The annual fundraiser for Fox Valley Trout Unlimited is Saturday, January 20. Please stop by to support conservation of cold water habitat. I will have a booth there to promote fishing in the Sand Counties, lure making, and spinner fishing for trout.
In 2017 I broke my
records for most fishing trips and for most trout caught. I was able to tally
more backcountry fishing than usual because there were ample opportunities in
alpine lakes where I backpacked this year. I fished in several states –
California, North Carolina, Michigan, and Wyoming. I also spent a little longer
in the Driftless Area in the Spring.
I discovered several new
spots closer to home, too. This year’s highlights included new stops on Wedde
Creek, Soules Creek, and Willow Creek.
I continued to use my
hand made spinners for all of my trout fishing, mostly with silver blades but
occasionally with gold. I’ve drastically reduced the number of spinners I lose,
so I think I have a lifetime supply in inventory at this point.
Stats for my entire 12
year trout fishing career are tabulated below. This year, I caught 328 brown
trout, 103 brookies and splake, 30 rainbows, and 8 cutthroats. And my one skunk
in 2017 really wasn’t that bad, because I did catch a smallmouth but no trout.
2017: 51 trips, 1 skunk,
2016: 43 trips, 1 skunk, 411 fish
2015: 36 trips, 3 skunks,194 fish
2014: 35 trips, 3 skunks, 230 fish
2013: 38 trips, 3 skunks, 245 fish
2012: 36 trips, 1 skunk, 253 fish
2011: 27 trips, 0 skunks, 216 fish
2010: 36 trips, 8 skunks, 168 fish
2009: 36 trips, 3 skunks, 167 fish
2008: 33 trips, 5 skunks, 135 fish
2007: 23 trips, 1 skunk, 80 fish
2006: 1 trip, 0 skunks, 1 fish
I’m looking forward to more great fishing in 2018.
Yesterday was October 15, the last day of the regular inland trout season in Wisconsin. The morning was rainy, and so I waited until later in the day than usual to head out for one last day of fishing.
I picked Soules Creek, a stream I had never fished before. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The books describe it as being in the middle of the swamp, so I was prepared for some soggy steps to get to the river.
The DNR map showed a parking area where I wanted to start, but I couldn’t see it on the Google maps satellite view. When I got there, I saw why. The lot was at the end of a driveway that angled into the woods. I forgot my GPS unit, so I wasn’t sure how far it would be from the car to the stream.
I took a reading on my compass, and started bushwhacking. Well, the stream was only about six steps from the car!
From the edge of the bank, before I even really jumped in, I caught a medium size brown trout on my second cast, and another on my third. I was already liking Soules Creek.
The trout came hot and heavy as I worked my way upstream. Eventually, I totaled fourteen browns and two brook trout. That made for a great last day of the season, and I’ll be adding this spot to my list for an annual visit.
Cindy and I were up in Houghton, Michigan last weekend to meet some friends at McLain State Park. We had a cabin rented there with them.
I tried fishing on an upstream section of the Pilgrim River early on Friday morning. It had been raining on Thursday night, so the water level was up just a little bit.
I wasn’t sure how productive this stream would be, but I got optimistic when I caught a little rainbow on my fourth cast. Although I did see some more trout in the water, that turned out to be the only fish I caught in about an hour of trying.
I fished through a bend in the river and got to the spot I planned to get out. Although it was close to the road on the map, the problem turned out to be elevation. The trip to the road required climb up a steep bank and bluff. After I started sliding down a couple of times, I found a little spring bed that angled up the hill. That did the trick and got me back to the top.
We had breakfast in Calumet, and I had the pastie of my dreams at Roy’s Pasties for lunch later on.
I was finally back in Wisconsin this weekend, after a business trip to Las Vegas that came on the heels of our backpacking trip in Grand Teton National Park.
Yesterday, it was in the 80s °F, so I went swimming (for maybe the last time this year) in Lake Winnebago. This morning was a little drizzley, perfect weather for trout fishing.
I found a section of the Mecan River that I have never fished before. It was a challenging walk from the parking spot to the stream, but when I got there, I caught a nice brown trout on my first cast. That’s the way I like to start out a trip!
The Mecan is consistently a beautiful river. The water is clear, so even when you miss landing a fish, you can see it chase or bump the lure. It’s a great place to learn where the trout hide and how to draw them out.
The wading is generally pretty easy, too. The pools aren’t much deeper than four or four and a half feet. The stream is wide and there are few obstacles.
The trout were cooperative today. I caught nineteen browns on one of my gold-bladed home made spinners.
And the really good news was that on the way home Milty-Wilty was still open, so I had a frozen custard.
