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7-25-04 - We started the morning off at Tainter.

Tainter was clouded up and running VERY cold.

Kindof a pretty stream and a bit larger than some of the others in the area.

Jacek gets his skunk off with a Secret-Brook Brook Trout.

Jacek's nice brookie.

John works a deep pocket underneath an overhanging tree hoping for a Bad Axe trout.

More Quicktime Video! John misses an opportunity under the tree on the North Fork of the Bad Axe.

Working downstream from Esofea Park.

We saw a trout or two scurry around in this beaver pool.

Further downstream it broadens and we ran into muck that you could easily sink into...I mean like all the way into. We had to get out to go around...John has permission to fish this property with clients, even so we strictly followed WI's navigable water / trespass rules.

Randy nailed a North Fork Bad Axe Brookie in a VERY deep hole.

Andy's Bad Axe Brookie.

John and I approached some risers from a grass covered island.

This dude is PSYCHO! I didn't get to snap any pictures until I regained my composure. You can clearly see he's still holding the weed whacker and his pants are wet from chasing us IN THE STREAM!

After he remembers who John was (and that permission was granted to be on the property) this guy was um, well, I guess nice about letting us leave in peace.

Back up at Esofea Park, cooling off and relaxing a bit....a couple more fish lost but that's about it.

We decided to head over to the South Fork of the Bad Axe...John had a pool in mind.

John reties while Randy spots fish from high above.

Before leaving I shot this 360° Panoramic photo of the South Fork of the Bad Axe. Awesome if you click for the enlargement above, but breathtaking when viewed in the interactive 3D viewer. (1.28 MB)

John works a riser on Hornby Coulee.

More Quicktime Video...you can see just how we pursued skittish trout in tiny streams! (3.95 MB)

John Kruger, on his knees just beggin' for another trout!

Randy prefers the high and away method of chasing trout in tight quarters!

More QuickTime vid...these are great for watching how to cast and such! (12.1 MB)

Randy's second tiny brown!

Randy loved the spots on this brown trout, but says his first had at least twice as many red spots!

7-25-04 - The Wisconsin Weed Whacker Incident

Waters Fished: Tainter Creek, Brennon & Tim's Secret Brook, the North and South Forks of the Bad Axe River, Hornby Coulee Creek.
Fish Caught: Several (honestly didn't keep track)
Outing Date: 7-25-04
Weather: mostly sunny
Air Temp: 70's
Water Temp: South Fork of the Bad Axe was too hot - 70F!
Water Level: slightly up due to recent rains
Water Color: All streams just a touch off color but mostly clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: mostly tossed a Tucker Nymph
Pattern Color: per pattern
Fishing Quality: mostly DOA, secret stream was productive & the rest were challenging at the very least!

We got up EARLY by MP standards (6:30) and somehow managed to get on the road from Iowa to Wisconsin. Randy and I had plans to meet up with Bart, Jacek, and Len Harris. We pulled in late to Star Valley, but Bart and Jacek got there 30 minutes early. Hmm...where's Len?

After gearing up we headed on into Tainter Creek. The water was murky and stung when you stepped in...that is to say it was COLD! Bart and Jacek had gone out earlier and managed a couple browns, but on this second go no one got anything. 9:20 I had to drive all the way out to Viroqua to find a restroom...I arrived back around 10:40 to find that Bart and Jacek had gone to town for lunch +! Randy arguably put in the most time on Tainter, and he too came up empty (well, I personally got a chub).

Got ahold of Len at some point in the day to find out that something had come up and he wasn't going to be able to join us; he wasn't guiding us so it's not like he missed an appointment or something...this was just going to be a friendly outing and he ended up not being able to make it. We're already working on some dates in August...I will make it out with the "Trout Hunter" this year...I want to document Len doing what he does best...catching BIG trout!

We all had a problem...lack of trout, so it was decided that I'd take the crew over to Brennon and Tim's secret stream. The water was down a bit, clarity still so-so...not crystal. At first there was no action. I moved downstream and my first 12 casts in a plunge below a riffle were ALL takes. I landed 4 fish right then and there...all brookies and all quickly released. We all continued to move downstream...I can't say how Randy and Bart faired but I picked up two more...plus one that hit my indicator and fouled himself! All brookies between 6-13", all with stunning coloration. Back upstream Jacek landed a nice brooke as well!

It then occurred to me that we were in the region that John Kruger calls his inland trout stomping grounds. I fired off a call and maybe an hour later, John met up with us at the Secret Brook. Some lunch and Mountain Dew took care of the midday hunger while we caught up on the news...turns out John's 2004 Hudson Bay Expedition went well but got cut short...by the arrival of his third offspring (congrats John!).

We were all still in the "need more trout" mood so John suggested we head over to the North Fork of the Bad Axe River. Another new stream? Sounds good to me! We got in at Esofea Park....there was some nice deep pockets reminiscent of the North Bear in IA...interesting stream!

John set up and almost immediately lost a trout...figures. For some reasons I like to flip on the video when I'm fishin' with John, and it always results in video of lost bites, no action etc. John did pick up a nice chub...easily 5" :) Yes, John and I enjoy giving each other some sh*t.

