Vacation and cold weather has kept me off the water for the last week, so I was anxious to get out again after work tonight. I picked yet another stretch of Willow Creek, a section I’ve often fished in the early season (going back to the days when the early season didn’t start until March).
Willow Creek can be tricky to wade, and I almost went for a swim when I tripped on a root. I managed to right myself just in time, and suffered nothing worse than one wet sleeve.
I caught the first trout within five minutes. It’s always good to remove the possibility of a skunk at the start.
The sky was overcast and that made it dark early in the evening. I caught four brown trout all together. I quit around 7:00 PM and was back home by 8:15.
Overall, I would rate this as another pleasant night on Willow Creek.
Tonight was my first after-work trip this year. I picked up where I left off on Sunday on Willow Creek in Waushara County.
The temperature was up, almost to 60°F, and the fish were more willing to bite than they were this weekend. The wading was still a little tricky because of the depth and a bottom that was mucky in spots. But at least this time I didn’t go swimming in my waders!
I caught five brown trout, and the biggest was probably around eleven inches.
Five trout on a work night. That’s not bad for this time of year!
It felt like this might be the last trip until fall where I can skip the bug spray. We’ll see if maybe I can get one or two more trips in without resorting to the DEET.
It was still cold this morning, but the afternoon was promising temperatures in the mid 40s °F. One of my mainstays is Willow Creek in Waushara County, and I had not fished it yet this year. So, off I went and I arrived at stream side at about 12:30.
The water felt really cold. The section I chose had some pretty deep stretches, and so my legs didn’t get much relief from the cold. I wished I had worn some thermal underwear under my jeans.
There were soft patches in the sand, which made the wading difficult. I got stuck in the muck at the sides of the stream a couple of times.
It was quite a while before I saw a trout. The first one that came into view followed my lure out of a deep bend and bumped it but didn’t bite.
I waded around a pool where the bed near the bank was especially mucky. I found myself really stuck, and could only make gradual progress by grabbing onto the overhanging brush. Eventually, I saw something that looked solid but when I stepped on it, it gave way and I started to go down. I threw my rod toward shore, and kicked over to the other side of the river.
My rod never made it to shore. I could not find it underwater because of all the silt my struggles had mixed into the current. I figured I probably had lost the rod, so I sat down on the opposite bank to take a few breaths and put my spare rod together (the spare has been in my vest ever since the first rod I lost in Willow Creek several years ago).
When I hopped back in, I decided to look one more time, and I thought I saw the shiny lure tangled in some roots. Further investigation got me back into the deep water. The shiny spot wasn’t my lure, but when I turned around I saw my rod on the bottom, about five feet down. I used my spare rod to fish it up, and attempted to hop back over to the shallow side. I almost made it. The water was one eighth of an inch deeper than the top of my waders. That was refreshing!
If I hadn’t been thoroughly chilled before, now I definitely was!
After all of that, I decided to keep fishing with my waterlogged rod, and I put the spare back in my vest.
A short time later, I finally caught a brown trout, the only one I landed all day.
It doesn’t get much better than it was today in terms of Wisconsin weather in March. Skies were blue, and temperatures got up into the 50s °F.
What a great day to try my hand at the famous Lawrence Creek in Marquestte County. As usual, at this point in the year I had the river to myself.
I jumped in on the downstream side of a bridge crossing. Soon after wading through the culvert, I landed my first brook trout.
There were lots of little brookies, most too small to catch on the #10 hooks I use on my lures. I think the little ones scare the big ones, chasing them away from the spinner. It was fun to fish in water clear and shallow enough that I could see all of the action even when I didn’t actually catch what I saw.
I spent a couple of hours fishing and I caught and released a total of ten brook trout, my first double digit trip of the year!
As I was walking back down the road, a couple of anglers drove by and stopped to inquire about conditions. They were going to continue upstream from where I finished, and I hope their luck was as good as mine.
How come I can fly all over the world and not get too shaken up, but the one hour time change every Spring always throws me for a loop? I waited until after lunch today to let the water warm up, and then I headed to the Pine River over in Waushara County.
The afternoon started out with blue skies, but gradually the clouds took over. There were lots of nice trout present, and I got some chases and even some light nibbles. But the big ones were a little timid.
