Fly Fishing Upper Wisconsin in October

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What is it they say…”The best laid plans of mice and men”; for over 6 months I had been planning a trip to do some fly fishing in upper (northern) Wisconsin over my fall break from school. Down to the minutia I made sure that camper, vehicle, rods, reels, lines, flies, etc…were all lined up, planned out and ready to go. Seems like I forgot one item…I didn’t communicate with Mother Nature! The week before arriving the Hayward area received 8 inches of rain; in fact we drove in on the tail end of those 8 inches. Sunday, our first day to fish, well, it was beautiful. Yep, a high pressure area followed the torrential rains and left us with a double whammy of rain and high pressure. If all of this sounds like I am leading up to an excuse, well, maybe, probably….nah, not really.

The fishing wasn’t awful. It wasn’t like we fished all week and didn’t catch any fish (as you will see by watching the video)…but I was disappointed. The rivers and streams were all up and the flow was heavy. If you have ever tried much fishing for toothy critters like pike and musky then you know that these conditions made an already tough task, even tougher. At one point we talked to a group of guys from Iowa, nine of them. They had been on Moose Lake for 3 days and in total had caught just 3 fish!

So, as you watch the video….keep the weatherman in mind as we were not fighting a fair fight. Ah, but quit isn’t in my DNA and through the week I managed to catch a few very nice largemouth bass, a few browns, one gorgeous brookie and several pike. As I said, the weather was perfect for sightseeing….just not for fly fishing for a 50 inch musky. We persisted and in fact did fish all three sections of the upper Namekagon River; from the outflow at Namakagon Lake all the way to the confluence of the river with the St. Croix. We also fished a number of small to large lakes.

In the end…it was an enjoyable and very educational week. I know more now than I did before the week began. That is how you get better…you learn from mistakes and tweak those along the way. For sure…can’t do anything about the weather.

One more note; if heading north to Hayward…don’t pass GO and don’t collect your $200 dollars until you go and visit Larry at The Hayward Fly Fishing Company. Not only is he (and his wife Wendy) just a really nice guy; but he is for sure ‘The Man’ when it comes to northern Wisconsin. He can point you in the many directions you need to go and probably save you some time and money along the way. Each time I visit I enjoy his company more and more and wish I were a few hours closer.

How To Set Up A Fly Reel

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MidCurrent, a very informative fly fishing web site, has an excellent video from Tim Flagler on “How to Set up a Fly Reel”, explaining how to load backing and fly line onto your new fly reel. Not only does Tim show you how and how to determine how much… but along the way he shows you some neat shortcuts that will speed up the process and honestly, this is one of my favorite things to do. I take great pride in doing all my own reels and making sure that the line, backing, etc…all match up, look nice and most important…are functional. The last thing you want is to do your own work and have it look awful or even worse….not be functional. So, give this video a view and if you haven’t yet started to put together your own reel/line/backing combo…you can really have some fun with it….and save some money!

Video courtesy of the Mid Current web site …

The Big Walnut- Late September – Low Water

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Fly fishing in low water conditions can sometimes be a tough gig; truth is I have found that usually it is all or none. The water while being low…can create a ‘fish in the aquarium’ situation, making for potentially easy fishing; it also adds a definite level of difficulty as the water is usually clear and the fish can detect your presence. The solution is to make long, accurate casts into viable water. Such was the case on this, the last day of September, 2017. I would be traversing a familiar piece of water…but one that I hadn’t been on for over a month. My buddy Frank, would do the top portion while I took the lower; we would rendezvous three hours later and compare notes.

The first half hour and the first two pools of the day…they were of the ‘none’ category. I was beginning to worry if we might have just caught the fish on a sour note? The first fish of the day was a small-smallie…but a smallie. I knew that if this little 10 inch fish had taken a swipe at my reverse-tied bucktail…then other would as well. Forge ahead and besides-it was one of those gorgeous early fall days when everything just looks a bit better.

My next fish was indeed a bit larger and a pattern had emerged as it was evident that the fish were lying back within the shade, in deeper water…waiting for an unsuspecting baitfish to float into the pool. As you will see in the video, the fish of the day then charges out and eats my fly, presenting one of the most beautiful smallmouth I have seen in a while.

Stealth is all important and one must not only watch their physical shadow but make sure that the dirt track doesn’t spook the fish; therefore, most of my casts were done from the gravel bars adjacent to the stream. The reverse tied bucktail proved to be an effective fly…allowing it to simple fall and twitch its way through a pool was the ticket to bring a few fish charging out after a meal.

