The Fishery. The
scenic, unglaciated valleys of southwestern Wisconsin harbor dozens of cold,
fertile spring creeks. These are my home waters that I began fishing with my
father and grandfather as soon as I could walk. Habitat improvements and
introductions of wild-strain fish are increasing the amount of productive
water. Native brook trout are rebounding in a number of streams. Dozens of
streams hold wild (naturally reproducing) brown trout. The fishing for adult
browns in the 11- to 14-inch class is exceptional. Browns of 17-inches and
larger are present and can be targeted with special strategies.
Chicago, the Twin Cities, and Milwaukee are within a 2-to 4-hour drive of the
Driftless Area. Viroqua sits 30 miles southeast of La Crosse and 1 1/2 hours
west of Madison, providing quick access to many streams in Vernon, Richland,
and Crawford counties. Having many streams to choose from gives us the
flexibility to avoid other anglers and to pick streams that will fish
relatively well for the given conditions. I usually rendezvous with anglers in
Viroqua or Westby at the start of the day. We can also meet in Richland Center
about an hour west of Madison. Anglers
generally follow me in their vehicle. When practical, we may use just my
Weekend or Weekday? If
weekends are more convenient for you, don’t hesitate to book weekend outings. I
know good water off the beaten path. I do much of my own fishing on weekends
and know how to avoid the crowds. To
encourage weekend bookings I offer a 10% discount on any Saturday or Sunday.
March & April.
March and April are catch & release fishing. March and early April is a
great time to book on short notice if the forecast is for daytime air
temperatures of 45 degrees or higher, and most of the snow is out of the hills.
Feel free to call me for current conditions. Blustery spring days see some
excellent blue-wing olive hatches. April is a great month for fast action and
targeting larger fish. Throughout April, invigorating water temps often make
for aggressive trout from mid-morning right into evening. April also sees some
excellent caddis and mayfly hatches. Trout fishing in area streams is closed on
the Monday through Friday preceding the first Saturday in May (a 5-day
May & June.
The general season opens the first Saturday in May. Most streams open to
limited harvest. We’ll continue to practice catch & release regardless of
the regulations where we’re fishing. In May midday water temps remain
favorable, and caddis, mayfly, and cranefly hatches are common. May is a
beautiful month with gentle weather, the hills in full bloom, few biting bugs,
and very fine fishing. Early June brings some excellent hatches of sulphur
mayflies. By mid June we transition to summer conditions.
& August. Summer sees a drop in angling pressure, but
there is good and interesting fishing to be had. Even on hot days favorable
water temps prevail from until late morning on most streams, and trout often
remain aggressive through midday on cool headwaters. Most years I take my best
dry-fly fish of the season on hoppers or crickets in the summer months. Beetles
abound. Nymphing generally remains strong. Some excellent morning hatches and
spinner falls of small Trico mayflies occur. Summer trout often bunch up and
specialized techniques, including micro-nymphing, produce surprising numbers of
fish. Summer conditions prevail from mid June to September, so learning to fish
the area effectively in summer will greatly expand your Driftless Area
season and enjoyment.
September brings shorter days with cooler nights and a return to the springtime
pattern of good midday fishing. Browns and brook trout adopt their spawning
hues and move upstream in search of prime spawning habitat. Terrestrial fishing
remains strong and blue-wing olive hatches reappear. September is a great time
to fish the area (trout season runs through the last day of the month).
Philosophy. My primary role is to help you learn to fish the area
effectively, and to advance your fly-fishing skills. Toward that end I prefer
to carry a rod and do a limited amount of demonstration casting and
presentation. Demonstrating various presentations helps you grasp them more
quickly. Having a second rod along also gives you the flexibility to fish dry
or subsurface without reconfiguring tippets or changing flies, and that often
leads to you catching more fish while learning a wider variety of
adjust our presentations and overall strategy to the activity level of the fish
and to the conditions at hand. On any given outing you’ll learn a lot about
cracking a particular set of conditions. Depending on conditions (and your
preference), you’ll have the opportunity to prospect with nymphs, streamers, or
dry flies. Most days you’ll get an opportunity to match a hatch (mayflies,
caddis flies, crane flies, or midges) with dry flies or emergers.
surest way to build your spring creek skills is to fish often. To encourage multi-day outings and repeat
bookings, I offer a 10% discount for any date after your first date of the year
(this discount does not apply to my
Split-Fishing guiding option).
Fishing Gear. I
furnish all terminal tackle needed for fishing including, flies, shot, leaders,
tippet and indicators. Many of my primary flies for the region are my own
patterns. Feel free to bring and try any of your own flies or leaders. Most
anglers use their own rods and reels, but you’re welcome to fish my outfits (my
reels are set up for left-hand wind, which most right-hand casters prefer).
I’ll bring several St. Croix rods in 4- and 5-weight models. I carry a digital
Bring your own wading gear. I suggest chest or waist-high waders—hip boots are
easily ‘breached’ if you sink into soft bottom. Breathable waders are
comfortable for walking in warm weather.
