Wednesday, May 30, 2012

wisconsin's northwoods brook trout streams

In the land of monster musky, slab smallmouth, and mouthwatering walleye it’s quite possible that the trout streams of Northern Wisconsin are often overlooked. Tourism promotes the plethora of lakes and flowages so heavy that finding information on the trout fishing is near impossible. Internet searches result in nothing concrete and it just may be that the best source of information could be the local fly shop or tavern.

northern wisconsin brook trout water
With hundreds of miles of classified trout water in the area the best bet is to put tire to pavement and come up with your our own hot spots. It’s quite possible to go through a couple “duds” before stumbling across a “stud” but the scenery alone is well worth all the effort.

northwoods brook trout
The streams of the Northwoods are much more temperamental when it comes to weather. Many of these aren't spring fed so summer’s temperatures will impact the fishery tremendously causing the water to become hot enough to shut the bite down. The best bet is the spring and fall. Harsh winters and summers also impact the fish numbers tremendously so look for best fishing after years with more mild seasons.

scenic water to say the least...

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Monday, May 28, 2012

bushy's bongo

Bushy's Bongo
Created by the Australian "Bushy" Bush as a saltwater streamer for tarpon. For larger predators in saltwater it is tied up to six inches or more but for a smaller quarry it can be sized down. Just like clousers and deceivers it makes the transition to freshwater easily.

thread- red
tail- 2-6 grizzle hackles and some flash
collar- 2 grizzle hackles
eyes- bead chain
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

spawning redhorse

While not my normal target species, some of the info I have come across online about this fish they call the redhorse has been almost too much to resist. The sucker runs of the spring can be pretty prolific as I have experienced while fishing the Lake Michigan tributaries in the early spring. Here I have caught more of these white suckers, while fishing steelhead, than I’d care to admit. With that being said, I still have never caught (or targeted) a redhorse.
wisconsin river redhorse
The redhorse makes their spawning runs up the rivers also in the spring. The magic water temperature seems to be in the mid forties and this could take place usually between the months of March and May depending on your region. While their primary purpose in the river is to spawn, often these fish can be coaxed to feed.

Real Life Applications-

It wasn’t until fishing the upper Wisconsin River that I actually came across the redhorse. Here pods of fish had almost taken over some of the more choice pools. To me, it was almost like watching the salmon runs of the fall. I watched the spawning pair of redhorse cutting a redd at the front of the pool while the rest of the group hung at the back. With a baitfish imitation already tied on I began to work the pod of fish. Slow and methodical wasn’t producing and it wasn’t until I burned my bait through the school at lightning speed that I got a strike. This wasn’t one of those I’m hungry and going to eat you strikes, this was a get the hell off my nest I’m going to kill you strikes. Either way, it produced in a big way.

on his way back to the orgy
Never underestimate the territorial instincts of fish on the spawn. Stay tuned for more of my adventures from the Northwoods.
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Monday, May 21, 2012

SCHLABBIN! One For The Books

 This past weekend  was one for the books without a doubt. I hit the water with my good friend Travis. We haven't fished together since last summer so it was great to catch up, and slaughter the fish. I have never in my years of fishing had such a great evening or outing as good as this past weekend.

 We set out at about 4 PM this past weekend in search of fish. The bite itself started out extremely slow. I believe the heat and clear skies did us in from the start. I had told Travis last week that the fishing had been hot,out on my little slice of heaven known as Candlewick lake. After the first 2 hours of fishing I was starting to think that I was going to be eating my words. By 7pm I think we only boated 6 fish tops. Most where small bass and bluegill. Defiantly not the results I have been getting, or thought that we would be getting. About 7:15 we moved spots for the 4th time of the day, and then the magic happened.

 In despair I moved to the south end of the lake aka the dam. The dam has produced some nice fish all year long, and if this didn't produce I knew we where going bust for the day. The sun was finally starting to set, the wind calmed, and the temps where stating to fall. Things where defiantly looking up. We rigged up with some bright and colorful twister tails with a 1/16th oz. jig head. The small jig heads where key in the catching of fish. The lighter weight, the longer it took to sink to the bottom as the fish where attacking on the downfall of the twister. First couple of casts and we where in the fish. It started off with a nice Crappie bite.

