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The Quest

The Quest - News: News

The Quest is a goal to catch a Trout in every US State.  Only three states don't have river Trout.  This journey started in the 90s in Colorado with my first Rainbow Trout and has reached 40+ states.  For detailed information and stories about each state or country, check out Locations in the main menu.

THE QUEST CURRENT STATUS  UPDATE: JANUARY 2023

First Trout caught on a Fly Rod was in 1999 in Colorado. Twenty-one years later, I have completed 44 of 50 States, plus 2 Canadian Providences. Finally, in January 2023, I achieved Kansas. I will throw a few casts in Mississippi in March 2023; maybe I will be fortunate. The issue is that the lake is stocked only in December.

FFRT MAP 2023-01-15.png

THE QUEST TIMELINE

JANUARY 2023 KANSAS TRIP (44 OF 50)

KANSAS:

Driving 11 hours from Chicago to my bed at I-135 Rest Stop, I was excited or scared of another failure in Kansas for a trout. But, before bed, I went to Lindborg, KS, for dinner. The Swedish town of Lindsborg is a brick-laid main street with white Christmas lights and two of the best coffee shops I've been to. I would be dining at the Crown & Rye for an excellent strip steak, baked potato, a large side salad, and two chardonnays.

I woke up at a rest stop with Brooke Trout and fed her breakfast before heading into Lindsbor. It was early. I wanted to get to the Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery when it opens at 6:30 am. I ordered a latte and sat in a nice leather chair, waiting for the sun to rise before heading 20 minutes to Kanopolis Lake and Sand Creek.   

The sun rose through the coffee shop window, and I was out the door after purchasing a t-shirt and sweatshirt for my coffee shop collection. The parking lot already had about seven cars, but most people fish and the end of the stream. My target was the artificial bait section, about 1/2 mile down the path. Brooke is getting old, 11, and gets to sleep in the car temperature was 26 this morning, going up to 52 with 20-mile-an-hour winds for the south. The south wind works well as I'm throwing my fly with the wind, 

I'm bringing two rods; my five-weight will be set up with a large stimulator pattern dry fly I received from my sister-in-law for Christmas and a blue-looking copper john. My second rod is a six-weight with an orange-headed black wooly bugger. When I got to pole 9, I ran into a fly fisherman with a felt cowboy hat who had just caught six trout on the same orange-headed black wooly bugger. Funny that he recognized me from my YouTube video! I'm famous...LOL! He also saw a video of someone from two weeks early using the same streamer. He also gave me his secret spot while he fished about 30 yards in front of me around a turn in the creek. While fishing, he caught eight more trout before me using the same fly.   I saw nothing in his secret spot. We flipped spots, and I caught nothing, and he didn't catch anything in his secret place. Two hours in, and I saw nothing. I thought this was going to be easy, and my forehead started to sweat in fear of another Kansas failure.

I walked up and down the stream while more and more people came into the stream. Good news, bad news, no one was catching any trout. The cowboy fly fisherman landed bass only now. Finally, at the beginning of the creek, I through a cast around a grassy point with my streamer and hooked a trout. Wow! It was a weird angle, so I did not set the hook correctly; it was just a lousy fishing technique. I lifted my rod instead of pulling the line to set the hook. After about seven seconds, the rainbow was off the hook. It was about 1:30 pm. Tired, I hobbled a mile back to the parking lot and drove off for lunch to Öl Stuga in Lindsborg, 

After a bacon cheeseburger and a Coors Light, I drove back to the stream. Brooke spent time on the way back meeting two fishing in the parking lot, going in and out of their legs. A happy old fishing dog! I was sorry she was not feeling well enough to walk to the stream as she was coming off a case of the flu. It was 2:30 pm, cloudy in the afternoon, and windy but warm, which should be good fishing weather. I returned to the best hole as I was running low on time. Most people were gone, but one guy was fishing live bait in the artificial section in the best spot. UGH! So, this was going to take longer.

I fished to the beginning of the stream again, flicking my streamer, which I had been using all day. After a couple of hours, I walked back, seeing only the two guys Brooke met in the parking lot, the bait fisherman was gone with his friends. OK, I'm sitting at the best hole now. After several casts with my streamer. I grabbed by five-weight with the dry dropper setup. On my third drift around the deep hole, my stimulator dips down violently, and I set the hook. At first, the rainbow fought hard, but then it got contentious closer to shore with a place to hide and break the line. I've learned in new states not to use the net but throw the trout out of the water onto the shore. Well, that is what I did. The 11-inch rainbow trout had wings and landed on the soft grass at 3:32 pm Saturday, January 14., 2023.   

As the sun set over Kanopolis Lake, it was time to fry up my catch around the corner at Kanopolis Lake Campgrounds. I had two bunches of hardwood in the car and a half-bottle pinot noir. So, Brooke and I hung out, relaxing and celebrating our achievements. Later, we drove back to the Crown and Rye for a T-bone steak, chocolate cake, and two glasses of zinfandel before saying good night at the I-135 rest stop.

OCTOBER 2022 MARYLAND TRIP (43 OF 50)

 

MARYLAND:
After years of research, two years, and four trips, I finally got my Maryland trout. Thanks to my new buddy Matt from Swallow Falls State park, he introduced me to Bear Creek!   This was another trip to Florida, going a long way through Maryland from Chicago.

The first attempt was in May of 2021. After 23 days on the road, I could only give Maryland about three hours of fishing time. I mapped Herrington Run(39.4641, -79.44386) and Muddy Creek (39.50115, -79.41734). The rain blew out Herrington Run, and it was not fishable. I couldn't find Muddy Creek because I decided not to pay the $5 entrance fee to the State Park. The instruction from the booth girl got me lost going the back way.

The second attempt was in late October 2021, after a 9-hour drive from Chicago. In the afternoon, I was one hour from Swallow Falls State Park in West Virginia to work at a Coffee Shop and fish Deckers Creek to try to catch my West Virginia. It was sunny and 60 degrees in West Virginia, and it only took 30 minutes to catch
 a 14-inch rainbow. So, it was off to Maryland; what could go wrong? As the sun was about to set, I decided not to fish and go out for dinner, a big mistake. As soon as I got out to the bar/restaurant, it poured for two days. Trip canceled.
The third attempt was in August 2022. I decided to give myself more time, so I budgeted three and a half days. How can you not catch a trout in three and a half days? 

Well, that is what happened. I tried everything, even six streams.
The fourth attempt was the charm. I decided I needed to help and ask a buddy I met on my third trip. Matt introduced me to Bear Creek. On my third cast, I hooked a nice rainbow on Bear Creek in the exact location that produced nothing in August. I lost it but got my confidence back. 

The next day, Matt met me at Bear Creek and gave insight into the stream. It took about an hour, then I cast into a deep pool by accident and landed my first Maryland Rainbow. It was a stocker and good enough to eat. I caught a couple of Wild Brook Trout upstream, which always makes me happy as the day ends.

AUGUST 2022 TENNESSEE VIA MARYLAND (42OF 50)
This trip is to Tennessee via Maryland.  Our friend rented a beautiful large log cabin overlooking the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee.  Lauren was flying to Knoxville to spend time with her sister, so I took the Brooke Trout and the new puppy River Gator.  I gave myself 3 1/2 days to catch a trout this time.  There is no real rain in the forecast, so this would be easy, except it was August.  The water will be shallow and warm.

MARYLAND:

#3 attempt at Maryland didn't go well.  I tried all my streams and new ones.  I could not catch a trout.  Nothing all morning, all afternoon, and all as the sun was setting.  I set camp at Swallow Falls State Park again.  I love this state park!  Clean showers and easy access to trout fishing.  My neighbor at the campsite was a fly fisherman also; River Gator kept going into their camp.  He fished the Youghiogheny River at the bottom of the falls and pulled out a Brown Trout.  While I fished Mud Creek at the top of the falls, I caught nothing. 

 

I talked to him for a couple of days after I was fishing the Savage River with no luck.  He told me about Bear Creek.  I tried that on my last day. He told me about his spot, but there were two cars, so I fished upstream for Wild Brooke Trout.  The funny thing was I would fish these spots in the fall and catch trout, but nothing in August.  Before sleeping at a remote campsite on the Savage River, I eat at Dutch's at Silver Tree again for a good steak and crab cakes.  I would try again in October.

OCTOBER 2021 SOUTHEASTERN TRIP (42 OF 50)
This trip is to Florida via Maryland and West Virginia. I'm picking up Lauren in Roanoke, Virginia, and heading back to Elk River Inn in West Virginia to fish the famous Elk River. Maryland and West Virginia are the two states still outstanding.

WEST VIRGINIA:  
I was pretty excited at my second attempt at WV. Finally, I had more than enough days and two streams to fish Deckers Creek again and the famous Elk River.

