Monday, March 28, 2011

Out of town

I am currently out of town for business, but once I return I will have a report from this past weekend. Saturday was spent fishing for brown trout and Sunday I was chasing brook trout. Had good luck on both days.
I return to the Madison area late Tuesday, so I am hoping for a post on Wednesday.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Madison Chain water levels

Anyone who normally fishes for the monster Bluegills and Crappies on the Madison chain of lakes is loving the heavy snow and rain over the past 4 months. The last couple of winters the government has lower the lake levels to reduce the effects of above average precipitation, which has caused some shoreline erosion for the water front home owners. Lake levels are rising and are currently above summer minimum levels. This hopefully will allow the large panfish to return to their normal early spring areas. The past couple of springs the water levels were too low for the panfish to move in right after ice out. Look for areas that will warm quickly right after ice out. Small rivers and streams that run into any of the Chain of lakes will hold panfish early in the year. Lagoons and shallow bays also hold fish.
I personally use a small ice jig with a wax worm. Clear water I will use a black and purple or black and red tear drop. Stained water firetiger tear drop, fished under a small bobber.

                                                               Lake Mendota water level

                                       10.5 inch Lake Mendota bluegill on a early summer spot.

                                           14 inch white crappie on the same early summer hole.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Must know Wisconsin trout info

Any Wisconsin angler will tell you the amount of trout water we have in this state can make you dizzy. Everyone knows all the well known streams, but we all have some "secret" honey holes and hidden gems. One tool I have used to find many hidden gem streams is by researching the Wisconsin DNR website. One great piece of information I found is the listings for Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs)
Some of these waters are very small, but find an ORW or ERW and the fishery will be loaded with trout most of the time. Some ORW and ERW streams will start off very small, but down stream become larger. Even if the lower sections are not listed as ORW or ERW most of the time it will still have great fishing. These sections of streams often serve as the spawning grounds for wild brook and brown trout.

Use listings like these to narrow your search.

What is a ORW or ERW??

"Wisconsin has designated many of the state’s highest quality waters as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORWs) or Exceptional Resource Waters (ERWs). Waters designated as ORW or ERW are surface waters which provide outstanding recreational opportunities, support valuable fisheries and wildlife habitat, have good water quality, and are not significantly impacted by human activities. ORW and ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution. These designations are intended to meet federal Clean Water Act obligations requiring Wisconsin to adopt an “antidegradation” policy that is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality – especially in those waters having significant ecological or cultural value." - Wisconsin DNR website

What is the difference between a ORW and ERW??

 ORWs receive the state’s highest protection standards, with ERWs a close second. ORWs and ERWs share many of the same environmental and ecological characteristics. They differ in the types of discharges each receives, and the level of protection established for the waterway after it is designated.
  • ORWs: ORWs typically do not have any point sources discharging pollutants directly to the water (for instance, no industrial sources or municipal sewage treatment plants), though they may receive runoff from nonpoint sources. New discharges may be permitted only if their effluent quality is equal to or better than the background water quality of that waterway at all times—no increases of pollutant levels are allowed.
  • ERWs: If a waterbody has existing point sources at the time of designation, it is more likely to be designated as an ERW. Like ORWs, dischargers to ERW waters are required to maintain background water quality levels; however, exceptions can be made for certain situations when an increase of pollutant loading to an ERW is warranted because human health would otherwise be compromised.

Since these waters receive such high protection many of them have public land.access directly to the water. I enjoy fishing small water loaded with trout and some of these streams have some nice sized trout in them. If you are looking for a 20+ inch trout fishing in these areas isn't your best bet, however last year I caught three 20+ inch trout in September when the big browns and brook trout make the fall spawning migrations.

                              Trout caught in 2010 in a ORW stream VERY close to my house.

To find an ORW or ERW water near you visit the Wisconsin DNR website. Minnesota has a similar list for it's outstanding waters resources I believe they are called Outstanding Resource Value Waters.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Fishing report

Air temp 38-46 degrees
Water Temp @ 11:00am 44 degrees

Fished the famous BEC Saturday morning. Great morning I got up at 7:00 but the temps were in the 20's still, so I went back to sleep until 8:30. Got to the section of stream at 8:37 and I was fishing by 9:00, sure is great living a couple steps from the stream. First cast of the day with the Rapala x-rap XR4 in rainbow trout pattern was crushed by a nice fat 14 inch brown. Worked the pool for a few more cast than I switched to a panther martin #6 gold with a red tail, crushed by a fat 12 inch brown. Switched to a white road runner and caught a small 9 inch rainbow. So in the same pool I caught 3 trout on three different presentations. I will now slow down a bit and throw multiple presentations into good looking pools from now on. Worked my way upstream seeing deer, turkeys, sandhill cranes and a pheasant. I picked up about 8 more nice browns from 12-15 inches. This stretch of water is really beautiful and holds a good number of trout with some monsters swimming around.
My buddy Ty called me and asked where he should fish in the afternoon. I put him on the same stretch of water that I fished earlier in the morning. He had some good luck catching 15 trout on a sinking brown trout Rapala with a 22 inch monster brown.

I wanted to practice some underwater pictures today, but I completely forget to charge the camera and ran out of juice after turning it on for the first picture. Good thing I didn't catch any monsters.

Water is super clear and running at a perfect level. I spoke with a few fly fisherman at the South Valley Road Bridge and they didn't have any luck. Further Down stream spoke with a guy who was using spinners and said he caught some small brook trout (doubt that, most likely small colorful browns)

We got some good rains last night and this morning and all area streams are totally blown out. Snow pack is about 98% gone, just some pockets on the north facing slopes and deep valleys. Sounds like we are going to get more rain Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I have Thursday-Sunday off and plan on doing some fishing. I will have to focus my efforts on smaller headwater systems.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Trout Fishing Western Dane Saturday

I will be trout fishing Western Dane county tomorrow. Sunny high of 50 with light winds, sounds like it will be a nice day. I am planning on getting up earlier than usual for the early season. Should be stream side by 7:30-8:00 a.m. planning on spin fishing and fly fishing. This week we have been catching a good amount of smaller browns and rainbows in the upper sections of the area systems. Water temperatures have hit the magic number and are ranging from 43-46 degrees in most streams in the area. Further West into Iowa, Grant, Richland, Vernon, Monroe and Crawford counties streams are running high and muddy in most cases. Snow melt coming off the North facing slopes is also chilling the streams a fair amount. I have heard that smaller streams and headwaters are already clearing and will be ready to fish in the morning in the Western most counties. To the North it sounds like fishing will not be ready Sauk, Columbia, Marquette, Green Lake and Waushara counties have very high water.
Gear for tomorrow.

Spin fishing - starting off using the New Rapala x-rap 04 in brown trout (Must have lure!!) Panther Martins and 2 inch berkley power grubs (black)
Fly Fishing - Pink Squirrels and wolly buggers for the most part.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Trout fishing Wednesday with the dog

Took my almost 2 year old black lab for a walk right after work tonight from 5:30-6:45. Brought along the spinner gear just to mess around for awhile, nothing serious. I do this a couple times a week and catch a good amount of small rainbows and browns. I normally just fish right in town, but today we went out by Black Earth for a nice long walk. I ended up catching around 10 trout nothing big, but what a great way to end the day! Trout fishing with my buddy.............

There was a nice sized midge hatch going on, but very few fish rising.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Uncle Marty's 1st trout

Had a group of 4 out fishing today in Grant County. Blue Bird skies and ultra clear water made the fishing tough, but we caught about 25 trout today with no monsters. Today was my Uncle Marty's first trout fishing trip. Teaching people how to read the water and stalk the streams is always fun. Casting takes time for the first timers to learn (fly or spin) making precise, low casts isn't easy. Uncle Marty started to get the hang of it later in the afternoon once I gave him my rod to use. He caught some browns and one real nice fat wild brown that put on a great fight.  The other guys had some good luck also catching some nice browns and brook trout. I did more guiding for the family than fishing, but I still ended up catching around 10 on a very limited amount of fishing time. Everyone really seems to enjoy trout fishing so hopefully they will continue. Had wildlife all over the place today! Turkeys are starting to fan out in the fields!

                                                                Uncle Marty's first trout

                                                               Uncle Marty's biggest trout

Next weekend I am going to do some serious trout fishing up in Richland/Crawford counties. I will not be taking any beginners on this trip, I just need to hit the streams hard with maybe another experienced trout angler.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Trout Fishing/Walleye fishing this weekend

Heading about an hour west of here this Sunday for some trout fishing in Grant County and Walleye fishing on the Wisconsin river right after that. Will report with pictures when I return. I have fished here in town while walking the dog the past few nights catching a good amount of small browns biggest being 9 inches. Tomorrow the weather doesn't appear to be that great, but I might sneak out and fish for an hour or two.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wisconsin Trout Fishing Survey

Everyone should take this survey!
I normally laugh at these types of surveys that the DNR puts out, but I must say this covers a lot of information efficiently. I thought it was very well done and they should be able to gather some valuable cultural information on how the dynamics of trout fishing are changing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My trout fishing bucket list

1.) Gila Trout - A native to the southwestern part of the country the Gila trout is listed as an endangered species in Arizona and New Mexico. The species is making a come back, but progress is slow. In a historic event the first Gila Trout harvest season is open for the Frye Mesa Reservoir in Arizona.

                                                                          Gila Trout

2.) Golden Trout - Also known as the California Golden Trout. This species is native to California and normally found above 10,000 feet in elevation. Golden Trout have been introduced to other states in the Western US, but Golden Trout numbers have been declining for years. I plan of chasing them in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming this summer during a 4 day weekend.

                                                                         Golden Trout

3.) Bull Trout - Like the Native "trout" in Wisconsin (Brook & Lake) this species is not a trout, but in the char family. Native to the Northwestern part of the country this species is also classified as a threatened species in Washington, Montana, Idaho and Oregon.

                                                                           Bull Trout

4.) Greenback Cutthroat Trout - The state fish of Colorado, and also classified as a threatened species. Today this fish only occupies 1% of it's native waters. Mainly found in the Arkansas and South Platte River basins.

                                                                 Greenback Cutthroat

There are over 14 subspecies of cutthroat trout alone. Many other species of trout beside the common rainbow, brook and brown trout. I hope to see these fish in person before either I pass or they perish from the earth.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mid-week flooding

Sounds like Tuesday-Wednesday the driftless area could see 1 + inches of rain. If the storm moves out early enough on Wednesday fishing this weekend still should be alright. I will report on stream conditions on Thursday and Friday.

March 9th update. Southwestern Wisconsin got pretty much all snow ranging from 4-7 inches across the area!! Believe it or not I am happy for the snow! This will allow for a slower melt that shouldn't mess with the streams all that much for the weekend. Black Earth Creek is running nice and clear with a good flow.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday of the trout opener

After getting out yesterday for a nice outing I didn't get to fish all that much today only from 12:30-2:30. Stayed in Dane County and fished two new streams in the Southwestern portion of the county. Trout were not very active today, but I ended up catching 11 browns and 1 brookie. Sun was very high and the air temperature was only 28 degrees. Threw everything in the box at them and also fly fished for about an hour. Water was very clear and the fish were holding very tight to cover. Early in the afternoon I was getting a bunch of followers, but very few takers. Switched over to my fly rod and caught a few 10-13 inch brown trout on a pink squirrel. Biggest fish of the day was a 17 inch brown trout.
Also saw a bunch of turkeys, deer, eagles and a very friendly red fox (wish I got a good picture of him)

                                                                First stream I hit today
                                                        First fish on my fly-rod in 2011
                                                          Stream number 2 of the day
                           Biggest trout of the day about 17 inches. I missed a much bigger one as well.
                                                                Only Brookie today

Fishing two new streams in Dane County today

Will report with pictures once I return. It is a solo trip, so the pictures might not be the best.

                                                     Here is a cool one from yesterday

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2011 Opener

Great opening day for us. Got out fishing with a friend Tony Lawler and my cousin Martin Runge today. Both Martin and Tony are still new to trout fishing. This is Tony's third year of trout fishing and Martin will be entering his first full season. We fished Dane and Iowa counties today and ended up with 50+ fish between the three of us. I caught a nice 24 inch brown to mark the largest fish of the day. Trout were pretty active from 9:30 am - noon. caught most of the fish on rapalas with a few on spinners. Water was very clear which was a surprise to me seeing black earth creek last night running high and muddy. Most fish were browns, but a few brookies were mixed in throughout the day. Cloudy with some flurries and a high of 34. Water temp was 41 at 9:41am when I checked near a large spring.

Tony caught three trout over 16 inches and a bunch of other 8-12 inch fish.

Martin caught 15-20 trout biggest was around the 16 inch mark as well. I sent him into a new section of stream and came back with a report of "great water."

I caught a good amount of fish and did a bunch of guiding. Can't complain catching a nice big brown for the first fish of 2011! I also missed another 20 incher later in the day.

                                                                 Enjoy some pictures

                                                  Martin's first trout of 2011 a fat brown.
                                                   After the morning beer we are ready to roll
                                                      Martin and I locked and loaded.
                                            Not bad for the first fish of 2011??? 24 inch brown
                                                               Tony's first fish of 2011
                                                             Caught a bunch this size
                                                        Tony working a nice deep pool
                                                          Tony with a nice brown trout
                                                        Another cookie cutter brown


And we are off. Cold, windy opener but who really cares. Three of us are headed to breakfast in about 15 minutes than doing some stream hoping. Black Earth Creek is still running high and muddy from the melt/rain yesterday. Conditions should improve as the day gets older. Hopefully this front didn't put the fish down too much. I will have a report with pictures tonight once we return.