Hold of on fishing for a bit. High water throughout the area.
Hold of on fishing for a bit. High water throughout the area.
Thanks to all of you who sent emails of concern. No, I have not died, been taken ill, or been swept away by raging water. The Goat is alive and well. Between work and well, work, I have not been able to find the time to spend at the keyboard giving more regular updates. Hopefully this problem will be remedied with better time management, if there is such a thing. Now on to the good stuff .
May has been challenging in regard to catching for many anglers. Catch rates are down in my experience and from the reports received from others. However, at least on the Kinni, I am seeing some of the finest quality trout in my short 30 year history on the river. Numbers are down, no doubt, but quality is awesome when anglers are able to hook-up and land the trout that have weathered the last few years of turbulence.
The photo above is of Randy, Fin and Liam. We guided the 8 and 10 year olds and their Mother this week. Fin is holding his nice brown. Liam caught a nice and rare lower Kinni Brook trout and Elizabeth caught a fish as well.
The smiles tell the story.
Below are a couple other stories from May. Take a look.
Robin had never held a fly rod. She had promised a co-worker she would learn to fly fish. He thought it might be just what she needed in order to mix some sanity into the challenges of life, work, and family. He was right! Robin found me on the web. She liked my bio and thought I might be the teacher for her. She was right! On the phone she told me that she was a quick study and fly fishing should be easy to learn. I snickered. Later after her 5th or 6th or 7th fish came to hand, she reminded me of that snicker. Robin listened and learned. Her drifts and mends were spot on. We had picked the right spot and the patterns were edible. The fish came one after another. We fished a public access spot that most of you have fished before. We saw no other anglers.
The big fish came on a deep drift through a rocky pool. Even though snags were prevalent on her drifts through this pool, I encouraged her to keep setting the hook if the indicator moved awkwardly. She never wavered and continued to set at the slightest movements of the indicator. If there is one thing I have learned about indicator fishing, it is to believe! Believe that any movement of the indicator could be the result of a fish toying with the fly. SET THE HOOK! Once you decided that any movement is a rock or a stick or a weed, you have lost your edge. With all my clients I have “the rule of 11″ which is clearly laid out at the beginning of the trip. The rule of 11 states that once I have explained a concept to you 11 times and you are disregarding it, I probably won’t tell you again. No one likes a nag, right? A bazillion drifts I have watched over time and the net result of not setting the hook is a big goose egg in the catching category. Robin set the hook. Another rock, right? After the third jerk, this rock moved. It moved with purpose. The head shakes were violent and the three weight was just about bent in half. I could see the leaders plucking movement as the fish swam back and forth between the large boulders at the bottom of the pool. This fish seemed to be trying to wear through the light tippet by strafing it against the rocks. This trout was destined to be held by this beginning angler and after a few minutes came to net. Angler and guide shared a special moment. The fish was released.
On the walk out of the Lower Kinni we came across a row of benches. Robin asked me a question. The question stopped me in my tracks. She asked me if I knew a guy named Jim Thomson. She told me that Jim was the co-worker she had made the fly fishing promise to before he passed away last year. Robin also told me that she knew there was a bench somewhere on the Kinni dedicated to Jim. She wanted to know where it was. Little did she know, the bench was a hundred yards up stream from where we had fished. Waters that Jim had guided and fished for many years and waded in as a child. Jim was a friend and mentor to both of us. There is no doubt his hand was with both of us that day. We shed a tear,,,,, together. How Cool is that?
The Kinni’s waters and woodlands whisper words of life. Her braided currents harbor the connections to spirit, and place, and person. Listen next time your there.
I forgot my camera on May 19th. what a knucklehead……
I am thankful to Roger, who took the photo and documented this catch on his phone. See him there casting the shadow? This is his fish with me holding it; well the part of me he didn’t crop out when he sent the photos. Anyhow, he kept the good parts. As I look at the photo, I am reminded of the epic battle in order to land this bad boy. This is one of a handful of browns this size I have seen over the years. Photos rarely do justice, and this one is missing perspective for you to see its actual size. The mouth and head were gigantic and could have easily gulped down its unknowing brethren in a heartbeat. Roger did not want a picture of himself with the fish because that would have meant more time for the fish to be out of water. An honorable call. This guy took off like a jet when released.
Rain in the past week has been outstanding for the rivers. Slow and steady precipitation has put color into the water and seemingly helped the catching factor of the fly anglers quest. This morning it looks like water levels are up slightly but not to blow out stage. Lower reaches of rivers may cloud up more than upper. There is still a considerable amount of silt that has not been kicked out by spring run-off. If the water is too cloudy for your taste, move upstream. This tactic worked wonders last week when over night rain and 38 degree morning temps caused a milky tint to the water. Up stream water was far clearer.
The first of the crane flies showed in the last 10 days. Larger tan and olive caddis also were present on the water. The rocks are covered in all things bug and it looks like mayfly hatches should be strong this year. The Dames Rockets are in bud and may start showing some color in the next week to 10 days. The light colored insects of summer should begin shortly. Get your tans and yellow offerings ready to float.
Quality! I have guided 4 of the last 10 days, splitting the time between our two bigger trout rivers. The catch rates for clients have been down a bit from previous years but there is no doubt in my mind that the quality of the trout they are catching is outstanding. 12, 13, 14″ and larger, fat trout have been the norm. Prime holes have been shutting down after 1 or 2 fish and anglers should be highly focused on first casts into these lies. Be ready to set the hook and be accurate on your drifts and settings. Frothing up these lies with poor cast and drifts, slow unfocused sets and snag-ups may lead to goose eggs.
Heavy rains probably kicked some color into the rivers last night. About 3/4″ fell fast yesterday. The rain, overcast skies and coolish weather have helped kick some fish into feeding mode. Both the Kinni and the Rush fished well over the last few days. Little gray caddis are about and with some patience, dry fly anglers can find a few trout to cast at.
This photo from two weeks ago, when my photo option was on the fritz shows that perseverance pays off. I swear that some divine intervention was also in the mix as Pastor Carlson found a couple fish under the toughest conditions, bluebird skies, crystal clear water and spooky fish made angling as tough as I have seen it. It looks like a full crop of green in the forest beside the river and a little precipitation has brought a change of attitude to the fish. More later.
Must go. The river calls.
First off—- Don’t forget the Wisconsin trout season closes for one week beginning Sunday, April 26th at midnight. Yes, you can fish on Sunday, up until midnight. This one week closure should go away in 2016 when the new regulations take over. The new regulations and season lengths are not 100% approved by all of the DNR yet but it looks pretty darn likely. The harvest season will begin on Saturday May 2nd this year.
Second off— The annual Kinni Clean-up is tomorrow April 25th
Kinnickinnic River/KRLT Clean Up
When: Saturday, 4/25
Where: Glen Park Main Shelter, River Falls
Start Time: 9:00 AM
Reminder: Dress appropriately for the weather, bring work gloves and water proof footwear, hip boots or waders. Have Fun!
Lack of meaningful precipitation coupled with no spring run-off event has left the streams in Western Wisconsin in ultra clear conditions. Even the deeper holes are almost all visible to the bottom. Cuts and slots, even in broken water, are difficult to approach without the trout seeing you first. sediment is visible covering the rocks in all but the most high gradient runs. Given that fish counts are low it is making the catching even more of a challenge. HOWEVER, FISH ARE BEING CAUGHT EVERY DAY. A few guided trips into the season and my clients have not been skunked ,,,,,,, yet. Anglers who have never held a fly rod before have found a few fish. I have to admit the low catch rate continues my anxiety, especially in my business, but it also has caused me to THINK about all the variables that must be considered to still come away with a successful outing. Fly Fishing Is The Ultimate Puzzle. When catching gets tough, you can adjust and learn, or go home. Over time I have made both choices on different days. All good!
After my trip, I sat on the bank for a while contemplating. By 3PM temps had finally risen to 40 something and windy, after a 31 degree blue bird start. I was sitting on a popular, flat as a pancake fork stick hole, where I knew a boatload of fish were cuddled up in. Sure enough a few crept out of the depths into a 3 foot rocky slot. Then there were 20. All in clear view, un- affected by my presence and they knew I was there. The trout began rising and feeding below and above the surface. Splashy rises, bulging rises, pure below the surface takes. It was awesome to watch the show. I puffed up my angler chest and started investigating. Midge pupa, mayfly nymphs, adult BWO’s and another small tan adult mayfly, were all in the scum downstream of the trouts location. A complex hatch, sparse at best, in crystal clear water, great!
About then an old friend strolled up. An excellent tier and dry fly fisher, he asked me if I had gotten my fill of frustration yet. I smiled and told him I had yet to engage. We both watched the show and conversed of the difficulty of the situation. Needless to say we both took shots with common patterns and secret flies from other rivers stowed in the corners of special dry fly boxes. After 20 minutes of watching and another 30 minutes of taking turns casting, there was one, “almost take”. The trout stayed put, but wanted nothing to do with any of our offerings. We did not have what they wanted. Lesson learned.
