I woke up Saturday morning with the Dane County weed filled outing fresh in my mind, though the thought of scouting new subpar trout water also floated in my head like a mild hangover. I scoured Waukesha County last year in search of the trout that few deem worthy of pursuit, and I was dead set on looking for round two. On some levels it may have not been the wisest decision to bring a 5-year old into such bizarre hobbies, but it was father’s day weekend and Jack is always up for an adventure. Our first stop on the 2012 Tour de Waukesha put us at two access points on Pebble Creek, which has been stocked with browns for a number of years. The creek wore a thick layer of weeds like a new mink coat. Are f-ing kidding me, more weeds I thought to myself. I had fished this stream last year with some level of success, but in this state it was no place for a round of kid fishing. Time to move on to plan B.
The second stop was easily accessible brook trout water that also wore a blanket of weeds, but had enough relief that I deemed it worthy of further investigation. I was armed with a 4-weight fly rod rigged with a Tungsten Twizzler and Jack with his infamous #2 Panther Martin spinner. I realized pretty quickly that this little gem was a bit on the technical side for Jack’s skill set. His first cast successfully landed in an opening, but there was little room to run a spinner before fouling the hook in the stream borne salad. The second cast shot off the rod like a bullet straight into the tree on the opposite side of the creek. I suggested we set his rod down and let dad have a few drifts before we spoiled the spot.
There’s no question that this was the brand of tight and technical fly fishing that most won’t even bother undertaking. A close quarters dapping/highsticking approach was necessary to hit the tiny spots. Like clockwork a beautiful dark-colored brookie darted out an inhaled my offering. I was immediately struck with the spunk that these little fish possessed. I barely snapped this pic before the beast weaseled out of my grip. After another drift or two a more substantial fish grabbed my offering only to come unbuttoned.
After seeing my success with the long rod Jack insisted that he give it a go. I tried my best to walk him through the process, but this was no place for a beginner. It just wasn’t a good spot for the father and son tag team approach. Before boredom fully set in I suggested we begin the search for a good stick. Such games have been a staple in my kid fishing approach. Let’s face it no matter how good the fishing is there’s always down time. Throwing rocks, collecting sticks, discussing what flavor of frozen custard we’re going to get is all part of the fun. Yes, frozen custard! Hey Milwaukee, what’s the deal with frozen custard anyway?
These were average fish on a less than average stream with one important distinction. This was essentially suburban Milwaukee, no long drives or road trips required. This was the kind of coldwater neighborhood fishing that I’ve come to appreciate. It requires an adjustment to your “rewards system” as I’ve previously mentioned. You have to take the water at face value and appreciate what it offers you. It was fairly challenging to put the fly in a position to be successful, and that game was enough to keep me pushing forward, if it wasn’t for my willful wingman. Would it be that much more enjoyable if the water quality was better and held big fish? Perhaps, but that just wasn’t the case. Jack and I spooked a few 10″ caliber fish but were unable to hook any “monsters.”
Jack’s five year old brain begin to tire of the tall weeds and frustration set in with his inability to catch fish, so we opted to wander back to the car and hightailed it to the nearest custard stand for a tall round of vanilla malts.
We decided to get our malts to go and run down to Paradise Springs to allow Jack to fire off some casts at the highly pressured stockers in the trout pond. One of the coolest things we saw in the parking lot was a preteen boy suiting up in his full neoprene bootfoot waders, vest, trout net and cheap fly rod, clearly right off the shelf from the nearest Gander Mountain. Mom and dad were dressed in typical tourist attire that immediately told me they had no intention of fishing, but were merely there to support their child’s new found interest. The anticipation was just oozing from the kid’s face. I wanted to walk over and suggest to them that there was much better destinations than Paradise Springs to hone your craft. But that wasn’t the point, and I kept my hardcore trout attitude in check. Ultimately Jack and I never even paid the $10 fee to enter the park we just milled around the measly trout stream and checked out the pioneer cabin.
Some people may ask why I occasionally fish such shitty trout water. To put it plainly, my answer is the same as the legendary explorer George Mallory when he was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. Because it’s there.