Thats what I mean! Thanks everyone.

Thanks for all the remarkable reports. It is helpful to the whole angling community.  Once again I am reminded  there is great communication power in this web thing that is positive and valuable. Jake, remember, there are always impostures out there:) I have unstuck the Quickie post from the front page but would appreciate if you all keep sending the reports.

I have communicated both by email and conversation with our DNR fisheries Biologist, Marty Engel. The first sentence of his return email after reading your comments read like this. “We knew this would be the case”.

I will try and explain in a bit less technical terms. Marty is a sure footed goat(sorry for the goat reference Marty), confident, well respected in his discipline, and a scientist at heart. He is dedicated to our trout fisheries and we are lucky to have his skills. We both began wandering the trout streams of Western Wisconsin in the early 80’s and have compiled our knowledge with our feet wet and from slightly different perspectives. One perspective as scientific data collector and analyzer, the other perspective from angling and a clear understanding of science.

As we all try to uncover and understand the current “Catching” dilemma there is one factor that continues to stand out in my mind that we as anglers are missing. The factor is TIME and the ebbs and flows of Nature that accompanies change over time. As we go about our recreation, what’s happening now is remarkable. Few are finding fish under what would seem perfect conditions. But it is what has happened in the past must truly be considered in accessing the present. Lets take a short walk in time, this is where scientific data is invaluable.

In the 50’s the trout populations in this area were at an all time low, much, much worse than today. It is thought that a combination of weather, harvest and land use practices that contributed largely to the decline in our trout populations.

In the 60’s and 70’s this was recognized and a massive effort to correct the problems we had created was undertaken by those concerned with the degradation of our once prosperous resources.

In the 80’s there was the beginning of a rebound, an awesome rebound. Stocking of trout in most rivers, reasonably consistent weather patterns, an attention to land and resource ethic, but still trout populations were no where near what the levels that we have seen in recent times.

The 90’s are kind of getting known as the “good old days”. Documented photos of giant trout on the Rush. The Kinni’s numbers began to go off the charts with some of the highest naturally reproducing trout populations in the country. You have all heard the stories and many of you have first hand knowledge. For 20 years we have lived through the “hay days(hey days)” of trout fishing in the area. No skunks, High catch rates, Chest pounding, high fives, easy!

2000 to 2013. Many of you have angled through the best trout fishing we have seen since settlement. It has been incredible, but change has come, at least for the short term.  Change is the Nature of the beast and should be expected but is hard to swallow. The change is somewhat predictable but tends to show up later in trout populations and catching because of growth rates, seasonality and unexpected natural catastrophes. This is most likely the case of what is happening in the currant. In 2012-13 the populations began to decrease. Two years of drought and poor ground water infusion probably lead to poor reproduction years. A year class or two is very weak, or not there at all. 2014 was marked by high water, after high water events. Shocking data shows that young of the year did not fare well and probably are taking a dirt nap in the Mississippi. That is 3 years of Nature and a whole pot of the trout we are used to catching. Here is one small example  from 2014. In a very popular section of a river you all fish trout numbers went from 10,402 in 2012 to 3,042 in 2014. Now you will probably say that is still 3000 fish but the data was done before all of the summer flooding in 2014. Likely those numbers are far worse today. In another example, on another stream, the brown trout numbers went from 3,317 to 895 in that same span of time. I think you get my drift.

The Good News

Last years extra water recharged the ground water and filled the tanks back up. A mild 2015 winter and little to no run-off will likely have lead to a nice new young of the year class(we will only know this after the summer shocking surveys) that in 2 or 3 years will be bitting like mosquitos on a hot summer day. Keep your fingers crossed on the Nature thing. The biomass(bugs) appears to be in good shape as many of you have noted in your observations. This is a good thing. Also, quality(over 12 inches, I think)trout numbers are in good shape. These larger trout are more able to weather the adverse conditions of the past. However, because of metabolism of these larger trout they are not as likely to chase little midges and stones. Not enough calories for energy expended. Strictly from an anglers experience, I don’t see these fish getting more active until the water warms more. They tend to wallow in slower prime lies and eat what comes to them instead of chasing it down. Just an experienced observation and there always will be variables. Lastly, There are still reaches of all of the rivers that as of late last summer are holding excellent numbers of trout. Some of you I have spoken to have experienced this already this season. Realize there are a few anglers that have not posted here and have had some success catching this season. They have found some special places and most assuredly they are not giving up this information. I can tell in conversation after I have asked them, where they were?  This question is usually followed by silence and then some cryptic description of some land marks and roads that are as far away from their spot as they can imagine. Well Done guys! I know right were you were! Well enough said. I am going fishing today. If I come home with a goose egg, I will still be living the real life.

YouTube Preview Image