Yesterday’s protocol was move, move, move. Water that is thin and clear was not producing so we moved. We covered all the different water types and drifting techniques. Swinging, dead drifting, twitching, stripping, dry flying. Fast, slow, broken, flat. Good presentations through likely spots were given only a handful of presentations. Slots and cuts up to waist deep were waded through after fishing, to see if fish were even present. Don’t beat a dead horse(sorry to all the animal rights folks, just using an old school analogy), move along and try something different. My angler worked hard and plucked two fish from the waters. This was his second outing with me in as many years and I could tell he was wishing for more. He understood though, this was not his first rodeo.
LOST AND FOUND
Well we did not find an owner to the last lost box but there has been two more requests. One a lost fly box on the Rush, south of Martel. Did anyone find one. Second a found net on the lower Kinni. Did anyone loose one?
Have fun if you go out this weekend and shoot me a report.
No images on this post. My web page is misbehaving.
The conditions on the rivers are ultra clear and spooky. Spotting fish is not hard, catching them is a bit of a different story. There are trout in the rivers. Suckers are cuddling up and starting their spawning dances. Mayflies and midges are doing there thing. Blue bird days and 70 degree temps have been the rule for the last few days. Just wait, that will change, looks like the weekend could be cooler, overcast and rainy, perfect for fishing.
Above is a photo of Iian with his first fly rod caught trout. On Wednesday there were trout eating above and below the surface. It was one of those bright sunny days and I thought we might be dead in the water given the recent success ratio of the anglers commenting on these pages. That was not to be the case. Patience and pattern change were the keys. There were 2 other anglers on the same stretch of river we were on. Broken water proved to be a better choice for both the dry or wet. Nice trout holding in clear flat water had no interest in our imitations or were spooked away by anything falling on the water. We hooked 5 or 6 fish landed 3 or 4 and missed as many or more than we hooked. They were there, on water where I have been blanked before and some of my most productive outings. Thats fishing.
Patterns that worked. Hot Goat Pink Squirrel#16, CDC BWO #18, Tungsten Bead head flashback pheasant tail #18-20, Peacock caddis#14.
FOUND FLY BOX
A Gray Goat reader found a fly box while fishing the Upper Kinni, He was kind enough to try and seek out the original owner here before he started fishing all the secret flies you lost when you dropped the box out of your unzipped jacket pocket, left it on the bank while sitting and tying a new fly on, leaned over and had it fall out of your chest pack or vest pocket and/or purposely left it on the bank vowing never to fish again since you were skunked again. Shoot me an email and I will get you hooked up. A description of box, exact fly count, location where lost and mean hook size data will be necessary to get the box back.
Conservation Congress Hearings
Looks like we will get the extra opportunity to fish along with a change in regulations for the 2016 trot season in Wisconsin. In a vote of almost 2 to 1, state wide(2260 to 1222) the public voted to adopt the new trout regs and season lengths in the state of Wisconsin. I was a bit disappointed I that more of you did not attend the Pierce County location. Out of the 50 people that were there I only recognized about ten, and overwhelmingly the local folks have tended to be against these types of angling opportunities. Maybe you were all at the St. Croix County location where the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the new regs. Out of 72 counties, the Pierce County vote was the only tie vote in the state. 22 for, 22 against. Remember that, the next time you think your vote doesn’t count for anything. This is America.
Tonight is your chance to vote for greater trout fishing opportunities in the State of Wisconsin. I will be at the Ellsworth High School auditorium at 7 PM to cast my vote. Anyone can participate. Hope to see ya there.
Thank you to all who emailed me this week to see if I was OK, since I had not posted. As you may know I still have not fallen to the clutches of the cell phone and when I am off the grid even Big Brother can’t find me. That is just how I roll and I prefer it that way..
Just got back from Crawford County on my annual trip South to the Driftless. The waters were low and clear just like our streams. Fished two good, cold days before they got crushed with a couple inches of rain. That rain should help the streams down in that neck of the woods. It was a good outing and better yet I was able to hook up with my childhood friend Kurtis Gertz from KCCI television in Des Moines Iowa. I know this video is on my site already but if you have not seen this link of Kurtis at the Iowa State Fair, take the time to watch it. He is easily this entertaining all the time. We had a great time fishing the Big Green which is probably one of the larger rivers in the area and some smaller creek that get very little fishing pressure. It is a beautiful part of the state of Wisconsin.
Was out twice this week, here’s what to expect. Tuesday and Thursday were cold, overcast and windy. 38 felt like 17 and the push of cold air from the North at 15-20 was not as pleasant as I might have hoped. Streams are extremely clear and the best approach is from down stream, making long upstream casts. Even the deeper water appeared shallow and one could see the bottom in most places even without the sun. No fast water fish yet even though I checked the likely spots. Fish that I caught tended to lie in slower dark bottom areas against stream banks where sighting them was almost impossible. These darker areas will warm a bit more. Deep still water pools are holding fish but drifting a nymph to them is like bobber fishing and very boring even along the seams where you could get some drift to the indicator. This is a bit perplexing but it is what it is.
