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.
This morning I got up early for my once-a-year trek to the South Branch of the Oconto River. The section I selected is catch-and-release only, and is the home to some pretty big brookies and browns.
The wading was easier than in past years. Someone has been busy trimming back the dead falls. Thanks to whoever you are!
I did see some large trout, but today they were not interested in taking my spinner. I did catch one brook trout and two brown trout, but they were nothing to write home about.
I fished for about four hours, and at the end I was anxious to get out. So I tried crossing at a place that was probably too deep. I went for a refreshing swim in my waders.
That was a great test of the waterproof pouch in which I keep my cell phone. Unfortunately, the test result was “FAIL” and now I’m trying to dry my phone out in a bag of rice. I think there is a new one in my future!
There was another angler gearing up in the parking lot when I got back to the car. Apparently, he has been fishing this stretch going back many years. He told me about the old days when this section was stocked and there were crowds of fisherman camped out on the river early in the season.
I always wondered why the parking lot was so big when I have never encountered anyone else there. I guess that explains it.
I headed into Gillet for lunch and was back home in Appleton by 12:30.
I debated whether to fish on Wednesday after work because the forecast called for thunderstorms. But at the end of the workday, I checked the weather one more time and it looked like there would be a window between the storms. I decided to go for it, and picked a stretch of Willow Creek I had never visited before.
The storm predicted at 4:00 never passed through, and when I arrived after that it was actually quite sunny for a while. This section of the river was typical for Willow, sometimes choked off with brush and in other spots so wide as to be pond-like. I usually fish in the upstream sections of this stream. This was the furthest downstream I’ve ever fished Willow Creek.
I didn’t see a lot of trout where I jumped in. I did catch one brown hiding under a log, but it was a long wait for the next one.
I was within sighting distance of my climbing out point when it started to rain. When the thunder started, I got out early and walked through a swamp and someone’s back yard to make it back to the car before it started pouring.
I caught seven brown trout and was successful in staying (mostly) dry despite the rain.
The weekend started out cloudy and drizzly (just like the trout like it!), and that was still the weather this morning when I headed to a cedar swamp section of Flume Creek.
Getting to the starting point on public lands required some precision navigation. There is 16.5 foot wide right of way that is about a third of a mile long and involves a 90 degree turn. The surrounding land is heavily posted, so the route is not for the faint of heart. I had the coordinates programmed into my GPS and a compass in hand the whole time for the hike in.
When I arrived at the stream, I could tell right away that the trout were out in numbers. I caught the first brookie on my second cast, Loads of trout were visible all morning. It was fun to draw them out, even when I didn’t connect with them.
The trout I caught were in pretty predictable places, along deep banks and upstream of wood piles. Sometimes Flume Creek yields mostly dinky brook trout, but today they were mostly mid-sized. The majority were in the 9-10 inch range with a few bigger and a few smaller.
I caught and released an even 50 brook trout. What a great way to spend a cloudy morning! And I got my exercise – the GPS showed 3.9 miles by the time I got back to the car.
I stopped in Iola for lunch, and went for a swim in Shadow Lake when I passed back through Waupaca on the way home.
I missed fishing last weekend because I was off on vacation, meeting family in Milwaukee and Madison. There was some promising water nearby on some days, but it wasn’t that kind of vacation.
Yesterday the weather was gorgeous and after work I headed for a section of the Tomorrow River that I haven’t fished in several years, and only once before in the evening. I forgot how close this spot is, vand I made it there in sixty minutes.
As soon as I waded in I could see trout, but they were not inclined to be very cooperative. I easily induced them to follow the lure, but they would not take it.
The river has been getting lots of attention in this stretch. Some pretty serious sandbag work has been done to narrow the channel. Thanks to those who did all that work!
I finally did catch a brown trout. I caught a second brown on one of the rare occasions where I guessed where a trout should be and cast precisely to that spot.
The heat wave broke a little, and the mosquitoes took some time off, so it was a very pleasant evening to be out on a stream (even if I only caught two trout).
I could tell that we’re just about half way through summer. Twilight is coming earlier, and so I made it home to watch a little TV with Cindy before bedtime.
After work yesterday I drove west past Wautoma to fish in the crystal clear waters of the West Branch of the White River. The water was so transparent that I could easily make eye contact with the trout. I could see them, and unfortunately they could also see me. It was a good set of conditions for observing the fish and their reaction to the lure. There were loads of trout, but most of them just let the spinner pass on by. Some noticed it and followed it for while and then headed for cover. Some were scared by it, and high tailed away as quickly as they could. Every once in a while one would take it.
I caught mostly clueless small ones. The nicest was the one shown in this picture. I got him by blindly casting around a bend so neither of us could see the other.
Although they weren’t bad at first, later in the twilight the mosquitoes and flies came out with a vengence. I ended up hiking out through a swamp, and just about choked on all the bugs attacking my face. Sometimes, that part makes me wonder why I like being out in the woods in the summer at all.
My catch tally was three rainbows and four browns. And I made note of where the really big ones were trying to hide in the clear water for when I come back next time.
After a couple of days of bicycle riding down in Chicago, I wasn’t sure I would feel rested enough to get up before 4:00 AM this morning. But I woke up before the alarm went off at 3:45, and thought I could beat the bright sunshine if I got to Chaffee Creek before sunrise.
Chaffee is the stream I always think of when I think of big fish in a small stream. The wading is sometimes difficult. The flow is narrow enough that the brush bridges over and doing the limbo is required. There are deep holes on some of the bends (that’s where the big ones are hiding). And there are soft spots in the sand where you can sink quickly to above the ankle. But the trout are in there.
I caught my first trout in the pool where I jumped in. That took the pressure off so I could enjoy the rest of the wade.
Until the sun rose high in the sky, I caught a mix of small and decent-sized browns. After the sky brightened, even the deep bends were illuminated, and that was the end of the catching for the day.
I caught a total of six brown trout and waded about a mile.
I went for a swim in Curtis Lake to wash off the bug spray and stopped for lunch in Wautoma. And, as usual, I stopped for an ice cream at Milty Wilty.
To celebrate the 4th, I got up early this morning to return to a favorite stretch of the Pine River. I wasn’t alone, the mosquitoes got up early, too!
It was warm, but not as oppressively so as other recent days. The river flow was about normal and the water was reasonably clear.
I started fishing at about dawn. I didn’t catch anything right away, but I did see a few follows. I’m always encouraged when I know the trout are there.
This section is a fairly easy wade. There were no wader-topping deep holes and the bottom is sandy but comfortably firm.
I finally started catching browns about a half hour into my wade. I hooked way mare than I was able to land. If I pulled in every one I had hooked, my catch total would have been triple what it was. Why are there days like this where the fish just don’t want to chomp down?
The catching continued until the sun got too bright. I caught 13 browns (moostly small but with a couple of nice ones thrown in) and one lonely brook trout. I waded over a mile and by the time I walked back to the car I had logged two and a quarter miles.
I headed into Wild Rose for breakfast at the recently reopened Chatterbox Cafe. Finally, I topped off the morning with a pleasant swim in Kusel Lake on the way back home.