of daylight left in the sky. I got clearance to fish. Heading in to the park I had heard that the Lamar and its tribes were usually not ready to fish due to runoff, but when I stopped and looked downriver from Pebble creek, it looked as clear as anything I fish in the Midwest, although an interesting gray cast to the water told me I was not in Kansas anymore.
The scenery reinforced that point.

That brown dot in the stream was a moose with calf, something else you don't too frequently see in Kansas.

Because I am an ignorant pig and know no better I tied on a yellow humpy. I read that the cutts liked yellow humpies. There was no discernable hatch, no rises, but I went against my core midwestern principles and fished with a dry. This cutt liked yellow humpies.

My first cutthroat in 16 years.

Had one more smaller and then one nicer one before the darkness and perhaps unfounded fear of Grizzlies took me back out the NE gate to the cabin.

The third nicer one.

Part 2 - June 21

Went back to the canyon and then on to mammoth for sight seeing with the family. One thing about YNP. Beyond the people, and the RV horde, and the too built up visitor centers the stuff that is there is amazing.

My turn to take the famous picture from lookout point.

Trees killed by the outflow of mineral deposits at mammoth.

It was 96 degrees by the thermo at mammoth when we came pf the walkways.
The chibbles were spent by the heat and the altitude. On the drive out down the Lamar I did some distance scouting with the binos form the car. At 6pm on the longest day of the year I headed back into the park. I stopped at the canyon stretch of the lower Lamar.

And saw alot of these husks on the rocks, and thought there might be some evening action.

Sat on the bank and waited. A caddis popped - not a stonefly. a couple more, and in about fifteen mins..

There was a real rise here.

Those caddis dries I tied were the dead on imitation.
It suddenly got super stupid.

This was the best of the too many fish long slow evening that went on and on and on.

Last fish of the night as I was standing on the bank of the Lamar in the twilight and heard something moving around behind me up in the brush.

The crunching in the brush turned out to be this gal... not a bear.

Part III: June 22

So I had this idea on the delirious 25 min drive back back up to the cabin and cooke city, that we would do a fishing day. Get up early and figured we would walk in to the Slough creek meadows, another place I had read about but never been to. Since i was such the 169% bad ass cutt catcher now and all.

So in the morning we headed off. The weather was the same, that was, high nineties by late morning and the walk at elevation was almost too much for the kids, and my wife. This seemed to suddenly not be such a good idea.

Crossing the top of the hill felt like I was leading them on the Bataan death march.
Arriving at the first meadow and doing a bit of wet wading improved every one's spirits. After cooling off I led a casting class, and the six year old was more interested in practicing his karate on the river's edge than fishing.

Despite my success the night before, and a fair amount of bugs coming off the water there was only one rise. And the ten year old got her first cutt on a fly rod.

When we had walked back and had lunch, I decided to try again at the same place as the night before, and despite mighty protestations dragged the unwilling tribe down to the river for an evening of fishing.

A return to scene of the previous evenings crime.

Ths caddis did not disappoint.

The six year old got his first cutt.

Additional work on technique with the ten year old.

And she ends the day with a Slough creek and Lamar river fish.

Part IV:

Wherein I get schooled in the Last part of the trip...

So we left the cabin at Cooke City for another cabin about 10 miles outside of the East Gate. Chatting with the College JR from Iowa who is managing the lodge for the summer, he tells me, " the Shoshone right done across the road has some monster fish in it. Just fish deep"

So after more thermal sight seeing in the too hot park :

I head down to fish for the evening. This is not the friendly river the Lamar was. It is fast and deep and hard to wade. I work the runs deep with brown bead head bugger. I am fishing with my 4wt - 4x tippet. I hook a fish above me and it moves up river, and it is big. I don't see it, it just moves up river. I'm playing it, and thinking I am getting ready to land it - it turns down river shoots by me in the current and goes and goes and goes. I stop it but now with the current the fish weighs about 3 times as much. I am trying to baby the 4x - but can't move the fish. It has the current, I HAVE NOTHING !

I retrieve the slack line and cut the tippet back behind the 1x tippet.

Cast and cast, have one more hookup, a bow jumps twice and is gone.

The next night I move up about 5 miles up river to find less intense deep current.
I get no trout, but I catch a bunch of these:

A first for me - never caught a whitey before, I suppose thats a good thing.

Part the Vth :

Left the East gate area for two nights in the Bighorns. Maybe it was I had just finished "the Road" or maybe not, but my overall experience in the park was great - but a little disturbing. The drive through the Sylvan pass is like passing through a dead forest. A gray dead forest. On the east side, up the Shoshone river valley the pine bark beetle has devastated the trees. 70 or 80 % are gone. It is downright freaky looking at what have been very green mountainsides - and seeing all grey.

This is all standing deadwood. When this burns it will burn so fast and so hot I hope no one I know is there.

on the other side of the sylvan pass the forest is at the early recovery point of the hot fire that went through about five years ago. Good for the woods and all, but downright spectral after driving up through a grey wood.

Camped in the Bighorns and fished the Tongue river.


Did go up to the Medicine wheel - which was a transcendent hike.

Then the two day blast across WySoDakMin to land for a night in Viroqua Wisco.

Part the VIieth: Last day before landing ...

I had a little business near Viroqua so we stayed at a Motel6 or quality inn or something I have no idea. Got up at 4AM and hit one of the numerous streams within 15 minutes of what passes for a western Wisco hippie town.

Fished here :

notice - public hunting fishing and hiking.
No ATV's or Camping.
Trout reg 3.
and while we have no Grizzlys, we do have wild parsnip.

The dreaded weed....

Fished here before the sun came up:

upstream from there a little later

a little more upstream with the sun up now...

caught some like this

and a few more like this

And made it back to the hotel by 9AM for the hotel continental bfast with the fam and to make it to the farm to pick up my new pup. Kids named him Griffindor. Don't know where they came up with that. For pics see below.