Kiap-TU-Wish’s Tree Whisperer

Kiap-Tu-Wish’s Tree Whisperer: Last spring Don Fritz was one of the volunteers who helped plant trees at both Wilson and Cady Creeks. Don lives on a nearby bluff overlooking the Cady site. Fisheries Biologist Kasey Yallaly was concerned about the survival of the newly planted trees at the Cady site due to the severe drought conditions our area was experiencing. Thankfully, Don offered to keep an eye on them during the summer. Over the course of the summer, he drove down to the site with his ATV, towing a wagon containing a portable pump and hose, and, with the help of his wife Katie and friend Al Schmalz, they kept the trees watered and  in good shape through the summer. 

Don volunteered again to assist with the tree planting last week at Gilbert Creek and trailered over his ATV and watering setup. With an assist from Tom Schnadt, the two of them followed behind those of us planting trees  and gave each one a good soaking.  Don has volunteered to keep an eye on this new batch of trees over the summer to make sure that they survive this critical first year after planting.

So all of us at Kiap-TU-Wish would like to say “Thank You” to Don for making sure the trees at Cady and Gilbert Creek will get a chance to thrive in their new environment.

Fly Tyers Corner

Fly Tyers Corner:

Jonathan Jacobs’ x-Caddis

Hook:  Firehole Outdoors #419 16-18
Thread:  Magpie Materials Red 72D
Shuck:  Straight Zelon, Caddis Tan
Body:  Antron 100% pure, Hare’s ear color
Wing:  x-Caddis hair

From the Editor:
Since it’s Spring here in the Driftless, I felt that it might be a good idea for a bit of education on the life cycle of an important trout food source the Caddisflies: Order Trichoptera.

I contacted my good friend and fly fisher Jonathan Jacobs and asked him if he would consider putting together a brief video-based treatise on Caddisflies. Naturally, Jon, being the good guy that he is, consented. So, we have for your viewing pleasure, two enlightening videos that will give you a pretty nice overview of Caddisflies. You can find them by going to Jon’s YouTube channel at these addresses.,

The first video covers the life cycle of the Caddis and Jon shows us a bunch of patterns that mimic every stage of Caddis development starting with the larvae and progressing to the pupa, and finally the adult. In the second video, Jon ties his version of the x-Caddis, a fly every local angler should carry.

So thank you Jonathan for taking time to do this for us. I’m sure every one viewing will find a few nuggets that will up their catch rate over this coming season.

Habitat Update

Habitat Update: Activities in Fall through Winter 2023- 2024

This past season I posted MailChimp notices for 33 events encouraging individuals to get involved with boots on the ground habitat related projects.  Volunteers participated in 3 seeding/mulching events involving projects on both the Trimbelle River and Parker Creek.  We conducted one tree planting day where volunteers helped plant bare root seedling at both Wilson and Cady Creeks. Volunteers turned out to assist the DNR shocking crew at 3 events in August on the Rush, Kinni, and Willow Rivers. 

There were 4 different opportunities to work directly with school age children, two Greenwood Elementary School service/learning days where 60-80 3rd grade students turned out with their teachers and adult chaperones to help burn cut brush from a site on Quarry Rd on the Kinni and, just this spring there was the chance to turn out and assist while 50 some Ellsworth High School FFA students and their instructor helped burn brush and slash from box elders on a stretch of the Trimbelle just downstream of the GasLite Bar.  One of the FFA students was also a boy scout and he requested that I hold another brush burn for his fellow scouts two weeks later where 5 scouts along with 7 family members and 4 Kiap-TU-Wish volunteers conducted another burn on this same stretch of the Trimbelle.  

I held 26 separate brush/tree cutting work days this past calendar year. A lack of snow cover dictated when, where and how we worked. Brush and trees were cut at the Quarry Road. site in the month of October in preparation for the Greenwood event. Following that, we moved our operations upstream on the Kinni and gained access to the north bank through the Patrick Traynor’s property.  With the lack of snow cover in December and January, being able to park in Patrick’s outlot and hike and haul equipment the short distance down to the Kinni made life much easier.  The lack of snow cover also necessitated the need to bring along a pump to each workday in order to extinguish the fires before leaving. After working at the Traynor location, we moved to the opposite bank gaining access through the handicap fishing pier access. 

Further cutting opportunities this past season were at the Red Cabin site on the Kinni, the Trimbelle location downstream of the GasLite and finally on Steeple Drive on the upper Kinni where we got a head start on work which I hope to resume this coming winter. 

I did post looking for volunteers to assist with opening blue bird nest boxes in the fall and closing them up again this spring and always found volunteers willing to assist. There are currently 283 individuals who receive my Mail Chimp postings seeking volunteers. Out of that number, 72 turned out to help with at least 1 workday event. On the other hand, there are individuals who are disappointed on the rare weekend when I don’t provide a work opportunity over the winter months.  Among those volunteering by name and number of work days were :  Jim Tatzel 22, Dave Gregg 20, Tom Anderson 16, Jeff Dahl 14, John Skelton 13, Scott Wagner 11, Steve Cox 10, Matt Janquart 9, Dave Kozlovsky 9, James Patterson 8, Ted Higman 8,
Loren Haas 8, and Chip Robinson 7.  The highest turnout for any one workday was 16 volunteers.  In the pre-Covid years, attendance at workdays was occasionally as high as 30. 

I hope to see an increase in the volunteer turnout in the coming year. The DNR no longer has money or manpower in their budget to conduct maintenance work on the multitude of easements which exist. Without volunteer input, these stretches of water would soon become overgrown and  a lot harder to access.  There are miles of easement which have not seen any attention for years.  I’m 71 now and would like to at least make a dent in that before finally having to put my chainsaws out to pasture. 

Thank you all for all your hard work this past season.


Skip’s Loose Threads

A Minimal Arsenal of Flies for Fooling Fish in Local Waters All Season Long.
By Skip James

I know fishermen who carry every fly they own in their vests, and others who carry only those that imitate the prevailing hatch. There are flies that work well, casting to fish you can see, probably feeding close to or in the surface, and others that you use when you are searching for promising water. Here are the six I wouldn’t ever be without, whether here in Wisconsin or on a big western river. I provided enough material info so you can tie them yourself, and, if you have questions, call me. 715-690-4503 Tight lines!

This is my number one ‘nymph’, for fishing in streamy water, near undercut banks, in deep holes. Back in 1971, I was catching trout in a pool on the Kinni that now is under the Hwy 35 Byway, and another angler, coming downstream, who identified himself as Andy Miner, asked to see my fly. When he looked at it, he said: “What a ‘mother’ that one is” and the name, though pejorative, stuck. This is the same Andy Miner who bred Blue Andalusian roosters for their neck hackles and was the original supplier to Buck Metz in Pennsylvania. I tied flies for Andy, in exchange for necks, for several years.

Weighted “Mother” #8-10 

Thread: Gray, 6/0

Hook: standard dry fly, down eye

Weight: lead-free wire on the front half of the hook, under the dubbing Dubbing: Dubbing: Muskrat, complete with guard hairs, well picked out

Rib: Gold flat tinsel

Hackle: Grey Grouse soft hackle

This Caddis imitation is my number two ‘nymph’, for riffes particularly.

Caddis Pupa #12-16

Thread: Dark green, 8/0

Hook: Curved, pupa down eye

Bead: Copper

Dubbing: Medium green SLF or other similar, well picked out
Rib: Medium copper wire

These two I use as dry flies, fished to risers, sometimes dead drift, sometimes ‘on the swing.’ I owe a debt of thanks to the author of “Designing Trout Flies”, Gary Borger, for his concept of a ‘wet-dry’ fly. Early season, use the green one. When Sulphurs appear, use the yellow one.

Little Green Thing: #16-18

Thread: Light green, 8/0

Hook: standard dry fly, down eye Dubbing: Medium olive SLF

Hackle: Light grey Grouse soft hackle, sparse, same length as hook shank

Little Yellow Thing: #16-18
Thread: Yellow, 8/0

Hook: standard dry fly, down eye Dubbing: Medium yellow SLF

Hackle: Light grey Grouse soft hackle, sparse, same length as hook shank

On our local waters, you need a great Trico imitation, since that hatch occupies so much of the season. The advantage of this one is that you can see it from forty feet away in riffes, where the trout are rising. The Badger hackle’s black center gives the impression of a solid thorax, although with no additional bulk or weight. The gold edges show up very well in morning light.

Skip’s Trico #22

Thread: Black, 8/0, wrapped over the entire shank
Hook: standard dry fly, down eye

Dubbing: none

Tails: 3 strands clear Microfibetts, spread wide.

Hackle: #22 Badger (black center, cream edge) wrapped from middle of the hook to the eye, and clipped flat on the bottom. Whiting Farms sized hackle packs is a good source.

Your favorite Grasshopper pattern, #10, long shank.

My favorite, probably because it was invented by Bob Mitchell, is the “Jolly Green Giant.” But if you have confidence in a different hopper pattern, use it.

