Thanks for the electrofishing update Andy! I have a couple questions/clarifications if they won’t be included in part 2 of this post. So if there are a lot of 3-5″ around and it should take 2-3 years to reach your 6-10″ “village idiot” status, the growth rate of these size fish is around 2-3″ a year? Do they do any tagging studies to study that? Also, are their observations of size distribution fairly consistent over the total local watershed (Upper vs. Lower Kinni, Rush, Trimbelle etc.)? Looking forward to part 2! Thanks for the info!
Thank you for the prompt to put more words on the screen.
First and foremost realize my summaries are a combination of scientific data received from the DNR, discussions with DNR personal and my own semi-scientific(heavy on the semi)observations of a variable laden sport called fly fishing. These observations of fly anglers and the trout they long to quarry, coupled with the complexities of calculating Nature, have lead me to believe that to put forth definitives may only hinder an anglers ability to think dynamically. Don’t get me wrong, there are factors when defined, bring clarity and understanding. But overall there is <strong>change</strong>, every day, every hour, every second. When this factor is understood by the angler, it leaves the door open for better interpretations.
My words are derived from spending time with the nature of the riverine environment. I like science and data, and consider them both helpful tools in my attempt to gain answers to questions relating to the quest that is my passion. However, I believe definitives can be crude and fleeting when it comes to the Nature of fly fishing for trout. Change is. Think now. Don’t trip on that rock.
“They misunderestimated me.” – George Bush, Nov. 6, 2000
Answers to your questions;
Difficult to define. Variables crazy. Growth rate, as far as I understand, can vary from river to river, from section to section, from year to year, depending on trout population, flows, ground water, land use, water temps, insect populations and a whole host of other factors. As far as I understand this is only kind of “ball park” estimations. Small fish generally grow faster, large fish grow slower. If my math is tragically off(wouldn’t surprise me), please someone jump in and help me out. To my knowledge there are no tagging studies. Remember Wisconsin DNR has been reasonably handcuffed by our environmentally friendly Governor as to spending money on specific studies like this. Research most likely would come from University studies or individual scientists at this time. Check out google: Wisconsin, trout growth rate, and muddle through the data, see what you find(head spinning).
Observations of size distribution fairly consistent?-
I guess, yes and no. Here are the size categories used in the surveys;
All, YOY, greater than or equal to 7″, 9″, 12″, 14″, 16″, 18″ This remains consistent from year to year. The data I have on the sites sampled is less clear and I don’t want to provide misinformation. The sampler is the only one who knows and I am sure that it is by the scientific book. Mostly I am not clear on all the details of the process
The one thing I do know is that access in some rivers can be the limiting factor. The lower Kinni is a big one where this is access consideration. There is a considerable amount of equipment necessary to do these surveys responsibly. Vehicles, trailers, floatboats, tubs, shockers, generators, bodies are all necessary for the process of collecting data. As you may know, there is little ability to get this equipment down into the canyon. Therefor the center sections of the lower Kinni are not sampled as regularly. Most of the data comes out of the upper Kinni where road and parking lot access make the task possible. Sections on the Lower Kinni that are sampled regularly are the lower Dam and Cty Rd F bridge at the state park. The Rush is an easy mark with all of the easy access points at bridge crossings.
As always, I am open to constructive criticism. No dick head comments
Shocking,,,,,,,,, on our local trout streams by the DNR has mostly finished up for the year and there is some good and bad news as expected. In summary, this is what it looks like.
Young of year(YOY)-These are the little 3, 4, 5″ guys and gals that are out eating in force right now. They are the trout of the future, and it looks like it is one of the best hatch years on record for the these little guys. By “hatch”, I mean that conditions in the fall/winter of 2014/15 were optimal for the hatching and fostering of our little trout. It is believed that the floods from 2014 spring/summer helped give us the strong ground water recharge to enable these baby wild trout to nurture. Most likely those same floods and previous drought was responsible for some trout mortality as well. Remember our buddies EBB and Flow. Reasonable winter temps and conditions, and lack of giant spring run off events this year also played a part in the health and strength of the growing boy and girl trout in the river. YOY’s are probably the most vulnerable, and big natural(floods/droughts) events can inflict serious damage to these populations. The future looks bright and bushy tailed!
6 to 10″- Numbers are low low low. These are the village idiot trout and usually make up the bulk of our trout population. As a trout guide these are the fish that make me look like I know what I am doing in the catching game. They tend to be more cooperative to eating our imitations. This is the group that has been responsible for our traditionally high fish counts and our status as some of the most fertile trout streams in the nation. When this group is missing it makes catching overall more difficult and rings the alarm that something has changed. Look for padding your statistics with high catch rates to off for the next two years. Trout catching will probably be less for the next two years.
Quality Trout >12″-In this category, the numbers are up. When trout reach this stage in our streams, I believe they are harder to catch than the previous group. Obviously there are less of them in the population pyramid. They are older and wiser and more wary. You have already caught these fish when they were youngsters and they want little to do with hook and line. There feeding habits, locations and demeanor is likely different. These are our prizes and all of us hope to find the WALTER of our dreams, but lets face it, we would like it to happen more often. Spend more time on the water, these fish are there you just have to be crafty, maybe walk a little further, change your habits from the usual, fish at other time than mid afternoon. I have seen some great quality fish this year.
There you have it for part one! Now a stream report.
Waters are clear and spooky. Anglers, you are exposed! Poor stealth, casting and timing will make catching even tougher than it is already. Keep moving, try different types of water. I have been covering a lot of ground with clients in order to find active fish during the day time. Many times it is one pool, slot, boulder or riffle holding 5 or 6 active fish that will make the day. Many of my old favorite spots are not producing fish on a regular basis. Dry fly fishing has been as tough as I have seen it in recent years. Some are finding tricos on the upper sections of rivers. Last night, I saw(or should say heard) a few rises after the cover of darkness was thick but no where near like in past years. The recent high water events have also produced some new holding areas. Go find them! Explore, adventure to a new spot, fish at dark or into dark, smear your entire body with fish scent, just do! Change is!
Dog days are here! Only a month and a half left to the season. Get out and fish,
This is Pizmo. He is a 5 month old and likes to shred stuff that doesn’t belong to him. He was just a visitor at the Roth house for a few weeks, we miss him and all of his puppyness.
Call it crazy but I have a few minutes to write a report this evening. As many of you know it has been a wild ride of rain, mayhem, dumb kayakers, clearing waters, rain, mud and some more clearing. I am please to say the waters of Pierce County are now all back to clear and cool and carrying a bit of extra water to boot. In the last ten days I have just begun my forays into the heart of the lower Kinni, and quite a bit has been rearranged. Holes filled with sand, new uncovered runs, Giant cottonwoods gone, new lumber piles everywhere. The Rush has been clear for a couple of weeks and the Tricos have been going in early AM’s on some reaches of water. As with all thing in nature, change is!
Remarkable is the change in the feeding habits of the trout. Although there still is catching going on, the high quality fish that were caught in spring and early summer have been much more difficult to come by. What has taken their place, and in much greater abundance is the young of the year. These fish so small they fly upon a normal hook set. One fish today made the trip from one stream bank to the other in less than one second. In route, this baby trout, careened off the head of my client and safely landed in some soft grass before being coaxed back into the water for a brief but energetic battle. He was released unharmed. In another story from last week an experienced angler, new to the Rush River, was stalking heads feeding on tricos. He explained he had caught 6 of the 3 inch brutes and was perplexed as to how this river had gained the reputation he had read about, while providing a size distribution so miniscule. I giggled.
Ladies and gentlemen, Not only have we reached the dog days of summer, I am pleased to say that it appears our young of the year have survived some record flooding and a whole bunch of turmoil. This is great news! Talking with DNR last week some of the early annual shocking survey numbers are showing this to be true as well. If this generation survived 3,000 CFS and is ready to feed like pigs at the trough, I welcome their ambition and intestinal fortitude. Should be a great addition to our already awesome rivers. Have you caught any of these little buggers?
