Saturday was a solo outing with one thing on my mind…caddis. The forecast was very sunny and in the high 70’s. I made a later than usual arrival since I had dry fly fishing on the mind and didn’t have any obligation to head home afterwards. I was staying the night at my parents place further north since we were having family over for Mother’s Day brunch. I one up’ed my brother and got her flowers in a vase AND made my lemon zest pancakes. Oh yeah…fishing.
The morning began with a Driftless Right of Passage…a cow chase that has you lose your shit and scramble like hell!!! This cow eyed me up from 150 ft away with only a small feeder creek between us. I was quite aware of the potential threat but was so close to a fence, I felt my Spidey like senses would easily suspect a premature threat and I’d be on my way after hooking a trout in this bridge pool which treated me well on an earlier outing with Anthony. Suffice to say…my Spidey sense failed me. The cow trotted towards the creek at a quick pace. I reeled up as quickly as I could, there was no time to secure the fly as I legged it to my car and proceeded to hook myself.
I drove to the next access point and approached a familiar pool on my knees straight into a pile of fresh cow shit, even though there was no livestock in sight. This usually wouldn’t be a problem but I still didn’t have waders on b/c I knew I wasn’t doing any stream crossing the first few holes. Murphy’s Law soon came into full effect as I walked fishless back to my car while reviewing a landscape shot I’d took and veered into marshy territory and face planted in muck.
I changed creeks eager to see bugs popping, seeing as though it was sunny, warm, and approaching 11:00am. To my dismay, there were no caddis to be seen despite the presence of riffles, rocks, warm sun, and the usual surroundings. My brain then began to formulate plan C…new water. After I parked at my new destination and walked upstream, I was taken aback by what I saw…at least 16 fish stacked in a pool that were 14″-16″. Clouds then appeared out of nowhere, followed by a very, very light rain. I swung a large streamer their way and on my 2nd swing I was into a big fish. A large silhouette near the surface and two head shakes later, it was over. Suddenly, the bugs modestly made their presence known and I saw a few rises. I quickly launched a caddis into the pool, only to have a large brown wolf it and instantly snap my 5x tippet. I ended up getting the runt of the liter on a streamer and made a mental note of this pool stacked with biggins.
My final destination was also new water and it was one of the most beautiful stretches of water I’ve seen in the Driftless. As I drank it in, there it was…rising fish in a pool 2oo ft downstream. It was just around 4pm when the sun came back in full force and the caddis hatch exploded where I was. Boils, airborne fish, and the sound of bugs being slurped were quickly processed in my brain and the result was pure joy. I started getting whacks, bringing every 3rd fish to hand while soaking in the beautiful surroundings of this new stretch of water which just shot to the top of my favorite Driftless spots.
This day was very special. It started off with every little thing going wrong and it ended up being a pure fly fishing experience. Exploring new water, finding large fish to target at a later date, and finding a great hatch on new waters in a picturesque setting with complete solitude. This was a very special type of happiness that only discovery and success bring, which is one of many priceless fishing moments we all love to feel.