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Report at a Glance

General RegionWest Central Wisconsin
Specific LocationHwy 72
Time of Dayevening until dark
Fish Caught1 16" brownie

Details and Discussion

FreepowJuly 29th, 2007, 10:12 pm
menomonie, WI

Posts: 83
I am new to fly fishing this summer and have been religiously practicing and learning everything I can about technique and the science. I have been to the Rush River about 8 or so times since the end of June and have only caught one fish. The fish are rising and obviously feeding on something. I have thrown every fly I can find that resembles anything I find above the surface of the water. I have thrown small flies and large flies (sorry, I am still learning the fly names). I have thrown ants as well as a variety of caddis and mosquitos. I spent my life trout fishing in Michigan with light tackle and have had much success as a trout fisherman. However, my fly fishing skills are fresh and unrefined at this point making me frustrated. Is there something that I am missing about fly fishing that may have caused me to only catch one fish in all of these trips...or is it something about the Rush River? I can see fish...many of them...but they will not hit my fly. Any insights are greatly appreciated. Thanks to anyone who may read this.
"I fish...because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip..."
SmallstreamJuly 30th, 2007, 5:05 am
State College, PA

Posts: 103
you might want to experiment with a beadhead of some sort trailing off of the dry fly, it might increase your chances
MartinlfJuly 30th, 2007, 9:49 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3129
Freepow, first off a 16 inch brown is a very good start. You already have solid success. Next, your experiences sound just like mine when I first started fly fishing. In some instances and locations it simply takes time and lots of trial and error to figure out how to make it work. I don't know anything about Rush River. Is it heavily fished? If so, the fish may be very hard to take on a dry fly. You will need a perfect drift with no drag, and a fly that looks tasty to the fish. There's probably no one magic bullet fly, unless there is a hatch they are keying on. Get a small aquarium net and take samples. Study what you find in the film to see what might work. Also be sure your tippet is long enough and the proper size for the conditions. The quickest way to find answers to the necessary questions is to hire an experienced guide to give you a lesson where you fish and see how she or he solves the problems. Good instruction can take you to levels that might take years of trial and error. Finally, stay with it. You will begin to catch more fish in time, then lots of them, and at some point it will be hard to remember the last time you were skunked. Then you'll get skunked and start all over again, solving new questions.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
WbranchJuly 30th, 2007, 11:18 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2704

Check out this site as it is dedicated to flyfishing in WI. I think it even has info about the Rush River.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
Shawnny3July 30th, 2007, 2:30 pm
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
I might also add that this is a pretty tough time of year in many places to learn how to flyfish. If where you are is anything like where I am, the water is very low and warm and the fish are lethargic in their feeding and very spooky - not the most forgiving situation in which to land the inevitable sloppy cast on the water. If you know of any consistent hatches going on right now, go well prepared for them and fish only those times of day to keep your chances of success high. Also, fish in low water become much more active in low light - overcast days, early mornings, late evenings, and (if you know the water well and can wade it safely) night.

And, of course, don't get discouraged. Enjoy the learning process and treasure your successes. Getting professional help might be a way to get started quicker (in time you might find you need professional help of another kind), but there's also something romantic about learning on your own. Trout are painfully deliberate teachers, but that is part of what makes them so fascinating to learn from. If you were the sort who wanted a cheap thrill, after all, you'd be throwing worms to panfish.

You are in the first stages of flirting with the most complex and beautiful sport there is, and sometimes it is the things that are the most difficult to master that woo most powerfully. Don't expect to conquer her overnight, or even ever; instead, let her mystery enrapture you for a lifetime.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
KonchuJuly 30th, 2007, 3:10 pm
Site Editor

Posts: 498
Shawn, I think the last part of your recent post (You are in the first stages...of a lifetime.) on this thread could be in competition for Jason's quotable quotes list. Very beautiful, indeed.

