The Keys To The Castle
It was March of 1994. I was on a wander about in Richland County. I was fishing and scouting in this rural county for good fishing places and a good place to move to. My wife and I had decided that we were going to start a family soon. A good place to trout fish was a must for a new place to live.
We lived in Stoughton, Wisconsin and I wanted to move out of the area that I worked in. The Sheriff's Department I worked for had just relaxed the residency requirement and we were moving before they changed their minds again.
My hometown was Gays Mills, Wisconsin. There are many small streams in Crawford County that were loaded with trout. I loved the most snag ridden and log jammed areas possible in Crawford. They had produced decent trout in the past. My hometown was just too far of a drive to Madison daily so we decided to halfway in between was a good compromise.
The streams in Richland County were larger than I was use to in Crawford County. The biggest waterway in the county intrigued me. It wasn't even a stream but a river. It had rock outcroppings and some serious potential for big browns,
The photo from above was taken off a bridge in Richland County that day way back in 1994. There was a small stream feeding in on the bottom right of the photo that you can not see. This wander up on the bridge to take a photo and the peering over the bridge thereafter was why I picked Richland County as our new home. There was a huge brown with its nose stuck right up in where the small stream emptied in.
The small stream was warmer than the main channel that early March day and the massive brown was there to warm itself. I did not have permission on this stretch so I made it my mission to secure permission that day. It took many doors knocked on and some persistence but I scored permission that day. It was late in the day and the trout was gone when I wet my line later that day. The curiosity and intrigue began that day for that waterway .
We moved to Richland Center the next fall. My exploration of this waterway became even more intense. The main branch of the river seemed just a little too warm to sustain a decent trout population. The keys to this river were the tiny feeders coming in. These were trout magnets. The feeders didn't need to be actual streams. They could be swamps emptying in. Again the swamp emptying in on the bottom right of the photo is not pictured. Swamps are supplied by springs.
The waterway runs the entire length of Richland County. It has many nuances and secrets that I needed to learn to fish it properly. The photo above was another learning experience. It was opening day and I was getting skunked thus far. It was quite cold this opening day. The water temperatures were also cold. Most were in the middle thirties. I took the photo for beauty reason. Little did I know this beautiful place was also a trout magnet.
You see the down tree in the middle right of the photo? It is laying on the bank of a small feeder stream that empties in on the bend of the river. I caught seven trout where that tiny stream emptied in. The water temperature was seven degrees higher where the trickle emptied in. It was like the Bahamas to the trout on that frigid day in March. They were stacked up there.
I had discovered the key to this waterway on those frigid days in March. The key also translated to the dog days of summer. When the waterway is ultra hot, the dissolved oxygen is less in the stream and the trout find it harder to breath. These small trickles or swamp outlets into the main channel had at least a seven degree swing in water temperatures so the dissolved oxygen was higher there and the magnet effect was there in the summer. The trout stack up like cord wood in these areas in summer.
I bet it wouldn't surprise you if I told you this male brown was caught right below where a feeder stream emptied in? It was 86 degrees this day. The water temperature above the feeder stream in the main waterway was 74 degrees. The temperature just below the feeder was 67 degrees.
Unlock the mysteries of your favorite stream or river. You can do it with a thermometer or with your eyes. Take those water temps and keep your eyes peeled for those trout magnets.
Last edited by spinner1; 06-30-2015 at 04:24 PM.