Is there anything worse than watching a basketball game where dubious officiating changes the course of the contest through the time honored tradition of the make-up call? Most of the time this curious act takes a bad situation and makes it worse. For those of us that prefer the comfort of a cold stream to a cushy couch, the NBA playoffs are in full frenzy while thousands of miles of Driftless trout streams that are hotter than a firecracker.
It’s not unusual for many of us after a tough day of fishing to leave the stream with a sour taste in our mouths. Upon returning from my mediocre outing on Black Earth Creek I exclaimed to my wife that I wanted a “do-over.” It’s not that I didn’t catch any fish, on the contrary I had a solid morning catching a decent number of average-sized browns. The highlight being a precocious little pre-dawn brown inhaling my topwater mouse like a kid at a candy store. But for whatever reason, I left the stream unsatisfied with what I had accomplished.
One of the things that I’ve come to appreciate in fly fishing is that failure is a necessary component of any angling experience. While we’d all like to pretend that we catch massive numbers or big fish all the time that just isn’t the case for most of us. Failure is what drives us back to the water. Failure for me is like an itch that I cannot scratch. The minute I get in my car to head home I am already thinking about what I would have done differently and where I will go for my next outing.
Upon arrival back to the Twin Cities my mind was racing to plot a course on the more familiar waters of Western Wisconsin or Southeast Minnesota that I call home. I couldn’t wait to atone for my sins of Black Earth Creek. For better or worse, I made the Make Up Call.
What a difference a day makes. Last Friday morning I had a day for the Adrift “record books.” The strategy was two part. Get back on the saddle to hunt for some big browns and secondly to take Jack camping and fishing to find an easier stream than the weed choked difficulty that is Wauskesha County. The first part exceeded my wildest expectations and I’m chomping at the bit to share the story with my Adrift brethren. Unfortunately I cannot yet spin the yarn. I’ve had discussions over the last week with publications that may be interested in this exclusive content, so mums the word as it stands today. What I will tease is the final frame of the morning outing. Yep that’s the handle of my landing net buried in a tangled cluster F#*k of sticks. That’s the how the story ends, but how did it get there, and why was it there in the first place? Stay tuned to Adrift for the rest of the story.
Part two of this journey involves getting Jack on some fish. We opted to set up home base in Plum City, but not before a quick visit to our old stomping grounds on the Trimbelle River. Does anyone ever fish this river? I have yet to ever encounter another angler on the Trimbelle. My affinity for the red headed step child of Pierce county was cemented a few years back. I fought the crowds one morning on the mighty Rush, only to nab a few unremarkable specimens. A quick stop at the Trimbelle on the way home revealed the solid Mother’s Day caddis hatch that the Rush had failed to produce. A number of respectable browns were brought to hand and all was again right with the world. The reason we fished the Trimbelle on Friday was due to the abundance of easily accessible kid friendly fishing spots and easements only a stones throw from civilazation. One of our favorites is the Gas Lite Campground just south of Hwy. 10.
The Gas Lite isn’t the kind of place that any serious trout enthusiast would spend much time fishing other than working the deep pool under the County Road O bridge. But we don’t let those shortcomings deter us. On an average summer afternoon you will be sharing the grounds with the half dozen thirsty Harley riders milling around the outside bar. The well manicured stream slowly winds it way around the perimeter of the campground and boasts a small population of eager browns waiting to take a swing at your offering. I opted not to fish, as I was still stricken with a wicked case of malaria-like “trout fever” from my morning outing. My fly rod sat there staring at me like a evil temptress, but the singular goal was to get Jack a solo fish without assistance from the old man. Jack stepped into the batters box and put his PM spinner right on the money with his first cast. Sure enough a feisty brown did the signature 180 degree twist downstream to take aim at his lure. Unfortunately for Jack the streams of Pierce County were running muddy and the fish missed. Jack quickly yells, “Oh Dad I almost had one.” After a few errant casts and untangles we slowly worked our way upstream to a piece of faster water with a small undercut bank. After a few lessons in retrieval speed Jack had again put the spinner in harms way. Sure enough another brown snuck out from the bank and smashed his offering. For whatever reason Jack has regressed in the area of holding the fish, so for now I have him quickly hold the line up to document the beast before releasing it back to it’s lair.
After hitting the Trimbelle we headed westward to the cozy confines of the American Legion Park in Plum City. After putting up the tent we strolled down to the freshly minted HI section that I lovingly refer to as the 10th fairway. There’s no easier going section in all of Western Wisconsin. The creek was swollen with a perpetual flow of Nesquik like goodness. We decided to chill out in the park as opposed to venturing down into the pasture section due to the subpar water conditions.
After feasting on a round of brats and s’mores Jack requested we take a spin down to the stream in search of willing participants. The muddy water kept the trout at bay, though it was quickly dropping and we had hopes that the morning would bring a fresh start.
Waking up is hard to do if you’re a 5-year old who has stayed up past your bedtime. This was the view from our “front door.” It wasn’t difficult for me to get up as I was eager to see what the day had to offer.
Man vs Food? We moseyed on over to Molly’s On Main for breakfast, and it didn’t disappoint. You can’t complain with the “Wisconsin-sized” portions offered up in Plum City. For the record he made it about a third of the way through this monster pancake.
The pride and joy of Plum City is their trout pond, and for good reason, it makes the state fair trout pond look like a kiddie pool. I wonder how many people have attempted to sneak into the park to fish for these pellet-fed pets? I’m not sure who had more fun feeding the bruiser Rainbows and shooting GoPro footage, father or son? “Upper twenties” bows would exhibit Pirana like behavior to extract pellets directly from your hand. Just like wild fish, right?
Our stash of quarters ran dry and in turn so did our pellets, which forced us back to the task at hand. Plum Creek still hosted a sizable mud slick but had come down significantly. We snuck our way upstream in search of some chunky little Brookies. To my dismay the HI section was overrun with candy bar sized Browns. Not a single Brookie was had, bummer.
We hopped in the car and headed back to Minneapolis, where I found myself mentally and physically fatigued. It was a long 24+ hours of trouting. Many memories were made. Friday morning’s solo outing is one that will stick in my craw for some time, and I look forward to telling the story.
In this instance there is no question, the right call was… The Make Up Call.