Makes me want to get more serious about this sport.
Shawnny3August 1st, 2007, 6:04 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Thank you, Konchu. Sometimes I get a little overly romantic and philosophical, which is part of my nature. The risk is that, in a forum as informal as an online message board, it comes across as over-the-top and cheesy.

I'm glad you liked it.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
FreepowAugust 1st, 2007, 7:34 am
menomonie, WI

Posts: 83
Wow!!! Thanks for all of the great replies and encouragement. Luckily my frustration is only with seeing the fish in the water and not in my net. I am still very encouraged and motivated to get out and go to the river. I find myself noticing things that aid in my improvement every time I go out. I too am quite romantic about it...enjoying the fresh air, the quiet casting and the ever possible chance that I could land the biggest fish I have ever seen. I won't be turned off by my inexperience, it only drives me out more frequently.

I was standing in the river last night very quietly and had a nice brookie swimming within 2 or 3 feet of my legs, so I took the opportunity to watch him. I noticed he was quite slow and lethargic...but he was feeding off of the bottom. Thus far in my fly fishing trials I have stuck exclusively to dry flies at the surface but it might be time to modify my game and go down to the river bed. Perhaps that will help me to catch a few more fish.

Again, thanks for all of the comments...a new question a light tackle bait caster I was used to throwing down stream and pulling the lure back across stream to me...with fly fishing is it a more common practice to fish upstream? I have been doing this in order to put a more natural motion to the fly. It seems un-natural to be pulling a fly back upstream. I have noticed that casting upstream and then mending the line in order to control the placement seems to be a big I correct in my thoughts and assumptions.

Thanks all!!!
"I fish...because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip..."
WbranchAugust 4th, 2007, 10:43 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2704
Typically dry flies are fished "drag free". You usually don't want to impart any action to a dry fly. You'll see more flies floating along motionless than you will see flies skittering. Spinners should always be fished "drag free" as they are either dead od in their death throes.

Wet flies and nymphs can be fished many ways but many anglers cast across and let the current take the fly downstream. You mend to minimize drag then as the fly makes the swing below you you can retrieve with the "hand twist" motion or just strip it in in 3" pulls.

This is the simplistic explanation as their are many other philosophies.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
FreepowAugust 5th, 2007, 2:47 pm
menomonie, WI

Posts: 83
Thanks again. This message board is a really great place to bounce ideas and get tips. I certainly appreciate it.
"I fish...because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip..."
AftonAnglerAugust 6th, 2007, 7:05 am
Brule, WI

Posts: 49

I grew up on the Rush and have fished it through thick and thin...

It is a truly wonderful spring creek but with the amount of pressure it gets lately it is as you have found out super challenging. Some times more than others...

I'll give you a tidbit or two and you will discover more on your own and maybe you will share them with me or another angler someday. What goes around comes around.

The Rush in the summer is a far and fine stream. That is to say hike far and have a fine actually it means cast far and use a fine, wait it means stay far out of the water and you will be fine.

I jest a bit but actually all of these have merit and then some...

You have experience trout fishing as you have stated and you seem willing to experiment. The Rush will prepare you for many difficult situations on the trout streams all over the continent and then some if you can learn to consistently pull off summer catches.

You have picked a really tough time and a really tough creek to get you fly fishing feet soaked.

I generally will focus on fishing very tiny terrestrial patterns at this point in the season...meaning stuff in the #22-#28 range. Yes, #28's! And 8x tippet on 16' leaders. If they snub you go longer and smaller...

That is the game on this heavily pressured water. They get A TON of junk thrown at em starting in the early catch and release season and are wary by the May general opener. Those that make it past the opening weekend creel filling session are well on their way to PhD's!

Hike and hike some more to get away from the pressured spots. Get out your maps and find the feeder creeks and explore up those. Wet wade and learn where the cool springs seep in. Remember these spots.

Stalk like a cat from the bank and only get into the water if you have no other option. Watch a heron and you will begin to understand stealth. Sit and wait for 15 minutes or so in the shade after approaching a spot. Let it calm down. Walk softly and do not be afraid to use the opposite side of the creek to traverse. Sometime going against the crowd is the way.

