S2:E38 One Fine Day on the Blue River

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The Wisconsin Driftless region is known for its small spring creeks and bucolic, dairy-cows-and-old-barns setting. Recently, we escaped from the Chicago ‘burbs for a day to fish one of those creeks called the Blue River, a small stream just west of Madison, Wisconsin. Technically, it was winter, but it felt like spring. The day couldn’t have been better, except, perhaps, for the overly friendly dairy cows. Click now to listen to “One Fine Day on the Blue River.”

Listen to our episode “One Fine Day on the Blue River”

Great Stuff from Our Listeners. At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” It’s the last portion of each episode, where Steve reads one of the comments from our listeners or readers. We enjoying hearing from you, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

Have you recently had a fine day on the river? What made it exceptional? Any funny moments? Please post your comments below!

Here are some other One Fine Day episodes that we’ve published:

    One Fine Day on Willow Creek

    One Fine Day on the Gardner River (Day 1)

    One Fine Day on the Gardner River (Day 2)

    One Fine Day on the Madison River

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My Love-Hate Relationship with January Fly Fishing

Baby, it’s cold outside!” This celebrated song title popped into my head when my podcast partner, Dave, texted me about fly fishing on a recent January day. For better or worse, I had work commitments that kept me from spending a few hours mid-day on the Blue River in Wisconsin.

The truth is, I have mixed feelings about fly fishing north of the Mason-Dixon line in January or even February. I’ve spent enough January days on the Madison and Gallatin Rivers in Montana to form an opinion.

What I Hate

Let’s get this side of the relationship out of the way. To be frank, I hate the cold, the ice, and the slow. Yes, the slow. I don’t mind snow. It often helps the fishing. But the slow is a different story.

First, what is there not to hate about the cold? I don’t mind mid-30s and above. But fly fishing ceases to be fun when the chill stings my fingers. Nimble fingers turn into fumble fingers. Tying a fly onto my tippet becomes nearly impossible. Any moisture at all makes it worse.

The ice is also a problem. It clings to the guides on my fly rod and seems to freeze (pun intended) my casts. Then there is the ice at the river’s edge. Do I walk on it or not? Even if it is solid, it can be slick.

Then there is the slow. The trout move and feed more slowly, so the action on most days is predictably slow. I’ve caught a few trout in January, but I have never even come close to a banner day.

What I Love

But lest I come across as a grumpy old man, I want to affirm what I love about fishing the northern rivers on January days. I love the solitude, the rhythm, and the moments of success.

What is there not to love about having the river all to yourself? I love solitude, and I don’t have to hike very far to find it on a typical January day. It’s usually as close as the river’s edge a few steps from my parking spot at a fishing access. I rarely encounter other fly fishers on a January day.

Then there is the rhythm of casting and mending and stripping line. It feels good to pick up on rod again after the holiday season and weeks without fly fishing. Even if the fishing is slow (see above), there is something hopeful about getting back into the rhythm of fly fishing. January will soon give way to February. Then February — the shortest month of the year — will give way to March and the glories of fly fishing in the spring.

Finally, there are occasional moments of success. Hooking into a nice rainbow makes my day. In July, landing only one rainbow may disappoint me. But in January, it makes me ecstatic.

A Final Thought

Occasionally, the Chinook winds along the eastern slopes of the Rockies will warm January temperatures into the 50s and 60s.

For the most part, though, the temperatures will rise at most to the mid or high 30s. I hate those kind of conditions for fly fishing. But my love of fly fishing usually trumps my desire to stay warm and comfortable. So I venture out into the cold. My fingers may get numb, but at least the hot chocolate in my thermos tastes better than ever.

S2 E9 When Your Fly Fishing Trip Is a Dud

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You plan the fly fishing trip. You carve out the time. And you finally make it to the river. And then nothing goes right, especially when it comes to catching trout. Listen now to “When Your Fly Fishing Trip Is a Dud” as we regale you with some fun stories from a recent fly fishing trip.

Listen to our episode “When Your Fly Fishing Trip Is a Dud” now

At the end of each episode, we have a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

How have you made time to fly fish? If you don’t live nearby blue-ribbon trout streams, how often do you get out? How many days do you fish a year?

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Or you can simply subscribe to the RSS feed here:

Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

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That helps fellow fly fishers decide whether the podcast is a good fit for them.

Here’s hoping that your next fly fishing trip is better than our last!

S2:E1 What Makes for a Satisfying Day on the River

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A satisfying day on the river – what makes one fly fishing day better than another? In this first episode of Season 2, we narrate the key moments of a satisfying day on the river while fishing in the Minnesota Driftless. The amount of trout we caught was average, but the overall experience was one of the best in recent years. Listen to the first episode of our second season now!

