Your donation to our annual rod raffle helps fund our Chapter’s general operating expenses for the year for monthly meetings, speakers, and various activities. We are again selling booklets of five raffle tickets for $20.
This year, we are offering for our First Prize Winner a choice of two Loop rod and reel outfits.
FIRST PRIZE: Loop Evotec Single-Handed Rod and Q Reel (without Line). A $625 retail value! 2wt to 11wt options. Or… Loop Q Rod and Reel Outfit (with Line and Backing). A $500 Retail Value. 5wt, 6wt, 7wt or 8wt options.
Donated by IN THE LOOP OUTFITTERS.For more information on Loop fly fishing gear visit: intheloopoutfitters.com
SECOND PRIZE: Yeti 45 QT Tundra Cooler with TU Logo. A $299 Retail Value.
THIRD PRIZE:Orvis $25 gift cards for 10 winners. Redeemable at any Orvis store or via a website or catalog phone order.
If you do not receive your tickets in the mail or would like to purchase additional tickets, please contact Jim Schmiedeskamp via email and include “Raffle Tickets” in the subject line.
Your ticket stubs with or without a donation should be mailed by December 1, 2019 to: Oak Brook Chapter Trout Unlimited P.O. Box 5046 Oak Brook, IL 60522-5046
The winning ticket will be drawn at our December Holiday party on Wednesday December 11th at Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton. You are welcome to come to our next monthly membership meeting on Wednesday, November 20th and drop off your ticket stubs and money in person in lieu of mailing them. Or purchase raffle tickets at the meeting.
Your ticket stubs should be mailed by December 1, 2019. You do not have to be in attendance at the December 11 Holiday Party to be selected as a winner.
I would like to begin this month’s letter by reminding you of our new calendar on our “obtu.org” website. This tool should become your “go to” location for the details of upcoming events and opportunities to participate in OBTU. Just to make sure you have experienced the new capability, here check out our “Calendar” web page by going to the “12-Month Calendar” link. You can view all meetings and events by month. Individual events feature detailed information including Google map locations. While the new calendar will serve as our central repository of all scheduled upcoming events, OBTU will also continue to send out electronic bimonthly newsletters and “e-blast” announcements.
I would like to recognize Jim Schmiedeskamp, OBTU Communications Chair, for his leadership in delivering our new calendar as well as all of our chapter’s technology-based communications capabilities. For the past several years, Jim has been the driving force in developing our advanced website capability as well as more recently helping OBTU enter the world of social media through successful Facebook and Instagram initiatives. Well done Jim!
On another subject, I’m pleased to report that our chapter’s September 27-29 Wisconsin “Driftless Area” Fly Fishing Outing was enjoyed by the 12 people who attended. The group included a good mix of new and old colleagues. Everyone quickly bonded and had a wonderful time.
Despite challenging weather and water conditions, the group had fly fishing success on a number of Driftless Area streams including the West Fork of the Kickapoo, the Timber Coulee, Weister Creek, Camp Creek, North Branch of the Bad Axe, Reed’s Creek and the Little LaCrosse. We split up into small fishing teams with experienced mentors. Teams and locations were rotated so that everyone had ample opportunity to explore the various streams and creeks.
The lodging at “Nature Nooks Retreat” on the West Fork of the Kickapoo near Viroqua provided an excellent base for our operations. The “Retreat” provided a great atmosphere for our group outing. We enjoyed striking views of the West Fork’s river valley from our front porch. The “Kinship Place” conference facility provided a place for congregating, socializing and more than a little story telling. Blue ribbon fly fishing was only a short walk away.
Everyone raved about Saturday night dinner and two breakfasts prepared by OBTU member Bob Hutchinson (who doubles as a banker in his spare time). The group feasted on Bob’s “penne pasta drizzled with four-meat ragout”, “chorizo and taco egg bake”, and other delicacies. While Bob was willing to share the intricacies of using a pheasant tail nymph to bring trout from a deep run to hand, I regret to inform that the details of Bob’s recipes shall forever remain a mystery.
Participants gained appreciation of some of the key conservation challenges in the Driftless Area. Weister Creek stream restoration work (partially funded by OBTU) was in good repair despite the region’s recent high-water events. Accomplishments of the Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort (TUDARE) were evident at many of our fishing locations. Also apparent was the significant erosion damage from recent high-water events highlighting the need for continued habitat improvement efforts.