  And then the Largemouth started to attack. The later it became, the bigger the fish became.

  The best part of this whole outing started as it became dark, and it continued throughout the night. The infamous Walleyes of Candlewick started to show there googly eyes. I have for 2 1/2 years been trying to pattern these Walleyes and have just come up empty handed. The most I have ever caught in one outing on this lake was 2 or 3. This weekend we caught 8 or 9 in just a few hours. Most of the ones we caught where in the 14 1/4- 15 1/4" range. The legal limit on Candlewick is 16". That 16" was ok as the 3 big Walleyes of the night where 16 1/14", 18", and a monster 20".
The 20"
The 20"

 At some point during the night I looked at Travis and questioned him, " How do we leave this?" The fishing was hot and time continued on. We stayed on the water until midnight and the fish where still biting when we headed in.  I also made a comment along the lines of, " were not fishing, were not catching, we are schlabbin!" Slabs where exactly what we where catching. The biggest bass of the night was 17 1/2", Biggest Crappie was 11 3/4", biggest Walleye was 20", and the biggest Bluegill was 9 1/2". These where all good healthy fish that where full of fight. Travis had even caught a Largemouth that was in the process of swallowing a small catfish. There where tons of Largemouth caught in the 14-16" range. Tons of Crappie in the 9 1/2- 10 1/2 range, and alot of Bluegills in the 9" range. As far as numbers go, between the 2 of us we had to have caught over 40+ fish a piece, 80+ combined. By the end of the night my thumbs looked like I had taken a piece of 40 grit sandpaper and sanded them down from lipping so many fish. In all my years of fishing I don't think I have caught this number of quality fish in one outing. There are a few close ones, but this one will defiantly stick out in my head for a long while. The best part of this whole trip to me was the fact that the elusive may not be so elusive anymore. I am going to be fishing the evening hours a lot more to see if there for sure is a pattern here with the Walleyes. Get out Schlabbin!
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Thursday, May 17, 2012

lefty's deciever

Created in the 1950's by the master Lefty Kreh as a saltwater baitfish imitation, but has applications in both fresh and salt.

hook- 2/0 - 4/0
tail- 3 or 4 hackle feathers add some flash
body- bucktail 2 colors add some flash
throat- red flash cut short inside the hook point
head- lead eyes
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Monday, May 14, 2012

Mixed Bag With A Twist

 It seems the nice weather has finally hit the Midwest. This past weekend was awesome for fishing. Sun was shinning, fish where biting, and the breeze rolling across the lake was perfect. Saturday evening I was able to hit the water with my best friend, my little brother. My brother isn't a fisherman by any means. He is a golf bum if anything. I give him a lot of credit chasing down his golf dream, as he gives me credit on chasing down my fishing dreams. It had been awhile since we had fished together. If my memory serves me correct the last time we made it out fishing was once during the hard water season. Either way any time we get a chance to spend on the water, it is always an enjoyable time.

  We hit the water around 5:30 P.M. on Saturday to chase what ever would bite our lines. The bait of choice was a good old fashioned twister tail in bright colors with a light 1/8oz. pink jighead. It seemed that no matter what way you did your retrieve the fish clung to the bait. We ended up with an exceptional nice mixed bag. Species caught where: Perch,Bluegill,Crappie, and Largemouth Bass. The fish where all great sizes and full of tug and pull. Total fish caught was in the area of 40-50 fish between the 2 of us for a total time of 3 1/2 hours. Biggest fish of each species: Perch 9" , Bluegill 9 1/2", Crappie 11", Largemouth 18 1/4".

18 1/4" spawned out female

We had a double

  It was a great evening on the water, and I enjoyed sharing the time and experience of fire fishing with my little Bro.
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Friday, May 11, 2012

Bohen's Hangtime Gets It Done

  Lately I have been tying a lot of warm water flies. I have set a personal goal to try and accomplish the feat of catching as many different species of fish as possible with a fly rod. It is a personal challenge that keeps me on edge as an angler. I like standing out in the crowd of fisherman, and doing what most would not try.  This is how I felt last night as I stood on the casting deck of the old Sylvan casting my hand tied fly. People in other boats would drive by staring with a dumb founded look." What the hell is that guy doing?" I heard coming from a passing boat. I even noticed some come out of the house to sit and watch from their piers. It was frankly kind of weird getting that kind of attention while fishing to be honest. Doing something different than the typical angler will bring that kind of attention I suppose. In the end though I performed and proved trying something different can catch fish.