Listen to S2:E1 What Makes a Satisfying Day on the River

For more information on Canfield Creek, visit the Forestville Mystery State Park web site.

We’d love to hear one of your stories about a satisfying day on the river.

At the end of each episode, we have a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience. Please add your ideas to the creative mix.

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.”

View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

Episode 45: The Joy of Fly Fishing with Hoppers

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There is no joy like the joy of fly fishing with hoppers. Period. It’s a little like learning how to play the guitar. Every newbie guitar player begins by learning how to play Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” And every aspiring fly fisher should begin by fly fishing with hoppers. It’s crazy fun. The flies are big and sit high on the water and are easy to cast. And when the trout are rockin’ grasshoppers, there is no greater thrill. Listen to Episode 45: The Joy of Fly Fishing with Hoppers now.

Listen to Episode 45: The Joy of Fly Fishing with Hoppers

We’ve recently introduced a feature to our podcast – “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” At the end of each episode, we read a few of the comments from the blog or from Facebook. We love the idea of adding your ideas to the creative mix.

Do you like fly fishing with hoppers? Any tips you can add to our podcast? Please post your ideas below.

Download a Podcast App on Your Smartphone

Be sure to subscribe to our podcast feed. You can do that on your smartphone or tablet by downloading a podcast app. The most common app used by 2 Guys feed subscribers is “Podcasts.”

View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

Episode 33: Fly Fishing the Wisconsin Driftless

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Fly fishing the Wisconsin Driftless should be on every fly fisher’s bucket list. We, fortunately, live only about four hours from some of America’s best spring creek fishing. In this podcast, we give insight on where to go and what to expect when fly fishing the Wisconsin Driftless.

Have You Fished the Driftless?

We’d love for you to post your advice for anyone who wants to fly fish the Wisconsin Driftless, especially any creeks you recommend. Seriously.

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6 Tips for Planning a Memorable Fly Fishing Trip

Many of us do not live within an hour of pristine trout waters. Steve and I live in the Chicago suburbs, and while the Driftless in southwestern Wisconsin and the streams of Michigan are in striking distance, we can’t simply hop in the truck for an afternoon of fly fishing and be back an hour after dark. We need to plan our trips and make the most of our time away from our families.

With some simple preparation and forethought, you can create a memorable fly fishing trip. Here are just six tips to make 2016 your best fly fishing year ever:

    1. Try some new waters.

    Steve and I often feel pressure to make the most of every moment on a trip. We often think “We have only a few days. We don’t want to waste an afternoon or evening trying something that is a long shot.”

    Last summer, we took an afternoon off from fishing our standbys (the Yellowstone in the Park, for example) and fished Fan Creek, which is also in Yellowstone National Park. We had heard of it before but had never took the time to fish it. This time we did.

    For the most part, it was a bust, if you measure success purely by the number you catch. I caught a couple smaller West Slope cutthroats (12 to 13 inches), but that was about it.

    Would we do it again? Absolutely. The stream was gorgeous, and we could have fished for days, jumping from run to run and losing ourselves in the back country of Yellowstone Park.

    We now have another place to go at another time. We will be back.

    2. Avoid the Two Worst Seasons.

    If you are fishing in the American West, and fishing the freestone rivers, you’ll want to keep in mind two seasons to avoid: Blown Out Season and the Tourist Season.

    The Blown Out Season runs from late April to July (or earlier or later). This is when the rivers swell and bloat from all the snow melt. You won’t want to risk the trip, unless you like worm fishing.

    Tourist Season runs from late July into the third week of August, some of the best days for hoppers. Steve and I often take a trip in mid August to the Bozeman, MT, area – we love floating the big bugs. But we never fish the Gallatin in July or early August. It is always elbow to elbow with fly fishers, all decked out with their latest gear and $1,000 fly rods purchased for the two or three days in Montana. And often the Lower Madison is too low (as well as packed with folks on float tubes, a whole ‘nuther kind of late summer “hatch”).

    3. Fish the Spawning Season.

    You’ll need to be extra careful catching and releasing the fish, but two great times in the West are spring rainbows before the rivers blow out and the big browns in October. There are no tourists, and hotel rates tend to be a bit less.

    4. Stay Long Enough for a Banner Day.

    Through the years, Steve and I have generally fished for three or four days at a shot. That’s a long time to be away from family, and since my wife and I hover over four kids, the trip puts stress on the family system.

    But we often find that one out of the three or four days ends up being a banner day – a 15 (or more) fish day. The other two or three days tend to be more typical – three or four, if that.

    5. Hire a Guide for One of the Days.

    Just budget it for it – and do it. You’ll improve your skills, perhaps discover new water, and look back at the day as one of the highlights of the trip.

    6. Build Flexibility into Your Plan.

    There’s is nothing like a best laid fly fishing plan that goes sideways with the weather. Especially if you are fishing in early spring or mid to late fall. If the river colors overnight or a foot of snow makes your 2-mile hike impossible or the wind gusts make all kind of casts an Olympic feat – you’ll want options.

    Several years ago, after a dump of overnight snow, Steve and I spent much of the next day hitting the coffee shops and restaurants, waiting for a break in the weather. We should have had another option – maybe a river 50 or more miles away, outside of the snow zone. Maybe have two options for each day on the trip.

There are a thousand other ideas for planning for a memorable fly fishing trip. What are yours?

Episode 16: Weathering the Weather on the River

A River Runs Through It

Weather on the river can be unpredictable. Now that’s a patently obvious statement. But it needs to be said. Some of the best days fly fishing are miserable (in terms of weather) for fly fishers. Listen to Episode 16: Weathering the Weather on the River.

Listen to our episode “Weathering the Weather on the River” now

At the end of each episode, we have a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

What unpredictable weather have you encounter through the years? Tell us about your worst weather on the river but best fishing day ever?

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Subscribe to 2 Guys and A River2 Guys and A River

View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

Rate the 2 Guys Podcast

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That helps fellow fly fishers decide whether the podcast is a good fit for them.

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for Android.

Wisconsin Urban Salmon

You fly fished for salmon where?” That’s a question an acquaintance asked me when I described my introduction to fly fishing for salmon in Wisconsin. A few months after moving from Montana to Illinois, my friend, Leon, took me to the Milwaukee River. It was a cool, damp day in October, and the King Salmon were moving into the river from Lake Michigan.

I brought a nine-foot, eight-weight Orvis rod, and I managed to land a couple of salmon which attacked my purple and pink woolly bugger. I also foul-hooked a couple of others. That was inevitable given the number of salmon moving up the river.

What struck me about the stretch of river we fished was its proximity to civilization.

We were fly fishing the Milwaukee River in Estabrook Park, a half mile east of a McDonald’s on East Capitol Drive in Milwaukee, just four miles north of downtown Milwaukee. It seemed odd to fly fish just minutes from the Bradley Center, home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. On a more macabre note, we were only five miles from the apartment complex where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered most of his victims. Then again, I’ve fly fished in Montana within sight of the spot where another serial killer murdered one of his victims. But that’s a story for another time.

Surprisingly, when I walked down the path from one of the parking lots in Estabrook Park to the Milwaukee River, it was if I had been transported to another world. Hardwood and softwood trees lined the river, their orange and yellow leaves fluttering in the breeze. When the morning fog lifted, the sun seemed to set them on fire. Other than an occasional siren, all I could hear was the sound of the river and the chirping of birds. Once I heard a dog bark. A few times, I heard Leon whoop when he hooked into a feisty salmon a few yards to my right. To be sure, the river did not run as clear as the Yellowstone in Montana. But I could easily see the pods of salmon darting their way up the river.

I’ve caught fish miles away from anywhere. But on this day, I caught fish blocks away from anything you might want — restaurants, a major university, a hospital, and even a professional sports venue and concert arena. No, it wasn’t the Yellowstone. But it didn’t need to be. Those urban salmon didn’t realize they were “city slickers.” They didn’t fight any more or less than the “rural” salmon I’ve hooked on the Wilson River in Alaska. Nor did they have more metropolitan tastes than the big browns on the Madison when it came to the flies I was using to catch them.

It was a good day on the river, and I had plenty of time to reflect on it as the rush-hour traffic slowed to a crawl when we drove out of downtown Milwaukee.

Episode 15: Gary Borger on Fly Fishing Spring Creeks

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Fly fishing spring creeks is not like fly fishing the big freestone rivers of the American West. In this episode, we interview fly fishing legend Gary Borger on fishing in the Upper Midwest and, specifically, how to fish spring creeks.

Listen to Gary Borger on Fly Fishing Spring Creeks now.

At the end of each episode, we often include a feature called “Great Stuff from Our Listeners.” We read a few of the comments from this blog or from our Facebook page. We enjoying hearing from our readers and listeners, and appreciate your advice, wisdom, and fly fishing experience.

What adjustments have you made when fly fishing spring creeks?

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View some of our most recent podcast episodes on iTunes or on Stitcher, if you have an Android.

Rate the 2 Guys Podcast

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That helps fellow fly fishers decide whether the podcast is a good fit for them.

Links Related to This Week’s Episode

    Gary Borger’s Web Site