They say to choose your battles wisely. The same could be said about fishing. I hear so many people say how they struggle catching fish this time of year and in most cases it’s true, but it needn’t be. The people who struggle in August do so because they fish now like they did in May. It could work occasionally, but mostly it won’t and you’ll go home empty handed. Other people at the boat launch will say the same thing and that will make you feel good. I agree that fishing can be tough in August unless you change location and baits.
I love to escape those problems by heading to rivers. The Upper St. Croix, Flambeau, Namekagon, Chippewa, Red Cedar, and even smaller rivers like the Yellow, Black and the Eau Claire are the best places to be now. Fishing gets better on those size rivers and traffic is less than on the lakes and larger rivers. Muskie are turning on and soon all fish that swim will be putting on the fall feed bag in preparation for winter. Smallmouth bass will drive you crazy on surface lures this time of year.
Trout streams are also a great place to be this time of year. A lot of the anglers who were out earlier in the year won’t be found on trout streams now. Tall weeds and grasses along shore, as well as thick brush with a lot of bugs, make “jungle fishing” a thing to be avoided and many smaller trout streams are just about impassable now.
For those brave enough to venture out on a trout stream can find themselves with no competition except for a few great blue herons and a bittern or maybe a kingfisher. Hatches may not be as common this time of year, making nymphs and wet flies a better way to proceed. But if a hatch is taking place simply grab a bug out of the air and match it to something in your fly box.
Soon grasshoppers will be making a ruckus along trout streams and there isn’t a trout alive that can say no to a fat hopper. Big trout like to take them and that’s the best reason to fish them. Wisconsin has over 2,900 trout streams stretching out over 13,000 miles throughout the state.
I grew up on a farm near the Rush River and spent a lot of time there. I remember my oldest brother Bob coming home one day with an 8 pound brown. Back then he caught crayfish and broke off their tails, exposing all that white flesh. As tasty to a brown as lobster is for us, it was a proven technique for big browns. The Kinnickinnic River near River Falls was another favorite place to fish. Fly-fishing was the most fun and the Kinni is full of smaller trout so anyone can catch trout there on a fly.
Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at email@example.com.