Ever since we heard Jen Ripple of Dun Magazine talk at the Guadalupe TU TroutFest about the “Driftless” area of southwest Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa, we’ve been looking forward to fishing this unique landscape.  Glacial movements missed this section of the midwest leaving a beautiful area behind with numerous drainages holding small streams with trout everywhere.  Our first stop was the West Fork of the Kickapoo River near Viroqua, WI which bills itself as “trout central”.

Jen had mentioned we should stop in at the Driftless Angler in Viroqua and say “hi” to Mat and Geri, the co-owners, so we did just that on our first day in Viroqua.  Mat shared some local flies and flavor and we were off to our campground at the Westfork Sportsmans Club.

The next day, we met our guide, Pete Cozad at the shop and headed out to the river.  We didn’t head to the section of the West Fork that runs through the campground, but took a different turn and headed further upstream.  We hiked down a bit, crossed over a large metal gate and landed squarely in a field of cattle grazing.  Skirting our way around the cattle, we made our way to the stream and began fishing.

After fishing a few sections of the river, landing some really beautiful brownies, we headed back to the campground for our “Guide Talk”.  As you watch, you’ll notice Pete’s dog, Teak, patiently watching us, waiting for Pete to throw the frisbee again.  While Teak waited, we had a great conversation with Pete, talking about the fishery, his efforts to get kids involved in fly fishing and a great “one fly” tournament he holds annually.  We hope you listen in to Pete’s “guide talk” and learn more about fishing in the “Driftless”.

 

The Bois Brule River is rich with history, having had 4 United States presidents come to fish its waters.   An outstanding article, Brule: A River of Presidents, was written about the river and its history by Judy Nugget for Lake-Link.

For our trip down the Brule, we took the “classic float” in a canoe with Carl Haensel of Namebini.  Carl has been guiding on the Brule longer than anyone and his knowledge of its history and geology made our trip so memorable.  We floated down sections of the river that resembled a small spring creek and then we’d be in a large lake before heading down a rapids section of whitewater.  The changes in the river were a part of its character and added to its mystery.  As we floated by the Cedar Island Estate, one could imagine all the titans of industry and other luminaries who’d visited here and fished these waters.  As we moved downstream of the estate, it seemed around each bend in the river, a boathouse would appear, with a rich history all its own.

Carl was an excellent guide and his “Guide Talk” revealed his passion for this fishery and area.  This is his home water and it shows in his ongoing conservation work on the river.  Carl is very active in making sure the Brule stays a top trout stream and remains as it has been for decades.

The Yellowstone River is the last major undammed river in the lower 48 states.  It flows for 671 miles from just outside Yellowstone National Park until it empties into the Missouri River in North Dakota.  We’ve fished the Yellowstone numerous times both inside and outside the park.  The three sections outside the park we’ve fished are from Gardiner down to Yankee Jim Canyon, the Paradise Valley section and the section below Livingston.  All of the sections offer great fishing and while similar, offer a bit different fishing experience.

For our “official River Ramble” guide trip on the river, we fished with Jeff Pavlovich, guide and owner of Flies Only Fishing.   We actually had a connection to Jeff via our daughter Krista who had worked in Yellowstone National Park with Jeff’s wife, Chris.

We met Jeff in the Albertson’s parking lot in Livingston, not really knowing which section we were headed to fish.  It turned out a mud plug had come out of the Lamar River in the park that muddied the section below Livingston, so Jeff decided we’d head up toward Gardiner and fish the section down to Yankee Jim Canyon.

When we put in, Jeff had a yellow bodied “Chernobyl” dry fly on my line and a brown bodied one on Barb’s.  These dry flies are mainly a couple of pieces of foam tied together with a little foam topper to help you see the fly;  nothing fancy at all.  About an hour into our trip, I’d been catching fish at a ratio of about 5:1 to what Barb was catching, so, Jeff put Barb on with a yellow bodied fly and BOOM, she was catching fish, too!

We had a great stream side lunch and when we went back to fishing, Jeff tied on flies exactly as we’d started the day… Barb with a brown bodied Chernobyl and me with a yellow bodied one.  Of course, Barb started catching fish right and left with the brown Chernobyl and after she’d caught about 4 fish to my none, Jeff pulled over and tied a brown onto my line… POOF… I was catching fish too.

The funniest part of the day occurred when we’d caught so many cutty’s with our brown Chernobyls Jeff decided we needed fresh flies and tied on yellow Chernobyls.  Immediately, we stopped catching fish… so…. Jeff asked us to give him back our torn up, ragged, brown Chernobyls and he tied them back on.  BAM… we were catching fish again.  At the end of the trip, after these brown flies had caught dozens of fish, Jeff gave them to us as a memento of our trip…. especially given that he couldn’t possibly tie them onto another clients line.  However, he did make a stop at the Angler’s West fly shop to buy some new brown Chernobyls.

