Mike Miller’s Eco-Logic Fly Fishing Workshop Summary
By Dick D.
On Saturday, May 8th members of Chicago based NIFT (http://www.northernillinoisflytyers.blogspot.com) Bob, Dave, Dick, Herb, Jim G., Marty & Mel and Milwaukee based MLSFF (http://www.mlsff.org/) Chris, Dick & Jon met at the West Fork Sportsman’s Club in Avalanche, Wisconsin for this workshop. We were joined by major supporters of the West Fork Sportsman’s Club Bob, Roger and June Widner.
The purpose of the workshop was to learn about trout stream ecology (geography, stream health, invertebrates, electro-shocking of fish, fly patterns, and angling opportunities) through hands on activities.
After Mike’s introduction to the day’s schedule some of us waded into the West Fork of the Kickapoo River and collected samples of the stream’s invertebrates (Mike refers to them as “inverts”). The collection of “inverts” were placed in shallow trays and allowed to settle. After a few minutes the “inverts” started moving around the trays. With plastic spoons we relocated the living bugs to the compartments in ice cube trays. The “inverts” were sorted by types. The assortment of bugs included several types of mayfly larva, large and small stonefly larva, net spinning caddis larva, scuds aka fresh water shrimp, crayfish, midge larva, damselfly larva, crane fly larva, and aquatic worms. While in the stream Mike picked up several rocks and showed us some cased caddis larva, net spinning caddis filters, scuds, etc. We also looked at water clarity through a long clear plastic tube, that’s what Marty is doing in the photo.
After sorting the “inverts” we did some arithmetic to measure the health of the West Fork of the Kickapoo River. It scored Good to almost Excellent. This is a very positive sign that the river is healthy.
After a discussion on our findings we went back to the river. Mike was going to electro-shock and net some fish for us. Using a small backpack electro shocking device that’s powered by a motorcycle battery he shocked numerous brown trout and a couple of brook trout. All the fish looked well fed and healthy. A couple of the brown trout were temporarily placed in water filled plastic bags for us to view close up and dream about catching some in the future.
In summary, Mike Miller showed us how to look at a stream and evaluate its health based on the variety and numbers of bugs (“inverts”) found in the water, the geographic distribution of trout streams in Wisconsin, the impact of current land use near streams/rivers, a brief history of land use in Wisconsin that severely damaged many trout streams and the work that has been done to help them recover.
Mike’s shared with us some of his favorite fly patterns and the recipes to tie them. He told us about the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources trout map website and the wealth of information it has: http://dnr.wi.gov/fish/species/trout/streammaps.html
He wished us lots of success in our Wisconsin trout stream fishing endeavors.
It was a terrific learning experience that all of us enjoyed. We appreciated all of Mike’s efforts to educate us on trout stream health and all the trout fishing opportunities that exist in Wisconsin.
Mike we all thank you for a great learning experience.