We’ve gotten an early taste of Fall weather in Southern Wisconsin recently and it’s putting the fishing into high gear! Fish of all species are puttin’ on the feed bag in preparation for the upcoming winter and spawning season (brown trout, brook trout, salmon, and lake-run browns). The questions on a given day are what fish species you want to catch on what technique and do you want to fish big water or smaller streams.
The Driftless Area’s spring creeks are in great shape right now with good water levels and cool temperatures (55-58 degree water temp on average). Though hatches are fewer, we still have good technical dry fly fishing available. Tricos will hatch in the morning (8 AM-10:30AM) – look for clouds of trico spinners in the air that are falling down to the water. A size 20-22 trico spinner pattern does the trick. Blue wing olives will be hatching on overcast afternoons, and in the evening – fly sizes have been ranging from size 18-24. For those who want to experience no nonsense dry fly fishing with savage strikes, take advantage of the “Hoppertunity” – fish have been eating hoppers from 11:30AM-5PM depending on the day (some days it starts up around 1:30PM). The best approach for fishing hoppers is to have a foam hopper pattern with a small bead head nymph hanging 18” below it; this way you can catch fish throughout the entire afternoon rather than waiting for fish to start crushing hoppers. For those of you who like to fish down and dirty, nymph and streamer fishing has been fantastic – Fall is the best time to fish streamers for big browns as they’re puttin’ on the feed bag and becoming territorial in preparation for spawning.
On the warm water front, fishing is getting more interesting by the day – Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass are fatting up for winter; Pike, Musky, and Walleye are getting into their element with the cooler water temperatures and taking flies aggressively. For the Bass, use baitfish patterns and Clouser Minnows; use the same for the Wisconsin River walleye. For Pike and Musky use big baitfish patterns (6-10” long) with a wide profile and lots of flash and be sure to have wire or heavy fluorocarbon on the end of your leader. On the lower Wisconsin River, fish structure (wood and rock) around the deep holes and trenches for a variety of species; Pike and Musky like to hang out where cold water streams flow into the river so concentrate toothy fish efforts there. The Madison lakes are starting to cool down and weeds will be dying back. Hit the pockets in the weed beds for Bass and Pike and focus on the weed lines for big Pike and Musky. Rock points and drop offs will fish well for Smallmouth Bass and Walleye. Don’t forget about panfish – they gotta eat too, and can be big in the Fall. When fishing the Madison Lakes by canoe, kayak, or SUP be sure to stick to the small sheltered bays for safety and don’t go out when it’s too windy. Also, warm water species require bigger fly rods – #7, 8, 9, or even a 10 weight and sinking lines – if you don’t own any, we sell them in the shop.
On the Lake Michigan tributaries, we should start seeing early runs of chinook salmon in the next couple weeks. Big bright streamers and egg patterns will get these fish to reflexively strike and grab a fly.
Terrestrials: Morish Hopper Tan #12, Thunder Thighs Hopper Pink #12, Dave’s Hopper #10-12, Point Guard Hopper, Bionic Ant, Hi-Viz Foam Beetle.
Morning Dries: Poly wing Trico #22, Chubby Trico #20-22, Sproat Midge #2 Gray
Cloud Afternoon/Evening Dries: Baetis Sparkle Dun #18-22, Parachute Adams #20-22, Craig’s Spring creek caddis Tan #16, X-Caddis Tan #16-18, Griffith’s Gnat #20-22.
Dry/dropper: Thunder Thighs Hopper/Copper John #16-18 Red
Nymphs: Craig’s Spring Creek Scud Tan and Gray#12, Improved Pheasant Tail, Copper John Chartreuse, Hunchback Scud tan/pink,
Streamers: Fishstress Sculpin #6, Rubber Leg Crystal Bugger Black and Olive #6-8
Smallmouth Bass: Clouser Deep Minnow #2 Chart/Yellow and Chart/White, Murdich Mini Minnow, UFM Baitfish Olive/White, Umpqua Bass Popper(warm days shallow water).
Walleye and Deep Areas: Clouser Deep Minnow #2, Rubber Leg Crystal Bugger Black #6, Tequeely.
Pike/Musky: Bill’s Figure 8 Sucker Olive/White and Olive/Chart/Orange; PMS Streamer Black/Pink, Black/Orange, and Fire Tiger.
Panfish: Craig’s Bluegill Buster Chart/Black/White, Micro Popper Chart and White (warm days)
Lake Michigan Tributaries: Sheboygan Bunny White and Purple/Pink, Nikita’s Nemesis, Glo Bug Chartreuse and Orange.
Wednesday, September 20th 6:00PM - 7:30PM | Westside Location Only!
If fly fishing for peacock bass is on your bucket list, this is a must attend event. I went on this trip back in March and can personally vouch for the quality of the fishery, the accommodations, the lodge staff, guides, and safety.