Friday, June 6, 2014

Driftless Drifting to the Shiftless in the Driftless

Soluble limestone bedrock in Bad Axe creek creates a perfect habitat for trout in spring fed creeks.

     The "Driftless Region" of Wisconsin is driftless because it doesn't have any drift,  that is silt, clay, sand, gravel, and boulders usually left behind by retreating glaciers. 
     Crystal clear water after a recent flood exposed these pods of 10-14 inch browns. But they acted shiftless. Nothing seemed to interest them like the only teenager at a family reunion. They'd feed occasionally, ignored nice hatches of caddis and mayflies but completely refused every fly in my box.

Make this full screen and spot the shiftless brown trout pod.

     I knelt in the tall grasses along the banks and crawled up to get a shot at these browns with a 12 foot leader ending in 6x. I was rigged with a size 18 parachute adams, dropped down to a Lafontaine style size 20 caddis emerger, followed by a size 22 Pat Dorsey style foam backed chocolate emerger.
There were a couple follows and a refusal or two but I was completely ignored by these shiftless trout. My drifts were perfect. I had not spooked a single fish in the pod. Finally in desperation I started retrieving my fly back like a streamer at the end of the drift. Boris Momontoff, the Russian guide at Estancia San Pablo in Tupungat, Argentina taught us to do with prince nymphs in the fast water of the foothills of the Andes. WHAM, a nice strike on the first retrieve on the size 20 emerger. As I moved down the pools I found I could tease out a strike driftless with a teased retrieve instead of a drift. I first saw Alfonso Aragon do this to a couple shiftless golden dorado in Bolivia.

Golden brown.

Timber Coulee Creek was one of the first of the Driftless Area streams with habitat restoration. Most of the work was to correct grazing problem along the creek banks. 

Timber Coulee Creek

Browns here seem to have red fringes on their fins like brook trout.

Another happy release.

There are those who believe that all trout fishing destinations should remain undisclosed.  But since my followers number in the teens, the chances of a run on these banks is zero to none.  Unbelievably this spot can be scouted with Google Street View. Stand on the bridge and spot the trout and it's shadow in the water.

Vikemyr Rd
Viroqua, WI 54665
43.582456, -90.941668