Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Driftless Trip

I was on my way to Vernon County by 5:00 am this morning.  About half way, I had to pull over and snap the picture above of the gorgeous driftless sunrise.  I don't get a chance to get out there often, so I spent a lot of time scouring maps, looking for access.  There are so many streams in the Driftless that it is just overwhelming.  If you don't know about this unique area, click here for more information.  Of course there was a car at the overpass I parked at, but it was a pleasant surprise to find it belonged to Blake, the writer of Illinois Wisconsin Fishing.
I went a few hundred yards downstream from the overpass and found a lot of eager fish.  These are the nicest ones that I caught.  The third one wasn't so large, but the pattern on it is beautiful!

I caught most of my fish at the overpass, mostly on tan scuds and black Woolly Buggers.  There was a Boss Fight of a brown trout in the pool that wouldn't budge for anything.  I kept tying on bigger and bigger streamers trying to fool him and avoid the smaller fish.  I finally tied on some kind of a bead head rabbit strip leech which fooled a very nice sized sucker.  He really gave me a run for my money!

The fight with the sucker spooked all the fish in the pool, so I moved on.  It didn't feel like I caught a lot of fish, but I think I just got used to catching a fish every few casts.  When I went a ten minute stretch without catching anything, it felt slow.

Let the pictures below be a reminder to PINCH DOWN YOUR BARBS!  I took a size 14 extra heavy scud hook in the thumb half way up the bend of the hook!  I could see the pressure exerted by the hook point squeezing the blood out of the capillaries under my thumbnail.  I'm so glad it didn't go clean through the nail!  I kind of panicked and got the shakes, but I maintained my calm enough to photograph it for your enjoyment.  Your welcome.
Because the barb was pinched down, the hook backed right out relatively effortlessly with only the slightest elevation in pain.  It could have been much worse.

It rained hard on my long walk back to the car.  There was even some lightning.  I headed  to the town of Viroqua to dry out a little.  I bought some flies at Driftless Angler, and had a Two Hearted Ale and a grass fed burger at the Driftless Cafe. Everything in this town revolves around trout.  I loved it!

Driftless Angler

Brook trout mural in the alley
of the Driftless Cafe

Two Hearted Ale in
a mason jar

I visited several other streams I had never fished, but didn't pick the right ones.  They were either dry beds, or sandy bottom streams with no cover.  I wish I had more time, but I had to start heading back.  Hopefully someday I'll get to spend a weekend or more in the Driftless and explore better water.


  1. Nice report. I've heard a lot about the Driftless area, but didn't know that there was much of an economy built around it. That's cool to see that the town of Viroqua embraces it.

    1. Nice town, friendly people, surrounded by trout streams and wildlife. Absolutely no cell coverage though, so bring a map!

  2. excellent report, nice to bump into you

    what dumb luck two bloggers meet at the same bridge overpass 150 miles from home

    my trip report will be after my rod review sometime later this week

    looks as if you got into some nice trout there

    i tried a bunch of water in the county and did well, then i played keep away with the thunder storms while fishing my way back home

    1. When I went out there about this time last year, there was plenty of surface action with my nicest trout coming from a size 18 elk hair caddis. I only saw like 3 rises all day this trip. I love fishing dries.

  3. Thanks, Nate, for sharing your trip on the Driftless. I have read several posts about this area and would love someday to try it out. Alas, I live way too far away. So will live on with your posts and that of others about the Driftless. Also, appreciate the reminder about debarbing your hooks!

    1. Ive been fortunate enough to have most of my hook incidents be with debarbed hooks. I haven't noticed a difference in how many fish come to hand, and it's easier on the fish too.

  4. I was born in Viroqua and lived there during the 70s. I hardly knew anyone who fished for trout back then. The town actually revolved around growing tobacco as a cash crop. The tobacco fields have been replaced with suburbs and vineyards. It's much nicer to visit now than back then!

    1. I can't wait to go back. It's nice to slow down from the city life occasionally.