Thursday, December 30, 2010

Deep snow

Listened to an interesting "On Point" with Tom Ashbrook. Was on my way to a stream yesterday rocking to some NPR jams. Worth a listen.

Fur, Fortune & American Empire

The snow was deep, fishing was slow. Scenery was great and was glad to have my snow shoes on.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Western Rivers

The Bighorn, MT
A Bighorn Rainbow
The Green River, UT

The Wilson, OR

Sunday, December 19, 2010

through the ice

There is a side channel of the Black River below our house. It only carries water during extremely high flow events, like the flood during this past September. During the moderate to low flow conditions that are typical on the Black, the side channel only receives water from downstream. If you think this seems a bit counter-intuitive, you are right. But you need to consider that immediately downstream of the channel is a big corner pool with a back eddy that pushes water up into the side channel. What this means is that the lower end of the side channel receives a lot of slow moving to stagnant water with low oxygen and a lot of sand. During the summer, there are sometimes gar rising back there in the shallows. Only a few fish species can tolerate low oxygen levels, gar being one of them. Northern Pike can also tolerate relatively low oxygen levels, but during the summer Pike are also looking to find bait fish, many of which are out in the back eddy, not up in the side channel. The other thing about this side channel is that without a major flood to periodically scour it out, it tends to fill up with sand. Why should you know all of this? Well, I got a hot tip from someone about the Pike fishing in the side channel during the winter following a flood. The last time (so and so) caught Pike from the side channel was the winter of 1993, following the Great Flood. That was the last time the side channel had been scoured out, until this year.

I’ve been drilling some holes through the ice, which is well over a foot thick now, all over the side channel looking for Pike. Water depths have ranged from 2’ to 5’. I think the depth is adequate, but I’m not convinced that the fish are back in there. I haven’t fished it particularly hard, only a few hours here and there, and with kids. But it has been a nice way to get outside and have some family fun. I need to get some live minnows. So far I’ve been jigging preserved minnows, which just aren’t the same as the real thing. After the Holiday’s I’m going to work hard in that side channel and find out if there are fish in it. After all, if I don’t find out, no one else will. There is nobody fishing back there. Any advice?

The kids are working it... Sam only dropped the Dora pole in once and the scoop in twice. He figured out pretty fast that it isn't a good idea to try to touch the water-cold.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Crusty Waders

new in box
swishy sounds when you walk
feel too new
occupy your mind
afraid to kneel
shiny fancy waders

getting older now
patched a few times
fish slime deet dirt
walking crunch
no longer occupy your mind
crawl on hands and knees
crusty waders

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Black Eyed Snakes

Before kids, and when we lived in Duluth, we used to frequent the Black Eyed Snakes shows. High energy, lots of noise, lots of sweat, and a ton of fun. We were at this show in 05 and I think you can hear AJ singing at the end. The video sounds like a mess, but it was cool to find it posted on the web. Tim from riverblends will remember this well as he got beat up by a he/she :)

Also at this show were the Moaners, two girls from Memphis (I think). The drummer could play guitar and drums at the same time.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

End of November

I closed out the 2011 trout season just before Thanksgiving. Iowa produced some nice bookies and a ton of spawned-out browns. I caught a couple of 12-14 inch fish that looked like snakes. Finished the season fishing a nice midge hatch, nothing special, but fun.
In other news, the Black is a steady stream of slush. Finally, I had the eager beaver out yesterday (my chainsaw). Took down an oak and a pine.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Samurai

A winter ago Uncle Nate and I tied a few samurai streamers. It was spotted in a stealhead book and has been proven to be a deadly assassin.

"Not fishing for a while gives you a perspective on the sport that being in the thick of it never will. You remember things–good, solid, revealing things–that might otherwise have drifted on downstream and gone out of sight forever". –John Gierach "Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Iowa's clear creeks

These are not trout streams. However, they are just as pretty and hold smallies, carp, and others.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A River Runs Through it

Poets talk about "spots of time," but it is really fisherman who experience eternity compressed into a moment. No one can tell what a spot of time is until suddenly the whole world is a fish and the fish is gone. I shall remember that son of a bitch forever. - Norman Maclean

I recently read this book on my phone using the kindle app. I want to make a trip west.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

some random thoughts...

Since I moved down to the driftless area a few years ago, I’ve been struck by how common the act of trout fishing is here. I’m not sure if ‘common’ is the best word for it. But what I’m saying is that although the season’s change, the fishing doesn’t, at least not that much. For example, yesterday I fished a nice blue-winged olive hatch, something I haven't done in a while. I had a blast. At the same time, there were some pretty good sized brown trout spawning in the shallows. It was a pretty cool day. Yet I couldn't help feel that it wasn't all that different from fishing a month ago, and that it won't be much different in another month. The fishing is always good here.

Contrast this will the furry of fall steelheading. When the fish are only around for a short period of time, you better get fishing, or you’ll miss it. For me, that aspect of fall steelheading drove an impulse that I largely lack right now. There is no urgency to fish because I know that I’ll be able to experience pretty constant action on these streams regardless of season.

Yesterday I spent some time just sitting on the bank over a gravel bed watching a couple of midsized (~16 inch) brown trout spawning. I was thinking about all of this and I felt lucky to have access to a resource that is so seasonally consistent. Everyday flyfishing is what I’ve started to refer to it as. It’s just a part of life, something to be balanced with other activities and obligations. It’s a low-key affair, nothing to get too excited about, yet something to enjoy. I also thought about fall steelheading and how it isn’t just another part of life. For a couple of months, it is life.

