Mother Nature has dealt us a couple of crazy hands in the past eight days. Coupled with record rainfall in the Madison, Cross Plains, and Black Earth areas last week of 10”-15” of rain depending on where you were at, creeks are flooded well beyond their normal levels. Last night and early this morning, the Viroqua and Westby areas got hammered with a similar rainfall. While the short-term outlook isn’t good, long-term it will flatten down the annoying bank grass, clear out some silt and in-stream weed growth, recharge the springs, and give us plenty of cool water to fish in once streams drop and clear.
On a safety note, please don’t go around barricades to get to the stream - these barricades are up because a bridge is washed out and/or the road is impassable. Please respect that! The stream is chocolate anyway, let the road crews do their work. No fish is worth jeopardizing your well-being or wrecking your vehicle for. Pay attention to the Doppler Radar to see where the least amount of rain fell, and fish in those areas if you need to get your fishing fix.
It’s the usual drill for fishing stained to muddy water-fish big dark nymphs, San Juan Worms, and big dark streamers. Fish each section of water slowly and thoroughly, and concentrate on fishing the slow-moving water next to the bank. Also, fish the pocket water stretches on the upper end of creeks because they tend to clear faster and will have more water in them now.
Once the creeks drop and clear, it’s hopper/dropper, tiny blue wing olive, and trico time again. Blue wing olives will hatch in the evenings and on overcast afternoons. Look for trico spinner falls to happen from early to mid-morning. Hopper/dropper and terrestrial action will be banker’s hours fishing-10:30 A.M.-5:30 ish P.M. Indicator and Euro nymphing will be good all day. Streamer action will be best early and late in the day.
On the smallmouth bass front, the Lower Wisconsin River has been fishing decent during this past warm spell, and as we get into September the big bass are puttin’ on the feed bag for winter creating some great fishing opportunities. Fish big Murdich Minnows, Mazo Minnows, and Clousers off the sandbar drop-offs, wing dams, sunken trees, and other fishy looking depressions and hang on. As the water cools down expect to see more activity from pike, walleye, and the occasional musky. Have some bigger pike flies and heavy fluorocarbon or wire to prevent bite offs from toothy critters. Though the river has been low lately, its levels are rising due to big rain up north so check the CFS flows on the USGS site at Muscoda, and the hydroelectric flow data from both the Kilbourn and Prairie du Sac dams before heading out. If wade fishing from shore and the flow is above 5,000 CFS or fishing in a canoe or kayak and the flow is above 10,000 CFS don’t go it’s not safe. Here’s your flow rate information sources: Alliant Energy Hydro Flow Hotline 1-800-242-1077 (updated at 6 A.M. every day), www.alliantenergy.com/hydroflowrates- Kilbourn and Prairie du Sac flow rates updated throughout the day, and waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/rt- USGS Streamflow Data for Wisconsin.
Dirty Water: San Juan Worm, Black Rubber Legs #8, Jon’s Cross Eyed Muddler Black, Rubber Leg Crystal Bugger Black #6-8, Leechinator #4.
Terrestrials: Morrish Hopper Green #14 and Tan #12, Dave’s Hopper #10-14, Bionic Ant, Two Tone Parachute Ant.
May Fly Dries: BW Baetis #20-24, Baetis Sparkle Dun #20-22, CDC Baetis Sparkle Dun #20, Chubby Trico #20-22.
Caddis Dries: Craig’s Spring Creek Caddis Tan #16, Elk Hair caddis Tan #16
Dry/Dropper: Parachute Madame X #12-14/Bead Head Pheasant Tail #18, Orange Stimulator/Flashback Pheasant Tail #18.
Nymphs: Craig’s Spring Creek Scud Tan or Gray, Pink Squirrel #12-14, Copper John Zebra, Copper John Chartreuse.
Streamers: Olive Rubber Leg Crystal Bugger #6-8, Leechinator #8, Woolly Bugger #6-10.
Murdich Minnow, Mazo Minnow, Murdich Slider, Clouser Minnow Chart/Yellow #2, UFM Baitfish Small, Umpqua Swimming Baitfish Shad.
Bill’s Figure 8 Sucker Olive/Chart and Black/Red, Darkes PMS Streamer Fire Tiger and Black/Pink.
Remember Wisconsin trout season is open until October 15. The next month and a half is one of the best times of the year to fish due cooler weather and water temperatures, bank grass smashed down by recent floods, Banker’s Hours fishing schedule and aggressive trout puttin’ on the feed bag in prep for winter. This is also a good time to catch big fish. If you’re from out of town, new to the area, or new to fly fishing now is a good time to book a guided fly fishing trip. Space is limited and fills up fast so call soon if you want to book a guide trip.