Fishing often becomes more challenging in the dog days of summer in Driftless Area streams.
The heat, and in some years shallow water depths, often make it necessary to hunt for the deeper holes and areas of streams where trees and other growth along the stream provide some shade.
This year, with the moist spring and early summer, depths on most streams are good. That’s a break for fishers who come from elsewhere in hopes of finding good fishing.
Terrestrials — flies that look like grasshoppers, crickets and other land loving insects — often work best in mid-summer. They mimic one of those critters who has fallen into the water, and trout love to surface to eat a treat.
Summer fishing is best from dawn into the early morning and late afternoons until dusk. Your shadows aren’t as likely to spook fishing during that time. The majority of the hatches also take place during those times.
The Driftless Angler, a great fly shop in Viroqua, says this about the insects during the summer days: “The major insect available in the summer time is the tiny olive (formerly Pseudocoleon) with some Cahills, Tan Caddis and Midges as well. Later on in the season, some Coulee region streams get a heavy hatch of Tricos; these tiny mayflies can provide some great fishing on summer mornings. Ants, beetles, crickets and hoppers are also very important and readily available sources of food in the summer, and can provide some excellent fishing even when trout do not seem to be interested in anything else.”
Two star streams in Vernon County — Timber Coulee and the West Fork — can be productive in summer. Trout often can be found tucked up against the higher banks and in shaded areas of Timber.
The authors of the second edition of Wisconsin Trout Streams write this about Timber: “Timber Coulee Creek might just be the crown jewel among Wisconsin spring creeks.”
After describing some of the management projects that have been dobe on the creek, Jeff Mayers, Steve Born, Andy Morton and Bill Sonzogni write: “No wonder Trout Unlimited named it one of the top 100 streams in the country.”
When you’re done fishing, try some of the pubs and restaurants in nearby Coon Valley. There also are places to stay near Timber, perhaps most notably Coulee Cabins right across the road from the stream.
The West Fork serves more or less as the “home field stream’ for this blogger. On its north ends, near Bloomingdale, you can find shadier areas that provide good summer fishing. Farther south, in the more popular areas of the stream near Avalanche, you can find some deeper holes.
After fishing the West Fork, you can go to Westby or La Farge to eat. There also is the Rockton Bar, a hangout for outdoors enthusiasts, not far away.
While Timber and the West Fork attract the most attention, and fishers, there are plentiful smaller streams in Vernon and Crawford counties. Matt at the Driftless Angler can help you with these, and even guide you for a fee.
Later in summer, and in September, when the temperatures start to cool down, fishing often picks up. Standing in a stream, surrounded by early autumn colors, and catching trout is an experience that can’t be beat.
For more information on the streams in Vernon and Crawford counties, go to http://www.driftlessangler.com. For the Wisconsin Trout Streams guidebook, which includes streams around the state, go to http://www.uwpress.wisc.edu.
Gregg Hoffmann is a semi-retired journalist and avid fly fisherman. He publishes www.driftlessimagesinpixelsandprose.com.