Fish on the Rush know the game and are very intune with anglers approaching and fishing over them. Many have been caught and released many, many times. Get outside the box.

Wait for a rain and fish after. Do not be afraid of clouded up water...that is the time to catch a big, wary one if you know where one is at. Go low and slow with something big and black at times like that!

Been out for the Tricos? Hit a big flat above a long riffle at dawn and watch the area above the tail out or the head of the pool for a swarm of tiny diamonds in the sunlight...Trico swarms that will be around every morning until the frosts start in September.

Again...far and fine on these little black and whites...CDC spinners and the dry shake floatant and super long tippets that give alot of slack. Present downstream so the fish see the fly first. Learn to stack mend!

Oh boy there is so much in front of you...lots of adventure.

I could go on and on but these words have a great deal of merit.

Take the advise of Ross Mueller...always, always WATCH for big fish. I watch and study more than I actually fish. Study and make each of your casts count. That is the way of the Rush my friend.

Good Luck!
See you on the Water.

Brad Bohen

The Afton Angler
MartinlfAugust 6th, 2007, 7:50 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3129
Afton angler's comments are pearls of advice, as are Westbranch's. Some are applicable right now, such as aim at drag-free drifts, search out less pressured spots, and don't be afraid to fish when the water is cloudy. Some, such as use a very long leader may have to wait until your casting is ready for them. Cast the longest leader you can really control. If you end up losing control, go shorter and keep practicing your casting. Though I agree with Shawn that it's fun to solve problems on your own, I would again assert that good instruction can save much frustration.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
WiflyfisherAugust 6th, 2007, 8:05 am

Posts: 639
Hey, Brad lives! I thought he became the gremlin of the Bois Brule River! I hope all is well up yonder.
John S.
FreepowAugust 6th, 2007, 8:18 am
menomonie, WI

Posts: 83
I am so glad you said everything you did about the Rush AFtonAngler...I was starting to wonder if I was just really missing the point about something related to technique or river intelligence. I am beginning to figure out a couple of the things you said. Last night, for the 11th (3rd this week) time this summer, I went to the Rush for the evening fish and this time I walked way upstream away from the access point. I, up until this point had caught one fish all year, finally found some luck and caught 2 nice 12 inch brownies!! Success..albeit brief. Everything you said is exactly what I was doing...1) go way upstream, 2) stay out of the water, 3)use a long leader (I am finally getting to the point where I am becoming comfortable with my tailing loops, etc)...the leader was about 10ft. including my tippet extension, 4) find a pool at the end of a section of faster waters. It was great. It was sort of the culmination of all of my efforts so far this summer. I won't claim to have graduated or anything yet...I know I am far from it. I sort of feel like I have completed my first entry level fishing 101. I really needed to catch those fish too...I was beginning to get quite frustrated. So, reinvigorated and excited, I look for my next opportunity to get out and stretch my legs and get my feet wet (oh, wait, stay out of the water!!). I really enjoy the posts, so thanks again to everyone and lets continue to conversation. Should I be looking at nymphing at this point or should I just continue to refine the skills that I am beginning to get comfortable with?
"I fish...because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip..."
MartinlfAugust 6th, 2007, 8:48 am
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3129
Brad is probably the one to answer that question, but congratulations on your success!
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
AftonAnglerAugust 6th, 2007, 12:23 pm
Brule, WI

Posts: 49 always feels good to "graduate"! Buy yerself a beer over at the El Paso Bar and bask in the accomplishment. Say Howdy to Huggy for me too if you get there (he's the big cat that owns the place). My place is the first spot downstream from town...was the local funky dude living down by the river in a trailer for many a season before I moved upnorth.

You are entering a new plateau so to speak with your neverending quest at becomming a proficient practioner of the art we so dearly love. Skills can be developed quickly but must be honed before attempting to go beyond our comfort level as the very wise Louis points out...

