July 14, 2019

What Do You See?

This late March midday brought a very unusual phenomena.  The stream appeared blue like the sky.  I did not doctor or tweak this photo. The sun was straight up in the sky.  The stream mirrored the overhead sky.  Just after I took this photo a cloud went over the sun and the effect turned off like someone had flicked the light switch.  To this day I regret not taking an off photo.

July 11, 2019

Was One Of Those Days

It was a fishing day more than a catching day.

Went out this morning with Dale Schultz.  Water was dirty and high but I just had to fish.  It seemed like such a long time since I fished.

Between the two of us we landed 8 browns.

I got to break in my new Brady's Net properly.

July 09, 2019

Know Your Small Stream Driftless Trout

Top to bottom Tiger, bow, brown, and brook

There are four species of trout in Wisconsin small streams. The trout are brook, brown, tiger and rainbow.  I will give you some helpful information on each species.

 The native to our waters is the Brook Trout.  It is called a trout but really is a member of the char family. A large brook trout is fifteen inches long these days.  Male brook trout grow a "kype" when they are mature.  A kype is a hooked lower jaw.  The males are typically more colorful in the fall. Brook trout flourish in drifless cold streams.

Rainbow trout are typically stockers from the hatchery.  They have very little natural reproduction n our waters.  Some fingerlings are stocked and some giant brooders from the hatchery that have worn out there usefulness. Some can get up to 25 inches easily.  Adult male bows also develop kypes.  The female rainbow has a shorter head that is more rounded.  The adult bows can be gendered also by their anal fins.  Their last fin on the belly nearest to the tail has characteristics that identify their gender.  If the fin is rounded towards the tail it s male.  If the curve goes the other direction it is a female. 

This adult female rainbow has no kype and the anal fin curves the other direction.  The fin identification can only be done with adult bows and browns.

This adult brown has the fin rounded towards the tail. That identifies it as male. This trait can also tell the gender of an adult rainbow.

My favorite are the brown trout.  They are not a native species.  They were brought here in the 1800s from Scotland and Germany to name a couple places our browns originated from.  Some of the Scottish browns were brought from a lake in Scotland.  Lake in Scottish is "Loch". The more well know Scottish immigrant came from lake number eleven "Leven".  The Loch Leven strain can be identified by their lack of red spots.

The top brown has Loch Leven characteristic and bottom has German lineage.

 The German brown has red spots and sometimes are a little more bronze colored in fall.  The types of browns have intermingled through time and no trout here can be identified as German or Scottish now.  They can have traits.  There are no purebreds. 

Browns also get pronounced hooked lower jaws if they are males and they get even more pronounced in Fall during breeding time.  The jaw again is called a kype.  Browns and Rainbows can be gender identified by the fin method when adult.  This only works on those two species when adult.  A big brown in the driftless is twenty inches or bigger.  Anything over 23 inches falls into the "WOW" category.

The kypes are quite obvious on these male trout.

The last trout in our streams is the "Tiger" trout.  It is a sterile hybrid between a male brook trout and a female brown.  The hybrid can only go that way.  The female brook trout's eggs are too small to be fertilized by browns.  Tiger trout are stream born in Wisconsin.  A long time ago tigers were introduced to the great lakes but that was discontinued.  A large tiger trout is 15 inches.  The state record is just short of 18 inches.  Tiger trout are very rare.  I have only caught 17 in my entire life.  Tigers are so rare they are not regulated by the WDNR.

June 30, 2019

A Look Inside My Trout Boxes

Number 8 in this photo has caught the most trout over 20 inches in my entire life.

I am not one to follow the hot new it lures.  If it looks like a winner I will give it a legitimate try. Many of the lures in my tackle boxes for trout I have been turned onto by anglers that fish with me and do well.  I typically talk them out of one or maybe two that were working well for them. I in turn also share a few lures.

Number 1

Some lures folks preach about sometimes do not fit my kind of water I fish or size trout I target.  I quit using nightcrawlers a long time ago.  I do not use single hook spinners because they come through the water oddly.  The treble on a spinner works as a rudder to make the spinner come through the water naturally.  Single hook spinners are "vogue" due to peer pressure on anglers to not use trebles.

Number 8

Most of my spinners are not dressed with the only exception a panther martin fly pattern in gold with an orange tail in size 6.  This spinner is pictured in the spinner photo and is number 4.  This spinner is the best I have found in 56 years for brook trout.  They are unable to resist it.  I have tried other dressed spinners with dressed tails.  The trebles are not large enough to penetrate a large trout's hard jaws and they are my target always.

My spinners and stick baits are always equipped with trebles.  Because of this I have recently changed my decades old net.  The new ghost net bags are much easier on trout when you net them.  The trebles are much less likely to become entangled in the netting and severely injuring the thrashing giants I target.

Number 7.

My newest arrivals to my spinner box are blue fox vibrexs numbered 1 and 5 pictured.  These I use in a size three.  The copper colored one is amazing in stained water.  Some of my friends size up to 4s.  I have not been able to feel comfortable using 4s yet. Numbers 2 and 3 are Mepps in size 3.  They are in the testing phase.  Again a friend does well on these so I am giving them a try this season.  The jury is still out on those two.

Most times you will find number 7 and 8 on the end of my line in a size nine. Number 8 works well when frogs are prevalent in your water. 6 and 9 are change up panthers I use when nothing else works and again in size 9.

The exact rapala that is pictured as number 1 was what I caught my personal best brown trout of 27 3/4s inch in a deep hole in Richland County.

My stick bait box has some old standbys.  The tried and true Husky Jerk Rapalas pictured in the stick bait photo.  My two favorites are number 2 and 3. Countdowns and deep diving rapalas always have a place in my box.  Number 7 and 8 I took out of my walleye box and never returned them there.  They are zip lures.  A long time ago I was recommended them for deep water and for finicky trout that have had everything thrown at them before.  I promptly bought some and tested them at the longest catch and release only water in southwestern Wisconsin.  This place is known for released brood stock that look prehistoric.  I cast my typical spinners and stick baits and there were no takers.  I saw the giants swim by and they ignored me.  The first cast in with the zip lure it was crushed by a 25 incher.  The zip lure need to be fished with a swivel and also are deadly in deep holes.

My Polish friends from Illinois turned me on to Salmo lures last Spring. Number 9, 10, and 11 are Sparky Shad.  They are deep divers and have rattles.  They also are in the testing phase.

You for sure can catch trout on other spinners and stick baits but these are what I use and have for over half a century in the trout streams of the Wisconsin Driftless. Rooster tails have been removed from my box.  Trebles too small and the blade stops spinning often and don't start at all half of the time.  Super dupers are a waste of money. 

I always use Power Pro line.  It has no line twist and requires no swivel for spinners.

This tank of a brook trout was caught on a panther martin fly pattern pictured as number 4 in the spinners photo in a size 6.

My best so far this year was caught and released on a panther martin pictured as number 8 in the spinners photo.  I had a different spinner on but changed due to all the frogs croaking on stream.

The best of the year so far caught by my friend Preston McManamy on a size 9 panther martin spinner.  Number 6 pictured.

June 29, 2019


gnats...skitoes...crazy rain....weeds to your neck....sweat dripping off your chin...
This really doesn't look that bad does it?

June 27, 2019

Daze Like These

The weather forecast is 88 degrees and sunny.  What will the stream temperature measure?  What is the magic stream temp that you should pack up your rod and go home? What water temperature can be deadly in these "Dog Daze" of summer to trout?  """70""" degrees and you should be packing it in.

When the water gets near this temperature the dissolved oxygen in the water is not adequate for trout to revive properly.  Your perfectly landed and released trout could very well die even with the best of handing techniques. If you must fish this time of the year pick early morning when the temperatures are typically cooler.

The best reading water tool during these "daze" is simple.

Trout are magnetized to areas like this during the peak of summer and weeds to your chin.