A couple days ago I wrapped up what was most certainly one of the better fishing weekends of my fly fishing career. I’m lucky to not only have wonderful in-laws, but also have wonderful in-laws who live smack in the heart of some of the best small trout waters in the state. So I’ve got prime, free lodging (and often a built-in babysitter as well!).
Grant Co. Explore-a-thon
I’ve fished a number of rivers and streams in Grant County already, but have made it a goal to explore more if I can. So, on Saturday, I headed out with that goal in mind. It was an overcast day with a good chance of rain in the forecast (luckily that rain held off). It was a bit breezy, but certainly not awful.
The Grant River
I’ve fished the Little Grant River a number of times, but decided to finally head out to the Grant River to try for trout. I’ve heard that this is also a good smallmouth river further downstream, but I have yet to try and personally confirm or disprove that statement.
I hit a spot just downstream of where Borah Creek and Rogers Branch combine to create the Grant River. Somehow, I had misread the clock when I got up and was actually on the water an hour earlier than I realized I was (a bit after 6 a.m.). I was mystified when I got back to my car and realized it was later than I thought. Not sure how that happened, but it worked out well.
After fishing for around an hour, I had caught 8 brown trout. A couple of them were around 13″ with a couple others around 11-12″. Not monsters by any stretch, but certainly nice trout for the small waters of S/W Wisconsin. All fish were caught on a “Golden Scud” pattern that I tie with fur from one of my golden retrievers. I think I’ll do a video on that one. Tan or gold scuds have been dynamite for me in Grant Co. over the years.
I returned to my in-laws to see if my eldest son wanted to join me for some fishing. Apparently watching Scooby-Doo with his grandparents was more to his liking, so I headed back to the road. I drove past a number of streams marked as trout water in the regulations book, but none had any public access… Except for this spot on the Little Platte River. I didn’t feel like wading through a herd of cattle, so I decided to move on.
Big Spring Branch
After meandering my way to Platteville, I headed north and ended up at Big Spring Branch, a tributary to the Blue River. I didn’t stick around at this spot for long. The creek was small and beautiful with easy public access, but it was totally crystal clear and the fish were incredibly spooky. I wasn’t in a very stealthy mood, so I decided to head to water where I could be a bit more of a lumbering klutz as better fits my fishing style.
Castle Rock Creek
Fennimore Fork is better known as Castle Rock Creek. Well, at least that’s how I’ve always heard it referred to. Castle Rock Creek is just northeast of the town that shares its proper name (Fennimore). Castle Rock is where I caught the largest trout of my Wisconsin fly fishing career (only larger was in my sole trip to Montana). It was a modest 17″ brown. Certainly a nice fish for a Wisconsin spring creek, but quite a bit shy of the 20″ mark which seems to be the unofficial mark of a true trophy. Unlike Big Spring Branch, this stretch of Castle Rock is a bit cloudy with a murky-green hue shared by a number of other streams in this area. In fact, the Big Green and Little Green Rivers are probably named based on their tint.
I fished a spot that I had not fished prior to this trip, and though it was a bit slow at first, I ultimately ended up landing about 15 browns. The first I caught was a nice 13″ fish shown in the picture to the right.
After a late lunch, I headed over to a somewhat familiar spot on Rogers Branch (the tributary to the Grant River I mentioned earlier). This is a spot I had fished at least once before with decent success. Today’s outing proved far more fruitful than I would’ve guessed. I managed to catch around 20 trout – mostly on the aforementioned Golden Scud, but also a few on a marabou leech. None of the fish here were huge, but they were certainly pretty, healthy fish.
One neat feature of Rogers Branch is the now-defunct fish rearing station adjacent to the stream. The fence is now rusted, the shed is worn and faded, and the pool is overgrown with algae, but a spring still runs from the spot and it makes an interesting historic marker, if nothing else.
Back to the Grant River
I had intended to call it a day after I wrapped up at Rogers Branch. Catching around 40 trout is a blockbuster day for me, and I was certainly content with a great day. However, my son decided that he (finally) wanted to go fishing. So, after supper we headed back to the spot where I started the day.
My son is six and has shown interest in fishing, but tends to lose interest after approximately 3.2 seconds actually on the water. So, we paired the trip with a little sight-seeing, as the stretch of river we fished was part of an easement on farm land. We looked on as cows grazed and my son cowered in fear as they mooed.
We managed to get three little browns during our short trip. And my son, who was fearless about holding fish last year, suddenly was concerned about their sliminess and had no interest in holding one so I could take a picture. Time to toughen that boy up…