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5-25-03 - Bart wanted to hit 3 specific creeks he had researched. The first, Knapp Creek. We drove and drove until we found "Knapp Creek"???????????????
Since that couldn't be it, we moved down the road and found another creek coming into the WI river. Was this Knapp Creek???
Downstream on the Kickapoo where we finally figured out WHERE we were and WHERE we were going.
Score and bonus; my first WILD brown of the day on the West Fork of the Kickapoo River. The picture doesn't do the color of the fish ANY justice!
Brown #2; a good 11-12" fish that did it's own C&R at the bank.
Bart's girlfriend "M"; her first day on the fly rod.
Look at that gorgeous scenery. Life couldn't be better.
BAM! "M" hooks up!
Her first fish EVER on a Fly Rod...and it's a gorgeous brown!
Many trout were hiding under structure during the daylight hours. Fishing these trees in the same manner as we fish Indiana Log Jams produced good hits; I hooked up with and lost 2 more.
But I did manage #3, a gorgeous WILD brookie!
Bart was almost beginning to stink of skunk, but this tiny offering saved him.
ALL TROUT are Cherished! Look at the GORGEOUS color on this little guy!
Downstream we found some great riffles and deeper water.
What you can't see here is that Bart's waders have sprung a leak...he's up to his ass in WATER.
Timber Coulee Creek!
The same riffle from the other end as I walked back upstream.

5-25-03 - "Bart's Day" - Western WI Trout KICK ASS!

Rivers Fished: Kickapoo River (West Fork), Timber Coulee Creek
Fish Caught: 3
Outing Date: 5-25-03
Weather: Sunny
Air Temp: 60's & 70's
Water Temp: W.B. Kickapoo - 65F, Timber Coule 64F
Water Level: N/A
Water Color: Crystal
Fish Species: Brook Trout, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: Brassie
Pattern Color: Copper
Fishing Quality: FIVE STAR!

This was "Bart's Day"; Chromeseeker had been saying for weeks that he had to get out west to check out the inland trout fishing which is still pretty new to him (he's only recently started fishing dries). Bart had done a lot of research and had 3 specific areas he wanted to fish; since he was all jazzed I said "Lead the Way" and let him plan things out.

First stop after hours of driving was going to be Knapp Creek. Unfortunately, Bart had forgotten to bring any kind of MAP of the area. So we're driving along and we speed past a sign that reads something like "Knapp Creek Lower Station" or something to that effect...quick U turns and we think we've found it.

We park, look around, and all we see is something flowing with about the same rate as my kitchen sink. Below the culvert is a small pool..no more than 6" deep! Not giving up just yet, especially since we had seen other springs where the headwaters are large and deep, we tried to go upstream along a makeshift road through the grass. By the time we got to the to off the hills we reached the end of the road...no big pond...nothing.

Of course, CS wasn't EXACTLY sure where the creek was...somewhere around the Richland / Crawford county boarder by the Wisconsin River. So we drove a bit further west and drove over a second EXTREMELY MUDDY creek. Considerably larger! Unfortunately, it was flowing into YOHOO colored water; turns out that whatever creek it was it was flowing into the Wisconsin River (which seemed to be VERY HIGH and extremely dirty). Up and down two dirt roads later we STILL had not found Trout water of any kind; later on we would find out that we hadn't ever actually FOUND Knapp Creek. To top it off, there is Knapp Creek and Knapps Creek both in the general region, so even if we found one we may not have found the RIGHT one!

Eventually we found the Kickapoo River, pretty much by luck. We had been stopping all along the way at every shop that sold bait looking for a copy of the Trout Regs (and MAPS). I briefly fished the 60F 1' visibility water while Bart went into town and FINALLY found a map. We headed north to the Fly Only section of the West Branch of the Kickapoo.

We got there about 2:00, let me tell you THIS is my kind of water. Roughly the same size as the Pike River. The best part? As we got out of the cars and looked over from the bridge we could clearly see several trout sitting in the current. PERFECT!

I wasted NO TIME getting into the water..I opted upstream of the bridge and Bart & M went downstream. Looking at the rocks showed a ton of bright gray scudlike crustaceans...unusual looking things though that had a "swimmer" out of each side...kinda like Daphnia but they were different. Also found a spawning pair of sculpins (not sure what species but the male was black with gold bars; gorgeous) when I picked up a rock; carefully set the rock and eggs down in the exact same position it was in before.

One of the stranger things I noticed; I took a temperature reading and got 65F! Not quite sure how upstream can be warmer than downstream, but there ya have it. Perhaps the East Branch of the Kickapoo runs colder? Or maybe I just got some water that was recirculating in the sun...thus abnormally warm.

Anyways, within minutes I hooked into my first ever WILD WISCONSIN BROWN on a small silver nymph (about size #16); the closest thing I had to those little scud-type things. Actually put up a GOOD FIGHT for a fish of it's size (roughly 8-9"); it even jumped once. The coloration was just GORGEOUS...far more pretty than the brown I caught in Paradise Springs the day before.

I continued to move upstream and fished beneath a log jam; lost the small silver nymph so I switched to a brassie. Hooked up with #2 but he quickly got off and dashed back underneath the log. Shortly thereafter I got hookup #3, a nice brown about 12". Jumped twice and REFUSED to come ashore....as I was about to reach down and pick him up the tension left my line; he squired and did his own C & R. Well at least I got pictures of him while he was on my line!