The first water would be Deckers Creek near the University of West Virginia in Morgantown. I slept at the I-79 rest and arrived around 2 am. In the morning, I headed to Annie's Coffee and Creamery, one of my favorite coffeehouses. I love a place with a fireplace. I worked the morning at Annie's, then sneaked out for a two-hour try at trout between conference calls. I drove around Deckers Creek, unsure where to fish, but decided on one of the many turnouts and climbed down a steep embankment. On the way down was an old couch and trash, but as you got to the bottom, the stream was magical. Huge rocks the size of small cars and stream zigzagging around them.


Once, I geared and jumped from boulder to boulder, flinging my line in small pools. Finally, I saw a small 4x8-foot pebble beach. I climb on a rock just upstream from the clearing on the left. I threw a cast in what looked like a place that could hold a trout, but I didn't think it could happen. Then, on the third flick of the wrist, I felt a hard tug. Holy Shxt! Fish On!   

It took 10 minutes to bring the brown trout to the beach. Deckers Creek is stocked; from my readings, not all fish last the warm summer. So when I landed a 14+ brown trout, I was amazed!

Lauren and I fished the Elk River after this unexpected triumph. I caught a couple of trout, but nothing compares to the Deckers Creek Brown.

MARYLAND:

Another nine-hour nonsuccess trip to Maryland. After catching my West Virginia giant brown trout, I set my sites an hour away t Maryland's Swallow Falls State Park. I didn't look at the weather as West Virginia was sunny at 60 degrees. I got to Maryland in time to fish for about 30 minutes and stopped by Herrington Run. The stream was clear, and my choice to try, but I was tired.  I thought I would go have dinner and wait until tomorrow as I had all day—a massive mistake. After dinner, I walked out to a downpour.  I spent the night at Swallow Falls in the car and heard rain all night.  Herrington Run was all muddy.  I tried fishing in Mud Creek in the State Park, but no luck.   All the other streams I laid out were like the Mississippi River. I was left to head south for the Elk River Lodge for the next three nights. 

MAY 2021 NORTHEASTERN TRIP (41 OF 50)
This fly fishing road trip was my 25th wedding anniversary Our original trip to an island vacation was wiped out by Covid.  This trip also was a rescheduled trip from 2020 due to Covid.  It covers 11 states, but not all were successful.

  • DELAWARE:  
    Deleware was one of the first states in the East I researched about six years ago, so arriving at a river you planned for is always surreal. You also vision it much differently than reality. I expected an area with very few visitors that obtains a slow-moving river with a dirt bottom and a loose amount of trash beached on the banks. I couldn't be more wrong. It is a beautiful state park with many visitors, excellent trails, and a crystal-clear river.

    Brooke Trout and I arrived in Deleware around 10 pm after a 14-hour drive from Chicago. We hung her fur and my hat at the I-95 Delaware House Travel Plaza for gas and a night's sleep in the Acura MDX.  

    Morning arrived, and surprisingly, we had a great night's sleep. The first spot on White Clay Creek was at Paper Mill Rd (39.68908, -75.74869). Curtis Mill Urban Park gives you parking, and fishing access, which I had no idea existed until I arrived. I chose this spot for the waterfall I found when researching YouTube videos and Google Maps.

    I met a very excited young woman with her fishing rod who confirmed that the waterfall was a great trout spot. Fortunately, she told me the bridge was under construction, so no one had been fishing it. Walking down the trail, I passed a 40-pound carp swimming down the middle of the channel. Once, I was hiking between the bridge and the waterfall 20 yards in front of the elevated road; I spooked a trout. WOW! You drive 14 hours, and you see a trout at first look; it lifts your spirit.

    I continued fishing for about two hours up and down the waterfall as big thunderclouds rolled in. I could pull in a small bass and a chub, but no trout. I have ten other spots marked on my Google Map upstream to the Pennsylvania border, so it was time to pack up a move upstream.

    I chose the Hopkins/Tweads Mill Rd spot (39.72422, -75.76709) near the White Clay Creek State Park Nature Center, which I ended up parking. There was a nature hiking tour gathering when I parked my MDX. So I gathered my gear, and my 25-year-old 5wt Sage Rod fitted with a Yellow Stimulator and a Red Copper John nymph dropper.

    Filled with day hikers, as a path ran right next to the stream, I entered the shallows of the cold river. The trees overhung the water, so I tried several roll casts left and right on either side. The river was shallow around the area, and there was no action for an hour or two. The thunderstorms were coming closer. I had decided it was time to quit and take care of Brooke as it was medicine time. As I walked out, I decided, "OK, one more bend." In the distance, I saw a log down where the water looked deep blue-green, just the right color for trout. It was a honey hole.  
    After only two casts, a 12-inch rainbow came out of the depths after my Yellow Stimulator but missed. Wow! I was more than excited. Finally, I landed a rainbow with my Red Copper John after three more casts.  

    I caught two more rainbows, one on the nymph and one on the dry. I wrapped one in my net for dinner and put it in the water to keep my catch fresh.

    I thought I would try to catch one more trout before the storms arrived. So, I floated the flies down the same seam with my GoPro in one hand and my fly rod in the other. With one hand, the rod, I hook a trout! I remember saying, "Whoa, this one is a big one." It was a 16+ inch brown trout.

    The rain came hard with hail; it was time to leave. 

  • NEW JERSEY:  

    The Musconetcong River, NJ, was not my original NJ stream choice, so my research was limited. I drove most of the Musconetcong River through Hackettstown, NJ, to the source. It goes through old stone bridges through beautiful little towns and villages. Halfway up the river, I stopped to fish for 30 minutes before sundown as I was ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, I could not raise a freckled fish despite perfect trout water.

    I passed a packed Mattar's Bistro during Covid-19 and decided to celebrate my Delaware trout. Dinner, wine, and then sleeping at another rest stop.  ​

    The rest stop was a scenic overlook, but I couldn't see anything except black at night. At 1:00 am, I got a tap on the window from the State Patrol; no overnight parking at this scenic overview. With no services, I guess the correct rest stop was a quarter of a mile up the road, and I had to move. The state patrol was friendly, and I had no problems moving. At 5:00 am, I drove back to the scenic overlook...wow! NJ is more than just Newark.

    I'm an experienced small creek fisherman, so I headed to the headwater of the Musconetcong to find slower water. I could find anything, so I drove down, following the river and looking for a spot to fish. I finally found a bridge on Continental Drive (40.91911, -74.73663) with comfortable water.

    ​I enter the stream behind the bridge and cast my Yellow Stimulator and Red Copper John dropper. Throwing my rod line under the bridge, I hooked a nice 12-inch rainbow on my fifth cast.  

    ​​At about 6:30 am, I released my trout, not choosing to have it for dinner. However, with it being so early, I could now get Connecticut and Rhode Island done on the same day, which I did!

  • CONNECTICUT:
    After catching a trout in New Jersey at 6:30 am, I drove to Hawley Brook, Connecticut. Hawley Brook is a wealthy neighborhood of Connecticut with private access to the brook, so I went to a public trail, Trout Brook Valley Preserve. I arrived before noon, and the parking lot was packed, not of fishermen but dog walkers. The preserve turns out to be a beautiful trail to walk your dog. Unfortunately, it also has a sign of no fishing access, strike-one on a Connecticut trout stream. I did review my internet research later, and the creek is a Class 1 Wild Trout Management Area. Maybe if I had looked harder, I could have found access. Unfortunately, when you arrive at the water, you are in a valley and have no internet access to check.

    ​I moved on, following my GPS and trying not to hit bikers on the narrow million-dollar home streets as the cyclist were everywhere. Finally, after about 20 minutes, I arrived at my most likely candidate for catching trout in Connecticut, the Mill River. Beautiful homes also surround this area, but supporters of trout have put money into river restoration and access.

    ​The spot I selected was a designated trout parking lot (41.2409, -73.25385), which also puts you at ease that you are not trespassing. I grabbed my three-wt rod with a small Caddis Dry and Red Copper John. I flicked about three casts before hitting a small colorful Brooke Trout.

    ​​I caught about four more Brookies before leaving to move to Rhode Island, as it was only 12:30 pm.

  • RHODE ISLAND:  
    I arrive in the Wood River Area, Rhode Island, around 5:00 pm after catching trout in New Jersey and Connecticut early in the day. I decided I had time to set up my tent at Whispering Pines Campground, then quickly run out and try the famous Wood River.  

    After looking at the map and feeling fatigued, I would try a smaller feeder stream, the Flat River in the Beach Pond Forest Environment Site area (41.5941, -71.72033). I arrived at the creek traveling on a dirt forest road. Trilled, I spotted a trout regulation sign on the bridge. Leaving Brooke Trout in the car, I hiked downstream and found small holes where Wild Brooke Trout could live. After fishing a few spots, I landed my first Rhode Island trout.

