Blog: Midwest & The Rest

Photography, experiences, and essays about conservation, restoration, ecology, and all things nature in the Midwest and the rest of the world!

River Tour

Rose early to ease into an outing on my day off, but was adamant to prepare food and camera for I had no clue when I would return home. Drove to Cabela's parking lot to meet members Rich and Gary of my fly tying group, Laughing Trout. Waited 20 minutes to ensure no stragglers were straggling, and then we were Wisconsin bound. Our destinations were the Kinnickinnic and Rush rivers and Rich was our own tour guide.

 Gary and Rich, Rich and Gary.

Gary and Rich, Rich and Gary.

Began as most ventures do, with the sharing of friendly stories and questions of what lies ahead. Both Gary and I are relatively new Minnesotans, he moved here over five years ago and I barely five months ago...luckily Rich has been here since 1966. Took 94 eastbound to 65 northbound, heading towards the upper branch of Kinni. First stop, there were 22 in total for the day if I counted correctly, was just off the highway. Pull into an unplowed, snowy lot to find one party fly fishing. No luck and lines were freezing, yet spirits were high. As we talked smart, a father and son arrived, determined to give a try. Said our goodbyes and headed onward.

 Snuck a photograph of stranger fly fishing. Seconds later he took his fly, rid it of ice as best he could, and then gave it another go.

Snuck a photograph of stranger fly fishing. Seconds later he took his fly, rid it of ice as best he could, and then gave it another go.

Taking a moments break from the rivers, parked the truck on the main drag of River Falls to visit Lund's Fly Shop. First time there, fell in love with a cap, but since I am saving money, had to forego the desire to take out my wallet. Wish to return when I begin hunting for Muskies on the fly because they have a great selection of large fly tying materials!

Back on the road and into the backseat. Leaned forward to peer over dash, spotting the holes and riffles Rich suggested. Can you guess at which bend along the river the Mcdonald's Hole is located? 

 "Across the river you'll see a path, follow it across the field..."

"Across the river you'll see a path, follow it across the field..."

Soon after drive to Rush river, it is roughly 27 miles long and has about 25 miles of fishable waters. Rich told stories about annual river clean ups along its shores that involved upwards of 70 volunteers, taking half of a day of work or so. Instinctually more fond of the Rush, not only because it shares the name as my favorite band, but also because it has more topography. 

 A look at the Rush river.

A look at the Rush river.

 Hard to fathom, but this picture is exactly 180 degrees around from the previous picture...how a river can change depending on structures in the water and condition of its riparian zone.

Hard to fathom, but this picture is exactly 180 degrees around from the previous picture...how a river can change depending on structures in the water and condition of its riparian zone.

Some access points have camping sites available. Two nights maximum stay at the bridge park past the Red Barn. Just after saw Rich's namesake hole, located adjacent to a couple feeder springs and distinct riffles.

A few more stops and then the tour was up. Instead of taking a right turn to get home, we continued straight into Ellsworth. When in Wisconsin, one must visit a creamery and gorge on cheese curds. Not sure why, but that is tradition.

 Land alongside river donated by Koch family.

Land alongside river donated by Koch family.

The tour was direct, yet personable. My excitement to fly fish is growing past the point of containment and once a warm day aligns with an off day, may have to duct tape my hole ridden Neoprene waders and jump in a river. 

Thanks to Rich, Gary, and Laughing Trout, now I know where to jump in.

-M-