Our second night on the trail was spent in the “North Cascade” camping zone. We had a nice site near Cascade Creek, with a view of the biggest peaks of the Tetons. Unfortunately, because of the forest fires out west, the view was obscured by a smokey haze.
We were still tired and recurperating from our climb, so we decided to take it easy on Wednesday. We hung around camp in the morning, and I decided to try my hand at fishing the creek, even though it was pretty small and didn’t look promising.
There was one run that looked like it might hold a fish, but I couldn’t pull anything out of it. So I turned upstream and cast to a shallow four inch deep pool. I saw a fish follow the lure.
With one more cast upsteam, I pulled in a small cutthroat. I decided to let the river rest after that. The trout deserve some places to hide out in the wilderness, too.
We spent the final night in the “South Cascade” zone, and then hiked out via Cascade Canyon on Thursday. After the backpack trip, we spent some time in Jackson, and traveled back to the park for one more day hike but there was no more fishing involved.
Our second day of hiking started out with continuing the strenuous climb up to Paintbrush Divide. From where we started on the first day at String Lake, reaching the divide required gaining a full 4000 feet in altitude. I call that good exercise!
The hike was even more challenging than we anticipated. We were expecting to have to cross one glacier/snowfield near the top, but instead there were three. They were steep and required some concentration to keep from slipping down the mountain.
Then we lost the trail near the top, and we had to wait for someone to come hiking the other way to pick up the route. It turned out something had given way, and the trail now required climbing up a five foot ledge from where we were.
The reward for making it over the divide was the long walk down to Lake Solitude. When we reached the lake in the late afternoon, we were feeling pretty exhausted, but Cindy was nice enough to stop for fifteen minutes to let me try a few casts.
Lake Solitude was a real surprise as far as the fish were concerned. I didn’t pick a particularly promising spot, just what was close to the trail. There was no structure, other than a few round boulders under water, and no sign of any rising fish. But there were trout galore!
I caught cutthroat or cutbows on my first three casts. In fifteen minutes I caught six before we had to move on. It was like fishing at the hatchery!
I guess not that many anglers make it up there because of the long hike and the altitude. This was definitely one of the best rest breaks in a hike ever.
Cindy and I just got back from a week in Grand Teton Nation Park. The main activity was a backpacking trip that took up four days and three nights. We went up Paintbrush Canyon, over the divide, and back down Cascade Canyon. This was a strenuous route (especially for 59 year-olds), but we were glad to be able to complete it and appreciated the level of exercise and challenge involved.
I had my fishing gear along, but did not really know what to expect. My goal was to try and catch at least one cutthroat during the trip.
Our first camp was on Holly Lake. I thought that was going to be my best chance. After the tent was set up, we headed down to the lake together. We had one canister of bear spray between us, and the word was the bears were pretty active in the area, so Cindy was more interested in my fishing than usual and stuck close.
I started out casting a Jake’s Spin-a-lure. Everyone swears by them in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, so I thought it was worth a try. The hairpin lures are heavier than my usual spinners, so it was easy to cast them a mile. But fifteen minutes of angling yielded nothing, not even a bump or a sighting, so I switched to my home-made spinners.
I pulled in a cutthroat on the spinner on about the third cast.
And that was it for the big lake. I fished a little longer but had no more bites.
There was a smaller side like near camp that is probably attached to the big lake in the spring and early summer. I saw some fish rising there and managed to catch one to verify they were small rainbows.
You can’t beat the scenery at these alpine lakes, and I did manage to catch the cutthroat I had dreamed about.
Weather predictions were conflicting for most of the day. One service said there was a 15% chance of thunderstorms, and another said 100%. I took a look at the radar, and thought I saw a gap between storms that I could exploit. After work I headed off to the Pine River, east of Wild Rose.
Well, the “100%” forecast was closer to the mark. I drove through some violent storms with high winds and hail. I kept hoping to break through to find some calmer skies, but I made it all the way to the river, and then into Wild Rose with no break in the storm.
I spent a half hour warming up and drying out over a cup of tea, and then started back home. But on the way I drove by the river one more time, and the rain slowed up a little.
I figured I could just hop in for a few minutes and maybe catch a fish. The water was up several inches, and the stream was opaque and silty. I waded in, but the going was tough. There were lots of submerged rocks and branches, and I couldn’t see the bottom. I passed through several holes that came within millimeters of the top of my waders.
I did manage to catch one clueless brown trout, but that was it. I fished for maybe twenty more minutes, and saw no signs of any other trout.
I high tailed it home and was there before 8:00 PM. So much for what will probably be my last after work trip for the year.