Fly Fishing Freedom in the WI Driftless – March 16, 2013

  • Stream Location: WI Driftless
  • Air Temperature: 37 °F
  • Water Temperature: 41 °F
  • Other Conditions: Sunny, hint of snow, little wind
  • Distance Hiked: 4.75 miles
  • What Worked Best: Dead drifting and working larva/pupa patterns



Remember at the end of the movie Braveheart when William Wallace yelled “Freedommmm!” just before he took his last breath?  His entire fight throughout the movie was to protect their freedom.  Similarly in the trout fishing world, freedom is not guaranteed.  Many high quality sections of rivers out east or out west are locked down.  They’re bought up by individuals and groups who restrict any access or who charge a pretty penny for a few hours of fly fishing.  It’s hard to get the sense of freedom in areas like that.  Then we enter the Wisconsin Driftless Area.


The Wisconsin DNR has done a tremendous job throughout the years to gain easements on many streams which open them up to the public.  Honestly, it’s hard to find a stream that’s kept private.  If you do find a section that is private, land owners are normally more than happy to grant you access if you ask because they know that fly fishers care for the land as if it were their own; we leave it better than we found it – that’s just an unwritten law in fly fishing.  This therefore allows anglers to experience the ultimate fly fishing freedom.  It gives you so many options to choose from.  Pick any day of the year and you can find a good trout stream without another angler on it if you choose.  This is a freedom that maybe sometimes us Driftless fly fishers take for granted at times, but it is certainly unique to our area and something that we are very fortunate to have.  We owe a lot for the work the WI DNR and Trout Unlimited has done and will continue to do, in making the Driftless Area a world-class trout fishery.


So with that being said, on March 16 we chose one of our favorite streams in the Wisconsin Driftless Area.  Upon arrival, the air temperature was 37° and water temperature was 41°.  I started the day off with the Black Magic Stonefly, thinking that more stoneflies would be seen today as in recent outings past.  I covered a bit upstream, then retreated and continued downstream.


This stream is normally a big time producer; its ability to naturally produce trout is enormous.  However as I continued downstream working the Black Magic Stonefly I didn’t realize any hits and only saw one trout swipe at it.  I stuck with this fly for a little while longer but noticed that there was very little hatch action occurring; only seeing a few midges but absolutely no little black stoneflies.  Possibly this watershed doesn’t produce this stonefly that I was trying to imitate.  So I sat down on the bank and reconfigured the game plan going forward.


I tied on a Coulee Creeper, a Spirit Streams Flies pattern.  This fly can imitate a larva, pupa, or emerger, depending upon how you choose to work it.  It’s very versatile, which is what we look for in a fly.  Our mantra around here is this: Tying flies that trout devour, not the ones that sit in museums.  In other words, we tie for effectiveness and productivity, not to try to precisely match every minute detail of the insect we are targeting.  Attacking fly tying in this manner has proven time and time again to be extremely productive.


After working the Coulee Creeper in a few holes, I had a confident strike and slowly worked him in.  The next couple holes proved to hold trout as well; hauling in a few more.  The Coulee Creeper was just what the trout ordered today.


I continued downstream and covered a lot of ground today; exploring sections that I hadn’t in years past and discovering more solid trout holes.  Today was a good day and the Coulee Creeper proved yet again why it’s toward the top of our list during the early season.


– Spirit Streams – Follow us on Facebook



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2 Responses to Fly Fishing Freedom in the WI Driftless – March 16, 2013

  1. Spirit Streams:
    Enjoy your recent posts. You have been out fishing a lot. Good stuff. Like the Brown trout close up head shot partially submerged in “Freedom” post. You are lucky to have so much public water. Also enjoyed “Home Pools” post and video of trout rising on windy day. You are on face book. I’ll have to sign up to check it out and participate. Chuckled at snap of styro night crawler box!

    • Spirit Streams says:

      Robert, Thanks for the feedback. We’ll definitely have to get connected on Facebook! I couldn’t resist on the old crawler box! You’re continuing to do good things at Trout on Dries; landed some nice trout on your most recent outing. Keep up the good work.

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