The first cast sailed across the stream and got hung up in the marsh grass on that side.
Many times when on an outdoor adventure things don’t go as planned. I’ve been voluntarily putting myself in quarantine, not leaving home and also hardly even going outside. It’s not the COVID-19 virus keeping me inside though. Rather it’s been the colder weather.
Today was different however. After studying some more about this pandemic and doing some reading in a very interesting book I chose to donn a pair of knee high boots, grab a spinning rod and a few trout lures and head upstream on Rocky Run Creek.
The creek courses back and forth for the entire length of our 140 acres here at Oshaukuta. It’s about a 30-35 yard hike to the stream bank in the yard. Today I skipped the first quarter mile of stream and hiked back to the water a bit farther upstream where the hiking was easier than ducking under and around lots of brush. On my way I met up with the neighbor fellas, Mike and Ryan Fountain (Casey’s father and brother.) We chatted for about 15 minutes about COVID-19, schools closing, sports getting cancelled (his daughter Casey is our all state player of the year last season and our ace in the pitching circle.) We talked about trout fishing, salmon fishing on Lake Michigan, packs of wolves, coyotes and a lot more in just a little bit of time.
After leaving the Fountain Men I headed up under the power line to the creek. There are some deep holes all the way up along the creek here at Oshaukuta. Many are six feet deep or perhaps deeper. Undercut banks, brush, sandy bottoms, muddy bends. “The Whole Nine Yards!” I crossed the drainage ditch, climbed the berm left behind when the neighbor used a drag line to ditch the marsh decades ago and headed for the first deep hole.
I attached a Mepps squirrel-tail spinner and readied myself for the first cast into the creek in years. I ordinarily just live along the creek and hike up next to it. I am not much of a trout angler. Brush, ticks, skeets and tall grass pretty much keep me away from the creek most of the time. I tossed that little Mepps out over the creek and lost sight of it just long enough for it to land in the marsh grass on the opposite side. It was hung up there very tight. I tugged and pulled and after a time just gave up and pulled straight back and snapped the line. The Mepps is still in the marsh grass up the creek. Tomorrow I will hike up the other side and get it back.
I tied on another Mepps with a lighter colored squirrel tail and underhand tossed that one toward the deep hole. My “Serena Williams underhand cast” was off target and suddenly I had that one hung up in a choke-cherry tree that grows out from the bank up there. Two casts and two lost lures. The second one is lost forever for when I snapped off the line the lure let go of it’s hard grip on the tree and plopped down into the water. The last view I had of it was it twirling toward the bottom of the stream and into the sediment below.
I quickly said a few “Oh Wells” and tied on a different type of lure. This one was more like a Little Cleo in silver with red trim. I left that hole not willing to lose three lures there and headed farther upstream. There is a great hole on the west end of a small oak island and I thought that would be a great place for a huge trout to be lying in wait of a late-afternoon meal. This time it was an overhand cast upstream. Once again I was hung up in the marsh grass. This time, however I was able to coax the lure out of the grass and it splashed down into the stream. I started reeling so as to catch up to the lure as it quickly would have been wiggling back and forth downstream. When my line tightened up I gave it another turn and “Bingo”, a large fish struck it. I set the hook and a great battle between predator and prey ensued. At first I thought I had one of the ‘snakey”, hammer-handle northern pike that live up this way but the fish made a sideways run and I could see that it was a brown trout -- and a nice one. The fish battled it’s best but was no match for my Pflueger President Combo and after a few moments I had the fish next to the streambank. I had no net with me and no fishing pliers. I got the fish off the hook, snapped a picture of it in the grass below me and slipped it back into the water. It swam off.
I moved quite a way upstream and tossed that third lure upstream again. I quickly reeled up the slack. About three or four reel turns into the retrieve something huge hit that Little Cleo. Its head shook a few times then headed for the surface and instantly shed itself of that Little Cleol. It was a short battle won by the prey and not the predator. I reeled in then sent a second cast upstream. Nothing hit but as I retrieved the lure a huge trout followed the lure as it made its way under me. That fish was a leviathan for a stream this size.
My father fished this stream every year when he lived at the Game Farm. Each year he would catch at least one monster Rocky Run trout that would measure 24 inches or longer. His longest was 26 inches. He returned them all. After he retired to northern Wisconsin he and my mother would stay in their little Shasta trailer parked on the streambank here at my house. He would wander upstream from time to time and continued his yearly streak of catching at least one trout two feet long or longer.
I doubt if the fish I saw today was any of the fish he caught unless trout live to be 20 years old or more. Rocky Run is a special kind of stream. On our property it runs deep and cold. There is lots of cover and lots of feed for them.
To the best of my recollection the largest trout I have ever caught in a stream was 19” so the 18” beast I caught today probably ties for second place all-time. There is a lot of water to be fished here at Oshaukuta. I have self-quarantined myself here so you can be assured that I will be heading back to the stream bank a lot in the coming weeks. For the past 40 years the Poynette softball program has limited my time on the water or in the water. Sometimes a fella just has to roll with the punches and take what life hands his way.
Four Sundays ago I had an outdoor adventure unlike any I had ever had before. I joined up with John Lamb of Reel Magic Fishing Adventures and my friend T-T-T-Teddy on a trip up the Wisconsin River where we fished right below the Kilbourn Dam. There were a lot of boats filled with fishermen that day. We double-anchored just offshore next to the restaurant there and wetted our lines for a couple of hours. It was a good trip but we didn’t catch many fish. I caught a 14 ⅞ inch sauger and Teddy caught one walleye that was too big but yet not big enough. There is a slot when fishing for walleye on that stretch of the Wisconsin River. To keep a walleye or sauger the fish must be a minimum of 15 inches and not longer than 20 inches. Teddy’s walleye was 20 and half inches so he had to return it to the depths below us just like I did with my sauger that was an eighth of an inch shy of the legal limit. I’m not sure which is worse if one is looking for that day’s dinner.
The Reel Magic Fishing Adventures Guide however knew what he was doing. He got us positioned below that dam just a bit to the upstream side of where he knew the most fish would be lurking. There was another guide’s boat with a customer fishing in the “reel honeyhole” and our guide anchored us just a bit off to the upstream side of Fish Bones Guide Service. They were catching a lot of fish over there. Our guide was a sneaky guide on that day and probably thought that Teddy or I wouldn’t be able to figure out what he had done to me. Afterall, Teddy and I were just friends in his boat and not paying customers. Instead of anchoring the stern of the boat on the dam side of the hole he anchored his stern first then positioned the boat with the bow pointed upriver and told me “Now!” I dropped the second anchor and that boat was positioned perfectly for the guide to be able to fish that honey hole while Teddy was just on the outer edge of it and I had to fish off the front of the boat where there were not any fish.
The guide probably knew that I could care less if I got skunked or catch fish. Catching fish is great. For me however, just being out there gives me a chance to sit in front of this computer monitor and watch all these letters form words so that you can read about my trips.
Now, if I can just remember to hike back up on the north of the creek and retrieve that Mepps squirrel tail.
Until I get back up the creek - that’s it for this episode.
Have a great day and be safe and be healthy. Take Care of yourself and everyone near you.
Another Note: There are more than 200 of my outdoor essays on my website at oshaukutaoutdoors.wordpress.com, Oshaukuta is a Ho-Chunk term that means “A Good Place to Spear.” The Ho-Chunk had an annual gathering in what is now my yard between my house and Rocky Run Creek. The spring sucker run fills the stream with fish. The Native Americans camped in what is my yard and speared suckers here.