I let out a loud groan and with outstretched arms, threw my head back and looked to the heavens. I don’t know why, perhaps I was asking for some divine intervention. None forthcoming, I just as quickly dropped my head and with slumped shoulders reeled up and slogged back downstream to my car. On this warm, early September morning, I had suffered a beat down of epic proportions. After two months of eating tricos almost every morning, the trout were experts on trico appearance and were not having any of my imitations in the low, clear, slow water. I rose two fish the whole morning. For the first one, I had finally got my fly to float into an eddy under an overhanging bush using a lot of slack in my cast. When the very large head of a brown trout came up to sip my fly, that extra slack and an excited hook set conspired to break the fly off so quick, I wouldn’t think the fish even noticed. It must have, however, as it never came up again.
After another hour of putting dozens of fish down while trying upstream, downstream, across stream presentations on 7X tippet, I emitted the groan, eluded to at the start of this story. Another large fish, sipping trico spinners under a tunnel of streamside grass, slid downstream with my fly just under its nose, then let it go by. My heart sank. Suddenly it turned, chased my fly down and sucked it in. I tried so hard to wait. I didn’t quite get to the end of the sentence,”God save the Queen”, but I got close. My forearm started to come up. Wait! The fish had dropped to the stream bottom, but had not turned back upstream! In my head I screamed at my right arm to stop! I did slow it down, I think, but you know – physics; an object set in motion, tends to stay in motion. With the fish facing me, I pulled the fly right out of its mouth, eliciting the groan. It amazes me that I could have so many thoughts in an event that took a few seconds.
I was beating myself up pretty good on the way home. All these years fly fishing and hundreds of trout later and I was still breaking off flies and striking too soon. I had switched primarily to slower/softer bamboo and fiberglass rods to off-set my over exuberance, which helped some, but shouldn’t I be one cool customer by now, instead of a 5 year old on Christmas morn? Before I got home, I recalled a story my high school best friend’s father, Jack, told me.
With my friend, Erich, graduated, Jack and his wife, both Green Bay natives, had moved back home. After a high pressure career of getting 3M out of multi-million dollar lawsuits, he took a job with a small law practice. One of his clients was none other than Ray Nitschke, a 15 year veteran of the Green Bay Packers, a fearsome linebacker on Lombardi’s championship teams, and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This was quite the thrill for Jack, a long time Packer season ticket holder, who grew up watching Ray and the Packers. In fact, he was unable to play his trumpet as his high school marching band paraded around Lambeau Field for its dedication. He couldn’t stop staring at the magnificent structure, the greatest he had seen, save for a field trip to Madison to see the capital.
In retirement, Ray had many business deals that needed tending to and Ray always insisted on meeting at a small café for breakfast for their meetings. Even in the late 80s, Ray drew a crowd and the meeting was always interrupted for autograph requests. Ray would even get up, run to his Cadillac, and retrieve 8 x 12” photos of himself to sign. One day, Jack asked, “Ray, you know I have to charge you $100 an hour for these meetings, including all these interruptions. Wouldn’t you rather meet at my office?” Ray waved him off, saying he would rather meet at the cafe. Jack then asked, “Ray, don’t you ever get tired of always being pestered for autographs, photos, and the chitchat that goes with it.” Ray responded that he still got excited when people asked for an autograph and it would it would be a sad day when that thrill was gone or folks forgot who he was. I consoled myself with Ray’s words. Yeah, I get too excited with dry fly fishing for trout. I wish I could be more calm, cool, and collected at times, but it would be a sad day if it became so old hat that the excitement and thrill was gone. If that meant losing some fish and flies, so be it.
Jack gave Erich and me his Packer tickets for below freezing December games (even die-heard Packer fans have their temperature limits). In fact, we were there when the Lambeau Leap was invented by safety LeRoy Butler on what was then the coldest game other than the famous Ice Bowl. Before that game, Jack presented me with a photo. Ray had spent a minute at $100 an hour signing a photo for me. He wrote, “To Hudson High’s finest defense back [an exaggeration, I assure you]. Keep hit ‘em hard! Your friend, ol’ 66, Ray Nitschke.”
Good Turnout for the Corps of Engineers open house discussing Kinnickinnic River Ecosystem Restoration in River Falls, Wisconsin.
It was good to see many familiar faces at last Tuesday’s Kinnickinnic River open house held at the public library. This was an informal event with a number of informational stations manned by officials from the City of River Falls and the CORP of Engineers. Many River advocates lobbied on removal of both dams. A timeline can be found here
Please take some time to give written comments. These are due by September 15th. This fillable PDF may be printed and mailed as instructed or you may email your support for the removal of both dams to Trevor Cyphers at: Trevor.W.Cyphers@usace.army.mil
Auction Link START YOUR BIDDING!!!! We have over 80, yes I said 80 – items on our auction!!! Our biggest and best auction ever! The KIAP warehouse (my basement) is bursting at the seams! Everything must go! There is something for everyone!
Guided Trips – Patagonia, Big Horn, and 17 others!!! That’s not a typo! 19 total!!!
Fabulous Stays – Bahamas, UP of MI, On the Rush River, Northshore of MN
15 Fly Boxes – Most hand tied by chapter tiers!
Art – Prints by Bob White and Jon Q Wright!
Fishing Gear – Sage graphite rod, Heddon bamboo rod, Diawa spinning packages, lines, waders, vests, packs, and much more!
Gift Cards to Wonderful Area Merchants
Jewelry, Beer, Booze, even a Puzzle – yes I said Puzzle!
And much more!!!
This is one of our biggest fundraisers on the year, that we use to pay for all our programs – restoration, dam removal, education, and monitoring.
What are you waiting for! Click on the link below and start bidding! Thanks so much for your support!!! Auction ends March 21st at 8 pm!
The following will also appear in the Spring Issue of WI Trout.
Chapter members are still encouraged to contact TU National to update their profile with a current email address to get Rip-Rap directly. Otherwise, they are still reminded that it can be found on our Chapters webpage at http://www.kiaptuwish.org/ . In lieu of Kiap’s annual December Conservation banquet, the chapter held a 4 x 100 Chance Offering Raffle and a virtual auction on TU’s auction platform. Both events culminated in a virtual banquet on February 25th. Scott Wagner and Dave Johnson hosted the virtual Zoom banquet. The one-hour banquet included a presentation reviewing the past year’s accomplishments, an awards segment honoring chapter members for their service. In recognition of his multitude efforts on behalf of Kiap TU Wish, Past President Tom Henderson was awarded the Chapter’s Golden Trout Award, with Loren Haas receiving our Silver Trout Award and past Rip Rap Editor Maria Manion receiving the newly inaugurated Judy Lutter Communications Award. The drawing for the 4 x 100 Chance offering. The drawing featured a Norling bamboo rod, Yeti cooler, Thomas and Thomas 3wt rod, and a Joshua Cunningham framed oil painting. The Offering raised $5000. The virtual auction was highly successful and made over $5000. The auction featured guided trips and events by chapter members, a Patagonia fly fishing trip, fly boxes tied by Paul Johnson, and fishing gear.
Tom Henderson with his richly deserved Kiap TU Wish Golden Trout Award. Photo by Tom Schnadt
The chapter is grateful to the team that pulled this together on short notice. Scott Wagner identified the TU auction platform. Ken Hanson handled the myriad of details to make the platform work. Ed Constantini designed and coordinated communication and promotion of the events. Dave Johnson, Tom Schnadt and Greg Dietl solicited trips and coordinated sales efforts. The chapter learned a lot from the experience and plans to apply this knowledge to future fund-raising events.
All four of our Trout in the Classroom (TIC) classrooms had eggs delivered right after the first of the year and the kids were delighted to see the eggs hatch. The fry are still living off their egg sac while spending their days in the egg basket. Soon they will be released to the big, wide, world of the 55-gallon tank and feeding with tiny pellets will commence. The kids are doing a great job monitoring water chemistry and temperature. The kids were delighted to watch the heart beating in the sac fry as it swam about the petri dish. As first year TIC teacher Ben Toppel stated, “It doesn’t get much more exciting than that!” Wait until feeding time Ben!
Heart beating in the sac fry as it swims about the petri dish at the Rocky Branch Elementary School in River Falls. Photo by Ben Toppel, Greenwood Elementary School
Kiap TU Wish is planning on offering a STREAM Girls event in our area this summer depending on the COVID situation. Know a young female that would like to learn to fly fish and the conservation and biology behind it? The STREAM Girls curriculum introduces girls to stream ecology, sampling techniques, fly rod casting and fly tying through a series of activities. You may be familiar with the phrase “STEM” education, which refers to learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. You may also have heard of “STEAM” education, which includes the Arts in addition to STEM (fly tying, creative writing, and sketching!). At TU, we believe in “STREAM” education, which includes all of the above topics, plus Recreation (fishing!). For more information on assisting with this event or to learn about ways to become involved email: email@example.com
The Chapter had another busy winter of brushing. After finishing up tree clearing at the new easements on Plum Creek on the outskirts of Elmwood, the chapter switched its focus in mid-December and began maintenance tree and brush clearing on a section of the upper Kinni immediately downstream of the interstate 94 bridge. This is a DNR fee title property located on the farmstead of the Jeff Lueck family. Fencing along this stretch to keep cattle out of the river had let massive buckthorn, honey suckle, and some box elders to take over the corridor making it extremely difficult to fish. Eleven workdays were held here comprising some 660 hours of volunteer time. We did take one pause during this project to move to the South Fork of the Kinni to remove an infestation of sand bar willows which are taking over this restoration. A workday has been held each week from mid-December till the writing of this article save for two bitterly cold weekends in Feb. where the windchill did not climb above 30 below. At our recent online banquet and fundraiser, certificates of appreciation accompanied by gift cards were given out to 6 of our volunteers whose attendance at workdays has been nothing short of outstanding. Those recipients are Dave Gregg, John Skelton, Jim Tatzel, Trish Hannah, Pete Kilibarda, and Loren Haas. Others who attended two or more workdays are Dave Kozlovsky (8), Matt Janquart (6), Scott Wagner (6). Those attending 4 workdays are Matt Wysocki, Ted Higman, Michele Bevis, and Pat Sexton. Those attending 3 workdays are Rainbow Barry, Jim Sackrison, Sarah Sanford, Brian Schils, Steve Wardell, and Keith Stein. Those attending 1-2 workdays are Joe LeFave, Cline Kickok, Scott Thorpe, Corie Berrigan, Steve Kaukola, Alan Hopeman, Mike Colling, Mimi & Charles Condon, John Kaplan, John Rock, Bob Kiner, Brad Wistrom, Perry Bowyer, Chris Boon, Mary Lilly, Greg Dietl, and Kyle Amundsen. Our thanks to out to all of the volunteers who participated. On another note, Habitat Coordinator Randy Arnold was contacted in late January by Jeff Hastings. He had been approached by Daniel Pherson, Regional Sales Manager for Stihl Corporation based out of Madison. Daniel is a trout fisherman who spends time in the driftless, and he has taken note of all of the restoration work done by chapter volunteers. On behalf of Stihl, he wanted to give a $1500 gift certificate to a deserving chapter to be used to purchase Stihl equipment for chapter use. We would like to thank both Jeff and Daniel for choosing Kiap TU Wish to be the beneficiary of this gift. As a gesture to Daniel and Stihl, we will be coordinating a workday on March 19th where regional Stihl factory reps can partake in a workday and slay some box elders and buckthorn on a site that has been selected on the Kinni.