    ​​I continued fishing, landing a couple more until I found two waterfalls created by manufactured structures from long ago. I climbed the waterfall to see a big pond and the distant hills. Fifteen minutes later, I had caught about 25 trout. So this area of Rhode Island is teaming with a trout population.

  • MASSACHUSETTS:  
    I left Rhode Island late in the evening after a night in torrential rain at my Rhode Island campsite and slept in a seedy motel outside Farmington, Connecticut. The following day I drive up roads following the crazy beautiful winding Farmington River across to the Massachusetts side of the Farmington. My career commitments made me not stop and fish the Farmington, but I drove all the spots I researched, which gave me a complete picture of the area. The Farmington has to be one of the best rivers I have ever seen.

    I stopped into a coffee shop to do my conference calls with my mask on, it is May 2021, and Covid is still on. Just outside the coffee shop is another trout stream. I researched the East Branch Housatonic River, but there was no time to fish again.

    ​After work, I drove to my campsite Mohawk Trail Campground (42.63823, -72.93628). I was hoping this would be the best campsite as my site is right on the Cold River; I was not disappointed. The campground was almost empty, with it being the early season and Covid still in place.  

    ​The Cold River has large boulders and clear water. Locals and state forest rangers informed me that a big flood took a lot of trout cover away, and recent rain flushed the stock trout from the stream three weeks ago downstream to the Deerfield River. However, I fished my first evening in what should have been good trout water into silence. After releasing so many other good fish while traveling in the Northeast, I wanted a trout dinner.

    ​I got some advice from a park ranger on fishing the Deerfield River, the Cadilac of rivers in the area. The Deerfield is a tailwater fishery with many dams. The water generation is consistent and starts in the late morning, with water level drops again in the evening. The following day I drove up to the dam, Lower Reservoir Bear Swamp, around 9 am, just before a day's conference calls. I fished just downstream with no luck. The river was starting to rise, and I had no chance. I felt out of my element as Deerfield is a wide river, and it could take several days to figure it out, which I didn't have as I was working during the day. However, in the following days, I did see serval cars where I was fishing, so I knew it was a good spot.

    ​On my last day, as I was getting very nervous about not catching a trout in Massachusetts, I researched and decided to fish above the Lower Reservoir Bear Swamp, hoping the river would be smaller. The place is Dunbar Brook Trailhead below Deerfield River Reservoir. Unfortunately, I had a two-hour break between meetings and a 20-minute drive to Dunbar Brook around noon. So I've primarily been doing my calls in a pullout on the Deerfield River (Sunpike Rest Area 42.63599, -72.90589) with significant bandwidth near Charlemont, even though I never fished the spot.

    ​Dunbar Brook parking lot (42.70429, -72.95017) was perfect as there was not a single soul there, plus there was a trail down to the Deerfield. Following the path while climbing over trees and large boulders, I arrived at the river. It was just like a Colorado stream. Clearwater with colored granite boulders, tall pines, and mountains peering up.   

    Once in the river, I was at home as the river was not as comprehensive as the lower sections, and large boulders created holes. I found two holes right away. I laid my Yellow Stimulator and Red Copper John into the cold water with lots of boulder climbing. The water was deep in narrow channels, there had to be a trout, and there was! I nailed a good size brown trout on my red nymph!

    ​​I caught two more fish, a Brook, and another Brown, before heading back down to my rest stop to start up work again.

  • VERMONT:
    I had Vermont as my number one confidence to catch a trout during my Fly Fishing Road Trip Northeastern trip.  It was the hardest.  I fished five or six streams over six days without a fish.  I did not stay long at any of them, which was part of the problem.  I had researched the South Fork Roaring Branch, picking a spot not far from its source, the Green Mountain.

    My wife gave me an hour and a half to fish.  It was a 25-minute drive, so I had about 40 minutes to catch a Vermont trout; otherwise, the opportunity would be a loss for another trip far into the future.​

    My research this time was perfect, exactly what I thought the creek would look like; pocket fishing with pools between boulders, my kind of fishing.   Finding the ideal spot did not take time, but getting around the stream was for a younger man.  Finally, I found a way; wearing my neoprene socks and wader boots made me more agile.  I stood up to my knees in cold water, hiding behind a massive rock.  Throwing my 3wt with a Caddis fly and a Green Copper John dropper around the rock, I landed small Wild Brook Trout.

  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: 
    Access to the river was easy; finding trout in the boulder-rich low-water wild trout scene was brutal. Our rental home had the stream outside our front door, but no one was fishing up or down the river. The river banks are vast, but in May, the water flow is light and about 1/16th its width.

    It took only about 45 minutes to catch a small Wild Brook Trout, but I needed my wading stick. Just going ten yards took work as the rock are large. Finally, I found a seam behind a large boulder flowing perpendicular where there was good flow and deep, where a trout did not have to work hard to gather food. Once I spotted the site, landing a Wild Brookie took only one cast.

  • MAINE: 
    What an ordeal! First, we headed on a gravel park forest road from our cabin in New Hampshire that crossed the mountain into Maine. The road was closed when we got about halfway, 45 minutes of driving. UGH! Google Maps is usually excellent for these things. My wife was already not thrilled about driving to Maine for a damn fish. So we backtracked and went around the mountain to the spot I researched. I was hoping to sit at the mountain lake to picnic and relax before fishing, but it was too late; nothing is worse than a woman with bug bits driving around God's earth for a fish. The car was full of tension.​

    We drove to the small stream, Cold River ( 44.26694, -71.00698), which was at the bottom of a valley with low tree cover and dampness. The environment was perfect for more biting bugs; thank God she didn't have a gun. I made a deal to fish for only 30 minutes. The stream reminded me of Wisconsin and the Driftless Area, so I was in my element. I moved upstream and, in the process, scared some large fish hidden in some leaves. I didn't know if it was a trout. After 25 minutes, I knew I needed to head back. I was on my way around; I couldn't believe what I saw. The slower part of the creek held too huge Brook Trout. I could even imagine the colors if I could land one, but I was missing my dropper and didn't see anything rise. As I started my tie exercise, the horn of my Acura MDX began to play, and I was doomed. I would love to come back to this place!​

    We drove up and across the pass where the water downstream was heading north on Evans Brook. It looks like East Branch Saco River, NH, where I caught a little Brookie early in the day, but the river is not as dull. I got a couple of hits at my Caddis dry, so I felt confident. Lauren was reading her book on a big rock, most likely being bit again. So I found a big rock to hide behind and threw my fly around the boulder while imagining it floating. Sri e! A nice Wild Brook Trout gripped it!

    We didn't mention fishing the rest of the day and went on three fantastic hikes.

 

  • VIRGINIA
    I left south of Vermont to capture a Stony Creek, Virginia trout. Unfortunately, it rained to a complete downpour when I pulled over to my research spot on Stony Creek. The water was too high and moving too fast from the storms. I was thinking about going home, but I had researched a second spot, Little Stony Creek. Unfortunately, I followed the GPS on a DNR road without cell coverage. I soon realized I was going up a small mountain that led to West Virginia.   About 3 miles before the top is a remote campsite with a bridge crossing the creek. The higher elevation did not affect the stream from the storms. It was 8:30 pm, but still light; I jumped out of the car, grabbed my 3-weight rod, and tried to fish. No luck, but I have time tomorrow.​

    The 3-mile drive from Little Stony Creek to Wolf Gap Recreation Area (38.92433, -78.68902) campsite was an adventure. Thick fog on a narrow mountain road, not knowing where I'm going. I have no cell coverage, so no GPS. The campsite at Little Stony Creek was taken; it holds one camper. I get to the top of the mountain, and to my surprise, it is the Wolf Gap Recreation Area campground. I researched the area 2 years ago but had no idea it was here. I pulled into a nice slip and slept in the car while it rained all night.

    The following day head down back to the creek.  The stream was crystal clear, and you could see small brook trout.  I took about 30 minutes to catch a nice, wild brook trout!  I caught about five more before packing it up and attempting to catch a West Virginia Trout.  It is a beautiful area!

  • MARYLAND:   
    After 23 days on the road, I could only give Maryland about three hours of fishing time.  I mapped Herrington Run(39.4641, -79.44386) and Muddy Creek (39.50115, -79.41734). The rain blew out Herrington Run, and it was not fishable.  I couldn't find Muddy Creek because I decided not to pay the $5 entrance fee to the State Park.  The instruction from the booth girl got me lost going the back way.

