Wandering Back To The Driftless - Part One

Two days in New York City for work, and then five more in Wisconsin tenkara-ing. It wasn't supposed to be that way, but the work thing popped up well after the flight to La Crosse was booked. I wouldn't see my family for just about a week. I was kind of bummed about that prospect, but my wife is an absolute saint and knows that the handful of fishing trips a year I schedule mean a lot to me.

The trip back to the Driftless area of Wisconsin was one I was looking forward to for quite some time. Enthusiastic about fishing those legendary trout waters for sure, but more excited about hanging out with folks at the Midwest Tenkara Fest that I had either met in person in the past or knew by name from online circles.

A few side-bar observations from the trip.
  • My rental car was pre-set to a country music station when I picked it up. I didn't want to search the dial so I just left it on. I listened to the same 10 or 12 songs over and over all weekend driving from spot-to-spot. If you want to re-create the full experience, play this (horrible) song while you're reading this, and all subsequent posts. Sorry Dierks Bentley fans...it's just not good.
  • However Culver's is amazing. Maybe not the best burger I've ever had, but far better than standard fast food fare. Add in the crinkle fries and either a custard or root beer...and well, I need one of those in my neighborhood. Or maybe I don't, I'd gain 50 pounds quick.
  • Oh, and cold weather sucks. I didn't realize how much of a Floridian I had become, but it was like 30-40 degrees, rainy, and windy when I arrived on Friday. Saturday was only slightly better, swapping the rain for partly cloudy conditions. Things finally turned on Sunday, and Monday was glorious, but damn Friday sucked.

All that said after arriving on Friday afternoon and setting up shop at the Days Inn, the agenda was going to be brief...tie flies while waiting for it to stop raining and meet up with some of the group for dinner at Legacy Grill & Pub in Coon Valley.

Days Inn Room 231 - Tenkara HQ

Fortunately, the weather did let up, so I headed to Coon Valley a bit early to try and get a little fishing in on Coon Creek right before dinner. I was able to bring two to hand surprisingly quickly, so I suppose the fish didn't mind the cold temps as much as I did. Both beautiful brown trout took one of my orange & white "road kone kebari" while twitching them back against the current.

Fish put a good fight to numb fingers

Next was the aforementioned Legacy, which had some damn good food, and even better company. I think we inadvertently staged a "tenkara takeover" of the smallish dining area, one that the hostess was none too enthusiastic about. Fixed line ruffians pushing out her regulars... Regardless, extended conversations were had about everything fishing & tenkara, and I had more than my fair share of New Glarus Spotted Cows.

Our posse extended from me (back to the camera in foreground) all the way back to TenkaraBum Chris Stewart ordering from the waitress at the far end. I don't see a few faces in this picture, so it must have been taken earlier in night before we grew by another 4 or 5 people.  
Photo "stolen" from Zoan Kulinski's FB page :)

After the group broke up for the night and my mild buzz subsided, I called it quits. Too much traveling, an on-setting head cold, and just excitement for the next day to come told me it was time to head back to the hotel and get some shut-eye.

More on the Midwest Tenkara Fest itself tomorrow...


  1. Good friends, good food, good drink, and good fishing. Sounds like a great time...as for the Dirks Bentley song, you're right. But be mighty glad it wasn't 5-1-5-0...

    1. Ugh, I don't know much country music, and I'm not exactly sure why I kept listening...but I'll take your word for it.

  2. Sounds like good weather. In southeastern NM where I frequently fish year round it's not unusual for the temps to range between 30 and 50 during winter months. Plus, since I'm in the mountainous areas, that sometimes means cloudy, drizzly weather. I'm going to have to head up to Wisconsin in the near future for a meet-up. Nice fish.

    1. Too cold for me. At least in mid-May. I was also ill-prepared on the clothing front, which was my own miscalculation.

  3. For once I totally concur that that song sucks. Okay, I'm too excited to comment further this time.

    1. We'll agree to agree this time!

    2. Wow, what a Tenkara gathering, worth the trip to catch up and land some quality browns; by the way I'm old school when it comes todays country music; it all sucks. Give me the days of Willie, Waylon, Cash, and Jones not in that order. Thanks for sharing

    3. Thanks Bill...and I hear you on the country music. Did a swing through Nashville a few months back, if I must, the old is far more favorable than the new.

  4. Nice area Mike. I hear nothing but quality reports coming from the driftless. Awesome brown.

    1. The Driftless is nice, but SO different than what I'm used to fishing either in the East or West. Even though the trout are the same, catching them is a totally different animal.

  5. Looks like a great meeting of minds in the cafe. I love me some New Glarus Spotted Cow. I actually just learned it mixes well with orange juice and it's referred to as a Beer-Mosa. Ha! Spotted Cow and Moon Man are my choice beer while in the state of cheese.

    I am really impressed at your success with the Tenkara rod in the Driftless. I have hard enough time catching them with long casts. Bravo!


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