This past weekend brought beautiful weather to the upper Midwest timed perfectly with a free Saturday to wet a line. Normally bass fever doesn’t kick in until later in the year, but after a productive winter scouting locations my condition was already worsening. Unfortunately, rain from previous days blew out the river I wanted to explore and lake fishing didn’t hold the same appeal. So I headed to Western Wisconsin for trout. I had the day to fish so I decided to progress further upstream and work sections normally neglected with time constraints. I assumed anglers would be out in numbers and a good hike would give me a chance to outpace the herd. By 7:30 I was suited up and on the trail. With only three cars in the lot I had a good head start. I hiked 45 minutes or so starting where I typically end the day anticipating the newness of the water. There were a handful of patterns I wanted to test out so I started with those. By 9:00 I caught my cigar fish, but I’m not in “cigar shape” to light up that early so I decided to wait a bit. I made it until 9:30. While I thought my trek would provide solitude I quickly realized others shared my ambition. Two hours into the trip I was leap frogging anglers. Luckily the stream is ripe with holes and fish. Eventually I created separation and found myself on some really nice stretches of water. I caught enough fish to validate the flies so I switched to a hotwire hare trailed by a disco midge. The combination proved the best of the day.
When I arrived at a bluff with a deep channel running beside it I switched to a flashy hare’s ear, one of my favorite. Shortly after, I land a fish and then another. I worked further upstream and made a cast, my sighter paused and I set the hook into a heavy fish. Initially it didn’t react much just bore its full weight towards the depths in a deliberate manner. I hoped for a big brown, until it showed its form and colors as I drug it to the surface. Definitely not a trout. When we locked eyes it took off like a bullet and the sound of a drag singing did my ears good. It made a couple of runs, but gave up quickly. Apparently I need to add the flashy hare’s ear to my rough fish arsenal.
I went another half mile upstream when I arrived at gorgeous run I either forgotten about or formed since I’d been there last. There was a shear wall lined with a deep pool and just enough structure to make it interesting. Its knee deep braid at the head moved water which seemed clearer than the rest. I’m not a good enough photographer to capture how pretty is was or a good enough writer to properly describe it in a thousand words, but it was one of those spots which solidifies a great day on the water. I treated it with the respect it deserved approaching it slow, planning where I’d set up and place my first cast. In my mind I was thinking about one of my favorite movies “For the Love of the Game” where Kevin Costner tells himself on the mound “think, don’t just throw.” With a more thoughtful approach I was able to land a couple photo shy trout but not nearly what I knew it could yield. Reluctantly I moved past the water and unlike “For the Love of the Game” I didn’t tear up at the end (sports movies get to me, that one more than most). By now I traveled a good distance and it seemed a fitting place to make the turn.
So I tied on a Puterbaugh Foam Caddis having observed a decent hatch and worked back to the spots I passed over on the way in. I pulled a couple fish from likely spots ending the day with a nice brown. The next couple weeks will be exciting.
I’m fortunate to work for a company who believes in summer hours so with a 2:00 dismissal on Fridays and a plenty of fishing options close by I’m optimistic. In two weeks I’ll be in Colorado to visit family and hope to get some fishing in while I’m there.