Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Weekend

Saturday morning Jen and I woke up at 5:30am, hopped in the shower and then hit the road at 6am. The morning drive went smoothly, it was scenic, and had intermittent periods of light rain. We arrived in Viroqua, WI and stopped in at the Driftless Angler for some local intel on hatches and fly patterns. We picked up, a few flies, and a great shirt that says "your skills suck and your fly is ugly." I love it!

Five miles later we arrived at the West Fork Sportsmans club campground in Avalanche and found our Troutfest campsite. Attendee’s for the occasion were: Kevin Biegler, Steve Carlton, Michelle Sparrow, Kevin the Intern, Sara and Mike Sanford, Ed T. (with his dogs Sasha & Willow).
We set up our camp before the rain started and I hurried into my waders. Steve was a big help in recommending four different rivers to try out in the area. I hit the river in the campground first since I was kind of in a ‘brookie’ mood. I was not able to land any trout, but I had about a dozen takes. It rained most of the late morning to early afternoon and then it subsided for the remainder of the day. It was a nice overcast day, perfect for chasing trout. After a couple of hours I went back to the truck and checked out the map. We headed out and moved on to try Bishop’s creek.
It was a nice little creek. I lost count of how many browns I caught, but there was no real size to any of them. I fished this creek for a couple of hours and then headed back to camp. We convened around the campfire for brats, beverages, and friendly banter that lasted till a little before midnight.

I awoke at 6am, made some tea over the single burner Coleman camp stove, and grabbed the Delorme along with my Wisconsin fishing guidebook. Jenny and I decided to take off around 7am to check out the South fork of Bad Axe (which turned out to be muddy and UN-fishable). So we moved on to the North Fork of Bad Axe and fished the habitat improvement section for a couple of hours (the water started to clear by the time I left but it was still pretty stained. I resorted to using streamers to entice a couple of strikes, otherwise no action occurred, except for the cinnamon colored white tail deer that I spooked up out of the brush from about 15 yards away. That was a startle as I was pretty fixated on the steam rather than looking for deer.

Jen and I had lunch out of the back of the Tahoe at 11:30am, grabbed the map, and decided to finish out the day on the Timber. I had a few takes and hooked in to a very nice, but educated, brown trout. I drifted an olive soft hackle caddis with an olive sparkle scud through a fast run right up against a lunker structure. I saw shadow move out from the spot, but my indicator did not move. I set the hook anyway because I just had a feeling. The line got tight and the fight got under way. The brown shot back to his hiding spot in the lunker structure and didn’t move. I worked the rod from one side and then the other trying to work him back out into the river. Then he finally did move out and raced down the river a ways turned around and came back up the river ahead of his hiding spot by about ten feet and then he came back down into his spot where he broke my line off. It was a fun fight, and felt like a respectable trout. I really liked the feel and the character of this river, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to fish it again some time. After losing my last sparkle scud and my last Thingamabobber, Jen and I went into town, for a cool Culver’s treat since the day had warmed up so much, and I then returned to camp.

For the remainder of the late afternoon, I fished the river in the campground, and caught a couple of nice browns on a royal streamer out of a little feeder creek that joins the main branch. On the walk back, I picked up some ones large empty McDonalds coffee cup…it was nice to have them walk it in a mile and a half to drink it, and not have the energy to bring it back after its been almost emptied.

Halfway back I had a sparrow chewing me out for some reason and diving at me. Maybe he wanted the last couple sips of the cold McDonalds coffee, but I can’t be sure since I don’t speak ‘bird.’ He was miffed and I kept it away by waving my fly rod at her as she kept circling me to the point I were I started getting dizzy. I must have spun around ten or twelve times. Finally it landed on a shrub and let me continue on my way.

I cooked up some baked beans and kernel corn for supper, while the others cooked up some big steaks and burgers. I was surprised we didn’t have any visitors of the raccoon variety stop in to pay us visit. A glass of Woodford reserve on the rocks in one hand and a Hampton Court cigar in the other, I was set of for a relaxing evening at the campfire. Everyone seemed to be in spirits. Even Steve, who was trying to figure out packing arrangements to get back home as his ride had left camp early due to having pink eye. One by one people headed off to bed and at midnight I decided it was time for a little shuteye as well.

I rolled out of bed around 7:30am and drifted over to sit by the morning campfire that ‘Kevin the intern’ started up. Some morning small talk and with the urge to try to wake up, I fired up my camp stove. The morning menu was hot tea for myself, instant cappuccino for Jen, and oatmeal for the both of us.

After breakfast we packed up camp, jump-started Kevin’s car, and the swung by Viroqua. We filled up with petro, grabbed a couple salty snacks for the road, and paid a quick visit to the Driftless Angler fly shop. We then headed for the border for a scenic drive by the Mississippi up through Lacrosse, WI and headed home from there.

It was a relaxing time and I am glad that we decided on doing this even though it was a last minute decision. But it’s the last minute trips that have almost always turned out very rewarding for Jen and myself. I hope everyone else had a happy Memorial Day as well.


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