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 http://www.driftlessangler.com/estore/details/44770/0/2827 .
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