  • WEST VIRGINIA:  
    I attacked two streams in West Virginia through foggy roads and rain. The first was Trout Run down the mountain from Wolf Gap Recreation Area (38.92433, -78.68902). Unfortunately, I had no cell coverage, so I could not use the spots I mapped out, which didn't matter as it had been raining heavily for 3-4 days, and the stream was milk chocolate in color. However, I did pull off the slide of the road for 15 minutes to say I fished it. (38.99277, -78.6565)​

    I traveled to the North Fork of the South Branch Potomac River, WV, on Junkers Lane (38.983, -79.22666) to see if I could find better water. Parking at Junkers Lane was different. "Fishermen, Welcome, but you need to park on the main road," a sign said. The main road is a 1/4 mile away. No biggy, but still different. The river looked like a prime spot, and the rain had not affected the flow. The river water has some of the best colors of green and blue due to various rock formations. The river was wide, but maybe that was due to the rain. Where I was fishing, the river narrowed and was deep. I saw one great spot after another, but nothing will take my Yellow Stimulator and Green Copper John.

    ​After a couple of hours, I drove upstream to a bridge, looked down, and saw a couple of trout where the stream was vast. Finally, it was time to move to my prime river selection Deckers Creek. (39.56546, -79.82289). When I arrived after driving all day, I had already struck out in Maryland, but I was still excited about this small stream. Unfortunately,  three days of thunderstorms took their toll on little Deckers Creek was like the Mississippi River.​

    I had no energy left, so I left a day early to go home to Chicago, knowing the water would not recede for a couple of days.   I bought Ice Cream from a small shop and began to drive.

FEBRUARY 2021 KANSAS TRIP (32 OF 50) No C ange

KANSAS:

I've been researching the Kansas trout scene for at least 15 years. However, it wasn't until 2018 that I could visit the Kanopolis Seep section of Sand Creek. Unfortunately, I came in May and out of season. But I now understood the bits and pieces I found on the internet

My luck in February 2021 was unsuccessful, but after you do all this research, you arrive and fish your vision. After driving eight hours from Little Rock, AR, from my Mom's house and sleeping at a rest stop, it was time to have coffee at the Blacksmith Coffee Shop & Roastery in Lindsborg, KS. Staying too long at the coffee shop, I didn't arrive until 11 am. I met a great guy in the Kanopolis Dam parking lot who had just finished fishing.   He said he didn't see any trout, just some bass and bluegills. Not what I wanted to hear, but he gave me some tips.

I headed down to Sand Creek to about the fourth utility pole.  I thought I saw a gold rock in the middle of the stream, but my experience knew better than to observe.  After about three minutes, the palomino trout's tail finally moved.  I had never seen one, so I was shocked at my first look into the creek revealed a trout.  I brought two rods, both 5wt—one with an olive wooly bugger and the other with a mop fly and pheasant tail nymph.

After six casts with the wooly bugger, without any movement, I switched rods.  On my first cast, about four feet in front of the golden, the trout took after the fly and ate the lure right away.  After about 30 seconds, I walked down to net it;  the hook was released from the trout's mouth and lost.  This move has happened so many times that I could shoot myself.  And that damn fish moved back to their spot and stayed there for the next five hours.

The Kanopolis Seep Stream is a one-and-a-half-mile-cold water section of Sand Creek that feeds the Smoky Hill River. It is the only public trout stream in Kansas. The Kanopolis Seep Stream and Smoky Hill River are from the water below the Kanopolis Lake Dam. The Seep Stream section is fed by several pipes from the bottom of the dam flowing at 56 degrees. The goal is to find ways to keep the water cool enough for trout to survive throughout the year.

Trout access to the stream has been available for around 30 years. However, in 2007 heavy flows washed out the creek. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Flatland Fly Fishers, and others completed stream restoration efforts from 2008 through 2010. The cooperative effort installed a series of rock riffles, lunker bunkers, and trees to create a realistic trout fishery. As a result, a few trout can survive the summer.

Trout season is from October 15 through April 15. As you walk the service road, utility poles are labeled by numbers. Artificial bait only (lures or fly fishing) at power poles number 9 through number 16.

So-called golden rainbow trout or palomino trout are bred from a single mutated color variant that originated in a West Virginia fish hatchery in 1955. The golden rainbow trout is predominantly yellowish, lacking the typical green field and black spots but retaining the diffuse red stripe. The palomino trout is a mixture of golden and common rainbow trout, resulting in an intermediate color. The golden rainbow trout is not the same subspecies as the naturally occurring California Golden Trout.

NOVEMBER 2020 SOUTHERN TRIP (32 OF 50)

The trip included Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, and Alabama as I journeyed to Florida for Thanksgiving.
 

  • OHIO:   
    Leaving late out of Chicago and slept at an Ohio rest area. The following day, I decided to find the first small town to get a cup of coffee and good cell coverage for my hotspot, Bellefontaine OH. Tethering to my PC, I worked until lunch and drove to the Mad River.   It only took me three casts until I saw the perfect overhang and laid an excellent cast to catch a small trout.  

     

  • KENTUCKY:  
    Kentucky's Otter Creek is on the Fall 2020 road trip covering OH, KY, SC, FL, and AL. Lauren, Brooke, and I did a swing by Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area in August on our way to Tennessee. The stream is sublime, with canyon walls and deep pockets. It is a gem where no other trout streams exist for more than 100 miles.

    ​Next door to Fort Knox, Otter Creek offers trout fishing just 45 minutes from downtown Louisville, Kentucky. The Otter Creek stocking program is fantastic. The DNR stocks large trout and also trophy size trout over 20 inches. Access is easy, and there are five miles of trout water to spread around.  

    ​I got there mid-morning as I had a few conference calls on my day off. I met a guy in the parking lot and asked him a few questions. I'm getting better at asking questions. He is a great guy, does woodworking, and has been fishing there all his life. I knew you use green mop flies, but I had no idea where to buy one, so I bought green weenies. He gave a mop fly!  

    ​I used a double nymph setup with a mop fly and a red worm.   After about ten casts, I hooked one, the line snapped the line, and I lost my mop fly! I wore the same outfit, but this time I used the green weenie. It took a little longer, but some results. I hooked a trout then the line broke. I'm not used to such big fish. After the third lost fish, I didn't play with the fourth.   Once I snagged him, I just threw it on the rocks. The line broke again, and I ran around the shallows trying to grab him. I did get him in the net! I took his picture and let go!

  • SOUTH CAROLINA:  
    I arrived late at night, and to my surprise, the Burrells Ford Campground Parking Area was full. From my Google Earth research, something seemed different about this campsite. You had to walk ¼ mile to the camp. Ugh, pitch black, tried, and much gear to carry; Brooke and I are sleeping in the car. 

    ​Morning arrives, and I hike in with my gear three times. Brooke was so tired after the second time she stayed in the tent. But, it was worthwhile as my campsite was incredible, right by a feeder creek to the Chattooga River. That creek would be where I would catch my wild small brown trout. 

 

  • FLORIDA:
    After spending three weeks in Marco Island, Florida, catching saltwater varieties on spin and fly rods, it was time to move up north. Florida is unique as there is no stream in the state. Instead, this pond is stocked by a plantation owner every winter. I’ve been reading about this place for a long, long, long time. So I finally got a chance to be in the area and at the right time to make it happen. 

    ​The pond temp was running warm almost no one was catching trout. I had a strike after about two hours but lost him. Losing fish happens to me a lot. This time, I grabbed the net, and the camera caused a little slack in the line, and he was off. It took another two hours and my last five casts of the day to land a giant rainbow for my dinner. I was exhausted; I didn’t take a break for four hours. 

    ​During my time, I met two veterans of the pond, which confirmed that my fishing approach was correct. You question whether you are doing things correctly after fishing for so long while catching nothing. One of the gentlemen tied the most beautiful trout and salmon flies. Everyone I met supported my quest and kept encouraging me.

  • ALABAMA:  
    On July 2020, I set my alarm for 5:00 am at Brookside City Campground, AL. My goal was to be at Sipsey Fork, some 40 minutes away via rural country roads. I was the first in the parking lot, so I could not talk to anyone to validate if I was fishing in the right spot. I was relying on a YouTube video. I was angling at the wrong access point where the water was as still as a tadpole pool. Sometimes all the research doesn't pay off. I knew this day would get hot with the dog in the car, and I could only stay a couple of hours. 

    I met a father and son team as I was preparing to leave. They also researched and knew you needed to follow the hydro-water plant fence path, with three more access points to the dam. So, we walked together to the dam without my fly rod! I found the first access point just 1/4 mile after power plant #6 has trout improvements to look like a Montana stream. Hence about 6-8 new fly fishermen looking like Orvis Victoria's Secret Supermodels walked by. Don't get me wrong, there are 13 miles or so of Trout water on the Sipsey Fork, but this area is what I was looking for. Finally, I couldn't stay any longer, so I said goodbye and headed for Chicago. I would have to revisit Alabama Trout around Thanksgiving on my trip to and from Florida.
    Move forward, and it is the week after Thanksgiving 2020 on my way back from Florida. I had a great campsite on Smith Lake laid out, but instead, I spent two nights at the lovely I-65 Gov. Guy Hunt Rest Stop. Good thing it rained all night, snowed in the morning and had frost on the ground. Not the wrong place to be, as Sipsey Fork is only 15 minutes away. The short distance made working from my car easy, and then driving to Sipsey Fork to fish.

    I had only 1 hour between my conference calls to fish access #6; I would have to drive back 15 minutes to my rest stop on I-65 to get enough cell coverage for my afternoon call. So, I decided to bring Brooke Trout (Chocolate Lab). Brooke meant walking 1/4 mile and carrying her down to the river. She just had CCL surgery in September. It had sleeted all night, and fog covered the river, so only one fisherman was in the parking lot getting ready.

    Once at access #6, it looked like a rocky black moon. The wet rocks turn deep black and are unbelievably slippery. Brooke and I were struggling to get to the river's main flow. Once, in the river with my waders and dog, I began to cast my wooly bugger with a strike indicator. I never felt comfortable with this setup but continued moving more into the center of the river. Remember I said the rocks were slippery? BOOM, I fell while the other fly fishermen watched in the distance, most likely laughing. I had trouble getting up, and my waders filled up with ice-cold water. Finally, Brooke and I got out of the fork. I had enough time to head back to the car to dry off in 30+ degree weather and make my afternoon conference calls. I arrived back at the dam at 4:00 pm, so I had only about 45 minutes until darkness; it is winter days are short.

    ​I left Brooke in the car on my way to the beginning of the Sipsey Fork just below the dam. I walked down access #6 and the yards of metal walkways on my way. Indeed, the dam generation turns the quiet river about 6 feet and has no way to wade. Once to the dam, I drifted my wooly bugger for about 30 minutes over and over again with no results. I took some great photos, but no Alabama Trout.

    I have no conference calls today, Saturday, December 5, at 9:00 am! There was no rush to get to the stream as it was about 31 degrees in the morning, so I stopped into the Riverside Fly Shop again to tell stories and validate my approach today. I would do a double dropper with a strike indicator. The first lure would be a red bead head squiggly worm and a small lite green copper john. I was sure this was the proper setup, and I never changed my rig all day. I got on the river at about 10:00 am at access point #6 with no dog, low water, and dry rocks. Getting to the flow was so easy. I met four other fly fishermen on the river. We conversed for about 2 hours to the canyon's echo, making it easy to hear every word. 

    I found a nice hole and fished like crazy for about an hour. Over the next 4 hours, I moved up and down the stream. Slowly other anglers gave up and left without a trout. I was alone while the dog slept in the car. The weather warmed to about 55 and sunny, which dried out yesterday's clothes left on my hood.​

    At about 3:00 pm, a perfect-looking couple, graduate students from the University of Auburn, showed up. She with a baseball cap and ponytail, and he with a felt Brooke Trout colored Stetson. Both had incredible casting motions; she had been practicing all summer. They were with their fathers fishing downstream, heading towards me, and the couple was upstream, heading towards me. The shadows began falling quickly, and I ran out of time. I had only 5 minutes in my mind, and the Alabama Trout would have to wait far into the future. But, on one of my last three casts, FISH ON! FISH ON! Wow, I was so nervous not to lose this one and didn't even use the net just pulled him into the rocks. Good thing the line broke as I lifted the rainbow from the stones; whoa! I quickly got my phone out and took a shot. In my had a beautiful 10-inch rainbow. I took the following picture with fish in my palm and green copper john in my teeth! Working incredibly hard for a trout in a new state and landing one is so high!​

    ​I headed to the fly shop wearing my Riverside t-shirt. We swapped stories, and I took pictures. They gave me information on a stocked pond in Mississippi, but that would have to be another trip. I also found out from the graduate students and confirmed by the owner that the fly shop offers camping on their property! Good to know.

SUMMER 2020 SOUTHERN TRIP (27 OF 50)

The trip included Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama, as Lauren and I decided to vacation in Tennessee to celebrate the end of my brother's estate matters.
 

  • KENTUCKY
    Lauren, Brooke, and I did a fly-by of the Otter Creek visit since we had only one hour.  A beautiful area on the Ohio River that would be the spot of my Kentucky trout in the fall of 2020.

  • TENNESSEE: 
    Tennessee is part of the August 2020 trip covering KY, TN, NC, SC, and AL. We found a cabin in the town of Cosby, not using VBRO(Vacation Home By Owner). In this region, many houses use property management companies. The place was perfect as we booked at the last minute, and it was on Cosby Creek.

    Cosby Creek water comes out of Smokey National Park nice cold. It is August, so there is no need for a wader, just my neoprene socks and wader boots. Wild brook trout run in the park, and down by our cabin are stocked rainbows. The fishing is that exciting, tiny rainbow I caught on my fifth cast. Tennessee done!

    I think the video below does a better job of explaining the Tennessee trip than I can.

  • NORTH CAROLINA:  
    North Carolina is part of the August 2020 trip covering KY, TN, NC, SC, and AL. Our home base is in Cosby, TN. However, we decided to fish in North Carolina just over the peaks of Tennessee.  

    The Oconalufee River starts just over the Smokeys. It runs parallel to US-Hwy 441. The rain and thunderstorms appear on the North Carolina side of the divide. We found an excellent location jumped into our raincoats, and began to fish the bolder-filled stream. Even though I thought I had chosen the right spots and made good casts, I only saw one fish splash at my lure. I pointed out my sites to Lauren, and she raced right in. Of course, she comes away with the first North Carolina Trout!  

    We drive down further as I struggle, but I still feel confident catching my first North Carolina trout. I throw a yellow stimulator and a green copper john for a few minutes and nail a tiny rainbow. North Carolina, done on a green copper john!

  • SOUTH CAROLINA:  
    The 
    campsite was out of the movie Deliverance, buggy and scary, so I couldn't convince the wife to stop and fish.   

     

  • ALABAMA:  
    I had only one hour to fish and found I was fishing in the wrong spot.  UGH!  I would wait until fall.

AUGUST 2019 FFRT PENNSYLVANIA TRIP (24 OF 50)

PENNSYLVANIA:  

Pennsylvania was an August 2019 unplanned weekend with the wife going to Michigan with her sister. Just a six-hour drive from Chicago is Neshannock Creek. 

Being in the sushi mood, I put the cuisine in Google Maps. I was driving through Indiana; believe it or not, the "Cubby Trout" showed on my phone. Seem like a good omen!

I arrived at my KOA to set up the tent, set a fire, and eat my dehydrated dinner. In the morning, after breakfast, we headed to the stream. The warm water in August, and I knew little about the stream. The river was magnificent but after four hours nothing. I stopped by the fly shop and talked to the new owner. He advised me on the location and to use a Sili Worm Nymph.

After lunch and a tour of the great town of Volant, PA,  I headed back to the river before sunset. After climbing down a steep slope, finding the correct spot took me a little while. It is a deep hole where the water is colder. On my first cast, I felt a huge tug. I had about three more big strikes, and I knew I was in the right spot! But I still did not land one yet. Finally, with no indication at all, I landed a giant rainbow. I would catch one more, a monster, the heaviest fish I ever had in a net. His girth was the size of my calf. 

I celebrated at the Iron Bridge Inn with a large Ribeye!

FEBRUARY 2018  COSTA RICA TRIP (International Trip No Change)

COSTA RICA:  

My wife is the best!  We planned to go to Costa Rica in one month as we needed to get away.  As always, when we travel, see if there is trout in the country.  So I was surprised when I found trout in Costa Rica.  There was not much information on trout fishing, but enough to warrant a cloud forest trip visit if there was no trout.

We had flight issues I won't get into.  We landed in San Jose at midnight and lost a car reservation.  Somehow, we found a car and drove in pitch-black, caffeine-free, cloud forest conditions for three hours. Then, by a miracle, we found our cabin on a dirt road.  The sun rose, and we hiked down to the river!

Trout ponds were lining the wild Rio Savegre River with colossal rainbows.  We returned to our cabin for breakfast before heading out with our fly gear.

We cheated first by catching a trout in one of the ponds to get our confidence.  Then we headed to the river before the afternoon thunderstorms. The river is a small stream with large boulders and waterfalls up.  It didn't take long to land a Tico Trout, a Mexico and California Rainbow hybrid.  I think I used my standard caddis dry and green copper john nymph.  I caught trout on both flies.

The nice thing about this valley is that every little cafe serves fresh trout differently.

MAY 2018 WESTERN CALIFORNIA TRIP (23 OF 50)
This was my 7,000-mile trip, including MO, AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, UT, NV, CA, CO, and KS.   
 

