Sunday, January 8, 2017

Chalkstream - Driftless Style

At left, a public domain image of a chalkstream from Dorset, England (Dorset is SW of London and borders the Atlantic).  Malcom Morley generously makes this image available and it is hosted on wikicommons. Lovely summer snap.

My local fly shop is hosting a number of trips this year. Aren't they all?

The trip which interests me is a camping outing to the Driftless in Wisconsin (probably Vernon county). I like the camping option because it is an inexpensive way to experience new water. Camping here means tents and primitive campsites. All the better.

You all know my views on the crowds of "Generator Joes" blasting the evening with the joy of small engines echoing through the valley.

The guide/outfitters will blaze ahead and establish the base camp. Participants will come along a day later, set up their tents, and get the briefing.

Then, the covey breaks up and away we go "the spots."

Sounds right up my alley. Nobody joined at the hip. Maybe a communal meal daily. Maybe not. Probably more like a "lunch invasion" at one of the cafes around the area.

Who knows? Not my show.

I've committed to a fly-in to Ontario this year so the expedition budget is quite small. A bare-bones camping excursion sits in the right spot dollar-wise. It's a day's drive each way (avoiding the Chicago traffic. Nothing short-cut about traffic around Chicago to me).

I'm anxious to try the small pasture fishing.

Many of my fly fishing books discuss the hatches, fertility, gin-clear water, notable beats and all the rest from the chalkstreams of England.

I'm a soft-hackle guy now being convinced by the on-the-water performance of these sparse beasts and the infrequency with which I experience surface-hatch feeding trout. Trying my subsurface game against our mid-west version of a chalkstream is a great challenge.

I'm an upstream roll-cast pick-up sort of fellow, too. I can't wade very fast (not too agile) so there's that to help. Seems to be my sort of slow purposeful fishing as I work out some finer points of my invisible presentation technique.

I've also been taken by Ed Engle's small flies. I've fished the Colorado waters Ed writers of in his books and certainly can respect Ed's chops for fishing to difficult fish. I fished Colorado for several years when anything "bushy" did fine. Ed's a year-round fellow and March trout might not behave the same way as my late July fish!

I'm thinking about year-round trout. If I'm serious about year-round trout, then Ed and Syl Nemes both provide meaningful focus on the midge. Early-morning midge fishing on the Driftless might just prep my skills for some serious early morning trico hatches on the South Branch of the Au Sable come September.

September success might lead to confidence in March.

Always looking to improve the game.

Speaking of game: Bell's Winter White.  It's informally nicknamed "snowberon" by The Senator and he's onto something there. Great cool-season amber beverage. It satisfies the need for a session beverage here in the bleak mid-winter. Oberon is the beer of summer sessions. Two-Hearted is the beverage of choice for Amber Liquid guys.

Snowberon is the winter session ale of joy.



  1. Intentional or not, there's a certain rhythm to this post. You're in the stream while writing, slowly & methodically working that short upstream cast & dead drift.

    Assess the lie.


    Toss of the dice.

    Roll it out.


    Follow the bait.



    Pick it up.


  2. I'd like to say it was intentional;but, I'm not that good. I'm just trying not to stir the silt and spoil water for my downstream buddies.

    Nice thought though. It's a trick Faulkner used to good end.