Yes, Saturdays storms brought another batch of dirt into the rivers. It is likely that the Kinni will now hold color for a while. This is not necessarily a bad thing for anglers, possibly making trout more approachable than if the water is crystal clear. The Rush will probably clear sooner and may, I said may be considered fishable by tomorrow night depending on your definition of fishable
The Kinni did not have a chance to clear in the lower canyon yet from last weeks deluge and was put off again on Saturday. The flows are coming down quickly though and some edge clearing was visible today on the upper. More rain is in the forecast.
I have been watching these thieves for a couple of weeks now. Sorry for the poor quality images. The mothers only let me photograph from inside the house. Apparently they like my food supply.
Although the Kinni is still running high and a bit yucky, the rivers to the East are good to go. Fished the Rush last night and was surprised at the clarity. There has been change and you will see your favorite spots a bit differently as you angle next time there. Where I was, the rocks were scoured clean which may make for some interesting terrestrial fishing later this summer.
Fish were in the likely spots as well as in some sneaky water and trout of all sizes were caught up to 15 inches. A nice outing. Even during the hour before dark there were NO rising fish and No hatches last night.
Once again I have gone MIA for a month during prime time of the most remarkable trout season in recent history for this little niche of the woods. For the few left who still stop at this page for fly fishing drivel, updates and photos, I have taken your suggestions and installed a restroom laptop complete with voice recognition software so I can dictate/multitask reports during the remaining quiet time I have left. I have also purchased a pet monkey who, I am told, can pack orders, chop wood, pick blueberries and send emails to the Russian bride named Olga who keeps asking me to bring her for a visit to the US. I should be just fine now.
It is not that the Goat has not been out on the water with a bunch of awesome clients because he has. Its just that there is no time to write, especially since the hunt and peck method of typing and in fact focusing at the same time seems to be much more difficult at this stage of my life. Is this what they call mid-life crisis?????
OK, conditions. Yes we got crushed a few days ago. Every major news channel had images of the Kinni or the Rush blowing mud from all of its outlets. You don’t need me to tell you that you should probably hold off on the fishing thing for a few days. As I write, the Kinni is running at 262 CFS, down from 3000 CFS shortly after the deluge hit. It is still muddy but has nicely returned to its banks and is continuing to drop. The Rush is the same and might clear a bit faster. It will probably take a day or two yet, maybe more if we get more rain
The Fish. We may have taken another hit in fish counts from this recent blow out, hard to tell and we can only wait for the DNR to run their shocking surveys this August to know for sure.
Here is how my fishing and guiding has panned out this year
-March and April were tough, fish were caught but few and far between. There seemed to be radical fluctuations in air and water temps and it seemed a late warm up this year When we did start catching the fish were fat and big. Some of the nicest quality, hard fighting fish I have seen in years were caught in late April.
-May and early June brought reasonable weather and reasonable catching. Granted the numbers are down, make no mistake about it. Large pools and great holding areas would produce one maybe two fish if your approach was stealthy and you did not throw a bunch of errant casts and froth op the water before you accurately hit your mark. The fish did not give up second chances and if you were asleep at the wheel and failed to react on what might have been a bite(which probably was) you had missed your chance. Hatches were overall poor in my opinion and the best topwater activity happened for a short period of time each day. Bugs were thick on the rocks and fish were fat. There was little reason for them to come to the surface.
June and so far in July. “The return of the 9″-10″fish” Recently clients and myself have caught more smallish(really our regular village idiots) trout than all of the other months combined. I was pleasantly surprised to see these fish. I thought they might be gone. The larger, quality trout have been a bit tougher or have gone into their summer, or more nocturnal feeding habits. This is par for the course and is expected for this time of year. Most of the best fish have come on flies #20 or smaller. The big stoneflies I usually throw have not been producing as many fish as in years past.
Lastly for this report. Who ever left a fly rod in Martel the last week or so, shoot me an email, I know who found it.
There, a little something for you to chew on. How has it been for you?
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.
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