 This is a variation of Brad Bohen's Hangtime Musky fly that I had tied a few weeks ago. It is a little smaller than what Brad would tie, but I was working with what materials I  already had. Last night when I set out at 6pm, I was in search for a pike or a musky. I found neither! What I did find was a fat little Largemouth that pounded this fly in the hang stage.

 When tossing the Hangtime, there is a number of ways for retrieval. If you have watched Musky Country:Zero 2 Hero before, then you may know what I am talking about. You can do small strips, big strips, or a constant strip with no pause. I wish I would have had the video cam with me last night to show the different action this fly gets when doing these retrieves. I personally like doing 2-3, 6"-8" strips and then a long pause. During the pause it almost seems like the fly just sits there suspended and then slowly starts to sink. The action of the feathers in the tail section of this fly also gives it one of the most realistic swimming looks of a fish, that I have ever seen. Who would of thought a couple of feathers and some deer tail would create such a realistic looking bait.

 When I caught this bass I had done a few strips and let it hang, and then bam! Through my polarized lenses I saw the fish take the fly. I set the hook and it was game on! He put up a nice fight digging into the weeds, and then giving me an acrobatic show a couple of times. I got him to and then in the boat. Snapped a few pics and sent him back on his way. As I looked up I received a thumbs up from an older gentleman sitting on his pier watching me. It felt great to catch a fish on this pattern, it just wasn't the fish I was looking for though. I moved on awhile later to a different spot in search of the bigger toothy fishy. I never found the teeth , but I did set the hook into another bass. This one was way bigger. If I had to guess 17-19 inch range. I fought him for awhile, but he came unhooked at the side of the boat. Bummer! The sun was setting on the horizon, so I called it a day.

 It just goes to show trying something different can pay off. I think this is an aspect of fishing that most anglers, including myself overlook a lot of times. Get out and Fish!

Here is a link to the Fish Skull Headz
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

trout on spinning gear

Its a nice change of pace to give the spinning rod a work out while trout fishing. We pounded them in the afternoon in Richland County. Nothing big but was sure nice to have a good numbers day.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Streamer Largemouth

  This past weekend had nothing but rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for a majority of the Midwest. So I decided to play it safe and stick around the home waters. Saturday after the storms steered clear, I gathered up my gear, son, and my adopted son. Adopted son is just a neighborhood kid that I treat as my son because he is always at the home front. Hooked up the ole Sylvan and headed down to the lake. Dropped the boat in the water and off we went. Started pitching the jig and a pig combo, and landed 2 nice largemouth right off the bat.

 I had set-up son and adopted son with the tried and true method of fishing Candlewick, a twister tail 4 feet under a bobber.  This method has always worked well and has caught pretty much every species that swims in the lake. My son was a little detained playing with his cell phone, so he came home empty handed. Adopted son caught some really nice fish on the other hand. Adopted son hasn't fished much in his short life so far, so I have taken upon myself to guide him under my wing to fishing success. The kid plain out has a blast when he comes out fishing, and in return makes me smile from ear to ear. First fish he caught was this nice Crappie that was suspended in 15 fow.

  He landed this nice fish in-between my 2 bass. Shortly after I decided to move in a little more shallow and switch up my tactics. I moved into about 6 fow and started casting a streamer I tied up a few weeks ago. I was tossing the 4 wt. fly rod in hope of hooking up with a nice largemouth. In the meantime the adopted soon hooked into something nice. At first glance I thought it was your typical bass, but as it got closer to the boat I knew it was much better.

 Adopted son struck gold again with this nice elusive Candlewick Walleye. It measured 14 1/4". We snapped a quick photo and off Wally Eye went. At this point I am getting the feeling I am getting out fished by the young gun which is pretty typical. Back to the task at hand I went slinging my streamer in search of a connection. Finally at last light I connected. It wasn't a monster but a nice 12in. Largie with an appetite and a fight.