  • MISSOURI:  
    Little Piney Creek in Arlington, MO, is spring-fed.  It runs through Lane Spring Campground, where Brooke and I spent the night. 
    This is one of my favorite places as the campground is spread out, and the water is crystal clear with beautiful cyan hues.  This trout did not come easy, however.  I fished for
     four hours and still did not have a trout, yet they rose everywhere.  I had a conference at 2 pm, so I drove back into town, about 20 minutes away.  I took a nap, went all night to get there, woke up, and started fishing again.  Finally, after hours of fishing, I finally caught one in some falls with a green copper john.

    But I was still unhappy; the trout were still rising. So I switch my caddis to an olive dun pattern.  I took one cast, and Fish OnI was too tired to go to the next state, so Brooke and I spent the night!  This a place I would return to!

 

  • ARKANSAS: 
    The hunt to catch an Arkansas rainbow ended quickly. In 2018.  Mammoth Spring is one of the world's largest springs, with nine million gallons of cold water flowing hourly. It forms a 10-acre lake, then runs southward as the Spring River, a famous Ozark trout and float stream.  Just below the spring is the Jim Hinkle Fish Hatchery and easy access to fish.

    The morning I arrived, about 30 people were fishing in every good spot I looked.  It is always a little stressful when you get to a new place.
    You don't know the people, etiquette, and how to fish.  I finally found a spot. I could see everyone was ignoring me.  A pipe perpendicular to the river was throwing out water from the trout hatchery, a perfect place! So I walked around everyone and landed a rainbow on my third cast. I looked like a genius.

  • OKLAHOMA:  
    Oklahoma might have been my favorite location because it was such a surprise. Beavers Bend State Park has beautiful cabins, tall trees, and the Moutain Fork River.

    There are multiple great camping sites. I chose the primitive Hickory Campground right on the river. I tried fishing the whole afternoon but could only hook one trout and lost him. I met another fly fisherman beside my camp and shared my Arkansas trout. In addition, he shared his oversize bottle of wine, which we finished.

    Brooke Trout was the hit of the camp area; everyone wanted to play with her. I also learned about a fly fishing-only section on the other side of the bridge, which was my target the next day. I started getting worried at this stage as it had been 24 hours and still no trout.  

    The fly fishing area was set up nicely with small boulders making good trout water. I hooked a couple of more trout but didn't land them. Then, finally, I caught a brown!

    This story could go on as this place is excellent and had great people too!

  • TEXAS: 
    I tried Texas in 2018 on a Fly Fishing Road Trip to California.  I land at the Guadalupe River Maricopa Riverside Lodge Entry Point, which is also the start of tubbing.  So I said hello to a bunch of college kids and headed upstream after paying $10 to park at the motel.

    Brooke Trout was with me, and we fished in the middle of the stream on a rock shelve.  One large 16-inch rainbow flew out of the water and almost hit Brooke in the head.   I also one another flip itself out that was about 14 inches.  I tried for a couple of hours, but it was about 90, and I got tired. Unfortunately, I had been on the road for four days already, so I decided Texas would have to wait and move on to New Mexico.

  • NEW MEXICO:  
    I already of a New Mexico trout, but I thought I would try it again in a new spot.  After driving for 12 hours, I found the small dam with trout downstream.  But the dam was being worked on and impacted the stream below. So it was one muddy mess and no fish.

  • ARIZONA:  
    I arrived at about noon and started fishing.  I had no idea how to fish the Colorado River in Arizona. It is a wide, fast-moving river and very intimidating. So, after a couple of hours, I packed up and drove to the fly shop.

    I talked to the guy at the counter and convinced him to take me out to the river at 7 am the following day. But, unfortunately, he was still studying to be a guide.


    Brooke and I arrived on the Colorado River to meet my guide at 6:30 am, but our guide got even more pumped and arrived there at 6:15 am. He brought two rods, one setup for streamer and one for nymph fishing. If I remember, we had a black woolly bugger for the streamer pole and zebra midges for the nymph pole.

    We landed my first rainbow within an hour, and I was ready to go to Utah, but he would not let me go. So he gave me extra time, and we fished for about five hours, landed maybe about 15 trout, and hooked 30.   I had never successfully felt a trout on the line with a streamer before; what a rush! These streamer lessons would pay off dividends in Nevada.

    My guide was the best! He recommended that Brooke and I go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for better views; he was right!

  • UTAH 
    I woke up from camping, and it was 26 F degrees out.  I wasn't expecting or prepared for that cold, so I only fished for 20 minutes on a stream near Bryce Canyon National Park; I already have my UT fish.  So, I went into the National Park and took pictures as the sun rose.

  • NEVADA:   
    Nevada trout was achievable due to my learnings in Arizona from my fly guide, who taught me how to fish streamers.

    The East Walker River runs from the Bridgeport Reservoir. It starts in California and runs through Nevada. I stayed at the Walker River Lodge in Bridgeport, CA, after getting in too late to camp. Bridgeport is a trout town; it is like going back to the fifties.

    The following day, I drove to the spot I marked with Google Maps, which was about a 15-minute drive. It is a fast-moving river, and I started with my classic yellow stimulator and green copper john nymph. After a couple of hours, I saw one fish that was a hard near-miss at my yellow stimulator. Right after that, two fly guides showed up on their day off with a boat. They advised that streamer action is what is happening on the river. So I tried that for another two hours.

    Sometimes things are not accessible. I switched my rig back and forth; then, I tried to remember everything I learned from my guide in Arizona on streamers. I added some weight as there was a deep swirling hole. That was the magic, and I got a hit but didn't land it. After another 10 minutes this time, I did land it!

  • CALIFORNIA:  Brooke and I will cover two trout experiences on the same California vacation.  Part of the reason is that the first California trout was too easy.  It took about four casts in the Big Creek.  The 2nd was on the Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park, Tenaya Creek.

    The waters in Yosemite National Park and outside the park are excellent.  Clear and cold.  The large rivers in Yosemite ran too fast due to spring rains and winter thaw.

    To get my California trout, my wife would not allow fishing much during the trip; it would have to be a small stream both of us could fish together.  I chose Big Creek because it was close to our rented ranch and off the highway to Yosemite.  I love small streams as I have a ton of experience in the small creeks in the midwest. Short story: I took four casts with a yellow stimulator and a green copper john dropper to catch a small trout.

    Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park was closed due to snow on the way in, so after a week at the ranch, it opened my way back.  I could see the sequoia tree forest and trout fish in the meadow.  If you get a chance, you must go!  Tenaya Creek is everything you could imagine about a mid-size mountain creek in the spring.  It took about an hour to catch three wild trout!

  • COLORADO: I already have my Colorado trout, but I spent about one-hour fishing in Colorado on the Blue River with no luck.  Afterward, I just relaxed at my campsite with wine, a steak, and my dog, Brooke Trout.

  • KANSAS:   Lastly, I visited Kanopolis Lake and Sand Creek.  It is May, and trout season is from November to April.  But I got to check out the place where I wouldn't catch a trout until 2023

SPRING 2017 MIDWESTERN TRIP (17 OF 50)

In 2017 I decided to take care of the local business of the states of Illinois, Michigan, and Indiana.  

 

  • ILLINOIS:   
    Illinois doesn't have many trout streams.  It has no trout stream that lasts the summer, even though a few fish survive in some streams.  Illinois is at the bottom of the Driftless area.  Driftless is where the ice age glaciers didn't drift down to Southeast Minnesota, East Iowa, Southwest Wisconsin, and Northwest Illinois—leaving limestone springs and canyons of cold water.

    I'm fishing in Apple Cayon and the Apple River.  It is 40 degrees and raining.  I snuck out a 5 am from Chicago as this would be my third and last try at catching a trout this spring.   In many of my stories, I was down to my final cast.  This morning, I switched my rig to drift a sizeable yellow stimulator with a green copper john dropper.  I move back to a spot near the exit to the parking lot.   

    I made several casts with little hope, but I believe every throw could contain a trout.  With all the rain, it was hard to see my fly.  So, I was shocked when I suddenly saw a trout on the line.  I was glad to get it on the shore, as I lost my net sometime during the day.  The rainbow took the dry fly, and in March, crazy!

 

  • MICHIGAN: 
    It is Memorial Day Weekend, and Lauren is with her family in the South. So, I pack up the dog "Brooke Trout" and head up to Croton Dam's tailwaters, the Muskegon River. 

    We crossed the dam and drove to the parking, where there was fish access. Google Maps in satellite view is incredible. I guessed at the site from what I learned from the maps. I drove right up, launched Brooke, threw a couple of casts, and had my first Michigan Rainbow. Yes, minor, like most of my first fish in a state. I had no idea there would be trout. But, again, I just guessed from the research I did. I ended up catching 43 trout in about two hours. Sunset was nearing, and I had no place to stay or had mastered SUV camping yet.