I showed Bart where the fish were holding and he moved upstream to fish the next riffle. M had moved up to the first riffle; I came down to see what was up. Shortly after settling in downstream she got her first ever fish on a fly rod! Again, put up a great fight for such a small fish!

I moved back upstream to "the spot" and got yet another hookup..but again the fish was off in short order. I must admit I was being careful as this was my only brassie left..didn't want to lose it. I spent most of my time carefully working the fly just up front of the log...taking care to swing it through the current and just barely underneath but not too deep...still I managed a couple snags that I had to work very patiently to get off. 2 lb. test isn't exactly STRONG line.

I continued to work the face of the fallen tree and eventually got a larger fish to DART from underneath the log and slam my fly. As soon as he had, he realized he was mistaken..this wasn't food! I've never seen such little fish put up such valiant fights...as I got him in closer I realized this was a very funky brown trout. Wait, it's NOT a brown, it's a WILD BROOKIE! SCORE AND BONUS!

Of course the pictures don't do it justice. What a great fish! Tons of red in the ventral and anal fins with starkly contrasting white leading edges. The spotting was a gorgeous display, dominated by yellows and a good number of red spots circled in blue. Outstanding considering this was also my first brook trout EVER! Now if I could only find those 5 lb. coasters up in Canada!

I figured by this point that I was 3/5; Bart's GF was 1/2 at this point, so Bart MUST have some good news. As he came back downstream from the riffles, I asked how he was doing. "NOTHING" he replied. Man, that's tough! I showed him where all the fish were in my little area and offered for him to take the spot, but he declined and instead took the riffles below alongside M.

I must admit I was satisfied at this point, so I moved back downstream to coach and watch. Bart finally found his mojo and felt a take while bottom bouncing like we do for steelhead; unfortunately he was slow and missed the hookset.

Several minutes went by and I could tell he was truly frustrated. He kept working the run slowly but was honestly losing concentration...you could hear it in his voice...a bit of frustration was setting in. FINALLY he got un-skunked...man I'd never seen CS so happy in the short time I've known him. He wa smiling ear to ear but at the same time was groaning...a little brown barely 5" had saved his a$$ on the Kickapoo. We marveled at the stunning and vivid coloration of this tiny jewel. With all the care and delicate touch required Bart revived this baby as if it were a trophy 30 lb steelhead being released to pass on it's genes. Every Trout is Cherished.

Bart had the itch to move, and I wasn't gonna argue...we had passed another "fishy" looking area that he wanted to check out, so we headed downstream a bit. Four guys were workin' the specific area we wanted to look at, but one head turn downstream revealed even NICER looking water.

We waded down but didn't spook anything up; I started at the head of the riffles and slowly worked down; M chose to stick to the riffles while Bart started at the base and then headed for the far bank at the bend. God this was GREAT trout water. I had to go larger and heavier to get my presentations down to where the trout might be.

We only stayed briefly but I think we pounded the area well; no bites to be had. All the while Bart was wet wading in waders and I didn't even known it! He came sloshing out of the water; I guess his wader repair had failed LOL! His pants looked like water balloons, and sounded like them too!

We did a quick check of the upstream water but the trout sighted were spooky. I think what sealed the deal was when a Golden Retriever ran up and decided to use the pool as his personal playground. Oh well, we were getting hungry! We booked it at 5:00...not a bad time at all for only 3 hours in the river!

A stop in Westby for food was the ticket; I believe it was the only restaurant in town and I must say the food was superb, especially the mashed potatoes! A must have if you're a mashed potato freak like I am!

We had yet another stop planned; Timber Coulee Creek. Bart got us there quickly as it's just outside of Westby and we started fishing around 6:30. The first access right by the source was close to the Westby Gun & Rod Club...we took a quick look and I decided we should head farther downstream. We drove by the second angler access as well..still looking for ideal water. The third access was the ticket...big enough and deep enough in spots to hold fish.

I'm not going to bore you with ALL the details, but I will say that for me, Timber Coulee was just a bit too small. Smaller than Oak Creek...comparable maybe to Sauk Creek in Port Washington. Too small.

The trout were around but were VERY spooky. Definitely smart fish. As I was stalking the creek on my knees headed downstream I was briefly startled by a Great Blue Heron stalking just as slowly coming upstream on the opposite bank. I have NEVER been within 10 feet of a Great Blue Heron before! I think the gasp I took when I noticed him alerted him to MY presence and he took off. WOW..impressive bird!

I managed my first hookup on a decent sized trout close to the road on a Mosquito fished just below the surface. Later on, back to the Brassie and I got my second hit on a large trout that was slurping with gusto underneath a tree. I did spend a LOT of time on my knees or sitting on the edge waiting for the trout to "unspook"; it usually took ONE CAST to put them off. Talk about tough trout. I watched CS fish that same trout under the tree and he faired no better than I had

Bart came further downstream and as darkness approached, I moved back up. Again I fished the madman under the tree and AGAIN I got a hookup but didn't really connect for more than a second. Towards nightfall I fished the stretch by the road up and back, but the fish were STILL not interested in any of the tiny offerings I was making, wet OR dry.

Bart eventually came back up grinning ear-to-ear, no longer PO'd. He had landed a 13" brown on a white caddis larvae. CS will tell you now that he is an addict of the inland wild trout after catching that one beautiful fish. By dark I was pretty tired but CS still had some fight and finally figured out what the fish wanted; a small light olive emerger. He had several missed sips in the twilight but eventually (when he couldn't see anymore) we convinced him it was time to call it a day...a GOOD DAY that is.

  MP 

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