Wandering Back To The Driftless - Part Three

As with all trilogies, the final installment may very well be the weakest, but I tried to save the best for last...the fishing portion of the Wisconsin trip!  (For installments one & two, click HERE & HERE)

Friday...

Very abbreviated fishing. As I mentioned in the first post, it was cold, windy, and wet, and I only fished for a half hour in Coon Creek, right down the road from where a group of us were meeting for dinner. 

Even with the short time and circumstances, the trout were cooperative. I managed two fish on my standard-issue "Road Kone" kebari. The dead drift wasn't working, however, a slightly upstream pulse of the fly seemed to get the fish moving. Even for all the pressure that Coon Creek receives, I thought these were some nice fish.



Saturday...

Saturday was a little bit of a mixed bag. It was still a little bit chilly, plus the Midwest Tenkara Fest was in full swing. There were a few gaps in the presentations that allowed time to sneak down to Coon Creek yet again throughout the day. Again, the same technique prevailed, a pulsed "Road Kone" seemed to get the fish to play. Here were two of the nicer fish, although you can tell the second one has clearly been in some battles.



I might have caught more on Coon Creek, but that pesky"Tenkara Gandalf" was out casting magical spells at fish all day.


After the Fest was over for the day, I drove up the road about 15 minutes to Bohemian Valley (it's well-known & posted, so I'm not spot burning) to take advantage of some of the final hours of sunlight. I had fished in the same spot last year, so I didn't want to waste too much time aimlessly searching for somewhere new to fish.


It's always odd to me fishing with cows looking on, but I didn't mind. I find it comforting to fish somewhere you're at least a little familiar with, and it definitely helped this time. I seem to recall struggling mightily with the long slick runs last go-round, however, this year I brought about a half dozen trout to hand, all pretty much carbon copies of the fish below.



Sunday...

Sunday was more Fest in the morning, however, for the most part the festivities broke up around 2 PM allowing everyone to go out and fish.

Using a tip from Len Harris, I journeyed a bit further away from the usual spots I had been fishing near Coon Valley to a pretty little semi-wooded stream about 45 minutes away that according to Len had "wild brookies & browns" in it. 


For whatever the reason I didn't find the brookies, but I did find the browns and they were a blast to catch in some of the close quarters. They'd just explode out of seemingly nowhere.


Also interestingly, this was the one stream that the "Road Kone" came up empty. Instead, I had much more luck with some files I purchased from Three Rivers Tenkara at the Fest. I'm not sure what they're called, but I started calling them "Naples Bugs" and they certainly worked well when drifted along the micro edges and small in-stream rocks. Definitely need more Naples Bugs in my fly box.


Monday...

The final day, and the one dedicated exclusively to sleeping-in and fishing all afternoon & evening. It was also the best day weather-wise of the extended weekend. After being downright cold most of the days, Monday was Sunny and 70 degrees. T-shirt weather!


Again, I decided to venture far from the area I had fished the first few days. I'm not going to tell you where I fished, but I freakin' hit the jackpot. While the fish weren't big, they were certainly plentiful. Brookies and browns galore! I think I caught a fish on 8 of my first 10 casts. That never happens. I stopped counting around 30, and believe me, I can tell you that never happens either!





Much like most of the other fish over the course of the weekend, the "Road Kone" was again the fly of choice. I ended up going through quite a few, not because I was losing them on rocks or in trees, but because the fish were mauling them. Ridiculous fun.








I could go on with more fish pictures, but I just stopped taking them after a while. And I'll tell you, not worrying about being skunked really allows one time to step back and admire the beauty of the region...and man, it's sooooo different than Florida.





Finally, in a bit of an ironic twist, while I flew all the way across the country to catch trout, the last fish to hand wasn't. It may have also been the smallest of the entire weekend. But no shame with my "tanago trophy" here.


A Look Back...

Reflecting on the weekend of fishing, I can't help but believe that some of the lessons on technique learned at the Midwest Tenkara Fest helped increase my success rate on the water. 

Last year, which was my first trip to the Driftless, I felt totally lost in the meadow streams. They appeared so glassy, slow, and featureless. A far cry from the higher gradient streams I was accustomed to fishing. I caught a few fish, but to say I struggled wouldn't have been a lie.

