About 20 years ago my homewaters "Wisconsin Driftless" were teaming with brook trout. If you fished hard for an entire day you could land over 150 brook trout. Not all of them were tiny. Back in the good old days I averaged 100 brook trout a morning. My go to lure was a size six Panther Martin Fly Pattern. Gold body and blade with an orange tail with a tuft of black in the tail. About 15 years ago that changed. The numbers turn a dramatic turn downward.
This event seems like a dejavu happening from 50 years ago. I remember anglers scratching their heads back then and trying to figure it out. Back then the Wisconsin Department Of Natural Resources was a tiny department and had many fewer staff. The drop in the brook trout population was attributed to over harvest back then.
Fast forward to 15 years ago. The same event happened and with angler reporting and science leading the way the Wisconsin Department Of Natural Resources figured out the reason for the crazy drop in the brook trout population.
Science tells us that over harvest 50 years ago was "not" the problem. The DNR has been studying the problems. Yes I said "Problems". It is three fold. The brook trout are being pushed out of their historical waters by brown trout. The brown trout are bigger and with the waters warming in my area the browns are comfortable with the waters the brook trout call home. A brook trout typically likes colder water and browns don't. The DNR even shocked out browns from waterways and removed them. They have put up barriers to try to keep out the browns so the brook trout can flourish again.
The third and worst problem for brook trout are "Gill Lice". They are a parasite that attaches to the brook trout's gills and compromises their breathing. Browns do not have problems with gill lice. The once prolific brook trout streams of the driftless are now almost devoid of brook trout. The DNR has done much research and tried many things to solve the problem.
The DNR has attached a scrub brush to every stream exit site so you can clean off your boots to avoid cross contamination of streams. The DNR has a liquid solution it tried. They dipped the trout in the liquid to remove the gill lice. It worked but the trout were re-infected shortly thereafter in the stream. The stream could not be treated.
Many streams in my home water have no kill regulation for brook trout and a bigger harvest limit for browns. The DNR even stocked different strains of brook trout right on top of infected brook trout. They were looking for a strain that was more resilient against gill lice. Nothing seemed to work.
This season I fished one of my more prolific brook trout streams from the past. As I fished I pondered and tried to figure out how this could have possibly happened. I caught zero brook trout on the stretch.
As I drove home I compared 50 years ago and now. The best indicator of the future is the past. I have no specialized training but here is what 58 years of trout fishing caused me to deduce. The brookies had the gill lice 50 years ago too and they were decimated and they then cycled out. They were not around for the parasites to attach to so gill lice numbers dropped also. The brook trout took a hiatus and cycled back 20 years ago. The brook trout will return. They will cycle back.
A month ago I fished my former favorite brook trout stream. I was targeting browns. I was going to harvest some. I was going to try and do my part to try and bring back the brook trout. I fished a short stretch and was astounded at the extra large male brook trout I caught. It was gill lice free. I contacted the fisheries staff to check if they had stocked big brooder brook trout in the stream and they had not. I was quite encouraged because of the huge male brookie and zero gill ice. I returned two weeks later and caught my personal best brook trout. She was gill lice free. My fingers are crossed and I hope nature has reset itself and my brook trout come back with a vengeance.
Vikes are garbage. I swore them off prior to this season after they did nothing in the draft/off season to address the O-Line, then they doubled down on poor decisions by re-upping Speilman's and Cousin's contracts.
I hope they don't win another game all season and then they blow the whole thing up. I like Zim, but it doesn't seem like he's a good HC.
Sunday's are more enjoyable without the Purple Face Palm.