the fishing life...
Bishop Creek
If you are familiar with the northern hemisphere, and assume most of you are, the word southern usually denotes, among other things warmer weather.  When used in conjunction with the word Wisconsin as in “southern Wisconsin” you can count on warmth in the spring about as much as Obama’a universal healthcare.  Hoping for descent temperatures, all the while knowing better, we arrived in southern Wisconsin’s driftless area to fish its famous (yes, even) limestone spring creeks, welcomed by an inch or two of fresh snow, blustery winds, and of course Josh Mattila, smiles were plastered to our faces.
Coon Creek rises
Josh and I grew up right across the street from each other and have been pals since before I was born.  I can say that because I am almost positive that even while I was still riding fanny pack in Sheila’s belly around the neighborhood I was aware of a miniature  Josh Mattila, two years my senior, patrolling the cul-de-sac bare back on his Saint Bernard, an act of which I instantly approved. Needless to say, over the years we have accumulated a resume of stories and experiences that makes the other’s presence pure joy. 

Here are three stories involving Josh Mattila:

1.  When I was little, 8 or maybe 9, the cul-de-sac that we lived on was  thrust into turmoil when Josh’s little brother Benny Mattila had an accident in their backyard while enjoying an early evening escapade on the swing-set.  In the process of loosing touch with the rubber seat and chains his skull met resistance on a two by six.  Initially less curious about the commotion and more concerned about whether or not Josh could play, I arrived to see Ben floating wide eyed in the summer grass wearing a diaper on his head to cover the crack in his skull.  The hustle and seriousness of the situation is burned into my memory.  It's was also a brilliant use of a diaper for a bandage.

2.  Years later Josh and I were playing hockey in his driveway and for some reason or another we started wrestling.  With Josh pinned I started tapping on his sternum and giggling hysterically.  I stopped laughing as quickly as nerve endings in my lip could inform my brain that it had encountered something painful.  Stunned I asked, “Did you just punch me?”  Nodding assuredly with an expression that suggested he would do it again if I didn’t stop, I got up and walked home.  Thinking back I probably deserved it, I hate sternum rubs.  For reference it is what you do to assess the awareness of an unresponsive person.

3.  Josh introduced me to Queen.  I remember rollerblading over to his house one day to play street hockey.  For pump up and effect he had his taupe single speaker hand held tape player that looked like it should accompany Teddy Ruxpin sitting on the stoop draining four C batteries to Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls.  Wearing black rollerblades with neon laces and red hot wheels Josh was working on his crossovers while singing the chorus.  It was an education and I was more than envious as I strolled in on my Wayne Gretzky endorsed Ultrawheels, skates that even Wayne Gretzky's endorsement couldn't prevent from sucking.
Mattila releasing a nice little brown
So it was great to see him.  By the time we arrived Josh had already landed a very respectable brown on Rullands Coulee Creek swinging a black hare’s streamer.  He said he had tried to go down stream to some better water but a ranging horse kept pestering him for a carrot.  An interesting thing about the Driftless area is that much of fishing is gained through easements on private property and most of the private property is farm or graze land.  It is not uncommon to walk through a herd of cattle on the way to the stream, your waders protecting you from manure as much as the water.
There's supposed to be a stream around here somewhere
With the wind howling pretty good and the temperatures lingering around uncomfortable, Josh and I fished for a bit on Coon Creek, landed a handful of fish on scuds, and headed back to the cabin.  After dinner Josh pulled out some Iowa pride and we tied flies late into the night with a fire and some playoff hockey on in the background you couldn’t ask for anything more.
A tying session done right
The next day we woke to an open ceiling and the prospect of a comfortable day fishing.  With a bit of wind in Coon Valley we headed over to Bishop Creek, spent the day stalking skittish fish and enjoying the first day of sunshine in while.
Bishop Creek
We ended the day back in Coon Valley on Coon Creek.  The clouds rolled in and lifted the curtain on some rising fish.  Back to delicate presentations, tiny tippets, and calm waters we spent the rest of the day frustrating ourselves with dries.  With several hours of driving left for each of us, Josh further south to Iowa City and Big Paul and I back north to Hudson we prolonged our departures as long as possible ultimately heading our separate ways.  As is the case with good friends it is tough to say good bye, the consolation always being, you will see them again and the promise that next time there will be more stories to tell, and more fishing to be had.
Coon Creek

05/02/2011 10:15

You really do know how to have a good time. That is a great gift, but sharing those good times with friends and your family - well, lets just say you do that so we all can have good times to remember. Love you Paulie!

Greg@ Eagle Bluff
05/03/2011 07:37

Sun and clear skies broke in Kinni country today. Hope that means you had it yesterday or Sunday. Anxious to hear how the Big Horn is yielding to the serious presentations of the five of you. How are those new accomodations - heard you even have a sofa and chair that doesn't double for dining. Did you happen to catch Nature on public TV Sunday night? It was the plight of Pacific run salmon - especially the 18 that made it from Pacific thru seven dams on Columbia to Idaho.

Collin Salington
05/03/2011 21:07

Loving it Paul. Super jealous. Keep up the posts! Heading to the Kinni next week. Can't wait.

05/05/2011 08:18

A great time as always.
Bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle!

05/07/2011 09:15

Paul, I have really enjoyed reading your blog. The pictures are tremendous (yes, especially the clouds!)and the stories of being with your parents,friends, the cold and the river made me feel like I was there with you at times.
Katie told me you have a new job. Congratulations! We missed you at Mt. School.


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