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The winter catch-and-release trout season can present weather challenges for anglers.

Trout anglers remember last summer, when nature threw a wave at them with record high water. Last summer trout fishing and catching had just begun to “get good” and then the high waters hit. Many put their flyrod away for the year.

All Bret Schultz of Black Earth could do was to grin and accept it. It was more than losing six weeks of great autumn fishing on his favorite backyard fishing holes.

“It was my wife who joked about it on our return to 6 or more feet of water in our basement,” Schultz said. “She remarked, ‘You’ve been going to the trout streams all these many years and it looks like the stream finally came to you.’ ”

It was several weeks before Schultz was on the water after the flood, something that would almost never happen with the everyday trout angler. He looked at Black Earth Creek but rarely fished it the rest of the season.

“BEC didn’t clear up within a couple weeks like many streams a few miles away,” he said. “And while there were waters to fish nearby, some places were hit just as hard as Black Earth Creek. The Coulee Region near Coon Valley and Viola were as bad or worse.”

Schultz says the water in some stretches is still high for this time of the year in Black Earth Creek.

Daniel Oele, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist in Dane County, is not so much concerned with the fish populations, except for those that may have been low going into the flood.

“While the trout populations don’t generally concern me, Black Earth Creek may be different,” Oele said.

Studies have shown that within a few days, tagged fish are often back where they were before the high water, according to Oele.

“One thing the high water did do was to expose a lot of spawning substrate, so we expect a good year-class coming up,” Oele said. “Most fish will hunker down and ride it out. They’ve evolved over many generations.”

Fish survey work is planned for area streams between mid-June and mid-August. This work was planned even before the flood.

High water could have been worse if it had come in March or April because of younger fish that would have been present then.

“I’d be shocked if we didn’t lose some fish in BEC but believe we’ll find fish for the January opener. I plan to go to some of my favorite locations I usually visit during colder weather,” Schultz said.

Depending on the weather, Schultz expects to find some fish and land a couple, but he’s not sure. There are some areas of the stream that were very poor before the high water, however.

Always positive, Schultz looks on the bright side. “I get to go out,” he said. “That’s a plus. I’m curious about getting into some of the areas since the flooding. It’ll be an interesting winter and spring, that’s for sure.”

He knows BEC was hit hard, as were streams in the Coulee Region.

He’s hopeful, so don’t expect to find him sitting in his now-clean basement in the village of Black Earth.

Jerry Davis can be reached at sivadjam@mhtc.net.