So John has been fishing this stream for 15 years; he knows it well and has permissions to pretty much fish anywhere along it. He suggested that we go downstream from Esofea, knowing there are a couple deep holes there.

We all got in on the hike...wading through the stream it narrowed significantly, sped up, and became enveloped by the trees. It was more like walking through a tunnel..reminding me of Bluff Creek and other local streams. No deep water here...just split and fast run. Coming up to a beaver pond the water widened and slowed, but didn't really gain much depth. Randy had passed us and was downstream...he spooked up a nice trout that basically burried itself in the beaver dam. No luck getting that one!

From here the river again widened further, this time gradually getting deeper and siltier. As we continued downstream we got to waste deep water...then it came back up but was replaced by DEEP muck...the kind you could get sucked into and not get out.

We managed to get unstuck, went around and got back in on a deep pool. The water didn't seem to flow here...those drifting nymphs had NO luck. Randy was stripping streamers...he picked up a NICE brook trout. But that was pretty much all the action in this spot.

While Bart, Jacek and Randy continued to pound the pool, John and I started moving downstream. Most was VERY shallow, maybe 6" deep. The stream formed an island surrounded by quick running chutes...downstream was a bend and both John and I paid our dues here. Meanwhile Bart, Jacek and Randy continued to pound the pool!

We found a dead sucker in a hole...no trout. Time to keep moving I guess. The stream again formed an island...downstream we could see something rising. The island was overgrown with waist high grass; we figured the best approach was on the island, using the grass to mask our presence from the active fish below.

John took first crack while I worked the tail of a riffle. Each cast John made was extended just a few more inches...methodically covering all the water. If he could, John would take a fish here on the dry. If not, I had the backup all set with a Tucker Nymph.

We both noticed that the quiet, peaceful afternoon became a bit more noisy...someone was doing some gardening or something. No biggie, we kept on fishing.

The noise started getting louder....still yardwork is not something I'd be surprised to find someone doing on a Sunday afternoon.

Then it grew louder still and I started looking around, curious to see who was doing what.

THEN I noticed a man walking across the grass, revving an industrial weed whacker. It sounded like a chainsaw; I recalled that feeling you get when holding a powertool like that...vibrating your entire upper torso...revving it is fun.

It still hadn't occurred to met that this guy wasn't weed whacking. In fact I can't pointpoint when, but it took probably longer than it should have to sink in that this guy was walking straight towards John and I.

That's when I figured out that this guy was pissed. Apparently he didn't like the fact that we were fishing in the stream. He walked right up to us still revving the weed whacker. I don't think there's any laws against harassing anglers in WI (although I've seen them in other states). Heck, we fish the Root and Pike, some guy who wants to weed whack right next to us isn't going to bother me. I figure he's standing on his land, if he wants to weed whack go right ahead...I'll catch trout right in front of him.

He did proceed to weedwhack the streambank, swinging the whacker wildly through the tall grass on the bank not more than 10 feet away from me. He was looking straight at us. The look in his eyes made one thing perfectly clear...he didn't want us there. It's nice to want things I guess...we were just moving through anyway and we'd be downstream soon enough.

Apparently though this guy isn't familiar with the fact that navigable water is PUBLICLY accessible...and all it takes to define water as navigable is 1 day per year where you could float a kayak through it. I could've kayaked the river today, so I had no doubt that we were in the clear. We waded in from upstream, we did not cross his property to access the stream.

I should mention maybe at this point that John has been obtaining permission to fish FROM THIS PROPERTY every spring for 15 years. Apparently John's permission was being revoked!

When the guy raised up the weed whacker and pointed it at us, that's when things got outta control. I wasn't thinking clearly...I raised my hand like a traffic cop in the universal "stop" gesture...I think he thought I was WAVING or something. This activity had drawn the attention of our other buddies...Bart and Jacek came walking from upstream while Randy waded down.

This man was clearly beyond perturbed....I can't quote all of what was said because we were all talking at once...this all happened in the span of like 2 seconds. I was shouting "Navigable Water Rights". John was still a bit more composed...he might have said, "that's not necessary" or something to that effect.

Meanwhile this guy is running at the mouth. "You all are trespassing. You should be glad I didn't call the police...do you know what the FINE IS FOR TRESPASSING?"

John quipped back "We're not trespassing"..and was cut off.

"You're a liar...I saw you trespass. I watched you all from up over there".

I managed to get in something the effect of "It's navigable water, it's public, we have a right to be here".

This totally pushed him over the edge...keep in mind the weed whacker has been idling the entire time. The madman fired it up again, and lunged towards me into the stream.

If I hadn't been freaked out by this I would've been laughing my ass of when he tripped and fell into the stream! He prevented a full-bodied faceplant with the business end of the whacker...which crunched into the water and gravel below. Man I TOTALLY wish I had a picture of it. Righting himself with his weedwhacker cane, he again raised the it, gave it gas and swung it in front of us...it was now maybe 2 feet from my face. John and I were both backing up...not so slowly.