We had an epic day on the Yellowstone with Jeff and really enjoyed our Guide Talk with him.  We hope you do too!

We’ve spent a lot of time in the Jackson Hole area over the years, visiting Krista (daughter) and Chris (son-in-law) who worked at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park as well as at the Jackson Hole ski resort.   One of Chris and Krista’s friends who worked with them was Tim Smith.  Chris and Tim actually worked together at Snake River Angler and of course, Tim was at Chris and Krista’s wedding at the lodge.

We have fished with Tim on the Snake River before, so when we were planning our “River Ramble” trip, we called Tim to take us on a river he’d been wanting to show us for some time…. the South Fork of the Snake.  Tim guides out of the Lodge at Palisades Creek, a gorgeous fly fishing lodge property in Irwin, ID.  We headed out for the river, not really knowing what to expect.

When we arrived at the river, we were awestruck.  It was absolutely gorgeous.   Our trip involved first class fly fishing, of course, but also included incredible canyons, eagles everywhere and geologic features that were amazing, including “the air conditioner”.   We caught both Snake River and Yellowstone cutthroats, rainbows, cut bows and more.  It was an amazing day on the South Fork and our guide talk with Tim, conducted on the river in the “air conditioner” was so special.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed our day with Tim.

Boots Allen is a legend in guiding circles, not just in the greater Jackson Hole area but around the globe.  When we called Snake River Angler to book a guide for our trip on the Green River near Pinedale, WY, we asked for Boots and were so excited when he was available for our trip.  Boots is a third generation guide and his knowledge of not just the Green, but all of the internationally renowned rivers in the area is second to none.

We met him bright and early at Hoback Junction and headed for our put in at Warren Bridge.  We had a great day on the water with Boots and got some beautiful fish.   His “Guide Talk” is not to be missed.  Enjoy!

The Green River is over 700 miles long, originating in the Wind River mountains of Wyoming.  It flows through Wyoming and Utah before joining the Colorado River for about 40 miles in Western Colorado.  There are two sections of the Green in the TU Top 100 Trout Streams book.

The Flaming Gorge section is in northeastern Utah, specifically flowing out of Flaming Gorge Dam near Dutch John, UT, is the section we floated with Ryan Dangerfield of the Flaming Gorge Resort.  We stayed at the RV park connected to the Resort so our commute to meet Ryan and head to our put in was easy.

The Green below the dam is broken up for fishing purposes into 3 sections, A, B and C.  Ryan decided we’d do a “mix”, the second half of the “A” section and the first half of the “B” section.  What this meant was that we put in at the beginning of the “A” section and then rowed downstream, not fishing, until we made the midway point of “A”.  This way, we didn’t bother those people who were fishing ONLY the “A” section.  Clear as mud?  As it turned out, we avoided both a muddy river (red creek was blown out and muddying the Green) and a downpour in “A” because of Ryan’s decision to do the “AB” option.

We caught beautiful, strong rainbows and browns on dry flies all day and enjoyed the great scenery of the Flaming Gorge area.  We also had a great interview with Ryan in a “Carpool Karaoke” kind of way on our drive out.  We hope you enjoy it!

When we booked our guide trip on the Animas River (see Animas Antics) with the good folks at Duranglers in Durango (CO), I asked them about other fishing opportunities in the area we might want to try.  We always ask the fly shops this question in case there is a “nunya” creek that is fishing hot, or a special, scenic river nearby.  In this case, the shop said “You’ve gotta ride the train up toward Silverton and get off along the way to fish one of the remote mountain streams.”  Well…. it sounded like a pretty good plan so we called the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (DSNGR) company and booked a couple of tickets.   We told them we wanted to fish one of the creeks along the way, so we needed to be dropped off.  The shop recommended Cascade Creek in Cascade Canyon so that’s what we booked.

The day arrived and we made it to the station on time to catch our 8:45 train and off we went.  The “Cascade Canyon Caper” video really tells the rest.  We hope you enjoy it!

When we checked into the Duranglers fly shop in Durango (CO), we asked about our guide, the kind of boat we’d be floating and what section of the river we’d likely float. We also asked if our guide was “fun”.  We’ve discovered that we really enjoy having the “fun” guides on our trips.  Sure we love to catch fish… a lot of fish when we can… but it’s about so much more than that.

We were a bit surprised and excited when we were told our guide’s nickname was “Crazy Mike”.   “Crazy” can have so many meanings….. crazy fun…. crazy river running…. crazy insane…. etc….  The next morning, we met “Crazy Mike” Sulkosky at the shop and immediately started appreciating his brand of “crazy”.

We had a blast!  Mike navigated all the boulder fields we encountered and made it look easy, although we know it’s not.  We also caught some good fish along the way.  But most importantly, we had an incredibly fun day on the water with Mike.

We’ll definitely be back to fish with Mike again, but until then, we hope you enjoy our “Guide Talk” with this incredible, thoughtful, talented and “FUN” guide, “Crazy Mike”.

PS   You’ll also hear why he’s called “Crazy Mike”… priceless!

When we were planning our 2017 “Ramble” dates, we purposefully wanted to be in the Roaring Fork valley for the 4th of July. We’d heard of incredible fishing in both the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan rivers, as well as incredible fireworks in towns all along the valley.

We arrived in the valley on July 3rd and setup the SaraLinda at the Gateway RV Park in Carbondale (CO).   The RV park is set right on the Roaring Fork and the Rio Grande “hike and bike” trail that connects Glenwood Springs with Aspen.  We learned that there was a “fire ban” in effect for the area and all fireworks displays were cancelled except for Glenwood Springs.

About a month before arriving in the valley, we’d contacted Frying Pan Anglers (FPA), a fly shop in Basalt (CO), and asked about booking a guide trip on the Roaring Fork for July 4th.  I’d asked, “do you have guides who go out on the 4th”, to which the shop guy said “the fish don’t care it’s the 4th of July”.  DUH!   We laughed and booked the trip.

At 8am on the 4th of July, we met our guide, Ed Deison, at the shop and headed off to fish the Roaring Fork.  When we got to the boat ramp, it was clear this was going to be a VERY busy day on the river.  There were already 3 drift boats in the water at the dock waiting to start their trip and another 4 rafts ready to enjoy a pleasure float down the river.  In the parking lot, the boats and rafts just kept coming, lining up, awaiting their turn to put in.   It was going to be a bit crowded on the river it seemed.

Undaunted, Ed pushed us off and floated down a bit to rig up our rods, away from the craziness of the boat ramp at Carbondale.   We met another FPA guide, Dillon, who turned out to be from Austin (TX) and had gone to Lake Travis HS and Texas A&M on a baseball scholarship.  Small world!

After we’d rigged up, we started down the river and began what would become an “epic” day of hooking and landing really big, beautiful brown and rainbow trout.   We started by throwing dry flies toward the banks, bringing these  hungry trout to the surface to hit our flies.  When that slowed a bit, we went to nymphing for them and things heated up even more.

We always like to take at least one picture of a fish we’ve caught on a particular river, so when we caught a nice brownie early on, Ed wanted to make sure we got that one pic, so he pulled the boat over for the photo op.  While we don’t count the number of fish we catch on days like this, it was a lot.  When we’d catch an even bigger fish, Ed would pull over and get another pic for us.  While we were landing what was our biggest fish of the day, Ed took a pic with his phone for the shop blog.  When Dillon pulled up, his client had landed an even bigger brown trout.  It was that kind of day.  Lots and lots of big fish.

When we finally arrived at our take out spot in Glenwood Springs, it was insanity.  The boat ramp was so busy with everyone  either taking out, or putting in, or getting ready for the fireworks that were happening that night at the park.  For us, our fireworks had already happened on an “epic” fishing day on the Roaring Fork.

The Frying Pan River flows into the Roaring Fork River near the town of Basalt, CO, the home of Frying Pan Anglers (FPA).  We had an epic float fishing trip down the Roaring Fork with Ed Deison, senior guide at FPA, but, more on that in another post.  The prime fishing on the “Pan” as its known in the area, is the tailwater section below Ruedi Reservoir.

We had the pleasure of fishing the “Pan” with Eric Way, a guide with FPA who specializes in wade trips on the river.  We met Eric at the fly shop and headed up river to fish.  We grabbed a pullout along the river that was empty and made our way down to the water.  Almost immediately, Eric saw a big rainbow hiding behind a large rock submerged below the water.  The rainbow would slide out into the current to feed before sliding back in behind the rock.  He rigged up a two fly nymph rig and told me to “go for it”.  In about 4 drifts by the rock, it was “FISH ON”!  What an incredible start to a great day fishing on the Frying Pan.

We had a chance to sit down with Eric during a lunch break along the river and interview him.

Eric is a very fun guy and is a great guide as well.  We talked fishing, fly tying (he’s an expert in an English form of tying), beer, food and more.  We know you’ll enjoy his “guide talk” with us.

Ramble On