Driftless Early Season Opener 2019

As with all good stories, it started with a text string. I’ve never been on the water with Mark, but we’d always talked about it. At first I didn’t notice the other number, but soon realized he had looped in another fishy guy, Pat and we were quickly locking down details. I hadn’t wet a line with Pat either, so I was getting excited to not only be getting out again, but to be starting the year on the water with some new fishing buddies.

With the forecast expecting crazy warm temps, we were able to rope in Keith, and we had a foursome. As we finalized plans - the famed 59/90 meet up, fly patterns, and streams, family obligations popped up and Mark had to make a last second trip to MI, and wouldn’t be able to join us.

With coffees in hand we met up and started the trip towards the Driftless. The trip was a great way to get to know each other a bit better, share Driftless experiences and learn a bit more about Pat’s writing career. By day he works in creative marketing, and by night he writes for some of the industries best fly fishing magazines. Some of his recent works include the DRAKE, The FLYFISH JOURNAL, and FLY FISHERMAN. It was great to learn more about the process of submitting articles and working with the different editorial staffs. I’ve enjoyed his humor in what I had read prior and I look forward to future articles.

Between the three of us, we passed the time quickly, and before we knew it, we were making our final turns to the stream of choice. As we rolled down in to the valley, we drove a good length of the stream, finding our spot empty, and full of promise.

With the temps in the 40’s, we had high hopes for the day and honestly, for me, I just felt lucky to be out. Having Keith along and getting to spend some time with him was a great surprise, and I was hoping to get in a few good photos, and maybe hook a few fish along the way.

It didn’t take long, only four casts with a small black streamer, and I hooked a nice mid size brown, that darted out of some deep water cover, at the back end of a pool. Soon after, Pat was on the board on a nymph rig, and Keith followed up with a nice brown as well. We bounced around as the temperatures rose, leaving us peeling off layers and reaching more for our water than the normal hot coffee.

Keith provided the highlight of the day, raising and hooking a fish on a size 22 dry. Fish on dries can be rare in January, so hearing Keith found a willing eater was great to hear.

Rising temps soon had the snow melting, and water temps dropping. It wasn’t long before the consistent bite turned off, and we ran in to other anglers. Completing our stretch led us to already-fished water, by a couple of anglers and their young group of kids. It was great to see families spending time together outdoors.

By all accounts, this was a great and very successful Opener, and a hopeful start to a successful season. Hope everyone was able to get out when the weather cooperated, and those battling the cold, may you find open water and willing fish.