• RECEIVE THE GIFTS MEMBERS SHARE WITH YOU HERE...THEN...CREATE SOMETHING TO ENCHANT OTHERS THAT YOU WANT TO SHARE

    You know what we all love...

    When you enchant people, you fill them with delight and yourself in return. Have Fun!!!

LHarris

Keys To The Castle

Recommended Posts

 


I have fished for trout in my home waters for fifty-five years. The places I call home are the waters of the Wisconsin driftless area. Trout are my favorite species to chase. The trout of my waters have fluctuated over my more than a half century of fishing. Trout are instinctual creatures.  The big wily brown trout are my quarry.  They are portrayed as superior entities when in fact they have a brain the size of a pea. Do you want the keys to the castle?

 

I have seen many trends and fads come and go in the trout world.  This fancy rod and that special fly have cycled through a dozen times in my lifetime. Anglers come and go and so do the latest new fangled trends.  The constants in the trout world are the seasons and good old Mother Nature.  If you want a real leg up on those trout you should pay attention to the seasons and the changes they cause in the trout’s environment.

 

 

The weather in Wisconsin can be a harsh mistress.  The extremes are the norm here.  We could have twenty inches of snow on the ground and below zero temperatures and what seems like a blink of the eye in Wisconsin it changes.  The snow could melt and the next time you go fishing it could be radically different.  You need to roll with the seasonal changes and modify the way you fish and where you fish.

 

keystocastle1.jpg

This frigid morning in January was shaping up to be a “skunk” outing.  My friend was cold and told me he had enough and wanted to head back to the vehicle.  I talked him out of heading back.  We had taken the stream temperatures earlier and we hadn’t found a one reading over thirty-six degrees.

The outdoor temperature was twenty-six degrees and not looking like it was going to warm up.  I had scouted this area prior and our fishing was going to get better I told him.
 

Do you see the log laying on the right side of the stream?  Just on the other side of the log is a tiny trickle feeding in.  This trickle is a tiny spring.  Springs run year round here at about forty-two degrees constant.  Where that spring fed in caused a six degree temperature swing just downstream.  That little trickle made the stream bearable for the trout.

 

 I have found many trickles during the early season when the grass is down that I cannot see even a month later due to weed growth.  It was like the Bahamas in that halo of the spring.  We caught seven trout in that tiny spot. Many feeders are not easily found during the summer.  They are covered up by weeds.  You can only discover them when the weeds are down in winter or early spring. I emphasize the word trickle here because they may be tiny and you will miss them if you are not looking for them.

 

keyscastle2.jpg

My friend Andy and I fished this exact hole in September.  We both caught four trout each in this bend in September.  We couldn’t buy a bite in March.  What was different now?  First off the water temperatures were in the sixties in September and in the middle thirties in March. Trout lay in different areas during cold and warm conditions. 

 

 In Wisconsin winters the trout are in survival mode.  They need to find good lays where they don’t have to expend too much energy to hold in place and wait for food. The calories required to hold in place in this cold fast water is a negative formula for calories gained. This shallow fast current hole is great when the water temperatures are in the sixties and the trout can hide in the broken fast water.  In thirty degree water this holding place has no one home.  I would look for the deepest water either direction for two hundred yards.  This is where the trout would winter.


keystocastle3.jpg

One picture says a thousand words.  It was twenty degrees below out this day. The water temperature at this spring head tells the tale. It measured at forty degrees.  I like to call these Bahamas causing the water temperatures to fluctuate. A thermometer is a must to get a leg up on these instinctual creatures. This spring is a glaring thermal. 

 Many anglers discount some thermals because they are not so obvious.  A swamp is nothing more than a spring spreading out and they have the same properties as a small stream emptying into a larger waterway.  There does not need to be an obvious entry point to these swamps causing thermals.  They can leech through the surrounding banks and make their way into your stream.


 

I am going to stay on thermals but switch seasons.  The temperature fluctuations you found to indicate where to find the wily trout in winter holds true in the dog days of summer.  I went with a Natural Resources crew to do a shocking. 

 

 The stretch we were to shock was a non-designated area way below typical trout water.  Even on a typical summer’s day in Wisconsin this waterway was almost too warm to fish in it.  Many anglers considered this “frog water” and dismissed it.  What a giant mistake they were making. 

 When water temperatures are near seventy degrees, it is recommended not to fish for trout.  It plain and simply puts too much stress on the fish and raises the mortality rates to an unacceptable risk for the trout.  Streams that are warmer have less dissolved oxygen in them.  Trout caught in water near seventy degrees have a hard time recovering from a battle due to the lack of oxygen.

 

 

I was in charge of the thermometer and Garmin on this trek into frog water with the fisheries folks.  Every thirty yards I was asked to take the temperature and write it down with the GPS coordinates. I was asked to submerge the thermometer at least halfway to the bottom to take the readings. I needed to hold the thermometer in place for ten seconds. I also was advised to make sure there was no secondary warming from my hands holding it.  The lead worker said the trout actually live in the lower half of water columns. The water temperatures hovered around seventy degrees at first.  We did not shock up trout in these areas.

