Beautiful weather and opening weekend of the catch and keep season brought the crowds out to the popular streams, so I hit a smaller area stream to find some solitude from about 3:30 to 6:00 pm. I began the outing with a black leech streamer I had success with at this spot before, but was unsuccessful this time around. After a couple runs, I turned to nymphing with a size 16 olive Euro pheasant tail and a size 18 standard Euro PT below. I seemed to be a tree magnet — this section has a lot of overhanging limbs — today, but when I did manage to get my flies in the water the fish seemed to be willing to eat. I ended up with seven or eight fish in the two or three runs before I hit my takeout point, including this one around 12″
Fish were also rising a bit to midges, but I didn’t bother tying one on. The stream was also low and crystal clear, making stealth very important as I approached good holding spots. A little rain would be a welcome sight!
I fished this afternoon from about 3:30 to 6:30. With poor weather forcasted, I had the stream to myself. I began the outing swinging streamers, but eventually got to a run of rising fish. I tied on a size 20 parachute BWO, and caught 6-8 small browns (and missed plenty more) before calling it a day to watch the end of the Clippers-Jazz game.
I also went out yesterday for a short outing on a smaller area stream to swing some streamers and caught this nice 15-incher! Not bad for just an hour or so on the water!
Aric and I fished the Rush from about noon to 4:00. The stream was still slightly stained from Thursday’s rains making for perfect fishing conditions. Aric started the outing off by quickly catching 6-8 fish within the first couple minutes. As I was tying on my nymph rig, I heard him yell that he had a big one on. I hustled downstream and netted his biggest fish to date!
I quickly plucked around ten fish from my first run of the day, with a few around 12-13 inches. I moved upstream to the next run and after only catching two or three fish in about ten minutes, I put another split shot on my leader. Within my first half-dozen casts, my indicator plunged underwater and I felt a strong tug. After a short fight, I had my biggest fish of the year in my net!
We worked our way upstream for a couple more runs, picking off a few fish in each, but nothing nearly as big as those two. We ended the day with about 35-40 fish between us. Aric was using a size 14 pink squirrel with a size 16 pheasant tail below, while I used a size 16 olive Euro pheasant tail with a size 18 standard Euro PT below. We both caught about equal fish on both flies.
I also went out on the Rush Friday night for a couple hours after work. The water visibility was only about a foot, so I fished a black leech streamer for the entire outing. I only caught two fish, but one was around 16-17 inches. I missed a handful more. I’ve tried to focus more on streamers this year and I’m definitely gaining more confidence every time. Catching some bigger fish is always fun too!
The stained water definitely made for some great fishing over the weekend!
Thinking the Kinni and Rush would be pretty busy, I chose a to fish smaller area stream from about 10:00am to 4:00pm. I began the day nymphing with my tried-and-true Euro pheasant tail and zebra midge, and caught around 25 browns with them.
There were quite a few fish rising to BWOs, but I failed to bring floatant, so I thought I’d try my luck with a foam hippy stomper. The fish didn’t seem to mind that I didn’t quite match the hatch!
I eventually got to a deeper pool and decided to tie on a streamer. On my first cast with the black rabbit strip leech, the biggest fish of the day slammed it!
I spent the last half-mile or so of the outing stripping the streamer through pools with a couple follows and a few misses, but none to hand. It was definitely nice to catch fish with nymphs, dries, and a streamer all in one day!
I fished a new-to-me section of an area stream today from about 3:00 to 5:30pm. The whole outing I used a Euro pheasant tail with a black zebra midge, and caught about a dozen browns with about half on each fly. There was also pretty consistent rising to BWOs throughout the afternoon, but I never switched it up and stuck with the nymph rig. It’s always fun to explore some new water, and I’ll probably be doing the same tomorrow as I’m sure all the regular spots will be packed!
Aric and I fished a smaller area stream yesterday afternoon from about 1:00 to 6:30pm. We fished a variety of nymphs with a zebra midge dropper, but the top performer was the Euro pheasant tail with a pink hot spot. The zebra midge caught its fair share as well. We caught about 40 fish between us, with quite a few over 12″ and one around 15-16″.
I caught one around 13″ on a streamer as well.
There was a good number of BWOs on the surface from about 2:00-4:00, with plenty of fish rising to them, but we stuck to fishing subsurface.
Overall, a great day on the water that gets us even more excited for spring!
After looking at the flow gauge for the Kinni on Monday night, I decided to head south to find some clearer water. I shot a text to friend Bryan “Trapper” Voldahl and made plans to meet him Tuesday morning in Westby.
They got a good soaking of rain in Vernon County as well, but Trapper knows the area better than anyone and took me to a stream that clears quickly. I started off the day with an olive Euro pheasant tail nymph and a white and chartreuse zebra midge. Trapper isn’t much of a nympher, so he used an olive woolly bugger.
We worked our way upstream from the bridge, and I soon had my first fish of the day.
We continued upstream for a couple hundred yards and picked a fish or two out of every hole. All but one fish took the olive PT. Trapper had a couple takes on the bugger but none to hand.
Trout streams flowing through picturesque valleys like this are what makes the Driftless Area so great.
After a couple hours we jumped back in the car and headed to another stream — one that Trapper had permission on some private water. When we got there I tied on a pink scud.
We made our way to a run with a spring flowing into it. Trapper commented that there should be fish holding in the warmer water. Trapper quickly hooked his first fish of the day, a nice 14-inch brown. He released it too quickly for me to grab my camera. I soon got in on the action, catching a 13-incher, a 15-incher, and a couple 11 and 12-inch brookies.
After catching a couple more, the sun began to set and we called it a day. It was definitely worth the trip! I can’t wait to head down to the Vernon County area again this spring and summer. Big thanks to Trapper for guiding me throughout the day!
I was able to get home for the weekend and fish for a couple hours on Friday from 2:30 to 4:30 pm, using a Frenchie and zebra midge. I got two small browns in the net and lost two more. It was definitely nice to get out and catch some fish in January! From what I’ve heard, the streamer fishing has been very good as well, especially during the warm fronts we’ve been having.
After being in Louisiana for work since mid-August, I was able to make it home for a long weekend. Because of the high, stained water during most of my time back, I was only able to get out for a couple hours on Monday from about 10:15 am to 12:30. I tied on a Euro pheasant tail (this one with an orange hot spot instead of my normal pink) and zebra midge, and headed down the valley. The Kinni was about 10-15% higher than normal with a slight stain — great fishing conditions. The first few runs produced no fish, with only a couple hook ups and long distance releases. I finally got to a small, shaded riffle where an island separates the stream. This quickly produced five browns between 8 and 10 inches.
After catching those five, I was content with the outing and headed home to pack up for my flight later in the afternoon. I sure missed the Kinni.
I’ve been out the past couple of days guiding clients and family. Nymphing has been the most successful during both mornings and evenings on pheasant tail variants, scuds, and zebra midges. I did run into a decent hatch of tricos in the morning, but the trout weren’t rising very often, with only a couple little ones splashing at a trico spinner pattern. In the evenings there are a few small BWOs coming off, and a couple trout took a hippie stomper as well.