Well, as I sit at my computer writing this at 1:00 PM on a Thursday, it is 0 degrees with a wind chill of -19 outside. I have given up on my goal of catching a steelhead on the swing this year and have been forced to remain indoors. This is not a complete loss though. I have used this time of sequestration sharpening and broadening my fly tying skills. I have watched tutorials. I have read step by step instructions. I have learned that no matter how hard you try or how much care you take, no fly is the same. So, use your imagination. Use established patterns as a reference but don’t be afraid to put a little bit of yourself in the creation process.
Now onto bigger and better things. The Wisconsin early season trout opener is just around the corner. The ever reliable extended forecast is calling for temperatures in the 40s and sunny. This would be a giant removal from the past several opening weekends. So, fill those boxes, dig out the sunscreen and keep your fingers crossed.
Big water is a whole different ball game. This was the fourth time that I have floated and fished the Wisconsin river, and I can say without a doubt that each time I have floated it I have learned something new. Last weekend there was a shortage of sand bars to camp on as the water level on the river was higher from all the rain storms that have hit the Midwest recently. Our “normal” campsite was completely under water and that left us scrambling as the sun was rapidly setting while we searched for a piece of dry land to call home for the night. We were informed that they would be releasing water from the upstream dam and that we should expect the water to come up a bit over night. It did, and the mix of all the warm water and the cold air overnight had us fishing in a thick fog the next morning. The fishing was slow and the river was fast, the fog was unforgettable, and truly a once in a lifetime experience. I love this trip.
I saw this article flash on my Facebook feed the other day and I thought it was worth sharing. There is a proposal to make some pretty dramatic changes to the inland trout regulations in Wisconsin. WDNR is currently holding public meetings all across the state to get angler and citizen input. There have been three meeting already but there are still quite a few still to come. Check out the article and let us know what you think of the proposed changes. Maybe even attend a meeting and let the WDNR know what you think.
These were taken a few weeks ago as you can tell by the snow piles and ice shelves. I am glad that is behind us now and spring fishing is just starting to heat up. Caddis have started to hatch on a few creeks and midge clouds can be seen in abundance as the sun sets behind a driftless mini mountain. Hendricksons and drakes will be here soon so plan accordingly and be ready for anything. Hooray bugs!
My wife, being the amazing person that she is, gifted me with a GoPro camera this past Christmas. I have been very anxious to get out on the water with it and a few weekends ago we were able to take some footage in the driftless area. Here is a short video that Matt and I put together of us fishing the spring creeks of southwest Wisconsin. Enjoy.
Last weekend, it actually felt like Spring with air temperatures reaching the 60s (gasp!) on Sunday. Melt and stain was an issue, especially in the afternoons, but fishing smaller drainages or higher in the systems allows you to find fishable water. Although not the middle of summer quite yet, it was nice to be out without seventeen layers on punching ice from your guides. The water temps peaked around 45 degrees, and fish were caught. The previous weekend surprisingly produced better action, but the warmer weather was preferable, at least for me. It is looking like cooler weather and precipitation precedes another comfortable weekend coming up, so if you haven’t gotten out yet, here is another opportunity.
After fishing (for a couple of hours at least) through the Polar Vortex of the Opener, we have been waiting for the weather to finally grow up and act like spring before getting out again. But as the freeze continued (at least during the weekends, the weekdays always seemed to be warmish and sunny as I sat in my office staring out the window), we thought a forecasted high of 30 degrees on Saturday would have to suffice. Other than dealing with ice in the guides all day, it was actually very pleasant. And the catching started from the get go and continued through the afternoon. We then woke Sunday to 15 degrees and a heavy wind, so after gearing up and making about 3 casts before everything (including our fingers) froze up, we packed it in and left.
The forecast for this weekend looks too nice to be true. But we are going to break out the tank tops and flip flops and maybe do some wet wading. There is still some snow left, mostly in the woods, so hopefully the streams don’t blow out. Either way, I am looking forward to feeling some warm spring breezes, and finally (maybe) getting this winter behind us.
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!