In summary, the group shared many blessings: fellowship of old and new friends; appreciation of the “Driftless Area’s version of the great outdoors; a passion for the sport of fly fishing for wild stream trout; escape from our daily pressures; and so much more. In the immortal words of William Shakespeare: “Parting was such sweet sorrow”. Stay tuned for 2020 outings!
On another note, please plan to attend our annual Holiday Party Fundraiser on Wednesday, December 11, 7-9:30 p.m., at the Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton for our year-end social get-together. See the related article and save the date on your calendar!
“In the Loop Outfitters” is the chapter’s new Business Partner offering Loop fly fishing gear through their online store. Javier Guevara, who many of our members know from his Ecuador Fly Fishing Tours international guide service, launched “In the Loop Outfitters” earlier this year and is an Oak Brook TU member. For more information visit their website: intheloopoutfitters.com
Fall and 2020 Winter Speaker Line Up
November 20, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Speaker: Nicole Watson, Ph.D Student, Michigan State University, on “Michigan’s Grayling Reintroduction”.
Location: Oak Brook Recreation Center Central Park West Building. Guests are welcome.
January 15, 7:00-9:00 pm Speaker: Jay Allen, Yellowstone Backbacking Guide, on: “Fly Fishing Yellowstone”
Location: Oak Recreation Center Main Building, Canterberry Room.
February 19, 7:00-9:00 pm
Speaker: Kip Vieth, Wildwood Float Trips Guide and 2017 Orvis Guide of the Year, on: “Minnesota Smallmouth and Muskie Fly Fishing”
Location: Oak Brook Recreation Center Main Building, Canterberry Room.
Save the Date: Holiday Party Fundraiser and Rod Raffle Drawing December 11
Mark your calendar now for our annual Holiday Party Fundraiser and Rod Raffle drawing scheduled Wednesday, December 11, from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Arrowhead Golf Club in Wheaton.
This year’s event features a new location. In addition to the Rod Raffle drawing, a silent auction will feature Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin guide trips; Fishpond and Simms fly fishing gear; plus plenty of bucket raffle items including wine, spirits, and craft beer baskets in addition to other great prizes.
Tickets to the event will cost $50 apiece and cover appetizers, desserts and your choice of wine, beer, cocktails or soft drinks. Tickets will be available for sale at our November 20 chapter meeting and at the door on December 11 via check, cash and credit card.
Participants in the Annual Rod Raffle do not need to attend the Holiday Party to be eligible for winning one of 12 great prizes.
We need your RSVP before December 1 for planning. Spouses and guests are invited! Email Jim Dickens with your RSVP(s): firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth Fly Fishing Classes Complete 15th Year
By Marvin Strauch
This year has been a very successful year for the Youth Fly Fishing program at Oak Brook TU. We’ve now been doing the program for 15 years! As in the past couple years, we offered monthly classes from May through September conducted at the Sagawau Environmental Education Center of the Cook County Forest Preserves near Lemont. Actual outdoor fly rod casting instruction and fishing took place at nearby Horsetail Lake. Classes typically ran from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The classes cover a basic discussion of fly tackle—rods, reels lines and leaders—and the different types of flies to imitate different foods. There were sections on knot tying, outdoor safety, and fly tying. Each participant tied two flies (a foam beetle and a soft hackle wet fly). After a lunch break, each class left Camp Sagawau and headed to a Forest Preserve lake for fly casting instruction and plenty of fishing. All of these activities provided a hands-on taste of the sport of fly fishing.
Apparently, someone posted our 2019 youth program flyer on a Chicago Boy Scouts of America merit badge Facebook page and for a week in March, my phone and computer just lit up. In order to respond to the demand, we added a second class in August, for a total of 6 classes. We taught 84 boys and girls to fly fish, and I’m confident that many of these young people will enjoy their new sport, and hopefully remember the nice folks at Trout Unlimited and our conservation concern for coldwater fisheries.
Also, as in recent years, we not only had participants from our south and west suburban areas along with the city of Chicago, but young people came from Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri. In addition, I had very good conversations with folks looking to establish a Youth Fly Fishing program in downstate Illinois, in northern Michigan, and in Iowa. I wish them success.
