Some of my earliest and best fly fishing memories are of Castle Rock Creek in Grant County, Wisconsin. This creek is located just outside of Fennimore and is labeled Fennimore Fork on most maps. My brother Joe and I were intensely devoted to that creek between 1993 and 1999 and we still stop by to look it over each year – walking its banks and remembering. Back then, we fished it from early morning until dark. Sometimes we would return after dark to see if we could raise a larger trout on a muddler minnow stripped through its big pools. Be careful if you do the same – the banks are intermittent at times and it would be pretty easy to take a mis-step. We also worked this water throughout the season: we fished it early in the season; we fished it in the heat of summer; and we fished it just before the season closed. We even named various sections for our own purposes. “Stilly’s Run” was a reliable piece of water below a shallow riffle in the first bend below the big spring – it seldom disappointed us as we swung a #14 or #16 olive scuds downstream to fool the rainbow trout that lurked there. The “big spring” is located just north of Church Road on Cty Tk Q.

Castle Rock Creek

Castle Rock Creek

This is also the spot that I brought my kids to at the ages of 7 and 9 to put them through their paces with a flyrod. My daughter Caitlin idolized me back then. To be honest, I think she still does. She would follow my instruction to the letter when pursuing her trout. I remember one early spring as we walked across frosted grasses to get to the creek – it was cold. I told Caitlin that she had to crawl on her belly to the edge of the creek and be careful not to spook the trout. Then I watched in amazement as she reached the creek in this fashion, snagged her fly on a submerged piece of wood, and then carefully pulled back on her fly line, snapping off the fly so as not to disturb the water. Wow, some lucky guy is going to owe me big some day.

Caitlin shows off a Rainbow that she caught at Stilly's Run

Caitlin shows off a Rainbow that she caught at Stilly’s Run

Castle Rock Creek is a great place to take a kid – not because it is easy to catch trout there (because it is not), but because the creek runs through open pasture and there is plenty of room to cast a fly rod and provide some instruction. This gives a beginner the chance to get their line on the water and practice their technique – both in the air and in the water. In addition, the creek is very shallow at some of the riffles making for easy crossing. Kids love the feeling of walking through moving water: it’s an adventure. And those same shallow riffles provide a chance to turn over rocks and examine the aquatic insects that the trout love to eat.

Caitlin and Daniel at Castle Rock Creek

Caitlin and Daniel at Castle Rock Creek

Castle Rock is a spring creek in the truest sense. The section that we like to fish along Cty Tk Q has a large spring flowing in from the south and the water is crystal clear there. As I said earlier, the creek runs through farm land and we are sometimes disappointed when the farmer’s freshly plowed field combines with an early spring rain to muddy things up. However when Castle Rock Creek is clear, it is a flyfishing dream – showing off deep aqua-maring pools as it meanders along undercut banks. Most of the hatches here are caddis in the #18 to #14 range. The “little black caddis” comes off from late April into May and reliably brings up fish. Mayflies range from the smallest that you can imagine to some that reach a #14 size, although we have rarely seen these larger species. Leeches and small bait fish can be mimicked with various streamer patterns. There are also crustaceans like scuds and cressbugs in the mix so most of your spring creek flies get the job done.

Castle Rock Rainbow

Castle Rock Rainbow

We have caught some big trout here – both rainbows and browns. I’m talking in the 18” to 21” range. In our early years, Joe and I used to approach this water with a competitive spirit. Who would land the first fish? Who would catch the most fish? Who would catch the biggest trout of the day? We kept a close tally (or at least I did). I remember the stretch of water just above the farmer’s bridge where we have each caught some bruisers by swinging bigger streamers down through the fast water above the bridge and then stripped them back up along the banks. One year, Joe hooked a truly spectacular rainbow trout in that section. As he played it, I jumped into the creek, net in hand, to help land it. It got off at the net and a 10-year shadow came over me – did I intentionally bump the fish off the line or was I really trying to net it? I truly was trying to net that fish. One lesson was learned here for sure: to each his own. It is your battle to win or lose and, once won, it is even the sweeter that you conquered your prey yourself!

The author with Castle Rock Creek trout in hand

The author with trout taken on Castle Rock Creek

Accomodations
If you go to Fennimore to fish Castle Rock Creek or any of the other amazing streams in this area, you can find accomodations as follows.

Fenmore Hills Motel: http://www.fenmorehillsmotel.com
The Fenmore Hills Motel is just outside of Fennimore on Hwy 18. You have to drive through Fennimore and continue west to find it and it is easy to find. These are spacious rooms and we like this location for easy access to the Big Green River early in the morning.

Eagle Creek Inn: http://www.eaglecreekinn.com
Another choice is the Eagle Creek Inn on mainstreet (also Hwy 18) in Fennimore. The Inn has a nice bar and restaurant and excellent food.

– Paul

Advertisements