Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Road Work: Driftless Miles

At left, Wisconsin from the 1718 map by L'Isle hosted on wikicommons.

Some things pull on you. That 3 wt rod in the corner of the closet ? "I don't even like little trout," you say; but, the rod pulls on you.

Sport. That's sport playin' with you.

I've got something playin' with me now: the Driftless.

I wanted to go this year but as usual things snowballed into what things always snowball into. I wanted to get out to the Columbia, too; but, that snowballed into the same rolling dungheap of responsibility and obligation.

I've got writing to do. I've got commerce to pursue. I've got scotch to drink around  a campfire.

I'm going camping in the Driftless next year.

My reference books are spread all over the desk here as I try and plot a trip. There's a bunch of water I want to see and a dash to Iowa I'll have to make (fishing buddy is from Iowa and those folks have something in them about their state as if they like it or something ...).

Water of interest?

Castle Rock Creek.
Big Green River.
West Fork of the Kickapoo.
Timber Coulee.
Tainter Creek.

In Iowa:
Waterloo Creek.
N and S Bear Creek.

Now, some of you know the waters in this area. I've made the SW Wisconsin cut here.

The next step? 

Finding the small tributary branches with pubic access and the endless "also ran -- but not in the guide book" waters.

I want the chalkstream experience. I'm not sure I'm fully there yet. Gin clear water with lots of limestone and green scuds holds some interest. I'll tie a batch of simple soft hackles and a couple dozen soft hackle dries and head over for some trout hunting.

Camping, of course. It'll be a trout trip on the cheap which is ultimately the sort of trout guy I am. It's a good trip when I pay for gas and roust the rest of the needs out of my fridge and pantry.

I think this might be the sort of water -- certainly the sort of trout density -- that helps the Amber Liquid guys. It'd be nice to fish an open stream where an overhead cast can be made from something other than up-and-down the streambed standing mid-current. Michigan is very brushy.

We need a scouting trip before personal recommendations and I'm throwing myself on that job. I'm throwing myself on the sausage cooking over the fire, too.

SO, the Driftless is an itch I've got to scratch.

Trip planning is about one-sixtieth the fun. It's right there with finding an unopened pack of smoked sausage in the bottom of the fridge you smuggle out to take camping.

It's fun; but, not as fun as the dinner to come.



  1. Spike, ambitious adventure itinerary. Approaches David Thompson in style and scope. Recommend 'Sources of the River' by my neighbor, Jack Nisbet. Thompson runs circles around Lewis & Clark.

    I want to paddle up the Missouri & meet the free & lascivious Mandans. I'll bring a flyrod.

    Also hike in the level 12 miles to Fortress Lake B.C., only 100 miles as the crow flies from my place. Fishless, above a barrier falls, it was stocked with Superior coasters back in the early part of the last century. How are they doing? Google 'Fortress Lake Brook Trout'.

    Hope you make it out to meet the Grandmother of the West Slope.


  2. Doing the research dig this week: which streams in Vernon county are referenced in my sources; which water has public access; what fishing reports exist for which streams. The usual ground-laying business.

    I'll just get everything together in one source book then I'll have pages with references when the Monday night fly-tying crowd start getting interested.

    Coasters! Wow. You're blowing that trout-crack pipe smoke right in my direction. Just read about it this afternoon. Thanks for the tip. Sounds like the remedy for boat-jams on the Madison! At least, it sounds like that to me.

    I'm winnowing gear this year for a week-long wilderness trek. Spending a week alongside coaster-country just made the "A" list.