May 14, 2018

The Driftless Photo Dump

Took quite a few photos while in Wisconsin.  But first a bit of backstory.

I usually take most of the photos on this blog with my smartphone, which has (what I think) is a pretty good camera. Well, as I was headed to the airport to start my long weekend in the Midwest, I heard this "thud" while getting some stuff from the trunk of my SUV and looked down to see that I had obliterated my cell phone screen... to the point that it started leaking purple LCD juice all over the inside of the display, rendering the phone pretty much unusable for the weekend. Ugh.

R.I.P. Google Pixel

When I landed in Wisconsin, I ran over to the Walmart and picked up an inexpensive, unlocked Android phone to use for the weekend. The new phone works just fine, the major tradeoff being that the camera wasn't quite as good, although it took photos that were generally okay in the full-on sun.

The reason why I tell you this is some of the photos below are from the cell phone, while others are from my waterproof point and shoot. You may or may not notice, but it bugs the heck out of me.

In any event, here's a photo dump from the Driftless, 2018... starting with the Midwest Tenkara Fest, then expanding to a liberal amount of fishing, (captioned where needed, accordingly).

Culver's is always a must stop. We finally have them in Florida, but there's just something about eating them in Wisconsin. As far as a "chain" fast food burger goes that isn't an absolute gut bomb, these are at the top of my list. 

Coon Valley American Legion, home to the Midwest Tenkara Fest

Matt & Mike from Badger Tenkara conducting an onstream clinic

The new Tenkara USA Hane was attracting quite a bit of attention

As was Tenkara Grasshopper Graham Moran

Chris Stewart always brings the best toys

Some spin fishermen taking on the muddy waters of Coon Creek

Used my Tenkara USA Sato in the muddy water with some Coulee Killer tungsten bead nymphs to get into fish on Saturday

Was interesting to be in Wisconsin the first day of the season. So much water available to fish there was little to no crowding

This fish was a solid fighter, came out from an undercut to attack a "road kone" kebari 

I think the best fishing was toward dusk. Fish really started coming to life from 3-8 PM.

My beagle buddy

Viroqua, WI is a very fishy town. Home to the Driftless Angler fly shop as well as the Driftless Cafe (pictured)

Once the waters cleared up a bit on Sunday & Monday,
I flipped to fishing the Three Rivers Confluence and "road kone" kebari. 
I really think the Confluence is an underrated rod, worth checking out if you haven't already.

Picked out about 3 fish that looked just like this one in a certain run of narrow, but deep and fast water. By far the most frantic, fun, and fantastic twenty minutes or so of the trip.

Fishing adventures over, the reflective walk back to the car

Before ending this post, I did want to thank Len Harris (Stream of Time) for keeping me abreast of the weather situation via Facebook, probably wouldn't have brought the gear (particularly flies) I did had he not warned of the high and muddy water. Also, huge props to David Nash (My Leaky Waders) for pointing me in the direction of a lot of great fishing. I'm sorry we didn't get to fish a bit, definitely the next time.

Oh, and if any of these photos (or prior posts) have you interested in visiting the Driftless, make sure to check out this video from a few years back. It's awesome and captures everything that makes the Driftless Area a unique fishery.


  1. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing.
    All photos look good too.

    1. Thanks for the kind words, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Certainly no complaints about your photos Mike. They are definitely blog worthy.

    1. Thanks Howard. I don't set the bar high around here anyway...

  3. Michael
    What impresses me about the fishing there aside from all the trout you landed is the ease one has with casting and navigating the banks of all the streams you was fishing. From reading and viewing all the images which are awesome, I would rate the Driftless up there with out west. Is the fishing good all through the summer months? From Jasper Alabama to Viroqua, WI is 14 hours; this place is on my bucket list if not this year but next with my son. Enjoyed the images and read

    1. Hey Bill, thanks for stopping by. Yeah, fishing in cow pastures are going to make things a bit easier on the knees and the cast, but there are plenty of "off the beaten path" places to fish as well.

      I've only fished there in May so certainly far from an expert, but I'm fairly certain summer is game. The water is spring fed so it's cold year-round. Plus, from what I hear, in the summer months terrestrial patterns fish well, which makes sense considering the abundant tall grass. I'd bet dawn and dusk in the summer months would fish great.

      There are a ton of better resources than me if you're serious about visiting the Driftless. Len Harris (link in the bottom of this post) is a great place to start.

    2. Bummer about the phone, Mike. I'm also bummed I wasn't able to make it out to the Tenkara Fest. Looked like a great time! Super awesome to see you were able to get out and explore quite a bit of water. I was really hoping to get my hands on some of those Tenkara rods and learning all about them from the experts and enthusiats there. Good to see you enjoy a good butter burger just like the rest of us Midwesterners!

    3. Yeah, I guess shit happens. I've been lucky, have never even dinged a cell phone screen so far, so I guess I was overdue.

      Sucks you couldn't make it, but one of these years I'll get a tenkara rod in your hand. Might not be ideal tool for some of the species you chase, but for trout, panfish, and small to medium sized bass... oh my lord...

    4. It's gonna happen soon, Mike! I've been eyeballing a few Tenkara rods, and even went as far as emailed one of the companies inquiring when they were going to have a certain rod in stock. If it was in stock at the time, I would have definitely pulled the trigger on it. The more I fish around here in the Driftless and some of the small ponds and waterways, I realize the fun I could be having with the Tenkara method.