The lower Kinni gave me the 3rd skunk in a row. I have now fished the middle in two spots and Tuesday I fished the dam section from Glen park down. I was greeted with a disgusting racial slur spray painted and scrolled across the hydro wall of the lower dam. The picture above shows last years youth art project simply naming the dam FRED. The city obviously painted the walls of the structure gray to cover over FRED. This week something much darker was in its place. I took a picture simply for documentation. I will not post it for that would be playing into the hands of the perpetrator and spreading his/her message. As I pondered the ugliness of it all, no fish, the thoughtless message, the decaying concrete and the break in the natural flow of nature, it once again reinforced the obvious. I would rather have Falls than Walls. Mr. Toland, Mr.Simpson tear down those walls!
Thursday I fished elsewhere. Cold, ugly, but I caught 4 nice trout and missed another. I worked hard, stayed stealthy, paid attention to everything around me and made adjustments. I came home happy and content.
I was re-reading my copy of Spring Creeks by Mike Lawson. His life long book and an excellent read. I met Mike in 2004 or 5 when he was the guest speaker at Tom Helgeson’s Greatwaters Fly Fishing Expo. In early for the show I was able to take him and his wife Sheralee to see the Kinni, the Rush and the Trimbelle. He had never been to this part of the country. The waters were high and dirty. We talked instead of fished. He was impressed with our waters and provided me with thoughtful insight. The beginning of chapter 11 of his book titled “Responsibilities” begins with these words.
“For whatever reason men fish, they are rewarded simply by the things they see. All the mechanisms of life are visible to those who look for them, from the nature of the very smallest creature to the natures of men. A mans behavior on the stream is likely to tell much about the kind of man he is.” Steve Raymond. Although these are not Mike’s words he has brought them to light in Spring Creeks. The rest of the chapter is filled with the same insightful commentary pertaining to situations we are, or will be facing, here on our home waters. They are wise words.
Catch me some fish this weekend please, and report back if you can.
YESTERDAY……… on the Rush I landed Hope, and then her sister Faith came to hand. Before I had Hope and Faith, I missed Big John. I was actually sight fishing to him but having some focus issues because I was really fishing to the first pod of fish I had sighted which was all suckers (I can tend to be cheap and tawdry when I need a bite). Big John came out from behind a big rock and stole the fly from the suckers. It was a sight for sore eyes to see that kind of take. Caught in the moment, I misplaced my hook set. I swore out loud. A crow, perched in a stream-side tree laughed at me. I told him to Piss Off, cheeky bastard. Game On! In the next two hours I also landed Ernie and Lucas(decided to name my trout on Tuesday). I kept moving and fished everything that looked likely. Deep pools, plunges and dark colored dirt banks, no likely water was left unfished. Larger(1″)stoneflies have begun to make their appearance. These bigger meals probably will get some of the bigger fish moving and points in the direction that the water is warming. Water was super clear and spooky. I also took the first selfy/ie? photos of my life in an attempt to not harm precious gems like Hope and Faith. What a cluster puck that was.
Looks like some better reports are starting to come in on the quickie post. feel free to post wherever you like. Also know that I get to moderate your posts because of the filthy pornography that sometimes is sent through the wicked web. Sometimes it takes me a few days to get through it all and hit the approve button. Why are the Russian wannabe brides targeting The Goat?
ST. OLAF…….. Great Universities have accredited fly fishing courses. St. Olaf is one of those universities and I am always thrilled to be asked to speak at the class. The day was a bit windy so their first attempt in casting in the wind was on they syllabus. What a great group. TA’s for the class Ben (Jolly Fly Fishing) and Morgan helped with the instruction. Also a surprise, Jake from the brothers Jake and from one of my steelhead posts from last year attended and helped out. Thaks to Scott Nesbit and his class for making me feel welcom and listening to my instruction and foolish stories.
TOM HELGESON’S GREATWATERS FLY FISHING EXPO……. Once again it is time to gather the fly fishing community. The Expo has many great memories for me and I am honored to be asked to speak at this event. Because of my real job, as my friends call it, I will only be there on Friday this year. From the looks of the schedule I will be speaking at 5 PM. My program will include a mix of conservation news from Western Wisconsin, techniques to help with catching and of course stories from the water. Hope to see ya there. Oh, reading my bio on the speakers page, I want to thank whoever wrote those words. They are very kind. Most of you know I am real kind of a dick:)
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