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Day two began onstream at ~11:40am under clear sunny skies with an air temp approaching 13 degrees. With minimal wind predicted I knew today would be a bit more comfortable, sweet. I love the winter sun. The few hours when it hangs highest in the sky everything seems to wake up, birds are making noise, the trout are up, bugs might be hatching. A sunny 13 degree day can feel like 35 if your prepared and the wind isn’t blowing. We hit a different stream with perhaps two loosely set goals for the day and maybe a third that is always there and is never really acknowledged. 1st, to hike, to keep moving, maybe see a couple miles of stream. 2nd, to bring to hand a brown trout then a brook. The 3rd unspoken goal of every trip is just to smile and remember that some days you are stuck at work, fish or no fish this doesn’t get much better.
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Parked and rigged I made a short hike through the snow covered forest floor to the stream. I remember thinking how the snow isn’t much of an obstacle when compared to 7-8ft tall weeds that grow obnoxiously thick through this section of forest and make this place very un-inviting in the summer months. Approaching slow and low I knew the [singlepic id=2155 w=380 h=300 float=right]water here was going to be gin clear and it was. I waited several minutes looking for any sign of a rising trout or skittering midge but none were seen, even later in the day only a scant few midges were observed and only a handful 3-4 risers seen. The trout were holding deeper so I opted for the Orange Hot Spot Scud again today in a #16 thinking that I might trail it with a #20 Midge Larva pattern later. Again takes were very subtle, I lost the first two definitive strikes but a short time later I was netting a 10in Brown trout. We each managed a few from this first hole before our coffee got cold and we began the hike upstream.
The sun really made the day as we hiked, nothing was cold and infact had I kept the pace full steam we would have been sweating quite a bit before we finished but thats why we stop and fish. I hit a few narrower sections (2-3ft wide) of old habitat improvement as we hiked upstream loosing a few flies to tree limbs and snags on the banks trying to get that perfect cast to the trout before I fumbled and gave my position away. I did eventually add on a trailing #20 Midge pattern to give the trout a second option. I ended up losing a few strong strikes as I was not anticipating such a quick [singlepic id=2152 w=300 h=220 float=left]and sharp reactions as my flies entered the water, like the trout knew they were coming and had already commited to the take without my knowledge.
Looking to the 2nd goal for the day we moved upstream in search of beautiful brookies. I’ve fished this stream enough to know where the brookies hide out and I wasted little time finding them sitting in the same spot they’ve held for a very long time. We each attempted deep drifiting nymphs to the smaller trout but failed to bring a fish to hand. We got a few strikes but were un-able to set the hook in time and after thirty or so minutes attempting to get the longest and deepest drift possible produced nothing, with that the sun had passed the peak for the day and was on it’s way out. We gathered our things and began the hike out, along the way I stopped to swing a fat streamer through a few of the deeper sections but other than a few looks I was out of luck. I should note that every trout I got to hand had the #16 OHS Scud in it’s mouth. So no brookie and thus I have a goal for next time but still an excellent day and a good way to begin the new season with back to back days fishing the Driftless Area.
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