BLACK EARTH CREEK, DANE COUNTY — Wisconsin’s early catch-and-release trout season was uncharacteristically sunny and warm, air temperature reaching 50 degrees by noon. The weather, as much as catching fish, grabbed the attention of most anglers.
Still banks of popular streams, including Black Earth Creek in Dane County, were not particularly crowded.
The early season has several restrictions on all streams, the main caution being trout must be immediately released back into the water, although some anglers take a few seconds for a selfie or put a buddy on the shutter button. No fish may be kept. Only artificial lures can be used, but the hook barbs need not be filed off or bent back, as was the case a number of years ago.
Despite unseasonable temperatures, the fish were still lethargic. Joel Kahl described one of the fish he caught as moving in slow motion to take the spinner.
“A bluebird day,” was how many anglers described the weather.
The phrase, bluebird day, is usually reserved for a beautiful sunny day, sometimes after an overnight snowfall and certainly not connected with spring or even the migratory bird, except the color.
For those anglers who went with the adage of “an early bird gets the worm,” some ventured out shortly after the 5 a.m. opening time. To others, they were perplexed with the 5 a.m. start and realized that this season had nothing to do with worms, but strictly artificial lures, spinners and various flies, instead.
Jed Lebeck of Oconomowoc more than an hour’s drive away, has about two years of fly-fishing under his waders’ suspenders. “It’s my favorite since I started fly-fishing. There are fewer people and no bugs and vegetation is not overhead,” he said.
Since trout action is often related to the water temperature, water from springs flowing into a trout stream often warm the water, creating better catching. If the air temperature warms too much and there is snow cover, the water running back into the stream from snow melt, cools the stream water and slows fishing.
Many trout anglers will continue to venture out during this early season but it is unlikely they will see a day like this until March, several months before the regular season opens to catch-and-keep trout on most waters.
Jerry Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.