Of course, this program could not exist with the enthusiastic support of our membership volunteers. We had 26 volunteers helping. Many of these volunteers not only acted as fishing mentors, but also presenting one or more of the programs segments. My thanks go out to: Miguel and Mirella Alvarez, Ted Bernhard, Wally Bock, Willie Beshire, Steve Carlson, Art Cottrell, Lisa Gilmore, Carol Hennessy, Fred Hodge, Ken Krueger, Dan LaFave, Mike Lesiak, Dave Lunardini, Dale MacDonald, Phil McCluskey, Max Odena, Greg Prosen, Brian Ross, Mitch Schwarz, Bill Thoms, Tom Wilhelm, Phil Young, Stan Zarnowiecki, and Frank Zbylski.
We are already beginning to plan for next year, and hopefully the program will continue to grow. While we have been pleased by the response we get from Boy Scouts each year, we would like to reach out to those young people who are just interested in fly fishing, or in coldwater conservation.
And of course, we can always use more volunteers, as it takes 8-10 volunteers to conduct each class day. Please consider volunteering for next year and join in on the fun of passing your knowledge of fly fishing and the conservation mission of TU to another generation.
Education Chair – OBTU
International Guides Now on Website
In addition to “Preferred Guides” listed on the Oak Brook TU website’s 18 Midwest fishing pages, we have now included guides who offer international fly fishing trips from Alaska to Argentina. Several of these guides are currently Preferred Guides located in the Midwest who offer special seasonal trips to locations like British Columbia and Patagonia by Mat Wagner of Wisconsin’s Driftless Angler fly shop. Other listed guides specialize in trips like Javier Guevara of Ecuador Fly Fishing Tours (Central and South America) and Ouzel International Expeditions (Alaska and Kamchatka, Russia).
Phil Young has been a member of the Oak Brook Chapter of Trout Unlimited for 17 years and is easily recognized by his distinguished mustache. He’s one of the folks that many of us know from our monthly membership meetings as a regular attendee and long-time chapter “Librarian” of our extensive fly fishing DVD and video collection which he has managed for five years.
Phil served as a Board member from 2007 through 2010, and has held a number of other roles in the chapter. He has also been an active conservation and youth education volunteer.
Phil has been a real driver of the OBTU youth education effort which he was instrumental in starting 15 years ago. According to our current Youth Education Chair Marvin Strauch, it was Phil who stood up at a membership meeting in 2005 asked why we didn’t do anything for kids. He immediately got involved by developing our chapter’s youth fly fishing classes, and three years later helped launch the Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited summer youth camp, which just concluded its 12 successful year. Phil has also been a “Trout in the Classroom” program volunteer. In 2011, Phil was recognized with Trout Unlimited’s national Youth Education Award and proudly feels the Oak Brook chapter’s youth education outreach programs are the best in the country. Phil says if he ever retires from his current job as a Professional Land Surveyor, he’d like to participate in the annual Illinois TU summer camp as a mentor.
Phil has been married for 49 years. He and his wife Marlys have two adult sons.
Hometown: Durant, Iowa Current home: Bristol, Illinois How long as a TU member: 17 years Introduction to fly fishing: I had a fly fishing uncle who introduced my Dad and me to fly fishing in
northeastern Iowa when I was a teenager. However, I did not get serious about fly fishing until I graduated
from the University of Iowa where I majored in geology. Favorite fishing holes: I have fly fished from the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota to the Florida Keys
and south Texas and many places in between. I love them all, but my favorite freshwater spots are farm ponds
with bass and bluegills and my favorite saltwater spots are the Everglades and Florida Bay.
By Dan LaFave, Illinois TU Council Camp Director and OBTU Board member
The 12th annual Illinois Council of Trout Unlimited’s Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp is now in the books, with another successful camp concluded. As in recent years, 12 boys and girls ages 13-18 learned the importance of conserving, protecting, and restoring the coldwater environment needed for trout and salmon survival. They also learned basic fly fishing skills, made new friends, and learned a lot about the world around them.
The camp ran from July 21 to 26 along the fabled Au Sable River around Grayling, Michigan, with campers and staff staying at the Michigan DNR’s RAM Conference Center in nearby Roscommon. The 10 boys and two girls were supported by a group of 12 mentors from Illinois and Michigan TU chapters, with numerous outside volunteers from universities, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and others who generously supported the camp with their time and talents.
