September annually provides a last chance at good fishing for the season in Driftless Area streams.
As the temperatures start to drop, the water cools from the summer peaks and the trout become more active again.
Vernon County offers the two heavyweights in the area in Timber Coulee and the West Fork, but there are other, small streams that often are fished less in the Fall.
Coon Creek, Bishops, Camp are just some of those in Vernon County. The surface weeds often have died off, providing easier access to fish than in summer.
Crawford County has some beautiful streams to fish in the Fall. Trout Creek can live up to its name on any given day.
Others include Plum, Sugar, Pine, Copper and Knapp. Fishers and environmentalists have fought to keep Copper a good fishing stream. They battled against a commercial well that was proposed in the area.
You do have to make some adjustments to catch trout in the Fall. Terrestrials, such as ants, grasshoppers and crickets, will still work, as they do in late summer.
Insect hatches start winding down, but olives and other surface flies still work at times. Patterns that mimic crayfish and other bottom creatures also can be effective.
The trout start migrating in Fall. Brown trout begin upstream movements into smaller tributary streams to seek spawning habitat, :so there’s an opportunity to catch trophy fish that have spent the summer hiding in deep-water pools and under logjams and are now congregating in smaller tributary streams,” says Mike Miller, a DNR stream ecologist and avid trout angler.
This fisher had a great Fall experience a couple years ago that demonstrates what Miller is saying. While fishing in the West Fork on the last day of September, and that fishing season, I caught a fish in a pool that was about 15 yards wide and maybe 25 yards long.
As I was releasing him, I looked down into the crystal clear water to see about six fish race by my boots. At first I thought they were suckers, since they often hang in groups and move in unison. But, then a group of 8-10 raced by, and this time I could see they were trout, even was able to distinguish between browns and a few brook trout who displayed their reddish bellies as they raced by.
Then, came another group of 8-10, then more and more and more. The exodus lasted for what I would estimate as 2-4 minutes and included dozens of trout, all racing upstream in a frantic manner. I watched in amazement.
I saw nothing that could have scared that many trout into fleeing upstream. A friend/mentor said I might have witnessed a spawning run, which trout some times do almost like the better known runs of salmon. Whatever caused it, I felt privileged to have witnessed it.
You likely will not have this type of experience when fishing in the Fall. But, you can take in some of the colorful beauty of the Driftless Area and catch some trout. So, if you can’t get out before the end of this season, mark your calendar for Fall of next year.
Gregg Hoffmann, a semi-retired, award-winning journalist, writes the Wet A Fly: In The Driftless Area blog for his web site, www.driftlessimagesinpixelsandprose.com. He has written blogs for Driftless Wisconsin on fly fishing and golf this season.