It’s tempting to try to make things into what you want them to be. But it’s much easier to just enjoy something for what it is. When I lived up north, I spent most of the summer trying to find an ‘everyday fishing’ experience, only to learn that fly fishing up there is mostly seasonal. Sure, there were some hatches that brought fish out, but those were pretty rare. Now that I live here, in such a constant environment, I yearn for the excitement that comes with fall steelheading.

But it’s all good, for what it is. –And that is all this ramble is really about.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The new Black River

I've been adjusting to life on a relatively different Black River. The recent flood completely wiped out the sandbar on the opposite side of the river and there is no longer a good place to stand over there. The floods also wiped out the little island that I used to stand on to fish the back eddy. Now the sandbar just upstream from the house is 5-10 feet above the water.

I've been casting stinky streamers for gar. I mean stinky literally as I have been experimenting with Berkley's night crawler scent on my flies as well as a homemade batch of garlic puree. So far I've had one hook-up in the past three outings. I couldn't hold the fish and it wasn't big. Gar a difficult, I actually think they are feeding primarily on insects right now. -But who knows?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big Brown

I just got back from a trip up north in search of Steelhead. Also just got a new internet connection, so I'm trying it out.
Sam came along and we camped together. We met up with Andrew S. and Tim P. who were also looking for some steelie love.
Sam enjoyed life around the campsite the most.

Nice scene along the river.
Didn't catch any steelhead, but managed a nice 26 inch brown. Don't even ask about the finger in the fish's gills. Its the ending of a long story, I'll try to post it later. Not proud of it.
this pic turned out too dark, so I enhanced it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Good ending to the WI Season

I've caught this big brown a hundred times this year... In my dreams. In reality I caught him once this Spring. Uncle Nate and I decided to end the Wisco season where we started it -- in search of big browns in Grant Co WI.

We didn't hook into any big browns. Still, a couple days in paradise on the spring creeks of the driftless area.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Wisconsin season ender

Uncle John and I closed the Wisconsin season out where we opened it, down in Grant County. You may recall that John landed a 20 inch Brown down there in March. So we were searching for big fish. We found none. Not even a hook-up with something big. In fact the largest fish either of us landed was 12 inches. As I reflect on the weekend, I wonder where those big browns are right now? I know we were fishing over areas that are likely to attract spawning fish, so it isn't like they were farther upstream. Maybe they just weren't hungry. Who knows, I guess that's why they call it fishing.

Despite not landing any lunkers, we had a great time fishing and landed a lot of 10 and 12 inch fish and it is always beautiful on a Wisco spring creek.

Flooding on the Black

After the 4.5 inches of rain we recieved on Wed, we got 2 more inches on Thursday. Region-wide totals were about 6 inches on average. This pushed the Black well beyond flood stage. The scene from our back door is incredible. Below is a video from our neighbors backyard and some pics as well. The river is fishable at around 1200 cfs and the long-term average for this time of year is well below 1000 cfs. It is cranking at around 70,000 cfs right now, that's a full order of magnitude higher than normal.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

4 more inches last night

Since the start of May, the Black River has been fishable on 29 of the past 144 days, that's 20% of the summer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Hit a creek with Dan H. over the weekend. We went in search of big browns getting ready to spawn. The water was pretty dirty on this stream, which I think limited our success. Nevertheless, we each landed 14 inch browns, which ain't bad.
Here is a 12 inch fish that took a nice photo.

The photos don't really do this fish justice. It went 14 inches and was really pretty.

Even the small fish were really fat. This is a 10 incher that just ate something big.

Small streams, big(er) fish, and dry flies...

For most of the summer I have been driving over a small stream on my way to larger, more productive trout waters. This isn't to say that this creek doesn't hold trout, because it does. It just doesn't fish well during the summer, at least not for me. But in September, this stream comes alive with fish that are disproportionately large relative to the size of the stream. Most runs are knee deep, and during the summer I presume too 'exposed' for larger fish to hold in them. But during the fall, as the bigger browns get ready to spawn, they move up into these runs and get pretty aggressive. Last September I caught a couple of 14 inch fish from these shallow runs and spotted a few others.

So it was with great anticipation that Sam and I hit the water this past weekend. We were armed with streamers and dry flies and our goal was to find some large fish sitting in shallow water. I started out fishing a black foam-bodied terrestrial with rubber legs and never had to change flies. The best fish of the day was this 16 inch brown (below) that rose out of a knee-deep run to take my fly. I lost one fish that was bigger (I think) after it went air borne and shook the fly.
Fish of the day!
From this run...

Small streams, big(er) fish, and dry flies-if only fall could stick around a bit longer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Low Creeks

The creeks in my area are low and clear. These conditions make for some predictable smallies.

There were a bunch of frogs on the water. I smacked a popper along these rocks and that was the best producer.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Goat Roast

A week or so ago we were invited to a neighborhood goat roast. What, you’ve never been?

The whole thing started with a couple of guys talking about buying, slaughtering, and smoking a goat-doing it all from start to finish. Things progressed to the point where a goat was purchased and there was no turning back. On a cool autumn night down by the Black river, the deed was done. Here are the highlights in photo….

A lot of peopled warned that goat doesn’t taste good. But they were wrong, it was really, really, tasty. Of course, anything that has been rubbed down with spices and smoked for 4 hours is bound to taste pretty good.

The Goat

A very hairy goat...
Starting to look like food...
Oh yeah, smoky, spicy goodness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fishing as a Dad

Last summer I fished like a mad man. This year, not so much. I'm working on his cast.

Featured drum caught in July or Aug?