"Well, then I'm going to weed whack in the stream"...he lunged right between us, swinging the whacker madly over a boulder that had maybe 4 or 5 tall bits of grass on it.

John moved downstream, the rest of us moved up. I may have muttered something like "ya know, if you didn't want us fishin' here all you'd have to do was ask". Clearly, even if I said that, it wouldn't have mattered.

The nut got out of the stream and started walking down...staying on the bank parallel to John. I didn't have the slightest clue what was going on...was John going to wade downstream all the way off the property? Well, as I got back up to the bend, I watched as John and this goofball got to the next bend below...I then watched this guy help John up out of the stream. Interesting. We mused...would we find John sliced up in a freezer?

So I made sure to stay in the stream ALL the way up to the deep pool (which BTW is probably a good 8-10 feet)...used my navigable water rights to pass this unsafe wade and got back in....immediately above the apparent property line. We all went back to fishin right there.

Eventually John came back up. I'm not going to post a bunch of hearsay since I wasn't there, but I will relate the gist of what John related to me. Once the guy calmed down a bit they talked and John reminded him who he was...ya know...the yellow land rover? Apparently the guy then remembered who John was, giving some sort of apology and suggest that sometimes he gets a bit carried away....NO SH*T. John even asked permission to get out of the stream before doing so...since clearly the last permission he had been granted was not really reliable anymore.

After a recap, John suggested that it'd probably be a wise thing to go fish elsewhere and we did just that...back up to Esofea. We enjoyed some shade under the bridge, let our nerves calm down, and missed another couple fish. Now probably 4 in the afternoon, Bart and Jacek decided to start heading home..maybe hit Timber Coulee along the way. We made a last ditch stop upstream of Esofea....in all this time John hadn't landed a trout! He got the skunk off with a few brookies.

Where to next? The South Fork of the Bad Axe. I can make this long story short...we waded a lot, spooked a few fish, enjoyed some awesome scenery and caught nothing. The fish were there, even the occasionally riser. They just wouldn't take ANYTHING we offered.

Turns out the water was 70F....I thought it felt rather comfortable! With daylight now fading we had to decide where next...the key goal here is more trout.

John, familiar with the area, selected Hornby Coulee...a tributary of the South Fork. His secret hope? With the warm water downstream the big browns might have moved up.

Hornby was small and cold! On John's second cast he landed a small brown...a promising start to our last stream. The bugs were bad so a reapplication of repellent was in order. After that, back to the stream. John and I would piggyback up? Piggyback? Ha, John meant leapfrog.

I gotta say I really enjoyed this...it gave me the opportunity to stop fishing and take some great pictures and video. John went at it with a dry, while I kept the nymph and a leech on. We chased risers and deep spots...when one of us was convinced the run was done, OR if one of us fouled out (i.e. putting your fly in the grasses) the other would move up and fish the next holding spot.

I managed to lose 3 nice trout...I'd say all in the 9-12" range. I can't say that John got another hit. Randy had started in the opposite direction but came back to find us and slid in on some risers in a riffle above our current position. We continued to work the bend.

Well Randy capped off his day with 2 small browns, the first (while I was still out of camera range) having in his estimation more than 200 red spots per side...all the spots were RED! John and I ended our evenings a bit less climactically...a nice bend held lots of fish but after my initial take no further action was encountered.

After that it was time to reflect on another strange day in SW WI. I will let you know that a report was filed with the Sherrif's Dept. regarding the weed whacker assault, so I guess for now the matter has been handled and you can all sit back and laugh about it (everyone I told over the phone did just that). So I'll leave you with two things. First, a friendly warning that you should probably consider the North Fork of the Bad Axe downstream from Esofea OFF LIMITS for your own safety.

Secondly, I'll cap off this report with the pictures from Monday Morning - aka. HAIRLESS MP day. My mom coughed up $200 for Team Ozark Chronicles Raffle Tickets (benefiting Hooked on a Cure and St. Judes) with one stipulation, she'd get to cut my hair. The boys from www.TheHawgTrough.com added in another $80 dollars in raffle ticket purchases if I'd shave the beard.

Well, I'm now completely devoid of hair on my face and head (except they eyebrows...those are worth more than $10 guys!). The hair? Sent off to Locks of Love!

Enjoy the pics, and know that you won't get any blackmail outta me, not even with the Mullet.

  MP 

 

Hairless MP - the "before" - out of the shower and combed!
(Copyright 2004 Jayne Pedersen)

Mom decided she'd give me a MULLET?!
(Copyright 2004 Jayne Pedersen)

Mom's done with the scissor work.
(Copyright 2004 Jayne Pedersen)

After we buzzed the head...the beard just has to go too!
(Copyright 2004 Jayne Pedersen)

I took care of buzzing off the beard.
(Copyright 2004 Jayne Pedersen)

Bundles of MP hair ready to get sent to Locks of Love.

   

Me and Mom after I razored the last of that beard! Oh, and the shirt? That was a present from Mom...that's right, MP = DIE HARD for those of you with ANY DOUBT - Mom says so, so it MUST be true!
(Copyright 2004 Dennis Pedersen)

   

 

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