Separate names with a comma.
It was 1pm last Saturday. The contest was officially over for one hour. I sent my daughter Anna to pick up the log book and the three rod and reel combos I had purchased for the contest.
I had sponsored a fishing contest for kids in my hometown. The rod/reel combos had been displayed at the local supermarket for one month. This was the length of the contest. The contest was advertized in the local paper. I had checked the status of the kids that had joined every weekend during the contest. I was quite disappointed with the results on each check of the ledger. There were no entries.
Anna brought home the ledger and the prizes. Not a single kid had entered. It made me kinda sad. Over the last few years I have been speaking at schools and was trying to get the word out to the kids in the area about fishing. I added up the number of schools I presented at and estimated the number of kids I spread my message to. The number was over 10,000 kids including the Madison Fishing Expo presentations. I was trying to plant the seed about the great outdoors. I wanted kids to get out there and get out from behind those hand held games and notebooks.
I was to hand out the rod/reel combos at the Sunday of Apple Festival at 3:30pm at the Sportsman's Club Tent. There were no entries in my ledger. I had NO ONE to hand out the sweet Pflueger Spirit Rod/Reel combos out to! They were valued at $100.00 each.
Sunday morning came and I was still scratching my head about the contest. It dawned upon me that hands on fishing is truly the only way to really hook kids on fishing. The most successful way to get kids into fishing is to literally go with them like teacher Dan Pulvermacher of Muscoda does every summer with Riverdale Schools.
The presentation route plants the seed but without a family member or a "super" teacher like Dan Pulvermacher the seed goes unwatered and the seed will not grow.
But you can't make them drink!!!
Subtitle: Invaders From The North
Starting this Spring there was a gathering of trout anglers from the four state in the driftless region. The first event was held at Westby Rod and Gun Camp Grounds on CTH P in rural Westby, Wisconsin. The first event attracted anglers from far and wide. A second Fall event was planned for last weekend at the same venue.
The Fall event was a little more tame than the Spring event. It was attended by about the same amount of trout anglers. All trout anglers were represented. There were dry fly anglers and worm anglers at the same table.
The Spring event had a large trout caught by Twin Cities angler Kirk Shatner and a HUGE walleye caught by Mark Dahlquist also of the Twin Cities.
The Fall event was just as fishy. The hands down master angler was a Twin Cities Angler that landed big trout of the weekend. Eddie Rivard caught a 26.5 inch female brown and released it and he followed up his massive trout with a sweet catfish later that day.
The trout was caught in a secret stream in Crawford County on a lure that will remain a secret also. The cat was caught on cut bait at the dam in Gays Mills.
My friend from Pennsylvania was visiting Wisconsin . He told me he had a morning to do some running and gunning. He just wanted to catch a couple fish and be on his way back to PA.
He wanted easy access and a nice place to fish. The hole above came to mind. He was a little bit of a "doubting Thomas" when I showed him the run.
He strung up his three weight the way I explained. Again he thought me to be a bit crazy. I explained to him that he should fish a size 10 turkey leech through there with an indicator. He refused the indicator and threw the leech in the hole 30 times and wanted to move on. He also has a 5x leader on and I asked him to size up to a 4x minimum. He was set in his ways and said he could handle any fish with 5x on his 3 weight. He said it was a worthless hole and he didn't get a single bite in the hole.
I told him that I had seen a video once that proved to me that fly anglers miss 40 percent of their hits because of the lack of an indicator. After a little of coaxing he put on a "bobber." He was old school and anything that looking like fishing with bait was against his belief system.
I explained to him that my father had showed me this hole as a small child and he always used a piece of cork on the line here on his fly rod with a crawler and ALWAYS kicked trout tail.
Many years of fishing the area had taught me the lay of this hole. If I fished a hole hard and believed I was not going to catch another fish in a hole, I would walk in to the hole to map the bottom for a return trip.
That mapping told be that the corner directly above this hole swung the current in to the bank and eroded the bank under that tree and there was a serious step drop there. The Alpha trout typical has the top of the hole at the tight step drop. It has the bank to break the current and is in the best feeding lay. The current also magnified the size of fish in the hole and under gunned anglers usually left with their tail between their knees.