 I apologize for the quality of the pic, but this was the best one that came out of a dozen snapped. It was a feeling of accomplishment when I landed this guy. I have been trying to target many different species on the fly this year as a challenge for myself. Hopefully there will be more of these to come. All in all it was a great evening on the water with the young guns, and the best part was that we all went home with smiling faces.

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Early Season Closes On A Good Hatch!

 This past weekend I headed North for the last hoorah of the early season. My good friend Joe and I headed to the Driftless early Saturday morning. Our first stop was a small stream nestled in the hills of Vernon Co. I as usual started off throwing the good old pink squirrel. 2 casts in I was hooked up! First fish to hand was a nice 8-9 inch Brookie.

Next few casts brought a few 5-6 inch Browns to hand, time to move on. Headed upstream a bit in search of larger fish, but there where none bigger than the 5-6 inch range. Joe and I packed up and moved on to stream number 2.

  Stream number 2 was also small water in Vernon Co. Very clear to the point fish where very spooky. I have sighted numerous 20+ inch fish in this stream, but have yet to hook into one. I have thrown the box at em with no go. This stream is one that will quality when a little dirty, or during some night fishing. Time to move on once again in the search for hungry fish.

As we approached stream number 3 for the day I was starting to worry if this trip was going to be a bust. The condition where a little screwy on Saturday. On and off rain, some sun, and windy at times. Stream 3 is one of the more well known streams in the Driftless and I have fished it many times before with success. I was pretty confident while walking up to the bank of the stream. Started tossing through a riffled bend as the sky started to clear up a little. Then the light switch turned on, and it was fish on from there on till the end of the day. Fish started rising to a fresh BWO hatch. I quickly tied on a size 20 BWO, and it was game on. I hand 10-12 fish to hand, all Browns with the smallest being 10-11 inches.

  You have to love the magical hatch and catching fish on a dry fly. That hatch ended shortly after 6PM so we packed up and headed to camp.  Camp was Sidie Hollow Park just west of Viroqua. The campground was nice, and we had a small stream running along the back side of the campsite that held a few small trout. The camping was fairly cheap at a whopping 15 bucks a night. I highly recommend the campground. Fish stories of the day were shared over the campfire, and the plan of attack for day 2 was laid out.

  I wish I could say that day 2 was even better, but it was a true disappointment. One fish landed all day with several others missed on a dry. Either way the BWO hatch the night before made the trip well worth it. Season opens back up this Saturday. Good Luck out there and get ready for the dry fly season!
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Thursday, May 3, 2012

F3T Rolls Through Wilmette,IL

 The Fly Fishing Film Tour rolled through Wilmette,IL last night. Blake and I where there to see this years films. One word description- phenomenal! We arrived roughly around 7:30 PM and greeted by RT welcoming us to the show. Tons of free stuff and info was handed out at the beginning. They had a sweet raffle for a DVD set and an Orvis rod,reel,and fly line package. The show soon started right on time at 8PM. Prior to going to the show I had watched all the trailers for the films that where going to be showed. The trailers defiantly got me pumped up. And I must say the trailers didn't even do justice to how good the films actually where. A quick breakdown by film title:

1.Reverb- RT, you outdid yourself again! Stellar film about some old punk rockers from the Chicago scene in the late 80's/early 90's that have come together and enjoy the plethora of fly fishing in the driftless area of Wisconsin. One of the guys Larry Damore from the band Pegboy has started his own fly rod co. Flying Pig Flyrods. I saw some of his rods at the show last night and they looked top notch at an affordable price for all. The film showed the ups and downs of the punk rock world with relieving tensions of fly fishing in there backgrounds. I highly recommend the purchase of the DVD that also features Heart of the Driftless.

2.Sipping Dry- Excellent camera work and some dandy trout being caught in Montana. One of the best lines in all the films came from this movie in my own opinion. I forget the name of the so called trout bum, but he states " Don't bring your young kids here cause they might never leave and become that doctor or lawyer you where hoping for" Awesome hatches in the film with some tanks caught on the dry fly.