  • INDIANA:  
    Finding a trout stream in Indiana is not easy.  Several species of salmon and trout breed in tributaries of Lake Michigan, but it has to be in the right conditions.  Indiana proper only covers a small part of Lake Michigan and is warmer than other states surrounding her.

    My Chicago next-door neighbor bought 60 acres in Indiana with a stream going through it.  Luckily, he bought one of the state's best trout and salmon fisheries.  I walked down to the new purchase property and saw 20 lb salmon swimming down a three-foot deep creek producing a wake like an ocean tanker. 

    We did some restoration to the stream and then fished it one day.  My neighbor caught a 12-inch rainbow on a piece of cheese I never saw....hmmm.  Later I brought out a fly rod with a caddis and green copper john.  I only had to fish for 20 minutes until I found a deep bank in the shade and landed a 6-inch rainbow.

JULY 2016 NORTHWESTERN TRIP (14 OF 50)

The 2016 Northwestern trip was to end in Banff, Canada, and return to Chicago.  This trip included picking up my wife in Salt Lake City through Glacier National Park and then to Banff.  The fishing states had; Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Alberta, Britsh, Colombia, Washington, and Oregon. 

  • NEBRASKA: 
    I drove from Chicago to Nebraska through the night for 9 hours; I arrived at 3 am.​ Arrived, but where? I was looking for a state park with trout, but I couldn't find anything. Finally, I found an opening between trees and parked behind them to get two hours of sleep. I woke up at 5 am and drove 30 miles to the first McDonald's to get Wi-Fi so I could work.  

    I finished my client's morning calls and had two hours until they started up again. After a quick internet search, I realized that at 3 am, I ran into a trout farm, then I asked myself, "What would Lauren do?"  My wife is very adventurous, and I've learned to do crazy things. So, I drove back 30 miles to where I slept the night. It turned out. It was the Swiss Alps of trout hatcheries. With little bridges between the ponds, freshly cut grass, and pine trees. Most hatchers look like concrete swimming pools with barbed wire.

    I talked to the caretakers who worked like dogs to keep the place up. They were going stock the river in the next hour. They said in 20 minutes, down a country road off a small bridge, fifty rainbows 14 inches plus trout would be dropped.

    I waited, and sure enough, the truck drove up. After the drop, I fished with a green copper john and landed two large rainbows. But it wasn't easy. First, I kept losing them because setting the hook off a bridge was hard. Then, slowly, almost all the trout move to cover. Finally, I drove back to McDonald's and finished my afternoon conference call.

    I did drive up about 50 miles and fished another stream, Long Pine Creek. I wanted to catch a trout that was not just dropped for a truck. That night I eat my stocked trout.

  • SOUTH DAKOTA: 
    After having success in Nebraska, my hopes were high for South Dakota.  I pick a primitive campsite, French Creek, as my first problem.

    I
     chose French Creek as my stream, but I would have to hike three miles to set up my tent.  I got to Custer State Park in the late afternoon and the campground via GPS. Unfortunately, I didn't know there was a West & East French Creek Campground.  By the time I got to the West Campground, the sun was setting; oops, it was the wrong campground.  All the campground sites were full!  

    I had no choice, so I drove to the east campground.  I arrived around 9:00 pm, and it was black outside.  It was too dark to see if I was even at the campground.  I was tired, cranky, and hungry.  I decided to put up my tent where I was anyways; no one else was around.  I ate my dehydrated dinner and fell asleep until about 11:00 pm.  At 11:00 pm, I hear breathing and snorting coming louder and louder.  Shit!  It is a buffalo, and it can be unpredictable.  I have dealt with them before.  They finally left at midnight.  At 1:00 am, it started up again, huff, huff, huff....closer and closer.  Brooke would start to growl, and I would get up and couldn't see it.  It went away and then came back at 3:00 am. Same thing, huff, huff, and huff!  

    The sun rose at 5:00 am, and it was over.  I was not going to hike three miles because I lacked sleep and was also behind schedule.  So, I decided to circle the park and find a risky stream to fish as I had done no research.
    I found a small stream that fed a small pond,  Grace Coolidge Creek,  I looked in the water and saw what could be small trout, but it turned out to be shad. So I walked up the small creek, made a few casts, and landed a trout!  What a pleasant surprise!

.

  • UTAH:  
    My first Utah Trout was in 2000 on a trip to Salt Lake City, where we had a marketing firm vendor.  I left after work in the fading hours to the Middle Provo River; I caught a small trout in a canyon.  But I don't have a picture of the trout, so it doesn't count...ugh!

    My second chance was on this Banff Trip.  I spent two-half days fishing the famous Green River, where 14 to 20 inches trout would be under my feet, but I could catch nothing.  This is a story itself, but I won't go on.

    I had a backup plan at the Aspen Campground and the Strawberry River.  It was a marvelous classic trout stream with clear water, meadows, a canyon, and tall pine trees.  I could see fish, but it took a couple of hours for me to land a nice trout.  I pull about eight trout over six hours of fishing.  This is an area I would go back to it as it is not far from Salt Lake City.

  • ALBERTA, CANADA:
    While in Banff, I knew I would only have a few minutes to fish the whole trip, not to interrupt family time.  So, I left one morning at 5:00 am to downtown Canmore and the upper Bow River.  As many times I was guessing on location.  But I found some rocks on the shore and caught my Alberta fish in one cast!  Brooke and I landed one more, then headed back to our townhouse and slipped back into bed with my wife before 7:00 am.

  • BRITISH COLOMBIA, CANADA:  
    After staying in Alberta, Canada, I realized I could do British Columbia, Oregon, and Washington before going home.  It would mean a non-stop trip to Chicago for 33 hours. Then, leaving at midnight, I would cross the continental divide and arrive at the border of British Columbia and Washington state.  I would try to fish both in the early morning.   

    As the sun rose, I stopped at a perfect Canada DNR spot off the road, only 15 miles from the border.  It was a beautiful morning, and I'm sad about what I missed seeing crossing the Canadian Rockies during the night. However, it took only 10 minutes to hike and catch my British Columbia, Canada Rainbow Trout on the Pend Oreille River.

  • WASHINGTON 
    Washington took a couple of delays.  First, I was doing so well that I was ahead of schedule.  The border didn't open until 8:00 am; I arrived at 6:30 am.  I found another river only five miles away and burnt up sometime.  I crossed the border with no problem.  The second issue was that my phone got ruined as I dropped in a lake.  I will guess about the locations I chose earlier as I have no GPS.  Lastly, I lost my net, so catching a trout and taking a picture would be challenging.  Catching a trout was no problem.  A log was lying over Sullivan Creek, and a dry fly was placed on it.  The rainbow hit it at once, and it is a nice size trout.  But, when trying to take a picture, it wiggled out of my palm and into the water.  I caught another one, and the same thing happened.  It took another hour to see a small trout and a picture.

  • OREGON: 
    Oregon was like British Columbian and Washington; my first fish came on my first three casts.  These are all remote areas, so fishing pressure is light.  I drove to the towns of Enterprise and Joesph in search of a latte.    I found a movie rental/coffee shop.  So cool!  Oregon is one of the top 10 places I have ever been to.  The towns were interesting; the campsites had space to spread out, tall trees, and a great river.  The Imnaha river, even though it is so far east, supports salmon from the Pacific Ocean.  Brooke was so thrilled after catching about 14 trout in 30 minutes that she joyfully peeled back and forth around the campsite.  In dog terms, she was doing zoomies.

OCTOBER 2016 MINNESOTA TRIP (9 OF 50)
MINNESOTA: 

After my brother's death, I had to do some serious business planning, so the wife let me rent a cabin on the Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota border to do some work and fishing.  The town is Ferryville, WI.  I spent much time in Wooden Nickel Saloon, working from breakfast to lunch.  Dinner was spent time investigating new places like Great River Roadhouse, De Sota, WI.

I took a late afternoon off and drove up to Minnesota to fish a stream I only guessed at trout stream.  I did my reach via Google Maps and one blog site that led me to believe there was fish.  It was a short 45-minute drive.  Once I crossed into Minnesota, the land seemed even brighter than Iowa and Wisconsin, which are already beautiful. 


The river is remote, with rolling hills and a handful of trees lining the banks.  I don’t remember if I had hits, but I remember the first trout.  You never know where a trout is hidden—sometimes, throwing your line in the rapids works, but it gives a trout very little time to eat your fly. If a fish is, there they aggressively go for it.  That was the case with my first Minnesota fish; it struck hard and fought hard.  For most of the trip, I had been stressed; this was like God giving me a thank you for the work I had to do.  

AUGUST 2015 MONTANA/IDAHO TRIP (8 OF 50)

  • IDAHO: 
    This trip explored Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.  Wyoming and Montana were revisited, but Idaho was a new state. This trip was magical as I hooked up with a unique fishing buddy. 

    Before, I met my buddy Leo from Chicago, whose wife has a ranch in Wyoming. I spent the evening in Driggs, IA, for a night's sleep and a fantastic meal at the Three Peaks restaurant.  Leo would be picking me up in the morning, so I had a half-day to try to catch a Teton River Trout.  

    The pressure was that I might not be back in Idaho for years.  Not returning for years is always the case when fishing in many of the states I visit.  The game is on!  I have a yellow stimulated and a green copper john dropper.  Brooke and I slide into the river as the river is narrow but deep.  The Teton is a floating river, not necessarily an excellent wading river.

    After an hour of seeing some rising fish, I still have no luck.  Brooke is patiently waiting.  I throw a couple of great casts where I know a trout has to live, and I snatch one on a copper john! 

    I don't remember what I had but to celebrate, but I ate outside with Brooke.  We watched the sunset and had the whole outside Three Peaks to ourselves. 

SEPTEMBER 2010 MONTANA TRIP (7 OF 50)

MONTANA: 

On our first trip to Montana in September 2010, we had everything, two Labrador Retrievers (Maggie & Baguette), Kayaks, Bikes, and Fly Rods.  At the last minute, we found a four-bedroom cabin in Bozman, MT, on a small trout stream with Cutthroats and Browns.

Brackett Creek runs behind our cabin and finally runs into Yellowstone River.  So, now I have a week to catch my Montana Trout.  We also will experiment on other waters, including the Gallatin River; see the pictures below.

My dogs Maggie and Baguette were in their twilight years.  Maggie was the best trout dog I ever had.  She loved being in the river but didn't start fishing with me until she was 9.  Maggie was 11 in Montana.  When I hooked a fish on this trip, she jumped in the river, put it in her mouth, and lay it in front of me unharmed.  Crazy!

My first trout on Brackett Creek was easy, about 30 minutes, and it was cutthroat.  The best story was about fishing with Maggie before sunset.  Maggie and I were sitting on the side of Brackett Creek, exhausted.  I spent three months on the couch at home after three surgeries fixing my shattered ankle in a hockey-related accident.   Maggie's head would snap at every fish rise so that I would cast to her snap. Fishing with a dry/nymph dropper, to my surprise, I landed a double. 

One final point was that after this trip, I thought of catching a trout in every state, and 'The Quest' was born.

SEPTEMBER 2009 NEW MEXICO TRIP (6 OF 50)

NEW MEXICO: 

New Mexico was a last-minute thought in September 2009, as airfares were $149 anywhere in the United States from Chicago on Labor Day.   So, Lauren, let me pick the spot, so I chose Red River, New Mexico.

We flew into Albuquerque and spent the night in a hacienda in Santa Fe.  We left for Red River the next day, passing by Taos,  a roadside chili market, and a wine vineyard to stock up.   We arrived late at night with temperatures around freezing.  

Our $ 100-a-night cabin was about 400sq feet.  Plus,  we could not figure out how to use the heat, but there were about seven layers of heavy blankets.  I almost got divorced over this move.  $100 a night in 2009 was not cheap for 400 sq feet.  

In the morning, things looked better.  We made eggs with chili and potatoes.  The tiny cabin was on the small stream, Red River, with our little bridge.  Every day was magical.  Red River is a small town, so we felt like we were on vacation.

Fishing was a small wonder.  I grabbed the wrong contacts for my eyes, and I was all but blind after we arrived in Red River.  Try tying a fly knot blind.  I did catch about four trout, but every time I lost my fly, it took about 45 minutes to secure a new one.

New Mexico is Done!

MAY 2008 IOWA TRIP (5 OF 50)

IOWA: 

There are two stories because only two pictures exist of the first trout trip in May 2008. So the hockey guys and I rented a cabin with Brooke Trout for the second.  

 

First trip, Lauren and I were visiting a friend who lived in McGregor, IA.  Lauren's friend mentioned there were trout, so we packed up the dog and headed to Iowa.  

I fished Sny Magill Creek from a recommendation.  It was a shallow river with a few deep pockets.  Every cast, I was focused, looking for a hit on each landing of the fly.  The weather was perfect and the temperature cool.  After about two hours, I first struck a flat part of the stream.  Iowa done!

On the second trip, in October 2014, I arrived a day early; the temperature was 60+ degrees, and the fish rose in every steam I drove by.  I decide to wait until tomorrow to fish; big mistake.  The next day there was a 1/4 inch of snow on the ground.

In the Driftless region of Iowa, the DNR stocks them big.  We fished in Yellow River State Park on Paint Creek.  We started at a place with a 20-foot cliff looking down on Paint Creek.  Below were 40 large Iowa rainbows.  I moved on, letting to boy figure out the cliff trout.  Even with snow on the ground, I found great holes and was in good form.  I landed six rainbows.  I highly recommend Yellow River, State Park.

AUGUST 2007 WYOMING TRIP (4 OF 50)

WYOMING: 

Wyoming is in two parts.  The first trout came on our first Grand Teton trip in the late 2000s before phone cameras, so there are no photos to make it official.  We even used a fly guide to float down the snake river.  I still talk to the fly guide 25 years later.  I even sent him a wedding gift.

The second trout came on a friend and dog trip to the Grand Tetons.  This is one of my best stories, not that I cannot describe it well.  It was a long trip from Salt Lake, where I picked up Lauren. She is tired from Salt Lake's long drive to the Teton range. So, we pulled over and threw the kayak in the Hoback River about five miles upstream from a bridge and a general store.  The store and the bridge would be my home base until Lauren showed up hours later.  

Okay, I get to fish uninterrupted, but I still have three dogs I babysat.  As I'm angling, I see trout rising under the bridge.  The glare makes it hard to see my fly.  I'm fishing with a yellow stimulator recommended to me for the first time, which is now my favorite dry fly.  I release my cast by a rock under the overpass and hook my first Wyoming trout.  But I don't take a picture.

 

 I keep fishing and catch two more small trout, but I never see the strike due to the glare.  I focused this time as I missed many strikes. Finally, a solid cast sees the yellow stimulator as it floats down just in the right spot.  As it passes the rock, I know the hit and set the hook!   I remember this well calling out loud to the dogs, "Fish on! Fish on!  Oh, my God, this is a fish, this is a huge fish!"  Before you knew it, a crowd showed up, including Lauren, who could not have come at a better time!   It was a 21 inches Snake River Cutthroat, by far the biggest trout I had ever caught!

MARCH 2007 GEORGIA TRIP (3 OF 50)

GEORGIA: 

After a long winter, Lauren and I had to get out of town. We have family in Atlanta, Georgia, so we decide to rent a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountain of Georgia. Our cottage is near the town of Blue Ridge, across the street from the Toccoa River. The weather was fantastic, in the 80s, after a winter of freezing temperatures.

Toccoa River is known for trout, but the big attraction is river rafting, so we packed up the kayak, our two Labrador Retrievers, and our fly rods. On the first day, we dropped Lauren upstream in the kayak while I fished downstream to wait with the pups. It took about three hours to land two small trout, but Georgia is done!  I think I used a caddis and green copper john nymph flies. Lauren took close to four hours to get downstream to meet me. She continued floating down the river over minor falls on the way.

Lauren's family arrived at our three-bedroom cabin; then it went from 80 to snowy the next morning…UGH! Lauren caught two trout, and I struck out the rest of the trip. But we drank wine and listened to live bluegrass music.

MAY 2006 WISCONSIN TRIP (2 OF 50)

WISCONSIN: 

I'd been fishing in the West on vacations and learning how to fly fish.  Tying my own flies and dreaming of fly fishing started in high school, but I only fished in ponds.  Even then, I never caught anything.  My first catch was on a fiberglass rod.  It was a turtle in Florida.

JULY 1999 COLORADO TRIP (1 OF 50)

COLORADO: 

In 1999, my first Colorado trout was caught in the South Park area in Eleven Mile Cayon on the South Platte River.  I went to the University of Denver, so I knew the site by name, but that is about it.  My wife and I were on our way for a vacation in Salida, Colorado, so the South Platte was an excellent place to rest.

 

I only knew how to dry fly then, so I put on my brown caddis and began to cast.  I always believe every cast can produce a fish. And I know this has to help me catch lots of fish. So that day, I threw about 40 casts in swift water while standing on a massive boulder.   In the middle of the river where rainbows like to feed a trout rose.

 

Later, we traveled downstream to South Park and fished the Middle Fork of the South Platte near the town of Hartsel.  I love streams surrounded by deserts or grass plains.  It was sunny with patches of large clouds.  The wife, in both cases, read her book, thinking I would never catch a trout.  But have about an hour; I landed a large brown. Finally, she pushes me aside, grabs my fly rod, and starts fishing.

 

A perfect day!

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