Apr 20, 2011

Hippos Fest 2011

Trout fishing in the snow - you don't see that very often. Earlier in the early season I was seeing snow on the banks, but to actually be putting on the waders in a medium blizzard? That's nuts. It's what me and the boys found ourselves in on Saturday, April 16. This place was 'Hippo Water' with crazy animals around every deep bend in the river. The 16-incher above was my best of the trip, and our group finished with 16 trout total, including 4 other 15" or better. I had so many flashes (hits) in one stretch of the stream I just couldn't believe it. You get a couple, give them a minute. Then throw the same lure back and another one would fly out of the depths. Just wild.

That is def one of the coolest aspects of early season lure troutin' - seeing the strikes. They're like lightening flashes, contained in a 6-inch box of moving water. You see just about all of them you catch and, if you are really paying attention (and wearing some decent polarized shades), twice as many that miss the hooks or were just chasing the lure for fun. After a while you get the sense that there are so many trout in the stream that you never see.

I don't know if I'll get out after any more Wisconsin trout this season, as I'm heading north for the BWCA soon, but I'm guessing I'll hit up some home waters one or two more times. Optimism.

Here's my Wild Almanac logbook for the weekend, with many more pics and a video of a foot-long with a weird dent in it's gill-plate. If you click on the event page itself, you can see some of the Warden's pics and videos as well. Logbook bonus: Picture of a mystery skull and a picture of Catfish Man Who Uses Shrimp for Bait.

Apr 13, 2011

Goat Creek

Tried some new water on Sunday (April 10) afternoon, with temperatures in the 70s (!) and really big thunder-boomers on the horizon. Picked up one brookie just upstream from this confluence of the 'Goat' and 'Goat Valley' creeks. Here's my Wild Almanac Logbook for the day, with more details. The rock out-croppings were pretty great at this location, and the spring peepers were going nuts.

Apr 11, 2011

Grant County Driftless, April 2011

After a night of staying up too late, myself Fritz and Cheeto set out in Fritz's mini-van for Grant County, in Wisconsin's Driftless region. This spring early season has taken me to many of the driftless area's 'classic' spots, and while I think Vernon County is still the finest terrain I've fished, Grant County really impressed me on my first visit.

Our first target of the day - Boulder Creek - had some impressive stocking data, including rumors of planted hippos* and room to roam. After starting by the bridge with no success, I hiked down-stream up over a huge hill through an old farm, and when I crested the hill I could see amazing rock formations that looked like the rounded off globs of granite I'd only seen in Montana before, near the continental divide on Interstate 94. Wild. I started taking video as I descended back towards the river. The water was big and blue so I snuck around the bend and hopped in the shallow riffles below. Not ten minutes into my up-stream creep, I was staring at a bottom-less hole about 50 feet across. This sure looks good. I am going up the right, casting the deeper left with my spinning gear, and finally I bomb cast one way up the right over the top of a sand bar. Just as the lure reaches the deep water again, a monster brown with a yellow belly flashed left to right, going towards shore. I never felt it, though, and was left with a split-second snapshot of one of the biggest stream trout I've probably ever seen. I returned an hour later but there was still no answer.

Just up from there, however, I got into a hot pocket bend and hauled three nice browns out, but I should have had at least six. We fished a while longer and decided it was time for lunch and a cold beer, as this was the first day all spring it had gotten up over 60.

Our second location of the day, Spider Creek had been previously visited by Fritz and Cheeto, and they had always gotten a few brookies on this smaller gem. We made our way past a few tourists up towards the upper-most stretches, and at the first hole, Fritz offered me first shot. On my second or third cast, I put my husky jerk right along the timber complex on the left and the brookie was on by my second turn of the reel handle! We got it in the net quickly, unhooked and snapped a few nice photos before saying good-bye.
We saw lots of smaller fish after that, and eventually came back downstream to some deeper water once everyone cleared out. I ran into another smaller brookie in a deep bend, and a brown as well, giving my six fish on the day. Fritz got a brookie, too, and added a few browns and Cheeto got a brown and an over-eager chub! So we ended up with 12, counting the chub. Ended up fishing until sun-set, which comes earlier in the steep valleys of the driftless region. Both were prime locations and I look forward to fishing them again in the near future. 

Here is my Wild Almanac logbook for the event, with a few more pics and specifics. As always, I have code-named the streams, but given enough details that you could figure it out.

* - Hippos: (n) Super-massive killer trout that could rip your leg off if they wanted.