Practice, practice, practice and then do it some more grasshopper! Then learn it all with your left (or off hand if you are a southpaw).

Practice good form always and your casting will grow with your experience. Strive to make smooth deliveries with a minimum of overhead motion. Watch experienced anglers and learn from them. Just staying back and watching another angler work a section of water is always an eye opener - sometimes of what to do and usually of what not to do...

Nymphs are next yes, but the darker arts take time to master and are not always everyones bag of tea. Fish how you enjoy fishing and do explore other methods. Learn to be opportunistic in the driftless during these final two months.

Realize that the browns and brookies will begin to migrate to fall positions soon and will be goverened more and more by the urge to reproduce. Think headwaters.

As always with the waning of the season landbased food(crickets, ants, beetles, hoppers and such) will take on a much more prominent role as the hatches ebb...but there are always the little bluewing olive mayflies and craneflies.

Snails and scuds are big hits in the tailout of the dog daze as are minnow patterns.

If I were you I would begin to get familiar with a few good little bucktail streamer patterns like the colorful Mickey Finn and the great little Black Nose Dace and for sure the Pass Lake. The art of swimming a minnow pattern is a good one to have in the quiver come autumn.

In the low and clear Rush and other limestoners all over your streamers should be tied sparse and no need to be overly large. 2" and under is good. A properly done low water dressing can be cast and worked over spooky fish without freaking everyone out.

Get ahold of a great little text by Jock Scott that goes by the title "Greased Line Fishing for salmon(and steelhead)". The lessons in this treasure cross over very well to the limestone angler.

Also look into fishing soft hackles and wet flies - again very sparsely dressed and finely presented. Syl Nemes has written extensively as has Dave Hughes. Greased line and soft hackle go hand in hand. Together they are deadly on low water late season fish.

The fishing can become really extraordinary in the final week of the season. It is too bad we do not get to enjoy the first part of October as that is in my opinion the crown jewel of seasons in that neck of the woods.
See you on the Water.

Brad Bohen

The Afton Angler
AftonAnglerAugust 6th, 2007, 12:31 pm
Brule, WI

Posts: 49
Oh, hey John

Yes I live! Been busy with the caretaking and of course angling a great deal. Good to hear from you...

Life and fishing is grand up here in the northwoods. Got a BIG muskie on Friday the 13th down on our favorite river. That was really cool...had been hunting her for three seasons and finally made it all come together. Very rewarding. It was a 30# class fish and I used an old fiberglass Fenwick and Pfluger Medalist. FUN!

Starting to see some lakeruns now here and have been stalking a few really great resident fish that are giving me a tough time. I live in true trout wonderland and this watershed is hurting from the drought but still kicks out great conditions and the fish are in fine shape...

Rain would be very nice!

See you on the Water.

Brad Bohen

The Afton Angler
WiflyfisherAugust 6th, 2007, 1:29 pm

Posts: 639
We need rain just below ya too!! Some spots on my favorite Midwest troutstream are lower than I can remember in past years. Yet, farther downstream the river looks pretty good still. At least we don't have the fires I saw out West this year.
John S.
TroutnutAugust 8th, 2007, 3:13 pm
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2707
I don't know anything about Rush River. Is it heavily fished? If so, the fish may be very hard to take on a dry fly.

Although I've only fished the Rush once and only visited Big Spring Creek in PA once when it was blown out, from what I've seen and heard I would guess that you PA guys could get a pretty accurate picture of the Rush by thinking of Big Spring with a few more trees along the bank.

Brad -- nice to see you again on the site! Let me know if you get tired of the Brule (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha) and/or feel the urge to catch some big grayling. :)
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
FreepowAugust 9th, 2007, 8:19 pm
menomonie, WI

Posts: 83
Is anyone a member of the Ellsworth Rod and Gun club? Can you give me information about becoming a member? I am looking to meet some fellow outdoorspeople and figure this would be a great way to do it. Any info would be great.
"I fish...because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip..."

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