3.Fly:A Legacy- Very documentryish, but with good intentions of preserving trout stream across the world. I thought it was very well laid out, and had some killer shots of the old British chalk streams.

4.Doc of the Drake- This one kind of hit me in the soft spot. It is a short focusing on an old doctor that came down with Parkinson disease. The disease forced him in to retirement leading to his profound addiction to fly fishing the Drake hatch in Idaho. Doc thought he was going to miss the hatch that year after being admitted into the hospital for pneumonia. Low and behold the Drake hatch waited for the doc to make it to the stream. For 3 days the doc fished and  and continued to miss the hook set, but on the final day he finally got the hook set with line screaming off of his reel. Doc finally got hooked up and it was that fish of a life time that we all dream about. 

5.Hatch- Another good film put together by Gin Clear Media. This film also focused around the chalk streams in Europe and its superior  hatches. Great camera work as always from Gin Clear.

6.Clearly B.C.- This focused on the pursuit of Bull Trout in British Columbia with guide Beckie Clarke. I have read very little about Bull trout prior to viewing this film, and I must say that Bull trout is now on my Bucket List. Beckie lands some very large Bull's that are flourished with color and size.

7.The Kodiak Project- All I can say is HOLY SH*@! This is every Steelhead Junkies dream! Take place on a very remote section of Kodiak Island. At one point in the film one of the guys states that in 5 cast he landed 3 Steelhead. They had double digit days a piece catching some of the biggest and most picturesque Steelhead I have ever seen. This film is defiantly worth the DVD purchase!

8.A Mayan Prophecy- The strife's and struggles of getting through some of the most remote fishing destinations in South America. The was defiantly some humor in this film with a bunch of guys I would consider characters to say the least. This film would be another for the DVD collection as well.

9.The Arctic- This film takes place in what most would consider Gods country or the higher ups country to be politically correct. The far reaches of arctic Canada. There are some slobs of fish in multiple species caught in this film. The most noted was the Arctic Char. Arctic Char has to be one of the most colorful fish I have seen. In the area these gents fish there has been multiple world class tippet records for the Arctic Char caught here. Defiantly enjoyed this one!

10.Right On It- Takes place in the Bahamas chasing Bonefish in the flats. There was some good camera work that I enjoyed, but it seemed like what they showed at the show was very little. This was the only film I was kind of skeptical about.

11. Riding High- The pursuit and addiction of Poon! Not that poon! Poon, as in Tarpon! The thought of chasing a 75-100lbs. fish with a fly rod just fascinates me. Theses guys chase the huge pods of Tarpon up and down the coast of Florida. Camera work was astounding, and the star of the flick has got to be the Yellow Lab that travels with these guys. There is a scene where they have a monster poon screaming line out of the reel and someone forgot to tie the dog to the boat. Needless to say ole yellow goes for a swim chasing down the fish. This was an epic film in my book, and is the first to be purchased on DVD by me.

 I would like to thank RT for hosting last nights show. We all had a great time, and I am looking forward to next year already. I would also like to thank Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters for donating the hat,shirt, and coffee mug that I won in the drawing. I would highly recommend that you all check out the films that where on the tour this year.
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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blake's Big Brown From New Years Eve

  This past weekend I headed up to the Driftless area and was packing my camera with my gear. I did a quick scan through the camera to make sure I had a clean SD card for the trip. Well low and behold I found some footage that I had forgotten about(Sorry again my friend). This was filmed on the Root on New Years Eve. This was this first time meeting and fishing with Blake. We had a blast, and caught some really nice fish that day. I believe we each landed three a piece.This was one of the fish that Blake caught on the Black Prince fly that he had tied up. Last night I went through and edited up the footage. Here is how to catch a tank of a brown in the dead of winter Blake Hamilton Style! Enjoy ;)

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

vernon county wisconsin trout fishing

Saturday morning we experienced periods of intermittent rain but the streamer bite remained pretty consistent. The orange wooly bugger out performed most other colors. I like using the highly visible colors when fishing streamers, the takes could be seen even from the bottom of the deepest pools. The vast majority of what we caught were brookies but there were a few browns mixed in as well.

Later this week I will have some of the highlights up from the afternoon spent in Richland County as well.
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