 

We started to shock up some trout.  They were smaller fish.  I took the temperature and there was a slight change.  I looked around for a spring or a feeder creek.  There were none to be found. The fisheries staff told me to take more frequent measurements and log them. They were trying to prove a theory they had. I measured every ten yards on this stretch.  The temperatures continued to go down. The water temperatures were in the low sixties now and we were shocking numerous trout to the surface.  It was quite amazing how the numbers and sizes of the trout increased as the water got colder on this stretch.

 

We shocked up some true monsters from this waterway and then they just vanished.  The alpha or large predator trout had the lays in the coolest hides.  I could not see anything feeding in.  It was a true mystery to me.  There was a swamp about thirty yards from the stream.  It had no obvious entry points.  I followed my thermometer to its access point.  The swamp leeched into the stream and the only tell tale evidence was found with my thermometer.  

 The only visual evidence was softer banks that extended a couple of feet toward the swamps near the coldest points and these were my thermals.  I would not have discovered them without my thermometer. You can guess where the biggest brown were shock up correct?  Their noses were stuck right in the area where the trickles fed in.

 

keystocastle6.jpg

I fish with many folks and they must grow weary of waiting for me to quit messing with my thermometer. Some stretches I fish regularly I leave my thermometer in my vest because of my historical data. My friend Dan Braun and I took a break during the midday of fishing due to water temperatures being too high and dangerous for the trout.  The outside temperature this day was eighty-eight degrees.  Dan took a temperature check at this spring head and it measured forty degrees. It is amazing to see a light bulb go on when another angler finally figures out why I am fiddling with my thermometer.
 

The next time you fire up your computer check out the thermometers for sale.  There are many new and trendy versions.  There are many kinds.  I believe a keep it simple purchase is in order.  A bungee cord to hook them to your vest is a must purchase. A durable thermometer with easy to read numbers is what I carry. 

 I have been drawn to marginal frog water for over half a century now in Wisconsin’s driftless area.  My photos of big browns don’t lie.


 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

    • Sounds like you guys gave her heck up there to find them. I'd be praying thanks, too if I got that one on! ☺️
    • Quick recap:   Weather was too darn “nice”!  Upper 80’s - 90’s; no wind to speak of; mostly sunny. Water temps were anywhere from 64 - 71 depending on location and day.   We looked the lake over from end to end, marking up our map and returning to some places where we saw fish either later the same day or a couple days later.  We could literally see the transition from spawn to post spawn happening during our stay.  Being new to both muskie fishing and that lake, we spent time in dead water as much as good water but feel like we got a pretty good handle on how to go about setting up a more efficient return visit.  It was a lot work and long hours but I’d go back this weekend if I could so I must’ve enjoyed it.   A few pics as hoped for:
    • big dave 2 and leech, darn good lookin meals!!!!  Dave have a good weekend!!!!
    • Ok Dave have a good weekend. Hope you get over the whole butt hurt Leech deal! Not sure where you got that I don't like folks smoking or grilling things?  I know I do enough. Have fun! 🙂  
    • Heavy rains across northwestern Wisconsin last weekend and early this week have flooded some roads and caused washouts on some highways, roads, state parks, forests and trails. According to the National Weather Service the area has received 7 to 12 inches of rain from Friday through Monday.Several park system property or portions of properties are closed due flooding. Amnicon Falls State Park, closed temporarily but has reopened, though some roads, trails and observation areas remain closed. Pattison State Park is open for camping only; all trails, observation areas, picnic and day-use areas are closed. There are washouts on the dam that forms Interfalls Lake and Highway 35 over the dam is closed. A campground and horse trail are closed at Governor Knowles State Forest and the day use areas along the river at Interstate Park are underwater.Water was roaring over Little Manitou Falls at Pattison State Park.Photo credit: Gervase ThompsonAll rivers in the region are running extremely high. The falls at both Amnicon and Pattison are roaring, but road closures mean observing the falls now is challenging. The Bois Brule and Flambeau rivers are high enough that some canoe launches and campsites are underwater. The water is making its way downstream and the Lower Wisconsin River is running very high with all sandbars submerged and canoeing and kayaking not recommended. The river is expected to crest Muscoda this weekend at 40,000 cubic feet per second. .
    • I'm still going to smoke this fatty while camping this weekend whether Leech likes it or not.....😋       See you fellers on Monday........
    • Rick didn't like all the "My Grills bigger and better then yours" posts!  😅
    • We switched to a new server. Had a glitch in our dB that lost a couple days of posts.
    • I ripped a hole in one of my favorite pairs of fishing shorts just need a decent sized patch to cover her up
    • I am not sure what happened either but we lost all of the posts last couple days not just this thread. And it looks like the same thing happened over on FM site as well. I know the site was down last night while I tried look at it.