Rob Kolakowski

Rob Kolakowski began fishing at age 2. He has been fly fishing for the last 25 years and teaches casting and beginning fly fishing. He's the vice president of the Western Wisconsin Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America and belongs to several other conservation organizations.

Foul Weather Fly

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: May 11, 2010 - 11:22 PM


Blue Winged Olive Mayfly - Rob Kolakowski Photo

Blue Winged Olive Mayfly - Rob Kolakowski Photo


 Come rain, sleet or snow the Blue Winged Olive is ready to go. 
    If the weather is less than ideal, sometimes far less, you can get into some real good Blue Winged Olive hatches.  If your really into fishing hatches these little mayflies can show you a good time when most other insects lay low.

    Around our area I’ll typically see them in sufficient numbers from February to May and again in September.  They are no stranger to cool weather.  February and March are winter months around here.  There’s a good chance you will be fishing in light sleet or snow when the hatch is going.  As we all know this can happen in April and May also.  If the precipitation is heavy you can stay home.  Chances are you will not see them unless the weather lightens up.

    Early in the year around February, March and early April you will see plenty of BWO’s on the sunny days.  They will provide good action along with the midge hatch.  As the season progresses and we get into later April and May the cool rainy days will see more BWO activity.  During September you’ll find them again in all types of weather.  The timing all depends on the weather patterns over the course of these months.

    Typically a size 18 fly will do well to fool the trout in the spring.  On a cool rainy day last week I found them a little smaller, around size 20.  Normally I don’t see them this size until fall.  You always run into something new, which is why there are never any guarantees when fishing.

    Dead drifting duns and emergers on the surface are good techniques to hook up.  Sometimes the trout require you to give them a twitch.  A small nymph subsurface will produce plenty.  During early months of the hatch cycle a wet fly swing will produce real well.

    Before I wrap this up I should mention a fly called the Tiny Blue Winged Olive.  Typical size is around 22 to 26.  These things can be smaller than tricos and certainly  frustrating to fish for some folks.  You’ll find plenty of them during the summer months when the larger species are absent.

    If the forecast calls for poor weather conditions you may still want to hit the stream.  Preparing to keep dry and warm will keep your spirits up.  Chances are you’ll run into a good BWO hatch and get your fix.

Cashing In On The Caddis Fly

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: May 6, 2010 - 10:23 AM


Rob Kolakowski photo

A good looking spot to fish a caddis fly.


“Caddis live under a rock you know. What’s so fabulous about that?”
    Spring brings large numbers of caddis and reckless abandon in the trout population.  Even high pressured streams will offer up a lot of trout when the hatch or egg laying is going on.  When there is no hatch a lot of fish are still on the look out and will offer plenty of action.

    Turn over a rock or a piece of wood in the stream and there’s a good chance you’ll find caddis larva.  Many build a case to live in, some don’t .  They grow fat off of plant matter in the water.  Some larva are more mobile than others when in pursuit of food.  When they mature they will seal themselves in a case and transform into a pupa.  They then leave the case and jet to the waters surface on a trapped air bubble.  When reaching the surface the outer skin of the pupa splits open and out pops a caddis fly with wings.  They are fast and gone in an instant.  

    A trout has little time to decide if what they are seeing is food.  It’s the fleeting nature of the caddis that force the trout to react quickly.  You’ll often see fish so worked up that they will go airborne when taking a fly on the surface.  Some cunning trout will even jump out of the water and eat the fly as they enter the water.  All we need to do is pitch a fly among the riffles and watch for an aggressive take.  Don’t be surprised if you miss on the hook set.  A trout will strike with reckless abandon and actually miss the fly or mistakenly push it away when it breaks the surface.  This happens more than you may realize.

     Because the caddis are fast and the trout are in hot pursuit we can get away with sloppy presentation.  Often it does not matter if your fly has drag, in fact you’d do better to give it a twitch.  If you want to introduce someone to dry fly fishing for trout, take them fishing when the caddis are on the water.  The splashy rises and jumping trout will get everyone worked up and fuel the dreams of days to come.


Join The Crowd

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: April 21, 2010 - 11:40 PM

Rob Kolakowski photo

Eight vehicles at trout stream bridge access.  If you can’t get away from the crowd you can still have a successful day on the stream.

    When I first started fishing the stream in the photo there was no parking area.  What is now gravel used to be grass.  If you came on a weekend you may run into someone else.  Chances are you would move on to the next access so they could have the stretch to themselves.  Things have changed.  Eight vehicles, including mine, at the access on a recent weekday outing.  There’s a good chance that there are also plenty of people at the other access points so you do your best with what you have.

    The first thing is to lower your expectations, somewhat.  It’s pretty obvious that the fish are not going to be dumb and jump all over whatever you happen to throw to them.  Fish will have been caught and many will have been spooked, several times.  They also get conditioned to the fishing pressure and become harder to catch overtime.  It is pretty predictable how, where, and what we will fish with.  The fish have seen just about everything and have us figured out; it should be the other way around.

