Wednesday, March 28, 2012

santa delivers a report from clinton lake

   03-25-12 Clinton Lake - North Fork

Fished for the first hour in the coves across from the takeoff. Fishing was very slow for first hour till I figured out the secret. Bass holding tight to cover, mostly in less than 1 fow. It all started on the NE Corner of the bridge and worked way up the bank North of that. Water temp was 70 degrees and a massive shad die off was evident by the foul smell all across the lake. Every fish caught was gorging on dying shad. Ended up using a Hank Parker twin Indiana Gold Bladed Spinnerbait with no trailer to get the fish. Had to put in a lot of pauses every time you went by a piece of cover to evoke the strikes. Multiple casts along the cover were also necessary. The fish were holding so tight that if you were not right on the logs or rocks you would not get bit. Just because you caught one in an area did not mean you caught them all. Multiple times I caught 2 or 3 fish off of a single log. The biggest was about 2-3 lb and I also caught lots of the 12" variety which is a nice change of pace for clinton lake. No keepers, but some good fish. Air temp - 70 degrees - mostly sunny fished from 4-6 pm Water Muddy to a Very Heavy Stain could not see bait more than 3" down.

  03-26-12 Clinton Lake - Houseboat Cove

Fished from 6-7:30 pm, Cove still closed off due to protected spawning areas. Caught 1 12" bass using the same spinnerbait as the day prior on shallow wood, had a few short strikes should have used a trialer hook. Water temp was 67 degrees, was overcast and getting dark fast. The fish were shallow and right against wood again. No spawning activity present that I could see anyway water heavily stained 6" visibility. After checking the little cove in Houseboat went up to the riprap bank at Mascoutin and fished the outside bank off of the finger working way back into the restaurant (suprisingly it was open closed before I could get there though). Couple more short strikes and then I caught the 4-5lb er. Was super close to the bank and I was not more than 5 ft myself hugging the rocks as I paralleled the bank all the down. Only fished the spinnerbait all night, should have used a trailer hook or a squarebill crankbait but I only had a limited amount of time to fish before I had to leave anyway. Pictures never do the fish justice.....................

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Visiting The Vise

  Since the weekend was a bust for me, I figured I would share something a little more productive. The following images are a few flies I have recently tied up. I have been toying with all different size flies and patterns. These are not just trout flies. I am on a mission this year to try and catch a pike or musky on a fly. Hope you enjoy!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

jump into spring - fox chain of lakes report

With such a rapid infusion of warm weather, local areas lakes are fishing in full blown spring patterns. Backwaters, bays, and harbors are heating nicely and are drawing in all sorts of gamefish.

choke that husky jerk son
On a side note, this winter was hardly severe enough for all the weeds to be killed off. In fact, they are quite lush for this time of the year.
this feisty s.o.b. took a large fathead
Husky jerks and slip bobbers with live bait produced for me equally well. Crappies, bluegills, bass, and some nice sized whites were caught and released in just a few hours.

husky jerk victim as the sun was setting 

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Quick Sneak Down To The Lake

  Tuesday evening after a long day at work, I found myself pondering the thought of sneaking down to the lake for an hour on my long drive home. Do I go, should I stay home,or  Should I tie up some flies? Ahhh what the heck, I'm goin fishin! Soon after I arrived home I found out my little fishing buddy(my son) had a Cub Scout meeting, and I was really hoping to get him out there. I was kind of bummed out. I love sharing the fishing experience with others. What am I to do now? As I sat and pondered, I heard the soulful voice of my daughter. I thought she wasn't home when I arrived at the house because it was so quiet when I walked in. As soon as she rounded the corner she saw me. DADDY! she screamed as she ran over and lunged into my arms greeting me with her usually giant hug. I asked how her day was as usual and then proceeded to ask her if she would like to join me at the lake. I had already known what the answer was going to be, and I think she replied yes as loud as she could before I even got the question out. So I rigged up the rods, and headed across the street to the gas station to get her some worms, drinks, and a big ole cookie. We then proceeded to our shore spot, sat down and got our gear ready. As she started chomping on her cookie, I slipped a crawler on her hook and told her to cast away. We sat there watching her bobber for a few while I rigged up my twister tail. As I turned around for a quick second, I heard a splurge of excitement, I got one! As most young ones do, she started reeling like a bat out of hell. I told her to slow down a little and take your time, or he could get off. So that is exactly what she did. The first fish of the year for her was this nice 8"+ Crappie.