However, this year, utilizing some lessons about short, meticulous, upstream drifts from Discover Tenkara, as well as the realization taken from Paul Vertrees' presentation that all of the features I'm accustomed to fishing are still in these streams, they just happen to be submerged underwater, something definitely "clicked."

I found that applying those tactics led to an increased catch rate, and are yet another example of why if you have an open mind, attending events like the Midwest Tenkara Fest can be extremely beneficial for your fishing. I know it was for me.

Comments

  1. Those days when you stop keeping track...

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  2. I just binge read all three installments. Good stuff. I've always wanted to fish the Driftless. Looks like the fishing was fantastic.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks JT, it was a really great time. I was clueless on how to approach the streams when I visited last year, not used to fishing in meadows, but it's an awesome fishery.

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  3. All those years I live in Wisconsin (9 total) I never knew about the Driftless. But then again what kid at 9 cares about trout fishing when your dad is a Blue Gill fisherman and that's all he's ever told you about.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, probably nothing. But when you're a kid, it's all good. Should you ever happen to be back that way, I'm certain you'd enjoy it.

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  4. Replies
    1. Nope, just bulls. Not sure which are more dangerous.

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  5. Having been to both Florida and Wisconsin, Anywhere but Florida wins. Great report Mike and it's nice to see someone nice getting out to do what he loves.

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    1. Ha! Thanks Howard. Florida is not all bad, but there are certainly no trout, so Wisconsin holds a HUGE advantage.

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  6. Well, like Jason said in his comment, I just did some binge reading to catch up. What a spectacular time you had evidenced by all the great fishing and camera work. Isn't overload a blast!

    I will be making a rush trip to Wisconsin the first part of June for a graduation ceremony for my grandson. Devastating that I won't have any fishing time.............

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    1. Thanks for swinging by Mel.
      Sorry you won't be able to wet a line in June, but hey, family time always comes first. Congrats to your grandson!

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  7. Hate to admit it, but another binge reader here! Glad you had a good time with many in the net. Gotta love gaps between presentations... =)

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    1. RD!
      Yes, you gotta love those gaps, especially when a trout stream is only 50 yards away.

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  8. so awesome. I'm sorry we couldn't meet up. I was a little further up north for the weekend taking my wife to the book of mormon. It was pretty funny. Looks like you had a great trip. If you make it back next year, I'll make it a point to connect. This July a buddy and I are tempting our zika fate and doing a DIY keys/glades trip. If you find yourself down that way 16-21st, let me know!

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    1. No worries my friend, totally understand. I'm going to try and make the Driftless trip an annual thing, it's a lot of fun.

      Your trip in July sounds epic, certain you'll have no problem finding fish where you're going!

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  9. Glad your return to the Driftless was fun and productive. I was about an hour away on the far western edge of the Driftless Area in Minnesota while you were in Cheeseland. Next year I might have to attend at least part of the 'fest and give Tenkara a try. I think it might be appealing to my son. Now that think about it, I might want to figure out a way for him to give it a shot before we hit the Tongue River in Wyoming's Big Horn mountains in August.

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    1. Michael
      Absolute stunning browns, landed on what I think is a unique stream with no high banks to navigate. That is what impresses me about all the streams that are fished in the Midwest and Northeast, easy access. What length Tenkara were you using; had to be blast landing those browns. Thanks for sharing

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    2. Fading Angler - Saw the post of your Driftless adventure with Eddie, that's awesome. Tenkara is pretty fun, your son will probably enjoy it, who knows might surprise yourself and like it too.

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    3. Bill - I was fishing an 11' tenkara rod, could have gotten away with a longer rod, that just happened to be what I had at hand. Fishing the meadows/pastures is definitely unique, not at all what I'm used to fishing in the wooded areas of the East Coast.

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  10. Fantastic way to end a trip to the Driftless. You have caught more trout in the Driftless on your last day than all of my trips up there combined (4 or 5). High Five!! I'm in the market for a Tenkara rod now. Glad the trout cooperated for you on the short outing.

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