For what will be my last trip of the regular trout season in Wisconsin, I fished Soules Creek near Wautoma this morning. It was good and cold when I started. I know for sure that it was below freezing because I had to chip ice off of the guides between casts. It felt cold, too.
There weren’t as many trout in a biting mood as when I fished this same spot a year ago. But on about the third bend in the river I caught the first brown trout.
The next two after that were nice size trout for a stream as small as Soules. It always amazes me how there can be decent trout in streams that are small enough to span with outstretched arms.
As the sun came out and it warmed up, the fish went back into hiding. I did hook one more big one, but he managed to self-release before I was able to land him.
It was a sad sight on the way home to see Milty-Wilty closed for the season. Even though I wasn’t really in the mood for a frozen custard, I don’t like thinking about the long wait until next spring to get one.
It was nice and cool this morning with an air temperature of 40°F when I got to the Mecan. That was good for keeping the mosquitos in check. I didn’t use any bug spray, and I didn’t even want to until much later in the day when I hiked out through the woods and the temperature had risen to 60°.
The fish were out on this stretch. I drew some out of a pool on my first cast, and I had landed one by my fourth cast. Most of the action came before the sun got too high, although I still caught a few stragglers after the sky was bright.
I caught nine brown trout and enjoyed a beautiful morning on a beautiful river.
I thought I better make my blood type public. That way, if I have another trip like tonight and you find me pale and unconscious by the side of the river after the mosquitos drain my blood, you can pass that info on to the rescue team.
Aside from the mosquitos using me to bulk up for winter, I had fun picking up where I last left off on Radley Creek. Enough time has passed since all of our rain that water levels are back down to normal. The sky was clear, but the sun is setting earlier now and so the fish were out and cooperative.
I caught eleven brown trout before climbing out at 7:30 when it got dark.
My old reliable stretch of the West Branch of the White River was not quite as reliable as usual this morning. But it was still fun, and I did catch some trout even if they weren’t as numerous or as large as on past trips.
This section offers the opportunity for a trout “triple play” – brown, rainbow, and brookie from the same stream in a day. I’ve done it here before.
I caught a small brown right off the bat, but that was it for a while. I had no trouble flushing the fish and getting them to chase and bump the lure, but they weren’t in the mood to get hooked today. The weather conditions (foggy and cloudy) seemed right, but maybe the trout don’t read the same books I do.
Eventually, the catching picked up a little. I caught a couple of small rainbows and several small browns, with one decent one thrown in. Alas, I did not land a brook trout, so no triple play for me today.
I caught six browns and two rainbows, and finished up in time to go for a swim in Curtis Lake before lunch.
Yesterday after work I headed to the West Branch of the White River. The sun was shining and the water was really clear. As is my usual practice, I tied on one of my home-made silver spinners.
I almost always use silver. There are lots of theories about lure color. I debunked most of those, at least for myself, by going a whole year without using anything but silver. I caught just as many fish overall that year as I usually catch.
But based on a comment sent to this blog, for the last few years I sometimes pull out a black spinner. My rule of thumb is to do that only if I see the trout actively running away from the lure. That usually happens in clear water when the sun is shining.
I fished for an hour with silver and caught one small brown. I saw trout running from the lure, so I switched to black. I immediately caught a twelve inch rainbow. Soon after, I caught a couple of nice browns and continued to land trout at a rate of at least one every fifteen minutes. Was it the black blade, or was it the sun sinking in the sky? I guess I don’t know for sure, but I will be careful to always pack a few black spinners from now on.
It ended up being a very pleasant night, and I totaled eight browns and one rainbow.
Thursday night I went camping with some musical friends at Hartman Creek State Park near Waupaca. I got up early on Friday to do a little fishing in Radley Creek.
The weather was really perfect for trout angling. The sky was overcast, and it was even a little foggy for the first part of the morning.
I hiked through the woods to start out further downstream than I have even been before on this river. As I fished back upstream, I started seeing some trout right away, and I know if I can see them I can usually catch at least one.
The water was not quite as deep as the last time I fished here, but there were still a few holes I had to circumvent by getting out and walking around.
I caught a couple of small ones, and then finally a nice one who was hiding under some brush. That big one made the trip worthwhile.
I decided to quit while I was ahead, and climbed out when I was only half way back to the car. At that point I had caught and released eight broown trout.
I couldn’t find any place open for breakfast in King on a Friday morning, so I headed to a new place in Waupaca instead.
I made it back to the park in time to participate in some jamming around the campfire and swimming across a lake for exercize. In all, it was a very fun weekend.
I was back on my home waters Wednesday after work. I fished a section of Willow Creek that has been reliable for big ones in the past.
This time, the water was much lower than the last time I fished here about a year ago. Then, the wading was tricky because of frequent deep holes over the top of my waders, but the reward was big brown trout. The shallower water made the wading easier, but unfortunately it was at the expense of the big ones. They must have been off hiding somewhere else.
I did catch some small ones pretty quickly, along with frequent chubs. It was well into the trip as sunset approached when I finally caught a decent brown.
The land surrounding the river is really brushy along this stretch. I fished to a spot where the river comes back close to the road so I did not have to hike out through that jungle.
Sunset is coming earlier as summer wanes, so I had to push my pace to get to the exit point before it got too dark. On the plus side, I was back home in Appleton by 9:00 PM.
After our first night of camp, we took a cross-country day hike and followed a drainage up to Half Moon Lake. I knew there were plenty of fish in this lake from my last visit two years ago.
The lake is fun to fish, because it is pretty easy to guess where the trout were hiding. Abrupt drop-offs and wood piles tend to be very productive. I cast for a while when we stopped for lunch, and then at several spots on the hike back (we headed overland to pick up a marked trail for the return trip). I’m sure I could have stayed longer and caught many more fish, but the third one I caught was a nice brookie and the lure nicked his gill rakers and that was the end of him. I quit at that point because I did not want to spoil any more of the resource.
We finally found the trail when were were just about giving up and I resorted to pulling out my GPS. We saw the trail only twelve feet away when some other hikers passed by going toward the lake.
The only downside of taking the trail back was that we lost too much altitude and had to hike uphill part of the way to return to our camp on Susie Lake. We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon admiring the view from there.
For our backpacking vacation this year, Cindy and I tackled the Desolation Wilderness southwest of Lake Tahoe. Thank heavens the forest fires were south and north of this area. Smoke from fires elsewhere in the state did sometimes obscure our views. In our travels to the trailhead and back, we got a little sense from the locals of the damage and devestation the fires are causing in California.
The permit system at Desolation works by allowing you to pick your first night’s camping zone. After that, you are allowed to camp just about anywhere in the park.
Our first night was on Susie Lake, and we snagged a beautiful site. We did see a few other hikers pass through the area, but we pretty much had the lake to ourselved for two days and two nights.
There was a rock outcropping near our tent that plunged into the lake, generating some deep water where there were a few nice brook trout circling.
I caught one the first night of camp. That trout was not messing around – he took the lure agressively like the predator he was. Even though the fish wasn’t huge, he did have a lot of fight and gave my pack rod a run for its money.
As is often the case with a challenging hike, we went to bed before it even got dark. When we did get up to make a trip to the woods in the middle of the night, the stars were unbelievable. I saw the andromeda galaxy with my unaided eyes, and spotted a meteor (possibly an early perseid).
I fell asleep feeling satisfied that I had caught a trout in Susie. During my last trip two years ago I was never able to do that.