Camp Highlights The goal of the Illinois TU Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp is to introduce young people to Trout Unlimited while teaching the importance of conserving our coldwater resources, and providing them an outdoors education experience which they will value for many years. Campers also learned the basics of fly fishing and had the opportunity to fish for wild brook, brown, and rainbow trout each morning and evening on different parts of the beautiful Au Sable River. Each day was filled with educational activities such as entomology (study of the insects that live in the water and are a food source for the trout), hydrology, fish anatomy, helping the DNR with an electro-shocking survey of fish population, and learning of the history of logging and how humans can affect the environment. Ultimately, Illinois TU hopes that the campers’ experiences will motivate them to become better stewards of the environment and future leaders in conservation, as well as providing a life-long love of the sport.
We had a great group of campers in 2019 who eagerly participated in and enjoyed all activities (sometimes to their own surprise!). One camper who had only fished once previously was very proud of the flies that she tied herself. All were very motivated and enthused to learn new things; at all times they displayed respect for each other and the mentors. They supported one another in their fishing and conservation successes. As in recent years, the weather cooperated throughout the week except for some brief showers during the stream restoration project. But even that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the restoration work.
This year’s camp began with flyrod casting instruction by guest instructor Ron Kilgren, a certified fly casting teacher with decades of experience teaching both new and advanced fly fishers. Ron taught the basic pick-up and lay-down cast, the roll cast, and feeding line, while demonstrating different techniques of the leading casting experts. More advanced techniques were taught throughout the week. Campers also learned that they can continue to improve their casting skills at home in their yards, parks, or at local ponds.
Campers also learned about macroinvertebrates and entomology—the study of the aquatic insects trout feed upon. They gathered samples from the river and identified them, while learning how the sampling reflects water quality. Past camp director Willie Beshire admirably filled in for Western Michigan University Professor Steve Kohler, who was unable to join us this year due to a conflicting meeting of the Michigan Water Resources Council. Campers learned fish anatomy and dissection from Michigan State University professor Dan Hayes, as well as water quality testing. Stream hydrology was demonstrated by fisheries biologist Patrick Ertel of the Michigan DNR. Campers also assisted the DNR with a fish count through electro-shocking on the Sturgeon River. The impact of human logging activities and the environmental impact when nature is not considered was apparent at the Hartwick Pines State Park, where one of the only original stands of Michigan old growth white pine trees remains. The crosscut sawing competition at the re-created logging camp was a highlight of the week, as always.
In addition to the fishing and stream restoration project, fly tying was a favorite mentioned on the campers’ evaluation forms. Despite the days that began before 7 a.m. and ended at 9:30 p.m., several campers expressed that they wished they could have fished later each evening. Overall, their comments reflected a high level of satisfaction with the camp (e.g., “the best camp I have ever been to”, and “camp is perfect how it is”), while also making some thoughtful suggestions (e.g. “more hands-on activities” and “giving an hour break” during the day).
The Youth Camp could not be a success without its volunteer mentors (as well as all the outsider support!). This year we had eight mentors from the Oak Brook chapter: OBTU president and past camp director Willie Beshire, stalwart Fred Hodge (veteran of all but 1 previous Illinois TU camp), Lisa Gilmore, Carol Hennessy, camp director Dan LaFave, Nancy Richardson, John Snyder, and Dr. Mike Youssi. Also mentoring again were Randy Daniel and Mark Wortsmann of the Gary Borger Chapter in Illinois, as well as Ric Augustine and Carl Hueter, both Michigan TU leaders and longstanding supporters of the Illinois youth camp. Without the many hours of planning meetings, recruiting, fundraising, equipment care and cleaning, and other work (plus their own personal donations), we would not have a camp to bring along the next generation of conservation leaders. Many, many thanks to all involved.
Thanks for OBTU Financial Support Thanks also to all the Illinois Trout Unlimited chapters for your support of the Illinois Council’s Youth Conservation and Fly Fishing Camp, and to DRiFT, Whitetail Fly Tieing Supplies, and to the individual donors for their ongoing financial support and by spreading the word. That financial support, plus the proceeds of the bamboo rod raffle (made possible by the generous donation of a hand-crafted bamboo fly rod by OBTU member and Youth Education Chair Marvin Strauch), have so far enabled the camp to keep the tuition fee at $575, which only covers about 45% of the actual cost of camp. It also enables the camp to make scholarships available to campers who would not otherwise be able to attend. This year we happily provided that opportunity to four campers in need of financial aid.
2020 Youth Camp Mark your calendars now for next year’s camp which will be conducted from July 26 to 31, 2020, along the beautiful Au Sable River in Michigan. We had much interest in this year’s camp after we were already filled and anticipate a rush of early applications next year. Updated information can be found on the OBTU website on the Youth Summer Camp page. New application forms will be available near the end of this year and will be accepted beginning January 1, 2020.
Want to go fishing but need someone to show you the right location, successful fishing tips and help coordinate carpooling? Plus meet new fishing friends?
Oak Brook TU held a successful Wisconsin Driftless fishing weekend June 28-30 with six anglers paired up with three mentors. More on this event in the following report by John Snyder. The June fishing weekend will be followed by two Fall weekends with information below. Look forward to more of these chapter outings in 2020.
Oak Brook TU Membership Fishing Weekend–Wisconsin Driftless Area
September 27 @ 5:00 pm – September 29 @ 5:00 pm The Oak Brook TU chapter is hosting a weekend fishing trip to introduce members to the Wisconsin Driftless Area with lodging and carpooling coordinated by the chapter the weekend of September 27-29.
There are 12 spots open with at least three mentors. There is no cost other than for lodging and your Wisconsin fishing license if you don’t have one. Your fishing license can be purchased online. Visit the chapter’s Wisconsin Driftless Area Fishing page for more information including a Wisconsin fishing license.
Oak Brook TU Membership Fishing Weekend–Iowa Driftless Area
October 18 @ 5:00 pm – October 20 @ 5:00 pm
Want to go fishing in the Iowa Driftless Area? The Oak Brook TU chapter is hosting a weekend fishing trip to introduce members to the Iowa Driftless Area with lodging and carpooling coordinated by the chapter the weekend of October 18-20.
There are 12 spots open. There is no cost other than for lodging and your Iowa fishing license if you don’t have one. Licenses can be purchased online. Visit the chapter’s Iowa Driftless Area web page for more information including an Iowa fishing license.
Contact Willie Beshire to register and for more information.
M: 630-200-2532 E: email@example.com
OBTU has an exciting Fall lineup with numerous opportunities for members. I encourage you to get out your calendar and enter some dates!
Please don’t hesitate to contact me or other OBTU board members if you want more information on how to get involved (refer to website Leadership page for board member contact info.)
Here’s a preview of upcoming events. Our September 18 and November 20 meetings will at the Oak Brook Recreation Center Central Park West Building. The October 16 meeting will be at the Oak Brook Recreation Center Main Building in the Canterberry Room. Guests are welcome.
September 18Chapter Meeting at 7 p.m. featuring Robert Thompson, fly fishing film producer, on his most recent fly fishing films: “Spey Daze” (Great Lakes steelhead) and “Summer Haze” (on Midwest warm water species).
September 27-29 OBTU Wisconsin Driftless Area Fishing Weekend. Visit the website “Fishing Trips” page for more information and how to sign up.
October 8 Fly Tying Workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bolingbrook. This 7-9 p.m. introductory class is hosted by OBTU members. Participants will be provided with fly tying equipment and materials. There is no cost.
October 12 Coldwater River Entomology Survey Work Day in Alto, Michigan. See the Conservation Projects web page for more information. Plan on including some local fishing in the Grand Rapids area.
October 16 Chapter Meeting featuring Jake Lemon, TU Eastern Angler Science Coordinator on “Stream Monitoring Technology and Angler Science” and Aaron Snell, Co-founder of Streamside Ecological Service, on “Coldwater Watershed Habitat Strategy”. In addition, OBTU’s recent investment in stream monitoring technology on the Coldwater River will be highlighted. (OBTU has been assisting with the Coldwater River Watershed in the Grand Rapids area for many years.)
October 18-20OBTU Chapter Iowa Driftless Area Fishing Weekend
October 26 DuPage River Cleanup work day at Pioneer Park in Naperville. This local cleanup day is being held twice a year as part of the “Adopt-a-Stream” program.
November kickoff of the OBTU 2019-2020 Trout-in-the-Classroom program with the fall delivery of fertilized brown trout eggs to participating schools.
November 12 Fly Tying Workshop at Bass Pro Shops in Bolingbrook. This 7-9 p.m. introductory class is hosted by OBTU members. Participants will be provided with fly tying equipment and materials. There is no cost.
November 20 Chapter Meeting featuring Nicole Watson, Michigan State University PhD Student, on the reintroduction of Graying into Michigan.
December 11 Annual Holiday Party and Fundraiser at Arrowhead Park in Wheaton.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to OBTU’s spring fundraising drive. We are wrapping up a successful campaign with results to date that are similar to recent years. (See related story below). OBTU could not continue making contributions to coldwater conservation and education programs in our region without your generous on-going support.
Our monthly meetings resume on Wednesday, September 18 at the Oak Brook Recreation Center at 7 p.m. in the Central Park West Building. Guests are welcome. Please note that our October 16 meeting will be in the Canterberry Room in the Oak Brook Recreation Center Main Building. We will return to the Central Park West Building for our November.
September 18, 7-9 p.m. Speaker: Robert Thompson on Great Lakes steelhead and conservation issues as well as his latest film-“Summer Haze” on smallmouth fishing in Illinois and Wisconsin. Robert will be showing video highlights from “Spey Daze” and “Summer Haze”films which will be available for sale as DVDs. The meeting will in the Oak Park Recreation Center Central Park West Building.
Come early from 6-7 p.m. for a special LOOP fishing gear preview by Javier Guevara of In the Loop Outfitters, a U.S. authorized online dealer of LOOP gear and clothing from Sweden. LOOP is a global premium brand of fly fishing gear and operator of fly fishing lodges around the world. Javier has donated a LOOP rod/reel outfit for our 2019 Annual Rod Raffle.
October 16, 7-9 p.m.
Speakers: Jake Lemon, TU Eastern Angler Science Coordinator on “Stream Monitoring Technology” and Aaron Snell, Co-Founder of Streamside Ecological Service, on “Coldwater Watershed Habitat Strategy”. The meeting is will be held at the Oak Brook Recreation Center Main Building, Canterberry Room.
Aaron Snell, Co-Founder of Streamside Ecological Service
November 20, 7:00 pm – 9:00 p.m. Speaker: Nicole Watson, Ph.D Student, Michigan State University, on “Michigan’s Grayling Reintroduction”. Nicole will review the history of Michigan Grayling including their extirpation from Michigan waters and multiple failed attempts at reintroduction. However, with a successful Montana reintroduction, there is renewed hope. The meeting will be in the Oak Brook Central Park West Building.
See our new online Calendar for all OBTU meetings and events including directions.
The OBTU website saw an increase in unique pageviews of 63% through June 30, 2019 compared to the same six-month timeframe in 2018. Total 2018 12-month unique pageviews were 10,737 which was a 27% increase over 2017 visits.
The new website was launched in August 2016 after a major rebranding and strategic communications program implementation.
“Our legacy website in 2015 featured only six pages and was not mobile-responsive,” said Jim Schmiedeskamp, Oak Brook TU Communications Chair. “Today we have over 60 pages of content featuring our conservation and youth education programs as well as relevant and timely fishing information for six Midwest states–llinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.”
Visitors can find information on area guides, fly fishing shops, lodging, and restaurants as well as real-time USGS river flow and weather information and state fishing license links.
The website’s most popular 2019 web pages after its home page are the chapter’s youth fly fishing classes, annual summer youth camp, Wisconsin Driftless Area and Michigan’s Dowagiac, Muskegon and St. Joseph Rivers.
The website’s newest feature is a rolling 12-month calendar featuring all chapter meetings and events, including Google map location information and the ability to save specific events to your online Google and Apple calendars.
Check out and book mark the OBTU website at: obtu.org
After a few weeks of planning, we kicked off our OBTU Summer Driftless Area fishing trip with an evening “pre-meeting” hosted by Jeremy Spaccapaniccia at the DuPage Fly Fishing Co. shop in Naperville where he is the store manager. As our weekend guide, Jeremy provided an overview of what to expect and supplies along with a cold beer.
Fishing the Driftless Area is more than just fishin’—it’s a real adventure to a somewhat wild and remote area of valleys, hollows, and hilltop hay farms that seems like another world in a different time. Abundant wildlife, birds, ripe blackberries and wildflowers abound along with local cheese purveyors and craft beer.
We kicked off our trip Saturday morning on June 30, meeting mid-morning at the Citgo station in Monfort, Wisconsin—about 20 miles west of Dodgeville on Highway 18, and a three-hour drive from Chicago’s western suburbs. We were in the southwestern portion of the Driftless Area with our focus on the Blue and Green Rivers and Castle Rock Creek. The primary fishable areas were secret pockets, hidden bends and undercut banks that stretched along the rolling valley floors.
Our Driftless Area fishing first-timers were Rich Tworek, Jim Moravak, Steve Schmidt, Mark Wandtke and Dave Dial along with his son Dave Jr. and grandson Noah.
We carpooled about five miles to the Cohaut farm on Castle Rock Creek to set up for some basic angling instruction and “fly fishing 101” tips. Careful not to hook a Holstein on the back cast, everyone tested and honed their flyrod casting skills before learning how avoid snagging flies in streamside foliage.
Jeremy and his associate Dan helped everyone get their rods and flies rigged. All just really took ownership and hit the water . . . occasionally followed by dairy cows and horses. It was quite hot, so all fished in shorts or long pants.
The water was muddy from recent local rains and therefore the fishing was slow, although Dave Dial did manage to land a few brown trout. Dave noted that this was the inaugural grandfather, son, grandson fishing trip ever they shared.
Following an H20 break and a sandwich, we set off over the ridge for the Green River—heading west through Fennimore and onto Green River Road and down past Wherly, Wisconsin (don’t blink our you will miss it!)
The difference in water quality was amazing with clear, cold and good flowage indicating a number of spring feeder streams.
We split up at three different bridges and all anglers found brown trout rising to small dries or emergers. This was really the first experience for most to see actual water conditions, and read water currents and holding spots for trout.
We finished up our Saturday fishing around 6:30 p.m. (we had to drag these guys off the water), and headed for the Fenway House Hotel in Fennimore. We were greeted by wonderful folks who were waiting cheerfully for us with cold beer, cheese and sausage and lots of local lore—including the locally preferred bug spray—Absorbine, Jr. Yep, the bug repellant preferred by farmers and locals and, of course, sold out at the local grocery store. The Fenway House Hotel gave us a bottle, and boy the stuff worked wonders for all of us. Jeff, Renee and Sheri run the Fenway House Hotel and they were really a joy. We recommend using this place again.
At dinner, I suggested breakfast at a local restaurant at 8 a.m. on Sunday, and was roundly voted down. Instead, we got an earlier start with coffee and donuts, boiled eggs and fruit at 7:30 a.m. and hit the water sooner. There was no slowing these new guys down!
Now experienced and aware of cows and trees and high streamside grasses, surgeons knots and 6/7x tippet , almost all caught at least one nice brown trout. Rich Tworek put on a #14 pink squirrel below the second bridge, mastered “high sticking” his line with a nymph, and landed a fat and beautiful 14” brown.
I drove back through a beautiful rolling hail storm about 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning after Rich caught his brown. I drove south through the old mining and tourist town of Mineral Point where I stopped at an art gallery and picked up a growler of Mineral Point Brewery ale.
Only a few know the best locations in Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, like where exactly those three bridges are located on the Green River.
The best of friendships are often made on the water.
If you haven’t gotten hooked on smallmouth fishing yet, give it a try this Fall. Pound for pound, a smallie when hooked never wants to surrender, providing great fight and sport, especially on a fly rod. Streamers and topwater poppers imitating frogs and damsel or dragon flies work best.
Area waters supporting populations of smallmouth bass include: Kankakee River, about 60 miles south of Chicago. Preferred guide Will Winans fishes the Kankakee River exclusively from a drift boat. VisitBig River Fly Fishing for more information.
Northern Illinois rivers and tributaries. Preferred guides Mike Allen and Kurt Nelson fish several rivers with their rafts including the Kishwaukee River, DuPage River, Fox River and tributaries with private property access. Visit their Midwest Waters Angling websitefor more information.
Fox River tributaries 30 miles west of Chicago which are easily wadeable.
DuPage River West Branch which runs through Warrenville and Naperville and is wadeable.
Trout Unlimited is America’s leading coldwater conservation organization. Our hope is that clean, cold, fishable water exists for generations to come, but we can’t do it without the support of committed anglers and conservationists like you.