 We snapped a few quick photos, and released the Crappie to catch another day. Full of excitement, she casted  back out in hopes of another fish. I brought my fly rod down with me to see if i could entice a Bass to bite on my popper. No luck for me, but once again my little angler hooked into another fish. This time she reeled him in slow and smooth just like a pro. This time it was a nice gill.

 Full of excitement my daughter turned and looked at me and said thanks daddy. It put a smile on my face to say the least. The sun was setting on the horizon and fishing time had come to an end. We packed up our gear, and started heading back. The whole she held my hand thanking me and talking about the fish she caught. As we got back to the truck she said to me," I can't wait to come back." Soon real soon I replied. We headed down the street for home and met up with my son and wife. My daughter couldn't wait to tell mama about her evening over a scoop of ice cream.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Newton Lake- Big Bass!

On a more productive note, a good friend of mine headed South this past weekend. The destination was set for Newton Lake. Newton is a gem in disguise when it comes to Largemouth Bass fishing. I have personally fished this lake a half of a dozen times, and every time down there was never a disappointing moment.  Newton serves as a cooling lake for a hydro power plant. This lake is fishable year round. I usually fish this body of water between the months of February and April. When you have that open water itch in the dead of winter, Newton serves the cure.

 In its V shaped, the lake is usually referred as having a hot and cold water side to it. The east side is the cold water, or the side water is pulled from. The west wing is the warm water discharge. In the dead of winter you can fish top water lures on the warm side, catch fish, and use them as hand warmers before releasing them back into the lake. The most interesting thing about this lake is the size of the fish. I would say an average Largemouth is 4 lbs. easy. My biggest fish on this lake to date is 6lbs. My friend Greg, who fished here this weekend has a big bass of over 8lbs. The IL. Dnr strongly believes that the IL. state record will be broken on this lake in the very near future. Newton lies in the Eastern part of IL. near Eastern IL. University. From the Chicagoland area you are looking at a good 4-5 hour drive down. Well worth the trip!
 This was one of the nicer fish Greg managed to hook into over the weekend. He relayed to me that there biggest fish was 20in. all the way down to 15in. being the smallest. They where throwing Cranks,Swim baits, Jigs, and spinners. The bite was best in the morning and tapering down in the afternoons. Good Luck and Tight Lines to all!

Body of Water: Newton Lake
Nearest Town: Newton,IL
Conditions: Sunny and Warm
Targets: Largemouth Bass
Lures used: Crankbaits,Spinnerbaits,Jigs, and Swimbaits
Fish Caught: 15 fish over 18in. plus a bunch of shorter ones.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

2012 spring steelhead

With record breaking warm temperatures the spring cycle has been accelerated with all types of species found swimming Illinois and Wisconsin's waters. The sucker run is already in full swing in the tribs that flow into Lake Michigan and I would just have to assume that the steelhead cycle is well ahead of last years time line. Last year, fishing was good until the end of April but this year I don't see it lasting into April if these unusual temps hold out.

wisconsin steelhead
My buddy Shawn broke in his new setup this weekend on a few Wisconsin Steelhead! My recommendation is to get on it quick before it passes you by.
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

grant county trout fishing

Location- fennimore wisconsin
Conditions- sunny warm and windy
Target- driftless stream trout
Tactics- nymphing

In total, I fished three different creeks and scoped out two others on drive by's. Of the three streams fished, only two yielded fish catches. Of the two places I caught fish, one was far above the rest in finding an active population of fish. The wind was blowing hard at a sustained twenty miles per hour with gusts over the thirty mark. This generally wouldn't be considered the ideal conditions for fly fishing but for some reason I had a hard time switching over to my spinning gear.

many spots like this looked promising but were just too windy to fish
Instead, I focused on fishing just the pools where I was sheltered from the wind or where it was blowing against my back. This certainly limited the water and forced me to pass over some great looking spots. At one point the wind was beating me up so bad that I had to retreat to fishing under a road bridge. Not only did that bridge sheltered me from the wind, but it also had one of the biggest and deepest pools in this entire stretch of the stream. These are the types of pools that I have grown to love over the past few years of fishing for trout. They are big, and normally fed by good current, and they are so deep that they just look green or dark blue to the eye. When mixed with the proper current they are almost guaranteed to hold good numbers of fish, and this one was no different. I covered a lot of water that day but this was the only pool good enough to returned to.