I did end up catching three small browns before I made it up to the next road for the long walk back to the car.
It was a good trip for early March, and I know where some nice ones are for a return trip later in the season.
I put the beautiful day to good use this afternoon by paying a visit to Neenah Creek in Marquette County. Neenah Creek is about as far as I’ll drive for a one-day trip. It took me an hour and 40 minutes to get there.
While I was fishing, the temperature got up to 46°F. Pretty good for the beginning of March!
The stream did not disappoint. I hooked the first brown trout within five minutes of wading into the stream.
I passed a couple of other anglers. They were headed downstream and I was going upstream, so when I saw them I got out of the stream to leave them a few bends in the river undisturbed. Eventually, I got back in and continued upstream.
In all, I caught six browns – well worth the long drive. And I enjoyed that the only coat I had to wear was my Goretex wind breaker. I made it back home by dinner time.
Here’s an article I wrote for our TU chapter newsletter:
Angling with spinning tackle can be a very productive method for catching trout. In fact, it is my favorite trout fishing technique, especially for the small streams of the Central Sands area. Spinning is easy for young anglers to learn, and it can provide variety for fly fishers between hatches or when they want to try their hand at small brushy streams.
A great reference for fishing with spinning equipment is the book Spinner Fishing for Trout by Jeff Deitrich (Stackpole Books, 2003, ISBN 0-8117-3104-9). This is a “how-to” guide, with the subtitle “A proven system of tackle, techniques, and strategies for catching trout”.
Deitrich covers all the necessities, including equipment, casting and retrieving, and where the trout are. His recommendations for equipment direct the reader to good gear at reasonable prices. At the time of writing, his kit of essentials including tackle, wading outfit and license totaled less than $160. Compare that to a good starter kit for fly fishing!
The book also discusses factors other than technique that impact catch rates. For example, Deitrich recommends getting up early (earlier than me!) to be in the stream at dawn. That way, “you can sleep in the afternoon, when everyone else is fishing”. Other pointers are to get out as often as possible (including before and after work) and to keep moving on the stream to get to the fish.
I first encountered this book several years ago when I was stuck at home recovering from surgery. Reading it gave me something to look forward to once I could go outside again. My first day back in the outdoors happened to be the last day of trout season, and I caught a nice brown on my first try. Since then, I’ve continued to follow the system outlined in the book. I’ve enjoyed another 400 trout fishing trips since that first one, and I caught trout on 370 of those trips.
The book is not currently available in print form as a new item, but plenty of used copies can be found via a search of the internet. It is also available in digital format from Amazon.com, Google Books, and Barnes and Noble.
It was cold and clear today for my first trip of the year to the Pine River. I arrived at noon, hoping that the water would be warming and the trout would be active.
It never even got up to the mid-20s °F. The cold weather was pretty rough on my equipment. I got my reel wet, and the anti-reverse spring froze in the open position. I was braced for some manual drag engagement in case I caught a big one. Luckily (?) that didn’t happen.
The kinks in my line turned into breaks a couple of times, too. That was from a combination of the cold and the fact I haven’t changed my line in a while.
When I climbed out of the river to get around a deadfall, the sole of one of my wading boots froze to the ground. It pulled off when I jumped back in.
And all the while, I had to melt the ice off of the rod guides on about every third cast.
Next time, I think I’ll wait for it to get above freezing again!
I ended up hooking just one brown trout. But I did enjoy the sunshine, and I saw lots of trout. They just weren’t in the mood to chomp down on the lure.
Yesterday would have been a nice day to go fishing, but it was Cabin Fever Day, the annual fund raiser for Fox Valley TU. I chatted with many area anglers, and the topic of Chaffee Creek came up a couple of times.
Luckily, today was almost as nice. I headed out to Chaffee Creek to try my luck for the first time in 2018.
I was dreaming of catching some trout right off in the pool near the start of my wade. Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, I fished for two hours and did not connect with any trout. I was thinking about throwing in the towel and taking my skunk.
But at the start of the third hour, I finally caught two browns in a nice pool below an abandoned bridge. I caught one more in a straight run soon after.
Three trout from a January trip to a small stream still constricted by shelf ice – I think that’s doing OK.
It was nice to be outside for some exercise, too. According to my GPS, I had waded and walked two miles by the time I got back to the car.