My buddy from PA "Mark" swung "my" fly I gave him tight to the right bank about 15 feet above the hole. I was getting preachy and told him to keep it tight to the right bank because the alpha trout would be there. He gave me this blank stare and said something again about this being a worthless hole.
Then it happened. He wasn't even paying attention to the indicator and I screamed BITE!!!!BITE!!! Mark's reactions were slow but he did have a hook up for about .5 second and broke off his 5x leader. We got to see the 18-20 inch brown at the surface and he was sick because he broke off on it. I explained to him the current magnification I told him about prior. He started listening to every word I said then.
5 minutes later and a 4x leader on he wanted to throw back in there right away. I told him to let the hole calm down. That big fish flashing on its side when it was hooked surely alerted any smart fish in the hole and it was best to wait. We actually sat down and talked about the hole.
I explained the bottom to him. He was very attentive now. He wanted to know how I knew exactly how the bottom laid . I explained to him my after fishing mapping trick.
This hole was an unusual hole. The water was shallow upstream and there was an obvious bend that shot the spring floods in to the bank directly above the tree on the right. The tree roots kept the bank solid so the water bounced back out. I pointed at the bottom above the hole. The bottom was rocky and not silty so I told him more than likely the hole was that way too. That spring flooding had a bounce back to it also.
He wanted to know what a bounce back was. The current slamming in to the hard bank with the tree roots stabilizing it caused a bounce back effect and the beginning of the hole was much farther out from the bank than one would think. There was almost a wing dam there because of the bounce back. I showed him the color difference in the hole and he could imagine the wing dam effect from the water color.
This step drop ran a good 8 feet from the bank out in to the main channel and the current going under the tree also ripped out a good place.
3 hours hours later and 20 trout from the same hole Mark was sold on strike indicators. He broke off one other large fish that took him in to the roots and his 3 weight didn't have enough backbone to turn the fish out of them. We talked about that tree eventually falling in to the water from the floods. I explained to him that that little tree was at least 20 years old and mother nature is better at making trout streams then any back ho or pallet maker.
Mark questioned me if maybe we were directly behind the stocking truck because of his outstanding luck. His smile was huge when I told him the fish manager from that stream did not stock fish. Mark left to PA after just one hole.
The really sad part of this story is the landowner sold the rights to the WDNR and they manicured the area and that tree was one of the first things they took out. The hole is utterly worthless now.
These Virginia Blue Bells reflect on the water and give me a double dose of beauty.
A cold Iowa fishing trip that the birch trees illuminated.
The shadows were long on this early Spring day in Richland County.
First time on this waterway.
Tell me where the prime lays are?
Map the bottom for me and tell me why you think it lays like that.
You say you can't see the bottom so you don't know?
There are ways of getting around that.
Rod and I have have been good friends since I was 14 years old. His family took me deer hunting many times when I was young. The whole Johnson Clan is very warmhearted and a generous bunch.
Last year about this time of the year Rod was diagnosed with colon and liver cancer. The prognosis was not very good. Rod and his wife Karen stayed positive and Rod started chemo-therapy earlier this year. There was a benefit for Rod at the Gays Mills Community Center recently. Rod looked skinny and his color was not very good. He is a fighter and it was obvious he and his family was doing all they could do to battle his cancer. There was an overwhelming turn out for the benefit. Over double the number of people that the family projected for attendance came to support Rod and Karen.
About a month ago Rod had a portion of his colon removed. They believe they got the cancer in his colon but, the cancer in the liver was still present. The doctors are going to aggressively attack the cancer in Rod's liver next week.
I ran into Rod last Friday night. He was at his traditional night before Deer Hunting gathering at the local pub. Since his surgery he gained back 10 pounds and his color returned to normal. He seemed like the same old Rodney. He told me about some type of aggressive chemo wash he was going to get the next week. He showed me direct line that the doctors had placed in his chest for chemotherapy. He was very upbeat and announced he was going hunting opening day.
Rod showed me his special permit for hunting. Wisconsin allows seriously sick hunters to hunt from their vehicles . Rod was really pumped up about going hunting. He told me he would be satisfied with even a little doe. He was just happy that he could deer hunt with his illness. We sat and talked for 3-4 hours about the old days and hunts past. When I left I told him that he was going to get a big buck and no small doe.
Rod parked his truck out in the pasture behind the family farm opening day. Right after first light Rod harvested this massive buck.
Photo by Linda Johnson Thanks Linda for all you have done for Rod.
Having cancer is very scarey but if you fight it and be positive you can beat it. Rod you have many more deer hunting years in your future.
They don't naturally reproduce in Wisconsin streams
They are like homing pigeons and leave the area in the same season
They taste like an old boot.
They are not very smart.
They fight like crazy
Inept anglers can even catch them
What do you think?
Should the WDNR keep stocking them?
Can the money from the stocking of bows be used elsewhere?
My wife quit buying things for me for Xmas.
She says I am too picky.
I say she is cheap.
We buy our own Xmas presents these days.
After 2 months of search I found a decent hat that can fit my giant melon.
Order it yesterday.
First off I am going to get rid of the lame looking feather.
A new hat deserves a nice hat pin.
I ordered this mean looking hat pin for it.
What is on your Xmas list?
This five months closed season nonsense needs to stop. We need a longer season!
It was a late May 2012 in Southwestern Wisconsin. It was unusually warm for May. There was an odd wind coming out of the Northwest. Typically winds from the Northwest this time of the year were cold. The temperature raised about 10 degrees warmer than the day before. The warm up intrigued me. I thought the trout may turn on because of it. I hurried home to get my gear and get out fishing.
It was 2 pm by the time I hit the stream. The wind was warm but a little too blustery at times. My casts were not the best at the beginning of the outing and I ended up in the trees a couple times. It was hard to feel frustrated on this warm May day with the wind in my face and a rod in my hand. The ground was still quite soft from the winter melt off. I decided to take the good with the bad and continue on. The trout were eager when I did get a good cast in.
The stretch I picked was a long one. It was owned by three different land owners. I had permission on the beginning and ending stretch. The middle section was a wade only stretch. I finished the middle stretch and the last stretch opened before me. It was wide open with a fallow pasture. The cows had not manicured the grass yet. The grass was about mid-thigh high. I was happy to get out of the water and walk stream side.
There was a cow path on the edge of the stream that I used because I was a little tired from the long walk. The path had some wear but it was not beaten down like years past. I was up higher out of the stream and could see much better ahead of me. The wind became a factor again and the chop on the water was bad. I actually was enjoying the odd wind in my face and the smells of the stream. It was refreshing because of the long winter. I had to time my casts between gusts. It seemed to work well. It was getting late in the afternoon and it was overcast. I kept telling myself: "This is my last cast. If I get a decent trout I will quit for the day." I trudged on for that one last decent trout.
I saw movement in the grass about 20 feet ahead of me. Fishing abruptly became secondary and my gaze focused on the movement in the tall grass. I was not sure what I was looking at to begin with. I thought I had walked up on a opossum or a raccoon because I could only see a little fur through the tall grass. Things changed very quickly.
I then saw a furry ear rise up out of the grass. My first thought was I had found a dog in the grass taking a nap. My past encounters with dogs on streams were varied. I reached down to my left side for my bear pepper spray. Before I could pull the spray out of the carrier it appeared in its entirety in front of me. I froze in my tracks and didn't move a muscle.
The front end of the creature lifted up and then I saw its rear end and tail. It stretched like I had seen many dogs do when awoken from a nap. It was facing away from me and it was not a dog. My attempt to secure my pepper began again. My hands were shaking very badly now. There was an adult wolf standing twenty feet from me and it had not seen me yet.
The wolf looked darker than I had seen photos of and much larger. I had watched "The Gray" movie that spring and all the bad scenes of the movie flashed before me. I was petrified with fear. My strong hand had a hold of my fishing rod. For some crazy reason I had not dropped it while trying to get the pepper spray. I was flailing with my left hand in an attempt to get the pepper spray. I questioned myself for the placement of the pepper spray on my left hip. I had it there because it interfered with my casting on my right hip. I did not want to take my eyes of the wolf. Then it happened.
The wolf took one step forward and turned and looked right me. I was not sure of why it turned and looked at me but I was certain later that it could hear my heart beating at one hundred miles an hour and almost bursting out of my chest. It squared itself and looked directly at me. I was in a trance. I could not move.
I saw its ears go back and the hair on its back stood up. It slightly dropped its back legs. Its stare was terrifying. It was so close I could see that it had a wet nose. I finally quit being a deer and the headlights and dropped my pole and reached with my right hand slowly to my pepper spray. The whole time I was keeping close eye on the wolf. I could not secure the pepper spray without looking at it. The description of the events makes it sound like I was staring at this wolf for 10-15 minutes when it was only 10-15 seconds. 10-15 seconds is much too long in my opinion.
Pepper spray was my only defense and I needed it now! I dropped my eyes to my hip to secure my pepper spray and got it quickly. Next I had to get the safety button off. This went by in an instant because I had trained with the pepper spray. I had it up and armed and was pointing where the wolf had been. It was gone. When I broke eye contact with it, the wolf must have seen that as its opportunity to run. I did a 360 quickly to make sure it wasn't flanking me. It was nowhere to be seen. I picked up my rod quickly and side stepped right traveling out of the field.
Each time the wind blew it made me think something was coming for me when the grass moved. The stories of my youth that involved the big bad wolf were flashing through my mind. I thought where there was one, there is more came to mind. The sideways walking to the road seemed to take forever. I did not want to turn my back to where I had last seen the wolf.
My thoughts were rambling. It came to me that the wolf was sleeping with its face to the wind to be alerted to danger. The wind and the soft earth made my approach silent and without a scent to alert. I evaluated my reactions to the wolf. I was not pleased with my locking up under stress. If I had sprayed the pepper spray at the wolf I would have indirectly sprayed myself in the face due to the wind. I decided that a pepper flavored human may not taste well to wolves so if one attacked I was going to empty the canister.
I was finally on the road walking back to my truck. I checked behind myself quite often and my pace was almost a jog. It seemed like it took forever to get to the vehicle and get the door closed. I sat there for a short time getting my **** together. My heart was still racing and trying to erupt from my chest. I decided on the way home I was not going to tell my daughter and wife about my close encounter.
I did not return to that stretch in 2012. I started to pester my wife about buying a pistol for self defense and for carrying on stream for my safety. She vetoed the purchase of a pistol for three months until I told her a short version of this story. I purchased a pistol online the same day and had my concealed carry permit 3 weeks later. This was early November. Trout season was closed.
During the closed season I practiced with my pistol. I had purchased a shoulder holster for my 357 magnum. I picked a revolver because of my law enforcement background. A pistol that may become wet while wading during fishing needs to be dependable. Revolvers are much less apt to jam than an automatic. My pistol is a short barreled version so not to hinder my drawing of it in a stressful situation. The shorter barrel also makes the pistol much louder than typical so the sound of the pistol would also be a deterrent. I also wore my bear pepper spray on my right hip after the close encounter with the wolf instead of left.
I know there are some folks cringing when they read this story. Some are scared like I was and others think my fear is unsubstantiated and are critical. I don't kill animals for sport. My gun is for personal defense and you weren't in my shoes on a warm windy day in May with a wolf literally feet away!
Puffballs are easy to identify for the beginning mushroom hunter because there are no poisonous species. The larger puffballs grow on composted soil and meadows. Puffballs fist-sized or larger are unmistakable. Puffballs grow on the ground or on dead wood The best time for finding puffballs is in the fall.
They must be all-white inside. Any shade of yellow or purple makes them inedible . When you cut a puffball open, you'll find no stem and no gills inside.
Peel the outside cover off before preparing. You can saute them, simmer them in soups, cook them with grains. Dip slices in a batter of egg and milk and cover with bread crumbs seasoned with salt and pepper and fry them up in butter or oil. They have a very earthy flavor and the unique taste will not disappear in a dish.
What 25 years can do.
I have had friendly dogs follow me while fishing and ruin my day by going ahead and messing things up.
This little dog in this photo was a trooper. Her name is "Lexus."
She followed Jeff through deep water and thick brush and weeds and always healed directly behind him when he fished.
She loved my lap in the truck and made we wants a dog for a split second.
Joe eats 7 out of 10 trout he catches.
Derek loves to eat trout. This male brown was mounted and eaten. Caught on a fly.
Alec lets go everything he catches. Caught on a fly.
Al let this one go but does eat a few. Caught on a fly.
Scott ate this one. Caught on a worm.
Joe caught on a fly and let go.
Anna caught on a spinner. Mounted and eaten.
Jesse caught on a worm. Mounted and eaten.
James caught on a fly and released.