here's a shot of the water just downstream of the bridge
I spent my last two hours of fishing huddled under this bridge to escape the wind. Late in the day the hatches were coming off the water in full force, an experience I haven't witnessed in almost twelve months, and the trout went absolutely crazy. Fish were rising everywhere and instead of switching to dry flies, I continued to deep nymph the big pool. It proved effective and I ended up catching the bulk of my trout in the last few hours.

measuring 14 inches, my new personal best wisconsin brook trout
Conditions were tough and a lot of my day was eaten up behind the windshield but I still ended up with close to twenty browns (none of which were big) and a healthy brookie that made my day. The brookie really put the hurt on my 3 wt. rod, enough to seriously consider the feasibility of landing a twenty inch trout on it? Either way, the more trips I take out west, the more I learn about the secrets hidden in the hills of the driftless area.

This weekend I think me and Damien will be pounding some streams in Dane County so be sure to check back early next week for a report!
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Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Ahead To Steelhead

  As most of you know the clocks bumped forward an hour on Sunday morning. The loss of an hour of sleep can really bring you down. For me it didn't matter much because the spring ahead meant Steelhead on the fly. Every year I look forward to this amazing spring run. It compares to nothing. Hooking into a Steelhead, hearing the line strip off your fly reel, and sometimes getting an acrobatic show from such a colorful fish, can not be explained in words.

 Every year toward the end of February and the beginning of March, Steelhead flock to the tributaries surrounding the Great Lakes. Steelhead make gravel beds to drop there eggs, usually at the front of some riffles. Some call it a thing of beauty, or just nature in its natural cycle. Either way it makes for spectacular fishing on the fly.

 I contemplated with my self all last week. Driftless or Steelhead? I couldn't resist the thought of landing a monster Steelhead, and I knew the Driftless area wasn't going anywhere fast. The Steelhead run is usually a short window so it was time to take advantage. Sunday morning came sooner than I had thought because I forgot about the time change. 4 a.m. already as my alarm blared in my sleepless ear. I thought to myself, all of this for a fish?? Damn right! I jumped from my bed, threw some clothes on, grabbed my gear, and jumped in the truck. Of course I had to stop for my morning cup of joe. I headed on over to my good friend and long time fishing buddies place, but the whole way I threw together my plan of attack for the day. I soon arrived at Scott's place as he greeted me with a smile and said," I am ready to catch some fish!" We got on our way discussing where we were going to start the morning.  We soon agreed that the North side of Island Park was  going to be the first stop of the day.We soon arrived, and there where vehicles scattered throughout the park. We fished around the whole Island for a chunk of the morning, but no takers to our hand tied flies yet. It was time to move, so we headed up stream to Quarry Lake Park. Scott and I had fished this section of river many times before, and nothing has changed. Combat fishing as usual! It never scares us away, patience is a virtue. By mid day the patience paid of big for my good friend. As I sat on the bank getting ready to tie on a new fly Scott mumbled my name. I looked up and saw his rod bent over, and a nice fish breaking the surface. I jumped from the bank to rush to his aid. Scott calmly fought the fish with hopes of landing his biggest fish ever caught by his fly rod. At points it almost seemed like the fish knew that she was going to be a personal record for the angler at the other end of the line, so why not drag out the anticipation a little while longer. Every time the fish would come in close, it was time to make another run for its money. After a good few minutes of fight that seemed like an eternity, the fish was brought to the net. I have fished all over the country with Scott chasing many species of fish, but I have never seen him smile as big as he did when he picked up this fish.

28 1/4" Root River Steelhead

 As for me, I went 0 for 1. Either way it was great to be on the water, and there to witness a good friend break a personal record.

  The water levels where up a bit, but still fishable on Sunday. There has been some rain rolling in and out across the IL/WI border so I would expect the river to be high for the rest of the week and back to fishable by the weekend. I did witness  a few guys land fish on spinning rods drifting spawn sacs. With the water being  high, the Steelhead fishing should be great this coming weekend. Good luck and tight lines to all!

