Driftless Trout Anglers

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p_gundlach  
#1 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:56:02 PM(UTC)
p_gundlach
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So. . . gnats. I haven't gotten out trout fishing much yet this season, too many Little League games to attend amongst other things. :) However, I did have the chance to get out fishing yesterday afternoon for a few hours in Iowa County, and the fish were cooperating nicely. . . overcast conditions, and nicely stained water, had both browns and brookies feeding aggressively subsurface, and to a lesser extent on the surface with a small mayfly hatch early evening.

My question is about the gnats this year. Holy moly. I've dealt with terrible swarms of those biting bastards before, and usually can keep them at least somewhat at bay with periodic sprays of Buggins'. However, yesterday was probably the worst gnat attack I've ever experienced while fishing -- at a minimum dozens, if not hundreds, buzzing around and climbing on my arms/face at all moments. . . blood thirsty too. The spray would help a little bit for a few minutes, but not nearly as effective as I've found in the past.

I saw Gurth posted about a similar experience 10 days or so ago, so I suspect I'm not alone, but still wonder how widespread the problem is this year.

In past years, I've typically experienced gnat issues later in the season, so this caught me a tad offguard.

What I'm wondering is -- are they awful this season EVERYWHERE in the Driftless, or was it just the area I happened to have been fishing? I'd guess that MAYBE some grazed pasture areas might not be as bad -- but those areas seem harder and harder to find compared to years ago, and most seem to be an extra driving distance from the Milwaukee area where I live. ?

I was supposed to take a friend fishing in a week or so, but if this is the type of gnat activity that is most everywhere, there's no way I'm taking a non-trout fishing person out in that. I like to think of myself as about a diehard troutfisherman as there can be, but even I struggled maintaining my sanity yesterday. Also my kids have been wanting me to take them with this summer, but I'm afraid I'd scare them from troutfishing for life if they had to deal with that.

Not trying to complain, more just wondering to what degree my experience is standard across the area, or if it is possible to avoid. Also, given how early these gnat swarms seem to be this year, and thoughts on whether they'll get better later in the season, or just get even worse?

Thanks!

Patrick G

Edited by user Wednesday, June 12, 2019 12:58:08 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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Zugbug  
#2 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:30:58 PM(UTC)
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Unfortunately, the correct answer is probably “Everywhere”. I've had the same experience lately in Grant and Richland Counties. If you have one, wear a buff, it prevents the little bastards from crawling under your shirt and dining at their leisure. On a positive note, the mosquitoes should be out in force in the near future, so the gnats will have some competition.
Gurth  
#3 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:44:28 PM(UTC)
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I was up by the Lake Pepin area last weekend and stopped at a few places and there were gnats around, but nowhere near what I ran into down here a couple of weeks ago.

The last two years have been wretched below the Wisco starting in June… to the point that I'm not even bothering right now and it's weird that trout fishing is not front and center on my mind like it is when I'm actively fishing several times a week.

Was 50 yards from a local favorite trout stream last night getting pizza and it never even crossed my mind that I wish I was fishing it. I just looked at the high grass and shuddered.

A buddy has a farmette in Grant near the Blue and he and his son and another worker were harassed all day yesterday as they worked.

I'm pretty Rambo when it comes to trouting – go out in all weather… go to god-forsaken locations… crawl through, over and under shit… etc, but the gnats make it NOT fun and that's where I draw the line.

It's primarily bass season for me for the next 6 weeks or so which is fine as I enjoy the heck out of that but find it hard to tear myself off the streams.

Was floating Sunday morning in Dane County without a bug near me until I had to get my popper out of a shoreline bush and then a few bothered me for a bit before fading away.

Heavenly.

I had a worse outing last year where they were flying into my ears, eyes and up my nose and when I'd have to breathe through my mouth coz one went up my nose I would often inhale one or two causing me to choke, cough and gag. I was convinced that if my arsehole was exposed they would have flown up there too. Fvck that.

And I had a hat and buff on but I sweat a lot and it was hot and sunny out that day so couldn't keep the buff over my mouth and my sunglasses would fog up and I was dripping wet.

Why would I put up with that?

And I have bug nets but if I have to wear one of those, what am I doing out there?

Oh yeah and they bite arms and legs too and I have some fresh welts from Pepin and Buffalo counties.

As I said in another post – the first two quarters of the season are over for me and it's halftime. Gonna mostly sit out the third quarter and get back at it for the fall season – which is my favorite anyway. Might take a trip or two further north here during the summer, but Dane, Iowa and Grant will get a break from me for now for the most part.

Asked my wife last night on the way to pizza as we drove by the stream if she thought the trout missed me? Laugh


.

Edited by user Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:50:20 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
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Gurth  
#4 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:46:26 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Zugbug Go to Quoted Post
If you have one, wear a buff, it prevents the little bastards from crawling under your shirt and dining at their leisure.



It prevents some but not all. I wore a buff all day but still had about 15 welts where they had gotten under the buff.

Thing is that you (I) can't really feel gnat bites, so don't know it's happening.
“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
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fifly333  
#5 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:52:41 PM(UTC)
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The grandson and I was around the Bellevue area Sunday. The gnats were thick and willing to bit bare skin. It did seem that the closer to the cold stream the more they would leave you alone, once you would get close to the weeds you would be under attacked. I did hear on the radio that the gnats will be slowing down because of the life cycle. I hope that true. The grandson was happy to get his limit and catch each one of the three trouts. A brown,brook and rainbow. To him that is a trophy day.
Gurth  
#6 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:59:04 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: fifly333 Go to Quoted Post
The grandson was happy to get his limit and catch each one of the three trouts. A brown,brook and rainbow. To him that is a trophy day.


Good for him!

That would be a banner day for me too.

I’ve only gotten that trifecta once that I can recall and the bow was a brood so it doesn’t really count for me.


Regarding life cycle, I know that they typically lessen and fade away completely often by mid August.


.

Edited by user Wednesday, June 12, 2019 2:10:59 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
William Schlafer  
#7 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 4:57:41 PM(UTC)
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Gnats are a problem this time of year. Little bastards make you yearn for those bug-free 35 degree days of February and March.

I've found that about the time you start seeing grasshoppers in good numbers, the gnats will have mostly disappeared. They only live about two weeks from larval to egg laying stage, and I think the sun is a big factor on how long they stick around in general. A couple of good hot days and the larvae will cease to be. And, fishing pressure on streams really slows down with the heat and other summertime activities cranking up.

But of course about that time, mosquitoes start to peak. Supposed to be a bad summer for them according to the experts. Best trick is to avoid fishing on days with no wind. Just a mild breeze is enough to put mosquitoes on the ground and give your bug spray a chance to beat back the ones that do get through.

As Gurth mentioned, the real issue right now is the weeds. I drove past a stream over the weekend and it was head high in many spots. And probably loaded with Deer Ticks too. The smaller streams will be canopied over with grass, making it impossible to fish. However, all it takes is a gully washer thunderstorm to flatten the weeds down (albeit temporarily) which gives you a couple days afterwards to get on those creeks. Otherwise, it's pasture fishing with the cows.


-Bill
“You'll never look back on your life and wish you had spent more time in the office." -- Brian Trautman, Captain SV Delos
Gurth  
#8 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 5:41:26 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: William Schlafer Go to Quoted Post
As Gurth mentioned, the real issue right now is the weeds.



No... not what I meant. The real issue right now in the gnats.

I can deal with weeds just fine. I wade.

The issue is that the streamside weeds/grasses hold... GNATS!!!! OhMyGod OhMyGod OhMyGod

Thousands of them.

Angry


You really have to go out and experience it right now in these lower counties to understand what we're talking about.


Funny mosquito story... was camping in Illinois a few years back and had to have a morning pee. This campground had a latrine system in a building - basically an open pit with a roof.

Went in and the fumes were so bad that I actually wretched and would have thrown up and maybe died (slight embellishment, but only slight) had I stayed in there, so got out.

Went to the un-mowed perimeter where there were some trees and hip high grass and was swarmed instantly by 50-100 mosquitos and they landed absolutely everywhere and were biting instantly. Everywhere! Woot

Couldn't stand it and just decided to pee behind my van in the (relative) open.


.

Edited by user Wednesday, June 12, 2019 6:13:01 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

“Harvest eaters... release trophies.” -Gurth
Private correspondence at: jkschind "at" tds.net
weiliwen  
#9 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 6:02:24 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Gurth Go to Quoted Post
I Asked my wife last night on the way to pizza as we drove by the stream if she thought the trout missed me?


Back in my mis-spent youth, I used to fish with a buddy on a local lake for bluegill (or "bruegear," as our Vietnamese fishing neighbors called them). We were probably a six-pack and a half each into the evening, and my buddy lifted up a small 'gill he'd caught and said, "I wonder if the fish think we're God." We still talk about that, 30 years later.

Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
thanks 1 user thanked weiliwen for this useful post.
Gurth on 6/12/2019(UTC)
weiliwen  
#10 Posted : Wednesday, June 12, 2019 6:06:10 PM(UTC)
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If I ever get a parcel of land next to a trout stream, I'm getting a bunch of goats. They'll graze the grass down, but they don't like stepping in water (hence the bridge that figures heavily in "The Three Billy Goats Gruff") That way they won't damage the stream bank.
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
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