Another snowstorm on the drive north, single digit daytime highs, sub zero overnight lows. Not ideal fishing conditions. But we went anyways. Because it was the Opener and we always go. In spite of the weather. And maybe this time, to spite the weather. To spite this winter. We went because we have all been cooped up inside for too long and we had to at least try to get out and go fishing. And we did fish. And we did actually catch fish. And it was 7 degrees out. And it was good to get out again. Necessary probably. And we went to see our friends, to all get together again because it had been too long. And we had a good time. A good time fishing and a better time catching up. After all the cold and snow, the fishing season is finally here. Now, if it will safely get above freezing, I will go again.
Things have been rather slow around here this winter. Near record amounts of snow and abnormally cold temperatures have made fly fishing rather difficult. While the flowing water is nearly impossible to find this winter, the frozen kind is abundant. Our good friend Bob made an ice rink in his yard this year. Bob’s cousins, the Parke’s, a few other friends and I have been playing our version of hockey a few times a week. Ice fishing has been possible since mid December, and most spots I have fished this season have at least fifteen inches of ice. I also had my first child back in December. Anne and I named her Brooke Elizabeth and we can’t wait to take her camping.
As it continues to snow outside, inside I am busy tying buggers for the Wisconsin trout season opener. We would all like the weather warm enough so that ice doesn’t form on the guides, yet cool enough so as to not melt too much snow and blow the stream out. One thing is for sure, there will be some cold yet content anglers scattered throughout Wisconsin come Saturday, March 1st. Summer will be here with mosquitoes, ticks, biting spiders, bees, and poison ivy before you know it.
I am looking forward to another year of fishing with my friends. Cheers to 2014!
Late fall is prime time to hit the great lakes tributaries. While I prefer the power and speed of a steelhead, a day can be made with the assortment of salmonids and big browns that fill the tributaries throughout the winter. Aaron and I got out early yesterday and were able to both get fish. Aaron is quite the experienced angler, yet the tributaries have been unkind to him over the years. I believe a switch rod is on his Christmas wish list so he must be planning on reversing the current trend. A nice brown on a yarn egg is a good way to start.
While I was not able to attend the 2013 trout season closing weekend, I was able to get out with Aaron, Andrew and Will just before the end of september. Brook trout were the ticket and the aggressive and acrobatic takes will not soon be forgotten.
I have been chasing musky the last two weekends in northern Wisconsin. Rivers one weekend and lakes the other. Turns out that it is musky fishing either way. Tough. Got spanked on the rivers, and got one from the lakes. The conditions seemed perfect last weekend, cloudy, chilly, rainy, snowy, but the bite was not on. We thought things were going to get crazy when a snow storm blew in on Saturday afternoon while we were on the water, but then they didn’t. Having been such a mild fall until recently, I don’t think the water temps have fallen to the point where the fish realize that winter’s coming, it’s time to chow. That is probably going to change soon, if it hasn’t already. I just hope to be out there when it does.
Another trout season has come and gone, and as always, I feel like it has closed too soon. I would love to keep chasing trout through the hills and valleys as the woods burst into flames and the frost in the morning tries to keep you from leaving the warm comfort of your sleeping bag. But as it stands, the Wisconsin inland trout season closes at the end of September and it is time to move on.
My boy Johnny and I closed out the season in the Driftless, and the fishing was good, not great, but it was nice to be there. Trout were still eating hoppers, which is always fun, but streamers were most effective. Nymphs surely would have caught more fish, but I am not certain if I even remember how to use them anymore.
Musky and steelhead will dominate the coming months, and it looks like the first of the fall rains is upon us to kickstart the season. The precipitation is welcome, and hopefully it continues intermittently throughout the fall.
Night fishing is desirable for obvious reasons. There is usually nobody else on the river, and big fish come out to eat big flies. The few times I have been able to go night fishing this season have been a good mix of all different conditions. This past Saturday night was my first time night fishing in a rain storm. Some of the really big fish were out and looking to eat, but the bite overall was tricky and inconsistent. I hooked a big fish, got about three violent head shakes, and then a slack line. I never heard the take, all I could hear was the pouring rain pelting the hood of my rain jacket.
Will, Jimmy and I floated the Wisconsin last weekend and found lots of smallmouth. Saturday was hot and muggy and perfect for smallies. Will and I threw streamers and poppers while Jimmy pounded the banks with Mepp’s spinners and Panther Martins. I think Jimmy caught the most and lost the most fish during the trip. It often seems certain fish that you lose can leave more of an impression that any of the small fish you land. Jimmy learned that often on this outing.
There are lots of Sandhill Cranes that seem to rest in the huge floodplain of the Wisconsin River. The sight and sound of thousands of these once endangered birds, awkwardly flying overhead while the sun sets behind a limestone bluff, is a tough one to beat. This victory for conservation is a good one to experience live.
I awoke Sunday morning to my tent flapping up and down, with me being the only thing keeping it from blowing away. The cold front had found us and the fishing was tough. We paddled fast and caught the end of the Bears game.
A few weeks ago, Anne and I took a week-long drive around Lake Michigan. For any resident of the Great Lakes region, I would suggest this adventure, and hopefully I am able do it again, possibly on a lager scale (maybe around Lake Superior or all five great lakes). We are quite lucky here in Chicago as all four of the designated National Shorelines are within an eight hour drive. Apostle Islands and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are both on the southern edge of Lake Superior, while Indiana Dunes and Sleeping Bear Dunes are both on the eastern side of Lake Michigan. Apostle is the only one that I have not been to, but is on my list of places to go fish ,explore, and reside in for a few days.
While at Pictured Rocks, there were a few informational placards delving into the world of the coaster brook tout. These signs provided basic information on rehabilitation efforts and current ranges. My thoughts immediately turned to late fall, 30 mile per hour north winds, sleet, snow, and huge native brook trout. There didn’t seem to be any around on the few warm summer days that I tried the dark tannic, coffee-color stained creeks.
On a whim, we decided to make a day trip to Whitefish Point, Michigan and see the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. For me, places like this seem to embody the feel and amazing history of the Great Lakes. It’s refreshing to be reminded of those that used these waterways before us. It’s even better that we remember them by honoring their memory and learning what the lakes meant to them. It is a trek to get out to whitefish point but you can see Canada and get some awesome smoked whitefish from Brown Fisheries.
I never calculated all the miles but it was well worth the trip. I still have a lot to learn as far as catching fish in the UP, as I got skunked all week. A few rises to my trico and a pike biting me off were the only fishy encounters.