Body of Water: Root River
Town: Racine,WI
Access Points: Island Park and Quarry Lake Park
Air temp: High of 65
Sky: Mostly Sunny
Flies Used: Egg Sucking Leech, Pheasant Tail Nymph, Egg Pattern, Crayfish Fly, Beadhead Wooly Bugger
Fish Landed: 1
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pink Squirrel Part 2 of 3: How To Tie

  A few weeks ago I posted the first part of the Pink Squirrel. Part 1 was an article written by John Bethke who is the creator of this magical fly . On Part 2 I took some photos on how to tie the actual fly while I was prepping for the opener. On a side note, this fly can be used for fish other than trout. In my First Ice! post the secret bait I was using was a Pink Squirrel tipped with a waxie. The squirrel/waxie combo was my biggest producer on the hard water this year. Enjoy! And I hope this helps you catch some fish!

Hook- Daiichi 1530     Size 12-16
Thread- Black 6/0
Tail- Rainbow Flash
Body- Squirrel Dubbing (Driftless Angler Has the best dubbing for this fly)
        - Small Red Wire
Head- Pink(shrimp) Chennile
         -Gold or Tungsten Bead
Step 1- First step is sliding your bead head on to the hook and starting your thread. Tie in 3-4 pieces of the Rainbow Flash for your tail. I usually leave mine long and trim the tail to my liking at the end of the tie.
Step 2: Tie in the red wire

Step 3: Apply dubbing wax to the thread and then apply the squirrel dubbing. I usually put the dubbing on thin to about 3 inches of thread.

Step 4: Start to wrap the dubbing from the back to front. As I wrap the dubbing for the body in I will pull out any lose dubbing material.

Make sure you stop short of the bead leaving enough room for your pink chennile. Remove any excess dubbing from the body
Step 5: Wrap your wire around the body 3-4 times. Tie off in the front and snip the extra wire.

Step 6: Tie in your Pink Chennile. I typically give the chennile 1 1/2 wraps to get up towards the bead. An alternative to this is using a pink antron dubbing. This is just as effective and adds a little sparkle to the pink for some flash. Tie off and finish with a couple double whips

Step 7- add some glue to your thread to hold your whip finish. Trim your tail if you tied it on long. Also some like to trim the body hair down a bit. I like to leave mine a little wild, because to me it gives it a little bit of a buggyer look. 

Enjoy this fly! If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Hope everyone has a great season! Tight Lines to all! Here is a link to the Driftless Angler Squirrel Dubbing
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Monday, March 5, 2012

The Start Of Another Season! 2012 Trout Opener

  This past weekend(March 3rd) hundreds of trout anglers flocked to Wisconsin small streams in hopes of connecting with an all mighty trout at the end of there fishing lines. Wisconsin offers thousands of miles of trout streams and has some of the best in the Midwest. The weather however didn't exactly cooperate with the angler in mind. High winds, snowflakes, and frigid temps keep some anglers home on Saturday, but most couldn't wait an extra day and battled it out anyhow. Myself, I didn't make it up on Saturday, but Sunday I was in the water watching the sun rise over the rolling hills in the heart of the Driftless Area.

  I have had the itch bad to get to those small trickles buried in the large rolling hills of Southwest Wisconsin for some time now. The opener has finally come after long hours at the bench tying flies, and making a plan of attack. Sunday morning finally came after being held back a day of fishing. I awoke at 4 A.M. and gathered my gear, and chugged some coffee while I awaited the arrival of my long time fishing buddy Scott Perz. Scott soon arrived and on the road we where arguing back and fourth on who was going to land the biggest, most, and first fish of the day. After a long 3 1/2 hour drive we arrived at our first stream of the day, the West Fork of the Kickapoo River. This stretch of stream has always been kind to me, and the kindness keeps giving.

   This is the first hole which usually produces fairly well in the early season. I started out the morning on the backside of the pool tossing a pink squirrel. Fish to hand out of the back side was 6. No monsters, but they where decent 8-12" fish. I slowly worked my way up to the front side, where last season I caught a nice thick and healthy 17" Brown. Not this time! I did manage 2 fish out of the front side though that where 9-10".  I kept on moving upstream past the bridge of entry to section that has been renovated by the TU chapter out there. All I can say is phenomenal work that these gents have done. I fished the tail end of some riffles and managed 3 more fish, but nothing huge.

  Above is one of the browns I managed to pull out of the tail end of the riffles. Shortly after the release of this young trout it was time to switch streams and grab some lunch.

  After a quick bite to eat, I ventured to the next stream on the hit list, Reads Creek. Reads Creek runs along Rt.14 between Viroqua and Readstown. I have stopped here once before in the early stages of last summer and caught a few decent brook and brown trout on a dry fly known as the Fat Albert. I figure why not give it a shot. It is a smaller stream ranging anywhere from 3-8 feet wide at points, crystal clear water, and a nice rocky bottom. As we pulled up to the bridge we took a glance down to see if we could see any fish, and indeed my assumption was correct. There was a pod of fish schooled up under the bridge that had to have had at least  a hundred fish in it. There were at least 3-4 monsters hanging around them from what I could see, with one pushing 25+ inches long. Sighting these fish got me more than excited, but to my surprise not a one was hungry for my fly. I threw the box at them, and had one swipe but just could not connect. I believe the crystal clear water, my non stealthy approach, and frigid temps had something to do with it. Needless to say, I will be visiting this new honey hole in the near future. It just goes to show that just because you sight a fish, it doesn't mean your going to catch the fish. After a disappointing attempt it was time to move on.

  The last stop of the day was Knapp Creek. Knapp runs along the border of Richland and Crawford Counties. Knapp is cool stretch of water to me. It is loaded with trout, secluded away in the hills, and is flourished with all kinds of wildlife. I was turned on to Knapp last year by Len Harris. Len had assured me that it was loaded with fish, but the size may not be there, which is always fine by me. I try to stop here every time out because it is almost a guaranteed thing. As always it was a guaranteed catch. I landed a good 10-15 fish to hand in a span of an hour and a half. All browns. The infamous Pink squirrel caught all. There was a pool that I typically fish when I visit Knapp that seemed a little different as far as the water level, so I did some investigating. My assumption was correct, the beaver had returned! The creek was dammed by a beaver dam a little further down the bend. Last year there was an obnoxiously large beaver dam that had been cleared and there was at a point a dead beaver sitting on the bank. He must have had a companion because now there is 2 dams, and flooded pools. Hopefully this problem goes away soon. Most fish on this stream where caught in deeper pools. There was some surface feeding on Blue Winged Olives that I had noticed later in the day.

 All in all it was great to get the line wet and share my time on the water with a great friend of mine.  Along our long drive home we passed Black Earth Creek. Black Earth had quite a few anglers spread out along its banks. From the reports I read online there where quite a few catches with a few 20 inchers being reported.

On A Side Note:
 On the evening of the opener there was also a film premier in Viroqua, that a lot of anglers joined in on. Third Year Fly Fisher has done it again, but this time he spotlighted not one but two films based on or around the Driftless Area. "Heart Of The Driftless" and "Reverb" where the two films shown Saturday night. Both where filmed on Driftless Area streams, and had some of the more well known guides and fly shops spotlighted in the films. "Reverb"mostly focused on an old Punk band from the late 80's that still plays live from time to time. These old punk rockers are now grown calm men that spend most of there time fly fishing. The "Reverb" film mostly shows the night and day differences in life styles. The "Heart Of The Driftless" film can be purchased online from the Driftless Angler Fly Shop here .

Bodies of Water: W.Fork of the Kickapoo, Knapp Creek, and Reads Creek
Closest Access: W.Fork-RT.82 Near Viroqua in Vernon County
                         Reads Creek-RT.14 near Readstown in Vernon County
                         Knapp Creek-Hwy. U off of Rt.14 Near Richland Center in Richland County
-Air Temp- 32
-Sky Conditions: Mostly Cloudy with some Snow Showers
-Targeted Species: Trout
-Flies Used: Pink Squirrel, Black Leech, Beadhead Bugger, Red Nymph, San Jaun Worm, and Prince Nymph green
Fish Caught- Roughly 30 Brown Trout
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

indian fly

Very similar to the black prince with the absence of tinsel and a few color changes. I tied it early this weekend and think I will like this fly very much.

hook- 2-8
thread- black
tail- white hackle
   rear- 1/2 yellow wool
   front- 1/2 red wool
hackle- brown
wing- black squirrel tail

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Thursday, March 1, 2012

milwaukee river- sturgeon rehabilitation

So, I came across this sign last week while fishing the Milwaukee River.

Lake Sturgeon Reintroduction Project
It prompted me to do a little more research on the Milwaukee River stocking program and here is some of the best links I found online.

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