If the water is low in your area…don’t be too hesitant. Grab your gear, keep your profile low and watch where and how you walk…you can still find a trophy or two interested in gobbling up a meal prior to the winter slow down.

Fly Fish a Mouse Pattern

Hi folks…. here is a great article from another fishing web site that demonstrates how to fly fish a mouse pattern. It is very well written and for sure, lots can be learned from the article and the illustrations.

If you haven’t ever fly fished with a mouse pattern, you are missing out on some of the most explosive top-water takes you will ever experience. The author speaks mainly to using a mouse for trout. It is without question one of the most productive means of hooking into a big, mean trout…seems like browns for sure are into the hunt for the big meal of a mouse. I use a mouse pattern here locally in southern Indiana for both largemouth and smallmouth bass. I have a few lakes in the Greene-Sullivan area that are perfect for chucking a mouse in and under an overhanging limb…one of the things I have learned through the years is pretty simple; your casts has to place the fly (mouse) as close to the bank or shore as possible. Mice, voles, etc…often fall off of limbs and when the hit the water with a big ‘splat’-it alerts the larger predatory fish that a meal is in the water…and they race to the surface. With smallies a well drifted mouse pattern can be deadly…I particularly like the fact that the silhouette of the fly from below will cause a smallie to bust upwards, through the fly and into the air for what can simply be called an amazing and awesome take.

So, give this a read and go forth and give a mouse a try in your local waters…hope you can use, learn and enjoy from this offering. By the way….fall is a perfect time to present a mouse as most fish are looking to put on weight and a mouse is a big meal!
Mastering the Mouse Retrieve

Source: eReplacementParts.com blog

Fly Fishing Poppers for Late Summer Smallmouth

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I have had a couple of requests on the ‘how-to’ of popper fishing for smallmouth. While fly fishing poppers is a method I don’t use all the time (poppers just don’t always attract smallies)…when the time is right, as it was on this night in early September, a popper is not only fun, but very productive as well.

As you can tell from the video, the water was down, hardly moving…and this is for sure the perfect time to throw a popper or Chernobyl at them. This year in Indiana we have had enough cicadas buzzing around to make it interesting and thus I chose a black Boogle-Popper for the night. I often see others fishing poppers and the big mistake is simply way too much movement. It is so hard to do…but so necessary-cast your bug and LEAVE IT ALONE!

If you watch a cicada that has hit the water, and I recommend that you take this opportunity if ever presented…you will see that they hit with a ‘splat’. Next they just sit there. I am assuming they are trying to come to their senses. What happens next is a quick twitch, I might even call it a vibration on the water. They may ‘vibrate’ for a couple of seconds, then they simply float. As you can see from the video, this is a technique that has been good to me for many years and very productive.

As I moved into the last pool I could see smallies chasing and busting baitfish as several points and therefore I changed flies and tied on one of my reverse tied bucktail flies (that I showed you how to tie in the last video). I had only a dab of light left…but it proved to be productive as well as I landed two nice fish before succumbing to darkness.

If you get a chance to try some late summer or early fall popper fishing…go for it. I would suggest that you use a 6 weight or a rod big enough to make long casts with a heavy popper. These pools are low and skinny and the big fish will spook easily! Have fun, move slowly and stay patient…

Fly Tying a Reverse Bucktail Fly

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This video came about from several requests for me to tie the reverse bucktail fly after several videos over the past couple of months. Like any fly… this is a fly that continues to change and morph into what it currently is today and I am sure that there will be future changes as well.

I like this fly for a few reasons; first it is very lifelike in the water and can be fished at many levels depending on the line used with the fly. Currently we are in mid-summer and the water levels are low. The bucktail fly allows me to make long casts into a pool and treat the fly as if it were almost a top water fly and a top water presentation. With the weighted line you can also make upstream casts and allow the fly to swim downstream past ambush points…this technique has proved very effective and the takes have been jolting.

As I said in the video, I like white. I like the visual response I get from white…but also feel like it is the closest color to many of the baitfish that are in the locals waters. The shape of the fly allows for water to be pushed and displaced…while at the same time allowing the tail of the fly to be quite active. I am sure that you can find other color combos that will be good for your neck of the woods.

I have thrown on three additional pieces of video whereby I am fishing the reverse bucktail fly. I do so with the idea of giving you an idea of when and how to best use this fly…although I think the possibilities are quite limitless. I have concentrated mostly on smallmouth but I am sure that this fly will also do well for largemouth, crappie, pike, musky, etc….

If you have any questions you can contact me via this website and I will try and get back to you as soon as I can.