Kiap TU Wish brushing crew left to right, Dave Gregg, Jim Tatzel, John Skelton, Loren Haas, Trish Hannah, Dave Kozlovsky. Photo by Randy Arnold
Kiap TU Wish brushing crew left to right, Pat Sexton, Rainbow Barry, Sarah Sanford, Steve Wardell, Michele Bevis, Corie Berrigan, Brian Schils. Photo by Randy Arnold
Since the Winter Issue of Wis Tout, Kiap-TU-Wish’s dam committee has spent a lot of time raising funds (now exceeding 40K), attending meetings, and planning for the future. Our dam committee is made up of Scott Wagner, Gary Horvath, Kent Johnson, Scot Stewart, and Dan Wilcox. River Falls has made the decision to not repair the Powell dam and to not include it in the FERC license renewal. Once approved by FERC, the dam removal and restoration of the river through the former impoundment will fall under the jurisdiction of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, assuming this is approved by FERC. Kiap-TU-Wish has met with WDNR and plans to meet with the City of River Falls to continue planning to contain sediment in the lower Kinni, finish a river monitoring plan and complete a river restoration plan. We will also need to draft an agreement with the city to work together to accomplish these tasks. At the same time, we will continue to gather funding to accomplish this work. Kiap-TU-Wish is busy meeting with partners to broaden support and resources for this effort.
With the arrival of spring, the Kiap-TU-Wish monitoring team will have a busy schedule during the April-October 2021 period. Chapter members will deploy 29 temperature loggers in five local rivers, to evaluate the impacts of stormwater runoff, hydropower facilities, and climate change, and to assess the ability of our stream restoration projects to improve temperature regimes. Numerous water samples will be collected and analyzed on several streams, to better understand watershed impacts on water quality, as well as the ability of restored river reaches to improve water quality. To complement stream temperature and water chemistry data, two weather stations will be operated, providing data on air temperature, relative humidity, dew point, and rainfall amounts. Kiap-TU-Wish also continues to provide financial and volunteer monitoring support for USGS operation and maintenance of the Kinnickinnic River flow gaging station (https://waterdata.usgs.gov/wi/nwis/uv?site_no=05342000) and the Willow River flow gaging station (https://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?05341752). In the fall of 2020, Kiap-TU-Wish provided $600 to the USGS for purchase and installation of a continuous temperature monitoring probe at the Willow River gage. Along with the flow data, the temperature data can be viewed on-line in real-time. The flow and temperature data should be useful to WDNR for managing operation of the new Little Falls Dam in Willow River State Park, thereby protecting the downstream trout fishery.
Kiap-TU-Wish supported a recent effort by the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust (KRLT) to purchase a 40-acre property near River Falls, WI. Located in the lower Kinnickinnic River canyon, this property became KRLT’s fourth preserve: The Community Forest. KRLT ownership will protect this property in perpetuity and provide public access to 1,500 feet of Kinnickinnic River and Rocky Branch Creek trout waters, with a potential for WDNR restoration work to improve trout habitat, stabilize stream banks, and reduce erosion. In addition, this property will provide public access to the River Falls School Forest, which has been landlocked for decades, and will connect the school forest with public parks owned by the City of River Falls and River Falls Township. The combination of River Falls School Forest, KRLT Community Forest, and public parks will create substantial educational and recreational benefits, including a lengthy continuum of river access for anglers. KRLT raised the $500,000 needed to cover the purchase price and associated transaction costs. Kiap-TU-Wish contributed $7,500 to support KRLT’s acquisition of this remarkable property. Other funding partners include the WDNR (Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program), U.S. Forest Service/USDA (Community Forest Program), corporate and non-profit organizations, and individuals. KRLT closed on the property on January 29, 2021, and the Community Forest is open to the public!