Jay Ford Thurston

Jay Ford Thurston

I sell my trout books at the Farmers Market in Viroqua. And often a new angler to the region will ask if I can be his guide. My comment is, “I don’t guide people. But sometimes if you don’t know where to fish I can show you on map some good places to fish the stream.” So I get my map of trout streams to show them some good water to fish. And if they are still looking for a guide I give them a card with a guide from Trout Unlimited that I know; or I tell them to ask at the Driftless Angler.

The problem is new people to the region are not sure where to fish for trout. Many don’t know about habitat improvement in the region where the land is leased for fishing. When I was teaching a class on trout fishing, I took my students on a trout tour of five good steams to fish. I believe it would be good for Trout Unlimited to do this.

One of the things a trout angler should not do is block a person access to their home; or to block a farmer’s access to his field. On each of those stream you can show them where they can get into the creek and where they need to get out of the creek. This could be done at 9:00 to 12:00 on a Saturday morning. Each year we have more anglers coming here to fish and we have a wealth of trout water available for them. We will not ruin our trout water where the new angler can fish at his own pace.

Three years ago I took Don Hoffman, from Arlington Heights, Illinois, on a trout tour. And before I finished the tour I realized he would be a person I would like to fish with. So I told him the next time you come up give me a call and I will take you to one of my best places. When I got back home I told my wife about Don Hoffman. And Diana said, “You know you are not getting any younger, and I think you should fish with more trout fisherman.” So this year Don and I fished together four times on four different streams, in March to May, and we were catching trout. So next year if Don wants to fish with me I will take him to four additional steams to fish. We have so many streams to fish here, within forty miles of Viroqua, that you could count them 20 times on your fingers and still have streams to fish. More trout stream here to fish than anywhere else in the world.

A month ago I received an email form a trout angler who fished a stream, near his home that I fished about 60 years ago. And, Greg reported to me that he caught some nice brown and brook trout in Grasshopper Creek. Two weeks ago Greg told me about an angler he met on Grasshopper Creek. Greg wrote, “You (Jay Thurston) have given me three books worth of stories to read. I would like to share one with you as well. I have been doing really well with the brook trout over on Grasshopper Creek and on another creek within 50 miles of Milwaukee. You would call it a little gem.”

“So I just parked by Simon Schultz Bridge and began fishing after the rain. I’m on a not-prime location of the stream I learned last year. I’ve never saw anyone on the good part of the stream and I noticed a fisherman was in the wrong area. So I stopped and talked with him. His name was John and he was 83 years old. I was thinking about showing him the area of the stream where trout are more common. While I tried the bridge pool, as we talked and after 15 minutes or so, I decided to show him my best place on the stream. John is an African American from Milwaukee and I know that there are some racist people in the area, so I wanted to make sure no one hassled him. I told him to follow me and after three miles or so we were at my spot. I walked him out a couple hundred yards. He handled the marsh grass and landscape very well for someone who is 83 years old.”

“I showed him an area and he was really happy. We fished together for about 20 minutes. I caught a nice 9 inch brook trout. He had not caught anything, but he was so happy to see the trout. I offered to let him have it to eat but he turned me down (the limit is 8 inches). I asked him if he could get back to his truck on his own, and he said he could.”

Greg added, “What an experience. I think you would have done the same thing. He came out from Milwaukee and was just searching for a trout. I knew where they were”

Thank you, Greg, for your great story! And, telling me I could use it in my writing. There are not many trout stream where Greg lives. Grasshopper Creek is a factitious name – I didn’t want too many people fishing the stream ahead of Greg or John.

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Jay Ford Thurston is the Broadcaster’s trout fishing columnist. He can be contacted at trout@mwt.net.

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