Reel Recovery

Reel Recovery is Looking for a Few Good Men

This September, Reel Recovery will be hosting another Midwest retreat for men living with cancer in the Wisconsin Driftless Area. Tom Sather from the WI Clearwaters Chapter, and Bruce Maher and Scott Wagner from the WI Kiap-TU-Wish Chapter are teaming up to host a Reel Recovery Retreat for men living with cancer at the Oxbow Hotel, Eau Claire, WI from September 4-6, 2024. 

Reel Recovery is a national non-profit organization that conducts fly-fishing retreats for men living with cancer. Reel Recovery’s mission is to help men in the recovery process by sharing with them the healing powers of the sport of fly-fishing, while providing a safe, supportive environment to explore their personal experiences with cancer, with others who share their stories. Retreats are offered at no cost to the participants and are led by professional facilitators and expert fly-fishing instructors. Reel Recovery provides all meals, lodging and fly-fishing equipment, and no previous fishing experience is required. Reel Recovery’s overarching goal is to improve the lives of the men it serves. 

Though only a few days in duration, a Reel Recovery Retreat can be a life-changing event for these men living with cancer. The Retreats provide male cancer patients with information, education and a network of support that will help them as they proceed through their cancer treatment and/or recovery. Retreat leaders provide participants an opportunity to gain new insights about living with cancer, about managing their disease and about coping with the psychological, social and emotional aspects of having cancer. 

By sharing their stories with others who have gone through a variety of experiences with cancer, Retreat Participants learn about treatment options, navigating the healthcare system, dealing with insurance issues, facing mortality, coping with stressful family and work-related situations ─ in sum the whole gamut of experiences that life with cancer entails. By learning from others in similar situations, Retreat Participants gain a fresh perspective about their disease and renewed hope about fighting and surviving it.

Trout Unlimited members living with cancer are encouraged to sign up to participate in a Reel Recovery retreat, and to encourage men they know who are living with cancer to learn more about Reel Recovery. Trout Unlimited members are also encouraged to consider volunteering as a Fishing Buddy for future Reel Recovery Retreats.

Fishing Buddies pair up one-on-one with Retreat Participants to support and mentor them during the fly-fishing sessions of the Retreat. 

For more information about signing up as a Retreat Participant, or volunteering as a Fishing Buddy for future retreats, contact Reel Recovery at or call 800-699-4490.

Views From My Side of the Vise

In my last RipRap article I mentioned taking some fly tying classes at the old Bentley’s Fly Shop. In addition to the Uncased Kinni Caddis, one other fly pattern that was introduced to me was a scud. As my fly tying journey was getting underway, my trout fishing journey was just beginning. In fact, the first trout I ever caught was on an Orange Scud that I tied.

Jumping ahead a couple years, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Laughing Trout Fly Tying Club. As I settled into a routine of tying with the group on Wednesday evenings, I would hear them mention a fly they called a PPP or sometimes a Potter’s. They would mention the fly, but would never share any details about it. It took a few weeks before any of the members would give me any kind of clue about what this “secret” fly was.

In time, I guess I earned their trust enough to learn that the fly was Potter’s Perfect Pupa. The fly was created by an early member of the group, Dennis Potter. Dennis took a scud-style hook, added a tungsten bead, a length of red wire and black rabbit fur that he tied in with a dubbing loop, and voilà, the Potter’s or PPP was created.  The fly took on legendary status on a trip to the Whitewater River by Dennis, Rich Frick and Jim Thomson when it was the only fly that caught fish and that was a group of fishermen that rarely had trouble putting fish in the net.

Some fly-tyers just can’t leave well enough alone (present company included). By the time I joined Laughing Trout, members of the group had put their own spin on the original pattern by changing sizes and dubbing color. One of those variations was a tan Potter’s that was tied with UV Ice Dubbing. I tried tying the fly that way and started catching fish on a regular basis.

When I started to donate fly boxes to Trout Unlimited and other groups, I felt like the fly needed just a little more refinement to look good in a box, so I added a Latex Scud Back. For dubbing I like to mix about half and half tan UV Ice Dubbing and natural rabbit dubbing together in a

coffee grinder (preferably in an appliance dedicated to mixing dubbing so the rabbit fur doesn’t end up in your morning brew).

Hook:           Size 12 – 16 Scud Hook

Bead:           Gold Tungsten to match hook

Shell:           Latex Scud Back

Rib:              Red wire, size Brassie

Abdomen:    UV Ice Dubbing and Natural Rabbit Fur Dubbing

There are a lot of days on the stream that it seems if you cannot catch a fish on a Potter’s, you might just as well call it a day and go home.

Paul Johnson

Waconia, Minnesota