Clothing. Bring a
raincoat. Outerwear should be in muted tones. I suggest long-sleeved shirts and
a hat that shades your face, neck and ears. In hot weather I frequently dip my
sleeves and hat and wear a wet bandana around my neck. Polarized sunglasses
help you see fish, bottom, and fish-holding structure, and they protect your
eyes from flies.
we meet you should purchase a current Wisconsin fishing license plus a trout
stamp (you need the Inland Trout Stamp, not the Great Lakes Trout
Stamp). Wisconsin has an automated licensing system so you can purchase any
licensing option from any outlet (Wal-Mart and K-Mart issue licenses). When you
purchase your license be sure to ask for a copy of the Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations and Guide (it maps all trout
streams by regulation category, and is a handy reference).
than pad my guide fee with food charges, I have anglers bring their own food
and drink. In turn I offer my guiding services at extremely affordable rates (I
invite you to compare). Keeping meals quick and simple keeps us on the water
during prime fishing times.
Lodging and Camping.
Many of my fishing clients stay and dine at the Old Towne Motel in Westby (800)
605-0276. Viroqua and Richland Center have motels, restaurant, and fast food
options. Richland Center and La Crosse also have motel and restaurant options.
There are also cabin rentals and bed/breakfast operations that cater to
live about an hour from Viroqua, so when I guide on consecutive days, I usually
tent camp at Sidie Hollow (a Vernon County park) just south of Viroqua (opens
April 15). The park has large, grassy tent sites, RV sites, and restrooms with
Planning. At the time you book your
trip we’ll discuss your experience level and make a general plan. This is a
good time to let me know if you’re looking for a specific type of fishing
experience or wish to fish a specific stream. Shortly before an outing, we’ll
confirm our meeting place and time. Generally, I prefer to select
streams based on conditions. Often we’ll fish more than one stream in a day.
Deposits. A deposit of
$50 is required to reserve each guiding date for you or your group. Mail the
deposit (check or money order) to Rich Osthoff at the address below. Since I’m
not currently taking credit cards, I may waive the deposit requirement if a
date is booked on short notice.
Cancellation/Refund Policy. If I cancel a date due to a
personal conflict (extremely rare), I’ll notify you as far in advance as
possible and I’ll refund your deposit. If you cancel a date, I will refund or credit your deposit
if I’m able to book your original date with another angler, so please let me
know quickly if a conflict develops for you.
Anglers who elect to cancel at
any time in advance of fishing for any reason do not incur any charges beyond
the $50 deposit required to hold each date. If the angler cancels and I do
not book another angler for that date, I reserve the right to retain the $50
deposit (this policy is primarily intended to discourage short-notice
cancellations due to moderately inclement weather). If I’ve already traveled to
the meeting area, or I’ve stayed overnight to meet the angler, then I’ve
already invested time and incurred expenses, and I reserve the right to retain
the deposit. In the event that you and I travel to the area and discover that
overnight or early-morning rains have muddied area streams, our best bet is to
check several streams for fishable water (if we don’t find fishable water, the
anglers is not charged anything beyond the deposit). I’ve seen just this
scenario work out great for the angler when we suddenly hit upon a fishable
stream where the trout are gorging in response to the rain.
If it is apparent a day or two
in advance that weather or fishing conditions are likely to be poor, then it’s
best to touch base (before you or I travel to the meeting area) and make a
mutual decision whether to fish, cancel and refund your deposit, or schedule a
Keep in mind that moderate rain and some
turbidity in the water typically make for aggressive trout and great fishing in
this area (plus you’ll learn valuable dirty-water tactics). Don’t let a
moderately rainy forecast keep you at home, especially if you’ve booked a
multi-day trip. Even when the region takes a real gully washer, headwaters drop
and clear quickly, and some streams usually escape the brunt of the storm. As
area streams drop and clear in the wake of heavy rains, fishing is often
excellent over an extended period.
Affordable Guiding Rates.
Flexible Options. I offer attractive rates, plus additional discounts for weekends and
repeat outings (I invite you to compare my rates to other area guides). I
require only a 5-hour minimum outing; beyond that your outing is prorated very
affordably by the hour. That gives you complete flexibility to adjust the
length of your fishing day according to fish activity, weather, length of
daylight, and personal considerations. If the fishing is too hot to walk away
from, you have the option to extend your day. If you elect to fish only five
hours, you won’t be charged for more. Our time begins at the appointed meeting
time. Generally, we’ll want to select the prime fishing hours for the current
season, but I’ll flex to accommodate your schedule. Our spring creeks are best suited to guiding one or
two anglers. For larger groups, contact me for rates.
Guiding Discounts: (these discounts do not apply to my Split-Fishing
Guiding option or Fishing Schools). *10% Weekend Discount—for
any Saturday or Sunday. *10% Repeat Discount—for
each date after your first date of the year. (A multi-angler party qualifies if any angler in the
party has already fished with me that year).
Discount—Weekend and Repeat Discounts can be combined if both apply.
in full, by cash or
check, is due at end of fishing. Sorry, I’m not currently accepting credit
N6868 Sandstone Drive
Mauston, WI 53948 Home
Phone: (608) 847-5192.Cell Phone: (608) 547-9075.