SAO Pages

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Driftless Region of Wisconsin

Road Trip to Wisconsin
June 19-20, 2008

A month or so back, I got a call from Greg saying we had been asked to do some presenting at the Orvis Retail Store in Madison Wisconsin.

Greg and I always enjoy getting out and speaking about our fly fishing passions and the Orvis store was the place to do it.  So, after working all day, I loaded my truck and headed to Greg's place 3 hours away.  

I pulled in around 10 o'clock and took a few minutes to relax.  After a short time at Greg's, we were ready to hit the road for an all nighter.  Oh yeah, we were gonna drive all night for one reason......FISH.  The following morning, we would be hitting the water with a local guide for some wild browns, brooks, and bows.   We drove and drove to ensure that we would get there by 8:30 a.m. to meet the guide.  Since Greg is used to working nights, we made good time....real good time.  In fact around 4:30 in the morning, the sun started to come up and I looked at Greg and said, "Did you know the sun came up this early around here?"  At that point we were only an hour away and we knew that there was precious fishing time slipping away.  Do we call our guide and tell him we are ahead of schedule?  This was our wrestling match.  Greg wasn't aware that it got light so early, so upon arriving we grabbed our fishing licenses and then jumped back in the car.  By now it was 5:30 and we said, what the heck, call him.  A few minutes later our faithful guide was sitting in front of the Orvis store and we were loading up to hit the Big Green River.

Nick Volk was our guide ( and he has experience that ranges from large salmon in Alaska (where he guided with Alaska West) to wild brookies in the lower 48.  We immediately hit it off with Nick and found that his love for the water and the fish he pursued was second to none.

Nick directed our turns and a short hour and a half later we were in the "driftless region" of Wisconsin.  This is an area that is marked by spring creeks flowing through farmland, pastures, and rolling meadows.  It is a fresh look for guys used to fishing flows lined with forests and cliffs!

After our arrival on the Big Green, we got rigged up and in a few short minutes were in the water.  What an awesome flow the Big Green is.  The character of the stream is unlike most streams I have fished for trout.  At times it would flow narrow and deep with undercut banks while at other times is was wide and shallow with riffles and chutes.

On our way to the stream we had asked Nick about what size fish we would be catching and it wasn't much different than home.  He said we could expect a 10-12" fish to be the norm, but beware that there were some slobs to be had (20+" fish).

We got on stream and found it to be a bit high with stained water.  It left us with the stream all to ourselves because locals didn't fish water with color.  Well, being the steelheaders that we are and how accustomed we are to fishing stained, even muddy flows, we jumped right in joking about the color of the water.  It really was a nice tea color....a day or two from awesome conditions in our minds.

Well, immediately Greg started drifting his infamous pattern called the Senyo Wiggle-Stone... and once again, it scored fish after fish.  This time it was chartreuse that kept bringing the fish to hand.

Greg nailed his fair share of fish as did I, but there were many more that we missed as we were trying to get our light rod finesse back after a long steelhead season.

It wasn't long after we arrived that I too was on the board.  I have a couple of favored dirty water nymphs that have brought some big fish to hand, in the past, so I started out with those.  I got started well, and started out the way I like to......big!  In short order, our guide Nick was over my shoulder looking on and all he could say was, "That fish is huge!"  He was right, it was a nice fish for this water.   He just kept shaking his head and saying I was spoiled.  I think I told him I didn't mind being the spoiled one ;)  Here are a couple of shots of the fish.  One with my guide Nick and the other of me.

This fish was the largest fish of the trip at 15 1/4 inches in length.  It wasn't a huge fish, but it was a beautiful fish and definitely the way to start out any trip.   Thanks Nick for showing me the hole.

The day turned very warm, very fast, and soon had us heading off the water in search of some food and something cold to drink.  Here are some other shots I grabbed while on the water with Greg and Nick.

The Big Green is definitely a water I would like to hit again in the future.  It was spectacular under less than ideal conditions, so I wonder what it will look like under better conditions? Only the future will tell.....

Stay tuned for another installment from our trip....

Patrick "Flybum" Robinson

No comments: