Friday, December 26, 2008

Black Earth Creek Fly Box




March


Midges (black and white)
Smaller Blue Winged Olive
Orange scuds
Little black stonefly
Little black caddis

April

Midges (black and white)
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
Smaller BWO
Little black stonefly
Little black caddis
Hendricksons

May

Midges (black and white)
Olive Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Hendrickson
Little black caddis

June

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Brown Wooly Bugger
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Hendrickson
Little black caddis

July
Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Beadhead gold rib hare's ear
Brown Wooly Bugger
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials
Olive caddis
Tan caddis


August

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials, particularly crickets and hoppers
Olive caddis
Tan caddis

September

Midges (black and white)
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials, particularly crickets and hoppers
Olive caddis
Tan caddis

Willow River Fly Box




March

Midges (black and white)
Smaller Blue Winged Olive
Orange scuds

April

Midges (black and white)
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
Smaller BWO
Early black stonefly

May

Midges (black and white)
Olive Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Hendrickson

June

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Brown Wooly Bugger
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Copper John
Pheasant Tail
Beadhead flash pheasant tail
Ladybugs
Sulfurs
Trico spinners
Crayfish imitations
Muddler Minnow
Sculpin imitations
Stenonema

July
Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Beadhead gold rib hare's ear
Brown Wooly Bugger
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials
Trico spinners
Crayfish imitations
Muddler Minnow
Sculpin imitations

August

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials, particularly crickets and hoppers
Trico spinners

September

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials, particularly crickets and hoppers
Trico spinners

Kinnickinnic Fly Box





March


Midges (black and white)
Smaller Blue Winged Olive
Orange scuds

April

Midges (black and white)
Olive Beadhead Hare's Ear
Black Elk Hair Caddis
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
Smaller BWO
Early black stonefly

May

Midges (black and white)
Olive Beadhead Hare's Ear
Black Elk Hair Caddis
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Sulfurs
Hendrickson
Yellow body with grey soft hackle

June

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Black Elk Hair Caddis
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Stimulator
Pink squirrel
Brown Wooly Bugger
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Copper John
Pheasant Tail
Beadhead flash pheasant tail
Terrestrials, particularly ladybugs and ants
Sulfurs
Yellow body with grey soft hackle
Giant brown stonefly
Trico spinners


July
Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Slate drakes
White glove howdy
Beadhead gold rib hare's ear
Brown Wooly Bugger
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Beadhead flash pheasant tail
Terrestrials
Trico spinners

August

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials, particularly crickets and hoppers
Trico spinners

September

Midges (black and white)
Light Cahill
Grey Beadhead Hare's Ear
Olive Woolly Bugger
Black Woolly Bugger
BWO
Prince Nymph
Pheasant Tail
Terrestrials, particularly crickets and hoppers
Trico spinners

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Castle Rock Fly Box




March


Olive Woolly Bugger
Blue Winged Olive
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
Pheasant Tail
Brassie

April

Olive Beadhead Hare's Ear
Black Elk Hair Caddis
Tan Elk Hair Caddis
#10 Deer Hair Ant
Olive Woolly Bugger
BWO
#10 Gray Leech
Brown beadhead leech
Early black stonefly

May

Little black caddis
Sulfurs
Sulfur parachute
White streamers
Olive streamers
Hendrickson

June

Soft hackle pheasant tail
Olive gray scud
Sulfurs

July

Crickets
Hoppers
Ants
Beetles
Ladybugs

August

Zug Bug
Cap Buettner Stornefly Muddler
#20 Olive green midge pupa

September

#8 Woolly Worm with a black chenille body, grizzly hackle, black bead and red yarn butt

Friday, October 3, 2008

Black Earth Creek, Dane County, 09/29/08


Page 35 on your DeLorme Map. You reach this access point on Route 14 between Scherbel road and the town of Black Earth. Park at the lot and take a quick and well-groomed grass road, which doubles as a farmer's artery to the highway. There is a handy cement slab that spans the creek and makes a nice perch from which to cast.

On the morning I visited, there was a misty rain the whole time. The creek was swollen and moving fast. It was surprisingly clear. There was some surface feeding on a slight #16 BWO hatch.

Mount Vernon Creek, Dane County, 09/29/08



Page 27 on your DeLorme Map. This section of Mount Vernon Creek is south of the town of Mount Vernon. It is the first access point on the western side of the highway, but north of the bridge just after the big bend in route 92.

From the parking lot, you must trudge through shoulder-high weeds for 300 yards in order to get to the creek. They day I visited it was misty and the weeds were soaked. As you can see from the photo, the creek was quite clear with eelgrass plentiful. I tried scuds and prince nymphs to no avail.

Wolf Creek, Lafayette County 09/28/08


Page 26 on your DeLorme map, just north of the Illinois border. This section of Wolf Creek is just after it is joined by Trout Creek. The water was very clear and there was a sparse hatch of #12 blue winged olives. This is the best I've seen the creek look. The bridge you see in the photo is part of the Cheese Country Trail, frequented by ATVs mostly.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Castle Rock Creek, Grant County 06/17/08




Page 33 D6 on your DeLorme Map. County Road Q was washed out near Blue School Road. I had to take Tormey Road up from Highway 18.

Fished my favorite part of Castle Rock, just off Church Road, with the beautiful pastoral scene of the Lutheran Church up on the hill overlooking the stream.

Access is well marked on the north side of the stream. I would not stand on the south side, as it appears to be a part of a private property not belonging to the church.

With the major flooding in the area, Castle Rock was very full and showed signs that it had recently overflowed its banks. From what I understand, spring creeks fare better than runoff creeks in times of flooding.

I was there midday. There was a good bit of feeding action west of the bridge, out of casting range, of course. No visible hatch to speak of, but the trout seemed to be feeding on something just below the surface. I plied them with all manner of nymphs to no avail. I also tried woolly buggers and terrestrials with no success. Still, it was good to get out.

Leggett Creek, Grant County, 06/17/08




Page 25, A6 on your DeLorme Map. Leggett and its twin, Newell Creek empty into the Platte River, which in turn empties into the Mississippi just west of Dickeyville. The section of Leggett I visited was private property, just south of Weinbrenner Road. Finding no person to ask for permission to fish the stream, I did not do so.

The section I visited was swollen with floodwaters, but was still running clear and pretty. It was bordered by a horse pasture as you see in the photos. After visiting Leggett, I drove east on Wienbrenner and found Newell to be poorly taken care-of.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Gordon Creek, Iowa County 04/02/08




Gordon Creek, Iowa County 04/02/08

Page 27 on your DeLorme Map. The section pictured is off County Road A heading SW out of Daleyville. It's a rather sparsely populated stretch of road. Only two or three cars went by in about an hour. At about 3:00 p.m. there was a hatch of very tiny blue winged olives or white flies. I was too far away to make a definite appraisal. The trout were not feeding on the surface as far as I could tell. The creek was quite full and very swift. It was somewhat clear, but much debris was being washed with the spring floods. On the way to Gordon Creek, I passed several creeks that had overflowed their banks and had invaded farm fields. As you see, there is great access by virtue of the state Department of Natural Resources and kind landowners.

Gordon Creek, while not often mentioned alongside the Timber Coulees and Mount Vernon Creeks, is briefly chronicled in Humphrey & Shogren's Trout Streams of Wisconsin & Minnesota (2001, Backcountry Guides, second edition), pages 84-85. I did not have the same great results as these authors did, but it was a fantastic day to play hooky from work. What little I have seen in print about Gordon Creek says that brown trout are the only kind you'll catch in Gordon Creek.

Trout Creek, Iowa County 04/02/08




Trout Creek, Iowa County 04/02/08

Page 34 on your DeLorme Map. The section pictured is off County Road T heading NW out of the very nicely-kept town of Barneveld. The optimistically-named Trout Creek is in one of the prettiest stretches of western Wisconsin you'll find. The farms are prosperous and picturesque. Trout Creek reminds me very much of Mount Vernon Creek. Lots of meanders, deceptively deep and silty. Easier to bank fish than to wade. You must be stealthy at all times on this creek, but in the springtime, it's essential. Sneaky anglers will be rewarded with brookies, browns & 'bows. I was not sneaky enough today.

The creek was flowing swollen and swift. It was somewhat cloudy. Beautiful day, though.

Trout Creek is also mentioned in Humphrey & Shogren's Trout Streams of Wisconsin & Minnesota (2001, Backcountry Guides, second edition), page 81. The authors speak highly of Trout Creek and suggest, as in many spring creeks, light leaders, tiny flies, and a kneeling presentation.

Gordon Creek video

A beautiful day on Gordon Creek, April 2, 2008. Approximately 50 degrees, still a little snow on the ground in the shadow of the ridge overlooking the creek. If you listen closely, you'll hear robins, redwing blackbirds, and chickadees. Spring has sprung in the Dairy State!


video

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Borah Creek, Grant County 03/01/08







Page 25 on your DeLorme Map. This is from the very nice DNR access point off of Bluff Road. A picturesque spot with the bluff shielding the cattle and I from a chilly crosswind.

It is such a pleasure to find a DNR access point with no ambiguity to it and a sturdy stile to traverse (see photos). Borah Creek is one of many streams chronicled in Humphrey & Shogren's Trout Streams of Minnesota & Wisconsin. They were more successful on this stretch than I, by the way. They are published professionals. I am a rank amateur.

A spring creek, Borah, and as such was clear of ice, albeit very cold. Like Castle Rock, it was gin-clear. Its trout were plentiful, but spooky. Conditions like this call for fishing perpendicular to the creek, without casting much of a shadow, kneeling a good 5-10' back to avoid being seen. Still, the bluff blocked much of the icy breeze and in the sunshine it was more than tolerable. This section of Borah is quite shallow, non-channeled and will likely be wadeable.

I fished this spot for a lonely two hours with nothing but a large and loud herd of cattle that obviously were late for their milking and weren't afraid to let anyone know about it. In all that time, just two cars passed, locals likely. No fish, despite plying them with orange scuds, prince nymphs and hare's body soft hackles. An unscientific study of stream report websites from opening day seems to reveal that orange scuds were the right call, though not for me. As my dad says, "it's a poor mechanic who blames his tools."

I found it odd that on both Castle Rock and Borah, both well-known creeks, I encountered no other fishermen that day--especially on Castle Rock. Too cold maybe?

Oh, and my date stamp is messed up on my camera. It should read 3/1/08

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Castle Rock Creek, Grant County 03/01/08




Pages 25 and 33 on your DeLorme Map. Heading northeast from Fennimore on County Road Q. Castle Rock is also known as the Fennimore Fork.

Castle Rock is a spring creek, which came in handy today. Many of the trout streams I passed on the way to Grant County today were frozen over. Hard to find much fishable water today in the creeks whose springs are less vigorous than Castle Rock. Even vaunted Castle Rock was not entirely free of ice for its duration. In fact, the first truly fishable section was not until you hit Church Road. But it was worth the wait. Castle Rock is a beautiful example of a Wisconsin spring creek; clear, fast water with a somewhat soft bottom and quite a few limestone boulders along the sides, giving it a defined channel.

The photos are from the Church Road section. There is excellent bridge access and no problems with permissions, thanks to the DNR postings on the Northwest side of the creek. The Southeast side of the creek appears to be owned by a game preserve, so I didn't head over there.

Conditions were quite cold without the bright sunshine. In the wind it was downright bitter. This was a snowmobile suit and gloves day, both of which helped immensely because one has to crawl on one's hands and knees to avoid spooking the fish. Castle Rock was crystal clear (see photo) today and the fish were ultra-spooky. I saw six or seven fish of less than 12". No strikes and no fish landed. Still, it was great to get out.

Opening Day 2008



Up at 4:30 for the trip to Grant County. I have the road to myself in the before-sunset peace. Fernando Ortega's Shadow of Your Wings on the CD player. "Grace and peace to you," he sings. Exactly my sentiment after a brutal week at work and the long snowy offseason.

The sunrise tells of the upcoming cloudy day. Overcast skies encourage me for my angling prospects. God has more surprises for me on the way. Two bald eagles, four cock pheasants, several red-tailed hawks and a troop of deer.

Sometimes it's just great to get out there.












Oh, and my date stamp is messed up on my camera. It should read 3/1/08

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Aldo Leopold, Western Wisconsin Fly Fisherman


This from the legendary conservationist Aldo Leopold in his landmark book A Sand County Almanac (1949) Oxford University Press, pp. 42-43. Leopold, aside from writing the seminal tome on American ecology, was a pretty fair outdoorsman. His farm, just north of Baraboo, WI was near quite a few of the streams chronicled in Trout Fishing Western Wisconsin. No doubt he fished many. Interestingly, Leopold, in this section of the book, creeled all the trout mentioned. This was before the catch and release ethic really came to fore. Were Leopold alive today, he would most certainly be preaching stream and trout conservation. Enjoy!

Excerpted from “The Alder Fork--A Fishing Idyll”

“Time to be at it now--they will soon stop rising. I wade waist deep to head of navigation., poke my head insolently into the shaking alder, and look within. Jungle is right! A coal-black hole above, so canopied in greenness you could not wave a fern, much less a rod, above its rushing depths. And there, almost rubbing his ribs against the dark bank, a great trout rolls lazily over as he sucks down a passing bug.


Not a chance to stalk him, even with the lowly worm. But twenty yards above, I see bright sunshine on the water--another opening. Fish a dry fly downstream? It cannot, but must, be done.
I retreat and climb the bank.

Neck deep in jewelweed and nettles, I detour through the alder thicket to the opening above. With cat like care not to roil his majesty’s bath, I step in, and stand stock-still for five minutes to let things calm down. The while, I strip out, oil, dry, and coil upon my left hand thirty feet of line. I am that far above the portal to the jungle.


Now for the long chance! I blow upon my fly to give it one last fluff, lay it on the stream at my feet, and quickly pay out coil after coil. Then, just as the line straightens out and the fly is sucked into the jungle, I walk quickly downstream, straining my eyes into the dark vault to follow its fortunes. A fleeting glimpse or two as it passes a speck of sunlight shows it still rides clear. It rounds the bend. In no time--long before the roil of my walking has betrayed the ruse--it reaches the black pool. I hear, rather than see, the rush of the great fish; I set hard, and the battle is on.


No prudent man would risk a dollar’s worth of fly and leader pulling a trout upstream through giant tooth-brush of alder stems comprising the bend of that creek. But, as I said, no prudent man is a fisherman. By and by, with much cautious unraveling, I got him up into open water, and finally aboard the creel.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

What I'm tying for opening day


With opening day less than a month away, I've decided upon the flies I am tying and taking. Remember that you must go barbless during the early season.

I am tying four each:
  • #14 Orange scud
  • #18 Copper Bob
  • #18 Beadhead gold rib hare's ear
  • #18 Beadhead prince nymph
  • #18 Pheasant tail
  • #18 Stonefly nymph (pictured)
  • #14 Royal Wulff trude
  • #14 Pass Lake trude
  • #14 Trude (all three tied as indicators)
  • #18 Griffiths Gnat
  • #18 Black Ant (seems counterintuitive, but anglers swear by using ants early season!)
  • #18 Blue Winged Olive
  • #14 Hare's ear soft hackle.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Streamcraft


A treatise on the lost art of “reading a stream,” from an out-of-print title The Boy’s Complete Book of Fresh and Salt Water Fishing (1949) by Oliver H.P. Rodman & Edward C. Janes, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., pp. 70-74.

"We found that in lakes there are certain spots where we are always apt to find fish--the coves, weed beds, bays, and ledges. So in streams there are definite places where fish tend to lurk. This is true to such an extent that an experienced fisherman on his first trip to strange waters can tell almost instinctively which stretches will be productive and which will be barren. This knowledge is called streamcraft, and a thorough understanding of the subject will often spell the difference between success and failure.

This past season, I was fishing a trout stream near a village where I formerly lived. This is heavily-fished water, and by the time I had an opportunity to fish it, in the late season, it had been pretty well pounded. I whipped run after run and pool after pool with both wet and dry flies and when, at length, I returned to the car, I had one nine inch rainbow.
I started to take down my tackle and then I chanced to glance at the water below the bridge. It was a flat stretch of uninteresting-looking rapids and I had never bothered with it before. However, it was a warm, bright day and it occurred to me that there is a possibility that the fish might be lying in the rapids. Rainbows in particular, like swift water in the warm weather. I tied on a nymph and waded into the stream. Moving across the slippery rocks to get into position to reach a boulder pool downstream, I suddenly slipped into a hole nearly up to my hips; and as I did so, I saw a nice trout dart from under my feet. By my careless blundering I had ruined a good hole which one would never have suspected was there in a cursory inspection of the stream. I moved more cautiously now, for I began to realize that there might be other hidden pockets in this stretch. There were, too--for from that 200 yards of fast, shallow water I took six good rainbows, as well as losing two and feeling a couple of missed strikes besides.

As I waded along, I discovered pocket after pocket--in clefts between boulders, along the shore and under the bank.
Apparently most fishermen had passed by this stretch of rapids as I myself had often done until this particular morning. And so I added a new, productive area to my fishing waters, another chapter in the book of this particular river. I feel confident that when the water is warm another year I can duplicate my performance of the past season.

Along similar lines, was an experience on a well known brown trout stream. I had fished this river for several years and felt that I knew it thoroughly--that being back in the days before I had learned that the more you fish, the less you know.
I took and old fisherman along with me on a trip to this stream one day. It was a new water to him, but his experience was so great that he had seen every combination of trout water it’s possible to behold. We left the car beside a ruined dam and I led the way upstream past the old mill pond shrunken now, since the dam had gone out, to a flat sluggish shallow. “Where do we start?” the old fisherman asked. “We have to get above the old pond,” I explained. “This stretch is no good.” “Who said so?” he wanted to know. “Why?” I replied in surprise, “Everybody. You can tell just to look at it.” “Anyway, I think I’ll try it,” he said, inspecting the water carefully. “I’ll be along soon.”

I smiled to myself as I watched him clamber down the steep bank and lay a wet fly on the calm, shallow surface. My smile disappeared, at the smashing wallop which was almost immediately forthcoming from a two pound brown trout.
“It was just luck,” the old fisherman said modestly as he held up the husky fish, “but then I noticed some rocks under the surface, and quite often you’ll find a deep pocket behind them where the trout like to hang out.” I knew it wasn’t luck. “There’s a couple more likely spots here,” the old man went on. “Try drifting a fly past that clump of alders and about mid-stream. Let her sink deep.” I followed his instructions humbly and a moment later I was fast to an old soaker of a brownie. Truth compels me to admit that I lost him after a short, furious fight when he parted my leader on a sharp rock. But the point is, he was there and the old man knew he was there. I told him he could smell the trout, but I knew now that it was his deep and abiding knowledge of streamcraft that enabled him to look at this apparently barren stretch of water, which most people passed by, and realize its possibilities.

Fish do not lie in a stream haphazardly. They are where they are for three very good reasons--food, comfort and security from their enemies. The first factor, food, causes them to be in spots where worms, insects, and other favored items of diet are swept along by the current, for while in lakes the fish must seek their food, in the streams, they have only to wait for food to come to them. The second factor, comfort, makes them seek spots where they can keep cool in summer or warm in spring and they don’t have to battle the full force of the current as they lie in wait for food. The third factor, security, places fish in deep holes, under overhanging banks, in tree root dens and behind boulders--dark, shadowy hiding places where they are less visible to preying birds and animals.

Food and security are the two fundamentals of streamcraft and when you find a place which affords both you will practically always find a fish. On the other hand, by fishing in those places which afford neither food nor security, you will only be wasting your time. Stand upon the banks of a stream and you will notice that the current does not flow evenly across. The swiftest flow will be noticeable usually in the middle of the stream or along one side. You won’t find fish in the very center of a swift flow, but, rather, along its edges, where the current dips under a bank or into pools, at a sharp bend in the stream, in the quiet water below big boulders, into debris-littered eddies--these are the places to look for fish. Also in pools at the end of glides and rapids.

There are other spots--caves and boulder dens--which are not apparent to the angler during the high water of early spring. For this reason, it’s a good idea to study your favorite waters at different times of the year, especially in late summer when they are low and such hiding places are revealed. Contours and currents will give you, with experience, an idea of what sort of bottom lies beneath; and you can extend this knowledge from your familiar local trout stream to more distant strange waters. You can, with practice, learn to read a stream as you would read a book.


The remaining factor, comfort, depends upon temperature as it does humans. In the high, cold roily waters of spring, you will find fish lying in the deeper, warmer water, feeding near the bottom. Later on, when the air and the water have warmed to late spring temperatures, the fish become more active, lying in shallower water and moving about freely in pursuit of minnows and insect hatches. Still later, when the waters have warmed uncomfortably, the fish will often come right into the rapids where there is more oxygen in the waters, or else they will seek the cool spring holes around the mouths of feeder rills. Therefore, where you fish depends in part upon the weather and the time of year.

Keep these factors in mind--food, hiding places and comfort--and you’ll be able to catch fish throughout the season. "

Friday, January 25, 2008

Great description of a brook trout


This is one of my favorite descriptions of a brook trout, from Ted Leeson’s 2002 book Jerusalem Creek: Journeys Into Driftless Country. Guilford, CT: the Lyons Press, pp. 87-88.

The indigenous trout of the driftless area is the brook trout, and if its common name accords well with the place of countless little creeks, the scientific designation is more fitting still: fontinalis, “of the springs.”

The brook trout is often said to be the most colorful of all trout species and I will concede that it is colorful, almost improbably so, decked out in the kind of composite chromatics you might expect from a committee of hyperactive first graders turned loose on a box of crayons. It is, however, imaginatively done, and the only species of freshwater fish I know of that would not look out of place among the phantasmagoria of a coral reef. It possesses the most magnificent of tails, broad and square and elegantly proportioned, like the sail of a clipper ship.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Interview with Mat Wagner of the Driftless Angler


Mat Wagner runs an excellent fly shop in Viroqua, WI called the Driftless Angler. As you surmise from the shop’s name, it sits planted in the middle of the “driftless area” of Wisconsin, home to myriad spring creeks and a host of brook trout. Mat was kind enough to answer a few questions this off season. The Driftless Angler Fly shop is located at 106 S. Main in Viroqua, WI 54665. You can reach the shop at (608) 637-8779. Its hours are as follows: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Thursday, 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM Friday and Saturday and 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM Sunday. Trout Fishing Western Wisconsin thanks Mat Wagner for his help.

TFWW: It’s been said that the curse of owning a fishing shop is that you never have time to fish. How often are you able to tear yourself away from the shop and wet a line?

Mat: It is true that fly shop owners do not get much time to fish during the day, however we do get to fish at prime times, first and last light if we plan accordingly. I usually get out to wet a line at least 3-4 times a week. Not full days, but a couple hours each time. Enough to keep me from twitching while listening to how good the fishing is from customers.

TFWW: Viroqua finds itself situated among some pretty great trout waters. What’s your favorite stream of the driftless area and why?

Mat: I love the tiny streams that look like trickles most of the year, but if you time them right can be phenomenal fisheries. Anywhere that I can pull trout out of a tiny waterway is special to me. Out of the big named waters, I am partial to the Timber Coulee system not only for its reliability, but for the variety with the main branch and all the tributaries.

TFWW: Much has been written and talked about concerning the floods that hit southern Wisconsin last year. What’s your take on the impact these floods had and will have in the future?

Mat: Floods are an overall positive thing. Mother Nature flushing the toilet, really. The flood cleaned out a bunch of sand and silt, re-carved the bottom and created incredible spawning habitat and insect habitat that may not be immediately evident to the angler, but within the next few seasons it will!

TFWW: What’s been the best selling fly at the Driftless Angler over the past few years and is there a fly that you recommend that often gets overlooked?

Mat: Too many anglers overlook midge pupae. Our spring creeks are LOADED with midges and they can be an incredibly effective pattern when fish are fussy or just do not seem to be feeding. The best selling fly is easily John Bethke's pink squirrel. One of the 'magic' flies that seems to represent everything and that fish love.

TFWW: How did you personally get started fly fishing?

Mat: I started fly tying before fishing. I was 13 and bored so I took a fly tying class at a fly shop near my house and was hooked after that. Luckily a good childhood friend of mine loved to fish so we spent a good deal of time on the creek just down from our houses catching trout.

TFWW: What would you consider the specialty of the Driftless Angler? What sets it apart from other fly shops?

Mat: What sets us apart is that we focus on information. We are not the style of shop that looks down on people if they do not have the 'cool' gear or ask questions we have answered a million times already. We want people to be out and fish and enjoy it as much as we do and will do our best to keep up to date on exactly what is happening in the area and share that information freely with everyone.

TFWW: What percentage of the shop’s business is devoted to its guide service?

Mat: I'd say we under emphasize our guide service right now. There is myself and a couple of part time guides who take people out, as well as working with local established guides. This being our second year, we will push the guiding and teaching services a bit more.

TFWW: Why do you do what you do?

Mat: I do what I do because I love what I do. I get paid to fish and take people fishing, what can be better than that?

TFWW: Do you think that trout streams in the driftless area are improving? What can be done to do more to improve these streams?

Mat: I know trout streams in the area are improving and continue to improve. I think the biggest hurdle to the streams in our area is to educate the public as to what we actually have here. I have talked to too many local people that never realized what a unique fishery they have out their back door.

TFWW: What are your best selling products at the Driftless Angler?

Mat: We're a fly shop and we carry lots of flies for the area. We work hard to integrate local patterns and ideas into our fly bin so that everyone can find something cool or different and catch fish on it! We're a destination fly shop, so what we sell the most of is what people need on stream, flies leader tippet tools etc. We have also received many compliments on our logo and have sold a few T-shirts with the bug on them too!