Pages (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Shopping left? Consider the Driftless Angler in Viroqua.

Ever since On the Creek fly shop in Cross Plains closed, I have felt that I need to redouble my efforts to help keep our locally-owned fly shops in business.  

If you have some holiday shopping left for one of your favorite fly fisherman, you might consider shopping at the Driftless Angler fly shop in Viroqua.  It appears from the website that  he is still open during the off-season.    You also can order items online.

They can be reached at:

106 S. Main Street
Viroqua, Wisconsin

(608) 637-8779

Before I start a debate, know that I have nothing against Orvis in Madison!  They have served me very well over that past few years.

Have a great holiday.  Can't wait for early season to start.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

First Fall SWTU Stream Cleanup Day is This Saturday October 5

The first of several SWTU stream cleanup workdays will be this Saturday.  Please see information below from the SWTU September newsletter.


Fall is Workday Season!
The Conservation Committee will be conducting stream cleanup workdays on October 5, November 2 and December 14.
Our October 5, please join us for a morning of clearing brush from the banks of the picturesque Pleasant Valley Branch.

When: Saturday, October 5 from 9 a.m. – noon
Where: Pleasant Valley Creek, Bridge near 485, 
County Hwy H, Mount Horeb, WI 53572
[ Google Map Link ]

Bring: Work gloves, loppers, hand saws, and 
water. Waders are suggested but not 
essential. Tick repellent and sunscreen are 

Be ready to enjoy:  Hot coffee, cocoa, cookies, camaraderie, 
the first view of SWTU’s new equipment trailer.
Chapter approved sawyers (have taken the safety 
class and signed the waiver form), please plan to be 
there by 8:30 a.m. and contact Dan Jansen using the 
information below if you are planning to participate. 
We will be building teams around the sawyers and 
need to plan accordingly.

If you can help out, please sign up with Dan 
Jansen (608-658-1513, so we 
can get a volunteer count estimate.
And remember! Every workday you attend earns you 
an entry into the drawing for the Stream Keeper fly 
rod, custom-built by Jim Bartelt and coveted by 
anglers everywhere!

Thank you. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Coon Creek, Bohemian Valley - Vernon County

Bohemian Valley, Spring Coulee, Timber Coulee are kind of like Black Earth Creek.  Outstanding trout resources and worthy of a blog of their own.  It might take a lifetime of fishing to work all of them.  I will write more about this watershed in another posting and treat it with the thorough look they deserve.   Timber Coulee might be my favorite place to fish - period.

I fished Bohemian Valley (Coon Creek) today.  I parked my car at the WDNR parking lot off CTH G just a short distance up from CTH P and Timber Coulee.

Having said that I could not let this pass without posting something about it.  

What is this all about?

I have been experimenting with a new GOPRO Hero3 action camera. I caught something on the camera today I have never seen in 30 years + of fly fishing - most of it in the La Crosse and Vernon County.  I caught a decent brown trout with a huge wound on top of the fish  in front of the dorsal fin.  The only thing I have ever seen like this is a fungus I have seen on salmon at the end of their life cycle when caught in the tributaries of Lake Michigan.  As you can see from the photo it is a substantial wound.  It seems to be healed over.  The fish seemed no worse for the wear.  The only other culprits I could think of were some kind of bird, like a heron, or perhaps another fish.  Post a comment if you have a theory.  Anyway fun to catch.  I released him.  I put a video of the catch up on YouTube at the link below.

I am fished out.  I am done for the season.  I put away my gear when I got home today.  This might have been one of my best years for trout fishing.  I got out much and saw many new places I have never fished.  I hope to do some fishing off the tributaries of the Great Lakes in the next few weeks.  After that it is fly tying and rod building until the early season opens in February of 2014.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wait Until Next Year!

Like any good end of the season of a television hit, I am going to end my postings for this season with a cliffhanger.

Had a great day fishing on the Big Green River yesterday.  Absolutely beautiful day.  It may be the last of the season. Weekend calls for rain.  The National TU convention is in Middleton and I expect space on a stream will be at a premium.  (Don't get me wrong - I am very supportive of TU coming here.)  I fished about four hours and caught four browns on yellow and green foam hoppers and other grasshopper patterns.  

Now for the cliffhanger.  At the start of next season I will reveal my location!  I was in the Big Green system.

For my fiftieth birthday my wife bought me a waterproof GOPRO action camera.  Please watch my one minute video of catching and releasing a Brown Trout.  The underwater stuff at the end is pretty cool.  I have much to learn with this camera but I can see it has potential.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Big Spring Creek- Iowa County

As we wind down the end of the season, let me make one more posting.  Big Spring Creek is one of my favorite discoveries of the 2013 season.  It's proper WDNR name is Big Spring Branch and is a class I and II stream on the Iowa and Grant County border.  I had heard of it before but it was the guys at Orvis in Madison that inspired my first trip. While this is a much smaller stretch of water that other places in the area, it is loaded with fish in a very special setting.  No creek I can think of typifies the Drifltess area better than Big Spring Creek.  As you roll along the verdant and panoramic farm fields on the border of Iowa and Grant Counties, you reach a barely marked rural road that descends deep into a valley that feels oddly out of place amidst the vast stretches of farmland you are in.  At the bottom lies Big Spring Creek.  At it's headwaters is a fast roiling waterfall that emerges from the valley wall and feeds the stream.  The Driftless area is filled with underground rivers that are the source of most of our streams.  The headwaters and waterfall that source Big Spring Creek look exactly like what I have envisioned that an underground river would look like.  If you don't fish, this is a great place to hike to or bring your kids to.  There is a trail from the parking area that goes directly to the falls.

I was there twice this summer.  Hoppers one day.  A small nymph in riffles worked on the first visit.

Take CTH Q out of Highland Wisconsin.  (North East?)  Go about 3 miles and take a right on Big Spring Road.  Please note that this road is not well marked.  There is a "T" at this intersection and you will only be able to go right.  Follow this road down into the valley for about a mile and a half.  You will come to a bridge at the bottom of the hill that crosses Big Spring Creek.  There is a DNR parking area just  past the bridge on the right. The headwaters and waterfall can be found by walking upstream from the bridge or by following the trail from the parking area along the side of the valley.  From the bridge you should be able to see many trout in the water.  The water is gin clear.

Bridge on Big Spring Creek Road - 43.077679,-90.417779

Maps and Links


Headwaters and Waterfall

View Upstream from bridge

View Downstream from Bridge (Note deep hole on right)

Parking Area

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Willow Creek - Richland County

With about 20 days to go until the end of the season, I thought I would make a few more posts in case you are lucky enough to get out before the end of September.  Today - Willow Creek.

Willow Creek is about a 23 mile Class I trout stream that runs mostly north and south through Richland County in Western Wisconsin.  

The creek is certainly longer than the part I explored.  Below find information on about a 10 - 12 mile stretch of Willow Creek as it runs along STH 58 between STH 14 on the Southern end and CTH K on the Northern end.  I  understand that some of the best fishing on the creek lies along this stretch.

Willow Creek in Richland County is an often discussed stream.  There has also been much written about it.  In the book  Exploring Wisconsin Trout Streams - The Anglers Guide (Born, Mayers, Morton and Sonzogni) the creek gets it's own chapter.   I am torn as how to describe this stream.  On one hand it's acclaim can't be ignored.  There has been significant stream improvement work done.  It also is a beautiful setting.   Yet I have some pause about this body of water.  While there are several access points, the terrain is rough and makes getting to the miles of stream that are off of the road difficult.  Difficult but not impossible.  If you are fly fishing you will also need patience.  The trees and slope of the banks can hang you up if you are not careful.  In many places the water looks to be very shallow, hardly moving, and with a silty bottom.  This is especially true on the southern end toward STH 14.  The current lack of rain may contribute to some of this condition.

Having said all that I did catch fish.  Maybe it is just dumb luck but I caught more here in a shorter time than any place this summer.  I'd estimate I was catching about 3 or 4 an hour.  They were in the 9 -12 inch range.  One larger one I hooked on a hopper dragged my prince nymph dropper into the weeds and got it hung up.  It got off.  But that is always the case.  The big ones get away.  Right?

I fished at Smyth Hollow Road.  You can see in the photo below.  At the Smyth Hollow Road, Smyth Hollow Creek joins up with Willow Creek.  The water was gin clear in this location.  Yet the fish were not spooky.  I was in the stream in waders and still catching trout only 20 feet away. Again the walk in was through some rough terrain.

Some observations:

  • If I had to recommend places to fish I would say that it seems to look better as you move north on STH 58.  
  • The trek in to the creek side from the what I describe below as the WDNR Parking Area #1 is difficult.  Thick brush, no trail, uneven ground and about a quarter mile or more to the creek.  The payoff is some nice looking water.
  • The access at Skyview looks like it is pretty buttoned up with barbed wire by the landowner(s).   I have found that often this does not always mean that the landowner is hostile to fishermen.  Sometimes the WDNR gets after them to fence it off to keep the cows out of the stream.
  • The trout improvement work looks to be in three locations.  Pregal Hill downstream, Smyth Hollow Road downstream.  DNR Parking Area #2 downstream  all the way to Dog Hollow/Louis Rds.
Location - 

Typically I give a Google Map link and GPS coordinates for bridge locations and entry points.  Since there are so many I am not going to do that.  The photos below show 11 entry points organized from South to North on STH 58.  They can be clearly found in a Delorme Wisconsin Gazetteer.  I will give links to the two WDNR parking locations.

WDNR Parking Area #1  43.377298,-90.25919
View in Google Maps

DNR Parking Area #2  43.395082,-90.241704
View in Google Maps


WDNR Maps Richland County Trout Streams


I have organized these photos to follow the route from intersection of STH 14 an STH 58 moving north on HWY 58 to CTH K.  Sorry for all the photos but there are 11 access points.

CTH N and STH 58

Willow Creek Road (in Ithaca)

Wiedenfeld Road

Dog Hollow and Louis 

HWY 58 DNR Parking area #1

HWY 58 WDNR Parking Area #2
creek crosses STH 58

Lost Hollow Road

Smyth Hollow Road

Doolittle Road (in Lloyd - unincorporated)

Skyview Rd

Pregal Hill Road

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Rodent eating trout?

This photo is of a 19" Alaskan Rainbow that had twenty shrews in it's belly.  Has anyone ever heard of this before?  It came from a Nature Conservancy posting found here: