Friday, February 5, 2016

Driftless Winter 2016: Part One

Day One

My friend Adam and I have been trying to get out and fish this winter.  We were thinking steelhead in Michigan or Wisconsin, and that just never happened, because, we've both been busy.  Things always work out in the end, because, it just so happened that we both had a free weekend at the end of January.

We decided, we're going to fish.

Our destination, the Driftless Area of Southwest Wisconsin.

You just couldn't beat the scenery.
I haven't been to the Driftless Area of Southern Wisconsin since May 2013.  The last time I attempted to go was in September of 2013, a few days before the season is set to close for the year.  I never made it, because, my car was totaled. Click here to see that old post - Sitting Duck.

We left early around 4 AM on a Saturday morning and as I made the last turn onto a gravel road we we greeted by a bald eagle.  Always a beautiful sight.  Adam has never been up here, and he recently got into fly fishing, so, I was looking forward to showing him the very few spots I know in the Driftless.

Frozen guides did not stop us.
The morning started off cold.  Our guides were iced every 5 minutes, but that's okay, we weren't miserable, because, we were thrilled to be out of the house and wetting a line surrounded by such beautiful scenery.  Adam brought along some liquid heat to help warm him up from the inside out.

Adam sippin' on some liquid heat.
What to use...dries? nymphs? streamers?

What size should we use...10? 14? 16? ...20??

After changing flies quite a few times, I ended up getting some attention from red beadhead leech I tied on a size 6 egg hook.  Adam went with the hopper dropper technique.  A technique I rarely use, but probably should use more often.

Not wanting to spook any of the fish with my walking, and how I slip and fall in the snow, I was attempting to make hero casts, so, I can fish an area before I was near enough to spook the fish.

Streamer Eater.
Casting the leech to the tail end of some riffles, I got a strike, but missed.  3 casts later, my rod bent, and as I lowered my net, a beautiful brown was scooped up.

Release.
As the day went on, it got warmer.  Our guides were iced, no more.  I was actually breaking a sweat, because, I was so warm in the 4 layers I was wearing.  The rise in temperature gave us hope that the fishing was going to turn for the better, but it didn't.  It stayed stagnant.  We couldn't figure out what they wanted.

Long stealthy casts.  One of the keys to fishing the Driftless.
The lack of fish didn't affect us at all.  One look around and it was all good.  These streams are very special, and they just get prettier when the snow reveals lush green grass, and the trees begin to become full of life, again.  The trip wasn't done, and we were already looking forward to returning when jackets and winter gear were not needed.