    Even with the odds stacked against you there are options.  One thing you can do is perfect your casting and presentation.  If you can put a fly right where it needs to be on the first cast, your chances will be better.  If you make that delicate presentation most every time it is called for, you’ll have a better chance.  Put that nymph in an exact spot instead of just running it through the zone.  

    There are other things you can do.  Fish areas that most people overlook.  Most people overlook them or pass them by, because they have not had success there in the past or the areas are not so easy to fish.  Even though these areas may be hard to fish your chances may actually be better than the spots that have been pounded over and over.  

    Fish also become conditioned to the flies we use.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  There are flies we all use that work well a good part of the time, but if you find yourself having trouble, put on something that no one else has tried.  If the fish just don’t seem to commit to a take or the hole seems to have gone cold, try a pattern switch.  This will often trigger another strike or several.  

    If you decide to join the crowd, chances are you’ll run into a number of people.  Don’t lose your head, give them space and be courteous.  We are all there for the same experience.  Talk to people and you’ll most likely learn something.  Odds are real good that you will fish the same water that others have already fished, just be more thoughtful about how you do it and you will have success.   


Replacing Wading Boot Felt

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: April 7, 2010 - 11:45 PM

Rob Kolakowski photo

If the felt on the bottom of your wading boots is warn out you don’t have to get new boots.  You can repair them yourself. 

    Spring is here.  Time for gear repair if you have not done it already.  If you have decent wading boots chances are that you will wear out the felts before the rest of the boot is bad.  You can replace the warn soles for a lot less than you can get new boots.  So here’s how to do it.

    First pick up some new soles and some cement for attaching them.  Sometimes the soles come with cement sometimes they don’t.  A common cement that works well for this purpose is Barge cement.  You can find it in a number of places.  I get it from the local hardware store.  You’ll also need a utility knife, sand paper or wire wheel, cleaning solvent(more on this later),  and some duct tape.

    The first step in replacing the soles involves getting what’s left of the old felt off.  It’s been my experience that if the felt is warn down next to nothing that they will be falling off already or they will peal off pretty easily.  If you have trouble you will have to peal the felt back and cut the glue joint as you go.  Kind of like filleting a fish.  Make sure you get it all off.  Use sandpaper, a rasp, or a knife.  Whatever it takes to get to the flat surface of the boot.

    Step two is to prep the bottom of the boot.  You want to create a fresh rough surface so the cement adheres well.  A wire wheel in a drill does this job quickly.  A sander, sandpaper or rasp will also get the job done.  Next use some solvent to wipe the surface clean.  This is to assure that there are no oils or other things left on the bottom of the boot that will weaken the bond.  Denatured alcohol, acetone, or nail polish remover will work well.  Mineral spirits contains oil, so don’t use it.

    Step three is to prep the replacement felt sole.  All that needs to be done is to trim it to size.  You can fit it exactly or just get it close and do the final trim after the soles are in place.

    Step four is to glue the soles on.  Apply a thin uniform layer of cement over the entire surface of the bottom of the boot and the entire surface of the felt sole.  Let then dry for several hours without sticking them together.  You don’t want to follow the cement instructions in this case.  Most contact type cements will tell you to stick the pieces together in a short amount of time.  I have found that this does not create a strong bond.  Your soles will come off.  You need to let the first layer of cement set a long time and reapply another layer to get the strongest bond.  I’ll apply the first layer of cement in the evening, let it sit overnight, and apply a second layer in the morning.  You can stick them together right away at this point.  Firmly tape down all edges of the felt sole to the boot.  I usually do this by wrapping the tape right around the boot.  Duct tape leaves some sticky residue, but I don’t mind.  You can use some other form of tape or clean it off if you care to.  The instructions with my sole kit say to let them dry for a day.  I usually let them sit for at least a couple days before removing the tape for added insurance.  After the tape is removed you can do any final trimming if need be. 

You should be good to go at this point.  Another skill learned and a few bucks saved.

Wish For Rain

Posted by: Rob Kolakowski Updated: March 31, 2010 - 11:09 PM

Rob Kolakowski photo


We may see an impact on the fishing this year. 

    Recently I wrote about the lack of late winter snow.  Now I’m writing about the lack of rain.  Things are real dry around the area.  Fire danger is quite high.  The streams and rivers are in good shape for fishing right now, but I’m concerned about the future.  If the weather continues with it’s current trend we may be looking at low flows again, like last year.

    Last year there was heavier than normal plant growth in the lakes, rivers, and streams.  Algae blooms were quite wide spread.  Water temps were up due to the all around lower water levels.  The fish were certainly impacted.  Especially in lakes where the dying plant growth used up oxygen through the winter and in rivers where there is not a lot of ground water influx.  I hate to see this all over again this year.  

    So if you can wish, pray, or dance for rain I could use a little help.  I don’t want to see anyone flooded out on the big rivers right now, but all we need is a little soaking once in a while to maintain the health of the ecosystem.  Anything to keep the lakes filled, rivers flowing, and ground water charged. 


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters