You have undoubtedly heard the five stages a trout fisher goes through: catch a fish, catch a lot of fish, catch big fish, catch difficult fish, and finally be satisfied with the act of fishing itself – whether or not the fish decide to cooperate.
My journey started in the 4th grade, fishing Trout Brook in Hudson every morning after finishing my paper route. I eventually caught my first trout by pegging a worm on the bottom of a hole coupled with a big split shot. Despite only processing 5th grade educations, by the next year, my mates and I invented euro nymphing albeit using long spinning rods and garden hackle. Now we were catching a lot of trout in water not known for great numbers and an added benefit was our bycatch of suckers and carp greatly decreased. The following year, the nightcrawlers on the lawn of the old Hudson courthouse their nightly sojourns after a summer rain were never bothered again by my flashlight wielding buddies and I. We changed our tactics and used Mepps and Panther Martin spinners (spin fishers don’t overlook a floating #5 Rapala either). Overall, the fish got bigger (especially at night) and the rough fish were eliminated.
During junior high, my parents bought a camper on a lake in Siren, Wisconsin chock full of pike. Sadly, I abandoned trout fishing and became a big pike fisherman using my paper route money to buy a boat. It wasn’t until many years after college, marriage, and kids, that my brother-in-law introduced me to fly fishing and I again fell in love with trout and the rivers they inhabit.
Forgetting all the trout knowledge I gleaned in grade school, I floundered mightily with the fly rod and was undone by poor casting and new enemy, drag. Needing help, I enrolled in a fly fishing class taught by Mike Alwin. A light bulb went on when Mike described how to swing soft hackles. This seemed to be a method that could disguise my inaccurate casts and luckily drag was actually integral to the method. When the class hit the upper Kinni for our “final”, I found success! BWOs were coming off in a riffle and swinging my new favorite fly, a partridge and yellow, I caught 11 trout! All that spring, I was swinging my way down the Kinni, covering surprisingly long distances (only discovered upon the slog back upstream) and encountering quite a few fish.
After a season of swinging, I decided to work on my nymphing game. If 90% of what a trout eats is subsurface, I figured this is how to rack up the numbers and I was right. The discovery of the water load cast was crucial to me doing more fishing and less untangling of double nymph/thingamabobber rigs.
I have never been a dedicated streamer junkie, but I have connected with some big fish, hitting the banks with streamers while fishing back to the car after an evening hatch is done. My biggest trout have come steelhead fishing on the Brule by chucking eggs and legs (Superior X-leg nymph with an egg pattern tied off the bend of the hook) all day long or fishing the hex hatch on the White and Brule rivers. Dry flies the size of hummingbirds bring the big browns out of hiding and makes braving the hordes of mosquitos worth the effort.
For my next stage, I decided to take on the tricos a few of years ago. This hatch of insects, size 20-26 occurs daily from late July through early September, so the trout get very, very picky – they know exactly what a trico is supposed to look like. The water at this time of year is low and clear and to top it off, much of the feeding is for the spinners in the slow water below riffles. Dead spinners don’t move at all and the trout can get a good long look at the fly before committing. It took quite a bit of scouting to find areas with good hatches. Then it took a couple of years to figure out techniques, patterns, and leader set-ups that work for me. It was truly a challenge.
Well, that takes us up to this past season. Was I content to just get out, regardless of the results? Almost there! I wouldn’t be upset with a skunking, let’s call it “mildly irked.” One fish sure would have been nice. Being quite competitive in nature, I did not think I would get this far when I first started, but here I am, free to trout fish any darn way I chose. Very early in my journey I read every trout fishing book in the Washington County library system and purchased a good deal more. Some of the books, written across the pond, expounded on the requirement in some local streams to only fish dries flies upstream, to rising trout, which struck me as utterly ridiculous. And yet I stand here today, not as a dry fly snob — please trout fish any way you choose — but certainly a dry fly enthusiast. Without the need to rack up numbers or size, I no longer feel the need to fish from dawn to dusk. I fish whatever is emerging at that time of the year. During the hex hatch I will sleep in and wait until 8 pm before leaving the cabin. Conversely, if it is trico time, I will be on the water at first light and off the water enjoying a late breakfast by 10:30 am, when the spinner fall is over. My overriding rule, however, is that the best time for trout fishing is whenever you can go — and often that is when nothing is hatching — so I always carry a fully stocked nymph box.
I taught my kids to fly fish which was very satisfying, and I now find that helping out a stranger at streamside is a joy as well. Having a new friend catch a fish is more rewarding now than catching one myself, something that would have never occurred to me when I first started.
My son, Brian, is following the same path, as I did. He sits at the vice tying huge pike flies often with gobs of yellow bucktail and red hackle feathers, replacements for the Five of Diamonds spoons I used to hurl out with my spinning rod when I was his age. He is also looking for big trout too using these streamers and fishing the hex hatch.
In contrast, my daughter reached the final stage before I did! She went from catch a fish, to just happy to get out on the stream. I realized this, one night when the trout were tearing into sulfurs like stripers in a school of menhaden and I was laser focused on my #18 comparadun bouncing down a riffle. She tapped me on the shoulder and told me to look up to see an incredible sunset that made my jaw drop. I felt sheepish knowing that I would have never noticed it had she not been there. She has become almost a brook trout purist and claims to only need one fly to catch them, a #18 CDC Caddis. She is out in the world now and I don’t get to fish with her much anymore but I can’t doubt her. Her fish photos are all of brook trout and unless she is secretly hitting up the fly shop bins that is the only fly she asks me to tie for her. She has no need for big fish, as the small brook trout are “so cute” and their small bodies “concentrate all their beauty.” When she reports catching no fish, I ask what was hatching and did she try a different fly say a nymph, streamer, comparadun, or soft hackle. No, she didn’t try those, but then I’ll receive photos of what she did “catch”; the deer that came streamside to get a drink, the beaver cruising up the opposite bank, the bald eagle watching over her, and the wildflowers. She is on to something. She never gets skunked.
Friday’s River Falls Fly Fishing Festival (R4F) gave many of us a chance to see each other in person, which long overdue, and to celebrate our own Mr. Steady, Gary Horvath, being honored as the national Conservationist of the Year by Fly Fisherman magazine. A full house of over 500 folks gave Gary a standing ovation and Fly Fisherman Editor Ross Purnell (Right) and Simms Fishing Products Marketing Director John Frazier (Left) gave Gary a check for $10,000 which will go toward the city’s share of the feasibility study with the Corps of Engineers.
Here’s what John Frazier had to say: “We have partnered with Fly Fisherman on the Conservationist of the Year award for many years. It always feels great to celebrate the achievements of individuals such as Gary Horvath,” says John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products. “But it’s also fundamentally essential to amplify their successes in a way that illustrates the fact that positive steps forward in the conservation landscape can happen, and they are happening. It’s our hope that highlighting these individuals and more importantly, their achievements will serve as an inspiration to others to engage, get involved, and take action.”
Greg Olson, president of Kiap-TU-Wish TU, told the magazine, “We’re grateful to Simms and to Fly Fisherman for recognizing Gary as the Conservationist of the Year,” Olson said. “It was rewarding to have his efforts over the past 30 years recognized, but more importantly it will raise awareness of our continuing efforts to raise money for the feasibility study. The R4F event was the perfect place to celebrate our successes and bring our community together. It was the perfect venue and a packed house!
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!
Scot Stewart is stepping down from the board after serving his three-year term. Scot was an outstanding board member and we will miss him. He had great ideas, advice, and contacts for our chapter, honed from his many years in DNR fisheries. He came up with many of the speakers for the chapter and gave an excellent talk himself. He readily volunteered for our activities and I am glad he will still be an active member. Thanks so much Scot!
Scott Larson would be a replacement for Scot Stewart. He is a knowledge management professional whose career is focused on connecting people with the information they need, when they need it, wherever they are. In his current role as the Director of Enterprise Content Management at the Metropolitan Council, he leads a team of records and knowledge management analysts to transform decades of disparate institutional data into relevant, actionable knowledge for the Council and its partners.
Born and raised in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region, he spent his free time exploring the vast network of rivers and streams with a fly rod in hand. After graduating High School, Scott made the decision to dedicate his life to public service. From 1998-2016, he served in active and reserve roles in the US military, spanning the Navy, Army, and the Air Force before retiring. During that time, he worked as a Gunners Mate, an Inspector General, a Civil Engineer, and a Knowledge Operations Manager. These roles prepared him with a unique understanding of servant leadership, transparency, and teamwork. He joined TU in 2018 with the goal of using his background and experience to contribute to TU’s mission of preserving the area’s fisheries with other like-minded individuals.
Ben replaced John Kaplan on the board after the business meeting last year, being elected by the board. He will be voted on by the chapter at the April meeting. Ben is passionate about getting younger members into the chapter and about making inroads at UW-RF. He can also get donations for our auction like no other! His bio follows:
I grew up on the Waupaca River three miles west of Waupaca, WI. Out my back door I had a wonder piece of river with spawning gravel, holes, boulders, and undercuts that provided me tons of opportunity to observe how and when trout move, eat, sleep, and of course, take or reject my offerings. I am blessed to have been raised on water and as an only child, I had built many solo memories wading down to my uncle’s house and reconstructing the river to pull fish in closer to shore where I could get a line to them. My ol’ man had an old Fenwick glass rod hanging on a couple nails in the back of the garage and he allowed me to purchase some newer fly line for it and my uncle had a few ol’ timer flies that he said caught all the fish. Just a couple 10/2 casting lessons and I was off on a new adventure. Little did I know it would be what I live and breathe for, but it’s truly a passion. I may not stay up with the trends and have all the new and improved gadgets, but I catch fish and enjoy fooling them.
I started out in TU back when I was in middle school and my mother drove me to the Fox Valley Chapter’s Cabin Fever days. I would listen to speakers and watch tying demos. Although, I didn’t have a mentor there that took me under his wing, I enjoyed being part of something that cared about the fish I so much enjoyed catching. Then high school and college days came around and life took a shift in my priorities. It wasn’t until around 2015 when I met Wyatt Bohm from the Frank Hornberg Chapter that I drew a strong interest in getting back into TU and freeing up some time to socialize and participate in TU meetings and events. I volunteered on workdays and was interested in becoming a board member. Little did I know, I would be offered a promotion at work and end up moving to NY. There I became a member of the Tiadaghton Chapter of TU and Twin Tiers Five Rivers FFi where I attended meetings for a short time before moving to TN. I transferred membership to the Hiawassee chapter 640, but couldn’t attend events as they were on Saturdays and I worked every other Saturday and a young family kept me tied down. Now I work Monday-Friday, no weekends and I desire to get involved. I can provide sincere dedicated involvement, help wherever needed, and provide flies for meetings from time to time. My strengths involve hard work and knowledge seeking. I would like to build up youth participation in the chapters.
has served on the board for almost 3 years after taking over for the sudden departure of a board member. Lucky for us, she has decided to run again. Michele has been a valuable member of the board. In the past year, she has headed up the 50th Anniversary hats/patches, Linda and Michele started the Stream Girls program, Missie and Michele wrote our Chapter of the Year submission, and she has been an integral part of the Auction team to just to name a few things. What follows is her bio:
I grew up outside of Minneapolis and lived in the southwest for 17 years after high school . One year, I came home from New Mexico for the summer. That summer turned into decades, as I rejoined parts of my family and later met my husband. Minnesota is now my home once again.
Love of and concern for water have been driving forces in my life. I learned how to swim, water-ski, sail and canoe as a kid. Later on, I learned to kayak, raft and now paddle board. But I never even thought about fly fishing until about 8 years ago.
When I lived in the west, I did everything outdoors except fishing: hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, rafting. In New Mexico, I worked as a VISTA Volunteer for NM Solar Energy Association. As a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), I learned carpentry from the bottom up, and eventually remodeled and modernized my 70- year old adobe home. Neither contracting, nor silversmithing, multi-level marketing or geology worked out for me. But those years sure were fun!!
Eventually, as I said, I found my way back to the midwest. After finally.. finishing college in the Twin Cities, I worked at the MN Correctional Facility at Shakopee (for women) and developed an accredited Construction Technology program. Next, I managed the Green Institute Lumber (reclaimed) Warehouse, did odd carpentry jobs and fixed up old houses. My last paying job before retirement was as Office Manager for Friends of the Mississippi River, St. Paul. Now I co-manage 3 rental units, all of which are over 100 years old.
My work history has been adventurous and eclectic. Yet there were three recurring themes: working for non-profits; helping women and girls gain self-confidence and try new things; and taking actions that support a healthier planet – with specific focus on water and trees.
About 8 year ago, another friend told me about an intro fly fishing class for women at Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Now I am an intermediate fly fisher, according to Cody, the guide I hired in Yellowstone this summer. To be expert, he said, I needed to master the drift and the mend. Thanks Cody – maybe I’ll be back next summer for my review… Fly fishing has given me a deeper dimension in which to engage and interact with water. I never realized how fascinating aquatic insects and their life cycles could be! I never took the time to admire or think about fish!
Every time I fish, I learn something new. While exploring known or new river stretches, I often meet friendly folks on the river who more times than not, share tips and flies. Sometimes I even catch fish! Fly fishing has given me new reasons to explore the Bighorns and the Absorokas, the mountains of northern NM and southern Colorado, Yellowstone and the Wind River Range; new reasons to visit and fish the BWCA, the North Shore and of course, closer to home, the rivers and streams of SE MN and Western WI.
Recently, I served on the board of Fly Fishing Women of MN (FFWMN) for two years, mentoring and helping with event logistics. With this club, I joined other club members for the yearly cleanups organized out of the Rush River Gun Club. Through collaboration between Friends of the Mississippi River and the MN DNR, I’ve helped with fish counts on the Vermillion. When TCTU was restoring the banks of the Vermillion a few years ago, I helped with brush clearing. I’m a member of TU through the TCTU chapter as well as the Laughing Trout Fly Tying group in Wayzata.
I would like to help more people get into fly fishing. Fly fishing is a ready avenue to sparking concern and passion for the environment, and specifically water quality and habitat. As a woman on the Kiap-TU-Wish board, I could serve as a role model for other women and girls to take notice and consider that they too, might try this unique activity and maybe add it to their lives.
I have strong organizational, logistical and writing experience. I am flexible, willing to try new things and play well with others. Being a board member would provide more options for me to give back to the waters in Wisconsin – through restoration and advocacy efforts.
On January 2nd, the latest issue of Fly Fisherman magazine will hit the stands. A featured article will announce that Gary Horvath was named the magazine’s 2023 Conservationist of the Year for his work on the campaign to remove the Powell and Junction Falls dams located on the lower Kinnickinnic River. Gary continues to inform and educate the general public and the River Falls city council on the negative effects the dams have on the trout population and the habitat that supports it. He has assisted with scientific studies, written grants, and spearheaded fundraising efforts with the help of other chapter members and members of the KinniCC. Now the benefits of all this hard work are starting to appear. If a proposed feasibility study is initiated by the Army Corp of Engineers and proves favorable, both dams could be taken out much sooner than expected. Thank you Gary for being our chapter’s lead on this issue year, after year, and for keeping the faith in spite of all the ups and downs.
Be sure to get your tickets for the River Falls Film Festival on March 3rd at Tattersall. During the event, Gary will receive his award from Ross Purnell, editor of Fly Fishing Magazine and John Frazier, Simms marketing director, who will be presenting the chapter a check for $10,000, in Gary’s honor, to aid in dam removal/restoration efforts. Let’s have a huge chapter turn out and a standing ovation for Gary when he receives this much deserved award!!!
Trout Unlimited describes it’s STREAM Girls program as one that “builds confidence and breaks down barriers in science and the outdoors. Through the eyes of a scientist, artist, and angler, girls make a personal connection to their home waters.”
