Report by: Craig Amacker
Though the heat of summer is upon us, there are still plenty of fly fishing opportunities to be had in southern Wisconsin due to cooler than average evening temperatures and lots of rain to keep the stream levels up. With folks heading up north and to the Rockies for vacation this also means the trout streams are less crowded and you’ll have more water to yourself. The caveat is that you’ll need to change your tactics to be successful. For starters, fish early morning-mid morning or in the evening because fish will be more active in low light hours and water temperatures will be cooler than mid-day.
Craig’s Tip #1: Fish early in the day because the streams have had all night to cool down which means more active trout, then quit mid-day. A thermometer is a must have to find water temperatures in the upper 50’s-lower 60’s-give the fish a rest if stream temps are over 65 degrees. The streams also have more in-stream weed growth now making them harder to indicator nymph fish.
Craig’s Tip #2: Fish a dry fly/dropper combination in weedy conditions. A foam beetle, cricket, or small hopper pattern with 18” of 5X fluorocarbon tippet tied to the hook bend and a size 16-18 bead head nymph will do the trick. You can easily fish this rig in the pockets of the weeds and in the riffle pockets-covers surface and subsurface simultaneously.
The prevailing hatches will blue wing olives(#20-24), midges(early A.M. and evening), some evening caddis, a few wayward sulfurs, and terrestrials. Ants and beetles have been blowing into the streams for a couple months, but we’re seeing more crickets and small hoppers(#14 green). Terrestrials will be the main mid-day game because best conditions are when it’s warm, sunny, and windy causing land born insects to be blown into the water and eaten by trout.
We’re still battling high water on the smallmouth bass front but if you find clear water in the southwest Wisconsin smallmouth streams, and keep your eye on the flows on the Lower Wisconsin River there’re still good fishing opportunities albeit more condensed. Just like trout fishing in southwest Wisconsin, watch the Doppler to see where it rained the hardest and avoid that area-smallmouth streams have lower gradient so they take longer to clear than the trout streams.
In case you missed it last time, here’s the flow hotline for the Lower Wisconsin River: (800)242-1077. If you’re fishing from a canoe or kayak don’t go out if flows are over 10,000 cfs-park and wade fishing spots are too restricted and it’s too dangerous. Poppers and baitfish imitations are best on the LWR, the latter plus crayfish imitations are best in the southwest smallmouth streams.
Craig’s Tip #3: Smallmouth bite best when it’s hot-wet wading and fishing mid-river makes this a pleasant experience.
Anybody who’s traveling to the Rockies, Alaska, Canada, or Northern Wisconsin/Minnesota, Fontana Sports has the terminal tackle, rods and reels, waders, clothing, and first-hand expert advice to get you outfitted for your journey.
Dries: May Flies- Baetis Sparkle Dun #20-22, Baetis Para Emerger #22-24, BW Baetis #22-24, Parachute Adams #20-22, Sulfur Sparkle Dun #18.
Caddis: Elk Hair Caddis #16-18 Tan, X-Caddis #18 Tan, Iris caddis #17 Tan
Midges: Griffith’s Gnat #20-22, Sproat Midge #22 Black/#24 Cream
Terrestrials: Lawson Foam Beetle #16, Loco Beetle, Bionic Ant #16, 2-Tone Parachute Ant, Baby Boy Cricket #14-16, Morrish Hopper #14 Green, Dave’s Hopper #14
Dry/Dropper: Hippie Stomper Black/orange w/ Copper John Red #16-18, Morrish Hopper Black #14 w/Bead Head Pheasant Tail #18, Baby Boy Hopper #14 Olive w/ Hot Belly Pheasant tail #16
Nymphs: Craig’s Spring Creek Scud Tan, Improved Pheasant Tail, Titan Tube Midge
Streamers: Dirty Hippie, Leechinator #4-8, Bead Head Woolly Bugger #6-10
Smallmouth Bass: Lower Wisconsin River-Murdich Minnow, Murdich Slider, UFM Baitfish Shad, Bass Popper White and Mr. Minnow.
Southwest Wisconsin Streams - Tequeely, Mini Murdich Minnow, Clouser Minnow Chart/Yellow #2, Bass Buster Bugger, Bass Popper Chartreuse/Froggy Bottom.
Panfish: Craig’s Bluegill Buster Chartreuse/Black/White #12, Micro Popper Chart/Yellow/White