Driftless Trout Anglers

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9/10 - Gordon Creek - Part Deux Options
William Schlafer
#1 Posted : Saturday, September 10, 2011 11:27:42 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 7/25/2011
Posts: 1,170
Location: Sussex Wisconsin
Just got back from Gordon Creek after a little two day (almost) end of the season fishing trip. The weather was perfect. The fishing, decent, but not as good as last time.



Started off the trip on Friday exploring the area of Gordon Creek downstream from the habitat improvement area. This is a beautiful stream with trout seemingly behind every rock and under every weedbed. The water was gin clear and cold. The fish spooked easily and stealthy approaches we're the order of the day. There didn't seem to be a morning hatch that I could detect, so I switched to a foam hopper after seeing dozens of Grass Hoppers diving into the stream. I caught four in the 10-11 inch range in short order.





I nearly caught my best trout of the year. A big 18" Brown hammered a San Juan worm I worked under a log. After a struggle, I got him to the bank. But the moment the net touched him, he went into a splashing frenzy. And in a heartbeat... he was gone. Damn. That one would have made my day, and year. Went back to that spot several times throughout the day, but he wasn't interested in a second chance. Oh well, everybody needs a good fishing story I guess.

By mid-day, the Grass Hoppers we're still committing Harri-Kari diving headlong into the stream. But the trout seemed to lose interest. I decided to go check into my motel, get a bite to eat and then headed over to Trout Creek, just down the road, north of Barneveld.

Trout Creek is a beautiful stream with excellent trout habitat. It has a nice gravel driveway to the public access area with parking next to the stream, which is much appreciated. I hate leaving the car along the side of the road, or parked at a steep angle on slippery grass.


However, excellent trout habitat also makes it extremely difficult to fish. The creek is very narrow (3-4 feet on average) and surprisingly deep in sections. Fishing the bank is impossible due to the overgrowth and very high and steep banks. Just finding a spot to enter and exit the stream is a challenge. Casting is difficult due to the overgrowth. Most of the steam was filled with Watercress, which meant short casts to small openings and tricky wading. I was only able to work a section about 100 yards upstream from the entry point. This was one of the few fishable spots with enough open water.


After a couple of close calls getting my feet stuck in soft sand/mud. I decided it was getting late, and the effort wasn't worth it. So I called it a day. I did catch one small Brownie. But also managed to accidentally dump several Pink Squirrels out of my fly box and into the drink. Drat! I'll return to Trout Creek in the spring when the weeds are a little more manageable.

This morning (Saturday) I got up at dawn and headed back to Gordon Creek to explore some sections of class 2 water further downstream. The Gordon has a nice mix of fast water, deep pools and runs and winding bends with undercut banks.


Once again, no apparent action on the surface for the first hour or so. But as the sun came up, so did the Grass Hoppers and the trout started feeding with a frenzy. Caught several more like this guy.


What I like best about Gordon Creek is that although there are weeds throughout the meadow in the valley, it is very walkable and there are few obstructions along the creek. Numerous entry points at stream level make it easy to get in and out of the creek safely.




On the way back to the car, I ran into this fella:


The picture doesn't do him justice. He was the size of golf ball! Woot

Due to time constraints, this will likely be my last fishing trip of the season. For my second year with the fly rod, I think I've done OK. My ratio of caught fish to misses is down to about one-to-one, which is a big improvement from last year. All told, I believe I caught about 50 trout this year, over about a dozen trips to the Driftless Area. Steams fished include: Willow Creek, Black Earth Creek, Big Green River, West Fork of the Kickapoo, Trout Creek, Gordon Creek, Castle Rock Creek, Plum Creek, and the Pine River.

Thanks again for all the advice and tips I've gotten from reading the Forum. It's really helped my game. Going to spend the winter months reading books about matching the hatch, fishing technique and researching new creeks and streams for next season.


-Bill

"No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up." -- Lily Tomlin
NG_Trout
#2 Posted : Saturday, September 10, 2011 11:44:03 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 4/1/2010
Posts: 394
Location: New Glarus
Looks like you had a great time. Nice photos, glad to see someone else enjoying Gordon Creek. It really is miles of fishable trout stream with a ton of public access. I'm hoping to hit it tomorrow morning.
- Hope is not a strategy
William Schlafer
#3 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 12:01:43 AM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 7/25/2011
Posts: 1,170
Location: Sussex Wisconsin
I was first on the water this morning and had my choice of spots. But by the time I left around 11:00AM, there must have been about a dozen people queued up between the two bridges on Sandy Rock Road. Before I drove back to Milwaukee, I checked out a couple bridges further downstream on CTY A and Hwy 78 - but no one was there. From what I'm told, the downstream sections are tougher to fish and not as Trout friendly.

The guys I talked to on the upper section were complaining that the Trout weren't surfacing for dry flies. But I caught several (and missed at least that many) on Hoppers. I also did well yesterday with terrestrials (Ant patterns and San Juan Worms).

For fun, I tried tossing a Mouse pattern after dark. Got a couple of looks, but no takes. It was fun to throw that big furry thing tho.

-Bill
"No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up." -- Lily Tomlin
flyfishingfreak
#4 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 2:19:20 AM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 8/20/2010
Posts: 526
Location: madison, wi
I also like Gordon creek, tons of fish in there! I don't fish it enough.
hambone870
#5 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 3:57:27 AM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 2/4/2011
Posts: 217
Location: il wi border
great reports on gordon, makes me wanna give it a harder look...
Mark Dahlquist
#6 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 1:50:54 PM
Rank: Administration


Joined: 2/27/2010
Posts: 4,467
Location: Minnesota
Fantastic report, thanks for sharing. It is really nice looking water. So Gordon Creek is obviously spring fed, I'm sure it will always have a healthy population of browns. Seems like there are plenty in there. Not a low numbers stream or anything, right? Side question to the board: Does a low numbers stream generally equate to larger fish? Or not necessarily?

Quote:
I nearly caught my best trout of the year. A big 18" Brown hammered a San Juan worm I worked under a log. After a struggle, I got him to the bank. But the moment the net touched him, he went into a splashing frenzy. And in a heartbeat... he was gone. Damn. That one would have made my day, and year. Went back to that spot several times throughout the day, but he wasn't interested in a second chance. Oh well, everybody needs a good fishing story I guess.


Often the net can really cause the trout to freak. Always try to get them head first. Don't try to net if the fish is still green, wear him out a bit first. If the banks are not steep I think sometimes it is a safer bet to beach the fish.

Oh BTW I love those garden spiders. I saw some last summer but yet to see one this year.


Catch and release into hot grease.
inland sweep
#7 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 7:20:28 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 5/15/2010
Posts: 519
Location: Arena, WI
Higher numbers stream is Gordon a pretty long stream as well. Some of the stream tribs are good also! There are some really nice browns and bows in that creek as well just gotta fish during low night, no light or a rainy day.
William Schlafer
#8 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 10:39:36 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 7/25/2011
Posts: 1,170
Location: Sussex Wisconsin
Both times I fished the Gordon this year it was sunny and the stream was running very clear. While it looks great and makes it easy to see structure and holes, the fish mostly stayed hidden. Any shadow on the water or small footfall sent them scampering away. Low profile and stealthy approaches paid benefits. My strategy was to walk the creek and find the good holes - and then creep back to those spots 20-30 minutes later, paying close attention to my profile and the sun angle.

During my August trip to the Gordon, the action picked up as the sun got lower in the sky. Last weekend, I didn't see any increase in fish activity up to and after sunset - which is what other people I spoke to that day reported. Not entirely sure why. Conditions were otherwise perfect. As mentioned, cloudy or rainy days might be the ticket to catching the bigger fish here.

-Bill
"No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up." -- Lily Tomlin
NG_Trout
#9 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 11:32:24 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 4/1/2010
Posts: 394
Location: New Glarus
I did make it out to Gordon today after an impulsive stop at the West Branch of the Sugar River this morning. (I had great luck there in the past but nothing today.) Tried a new stretch to me, bridge on East Sand Rock Road. Got on the water around 10:00 I think. Water was gin clear again, and the sun was high so I figured this would be mostly a scouting trip. This stream just continues to please. This stretch had pool after pool after riffle stretch, etc. Fish were skittish again as usual with this sun. Tons of fingerlings would go zooming in every direction with each step. Deeper sections there were larger fish doing the same thing. I actually had my best luck wading rather than walking along shore. I tried to keep a low profile but it was no use. The trick when wading was the 100 yard cast to the area of the stream that I hadn't spooked :) (distance exaggerated). Nothing humongous this outing, a dozen or so in the 8-12" range. Forgot the camera though so no pictures.

On my drive out I saw two families fishing at various stretches. First was a father and son, both fly fishing. Second one was mom, dad, and all the kids (at least 3). They looked to have spinning and closed faced reels. Very cool to see.
- Hope is not a strategy
inland sweep
#10 Posted : Sunday, September 11, 2011 11:40:37 PM
Rank: Dragon Fly


Joined: 5/15/2010
Posts: 519
Location: Arena, WI
We have been under some pretty high pressure over the past few weeks which makes things a bit harder as well.
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