The KiapTUWish Chapter of Trout Unlimited conducted its first STREAM Girls event on May 21, 2022. The Ellsworth Rod and Gun club donated use of their facility for the event which was attended by ten Girl Scouts from Girl Scouts River Valley. The girls participated in a multi-faceted program which included eight core activities; STREAM walk, Go with the Flow, Fly casting, Macro-invertebrate survey, Fly tying, STREAM scavenger hunt and bracelets, and Reflection and Discussion. Linda Radimecky and Michele Bevis served as the program leaders and were supported by a host of volunteers who offered their expertise as the activities unfolded.
The girls were welcomed by Linda and Michele who provided the ground rules for the event along with writing materials and the STREAM Girls Handbook. Girl Scouts staff member, Meghan Belanger, coordinated the logistics and recruitment of the Girl Scouts who represented several Scout chapters from different regions of eastern Wisconsin and central Minnesota. The four Team Leaders, Ellody and Emilene Nemeth, Holly Wandersee, and Lindsay Maxfield, helped each Girl Scout get fitted and put on the waders and boots they would wear for the day.
The girls divided into 4 teams and completed each event with their respective youth Team Leader.
The first event was a STREAM Walk, hosted by Kasey Yallaly (WDNR) and Missie Hanson (MNDNR, Ret.). During this time the girls learned about the make-up of the river, its water clarity, what type of bottom it contained and if it was composed of riffles, runs, and pools. The Riparian Zone (streamside plants) was studied to determine the different types of vegetation growing along the streambank and if there was any evidence of wildlife. As an aftermath, the girls were asked to discuss their impressions of the stream and to write down what they observed.
Rainbow Barry (Biology, River Falls) and Kasey Yallaly lead the girls through the Go with the Flow event. Girls worked together to measure the stream velocity and calculate the area of a cross-section of ’their’ river. Once they had determined the velocity and area, they calculated the flow in cubic feet per second. They experienced the relevance of Math in understanding importance river functions; some girls even liked the Math part!
Instruction on Fly Casting was provided by Linda Radimecky (Mn State Park Naturalist) and Monta Hayner (teacher and certified Orvis guide) with added assistance from some of the volunteers. Each girl was provided a fly rod and reel which allowed them to experience some great hands-on instruction.
Lunch was provided by Judie Babcock and the Kinni Corridor Collaborative (KinniCC). The KinniCC is a public, non-profit, river community development association located in River Falls Wisconsin working with the Wisconsin DNR to restore the Kinnickkinnic river corridor below the Junction Falls Dam following removal of the Powell Dam. Judie and husband Dave delighted the Girls STREAM Team by recording a group picture using a drone to capture images of the group and the surrounding stream environment. You can view this on YouTube at https://youtu.be/uOtAgVCUP5o.
The afternoon sessions consisted of Fly Tying, Macro-invertebrate studies, a scavenger hunt and bracelet making. Grace Glander demonstrated how to tie a Wooly Bugger as the girls tied along with her. Cindy Winslow (retired biology teacher) provided an in-depth study of major insects using multiple visual aids to help the girls with the identification of insects they might capture when in the stream with their collection nets.
The last 2 programs of the day incorporated the “A” for Art in the STREAM Girls program. The Team Leaders led the girls on a Scavenger Hunt to locate and identify nine parts of a healthy stream, parts such as riffles, plants and rocks. Then the girls returned to the lodge and assembled a line of beads that each represented one of the nine stream parts they had learned about that day. This bracelet keepsake would serve to remind them of a healthy stream.
Late afternoon was highlighted with a session of on-stream fishing. Each girl was paired with a mentor who gave instructions on how to fish for trout. The girls were shown where the trout might be hiding and how to cast and present the fly; some were lucky enough to experience catching a trout.
The day closed with the Girl Scout pledge and each girl receiving a certificate of participation and a STREAM Girls Trout Unlimited badge.
KiapTUWish would like to thank the following volunteers who donated their time and knowledge in order to make the first KiapTUWish STREAM Girls program a huge success.
Linda Radimecky, Michele Bevis, Emilene Nemeth, Ellody Nemeth