The “Don Hill” Float

by | Sep 5, 2022 | remote fly fishing

fly-fishingBob Butler and I have fished together a lot this summer from his drift boat.  Occasionally he mentions we may need to take his “Don Hill”, almost as though I should know what the “Don Hill” is.  I wasn’t sure, but I gathered it was a boat.  And I assumed a special small boat for an upcoming adventure on a tiny Wisconsin river.


Don-Hill-boatsMy assumption was right.  Today Bob broke out the miniature two man only “Don Hill” and we floated a river that certainly hasn’t seen a drift boat.  Perhaps not even a canoe or raft in recent years.  There isn’t even a boat ramp or any type of launch for that matter.  Instead we dragged the nifty little craft through the forest and slid it down a steep bank.


mini-boatsThe float looked short on our maps.  So rather than take off down river, we did some fishing on the excellent looking pool we started at.  We left the boat and walked upstream.


flyfishing-WIIt would turn out there were only a few baby smallmouth bass lurking.  I started tossing a popper.  Bob hucked a white streamer that’s proven itself this summer.  But neither of us saw much.  The sunrise however and the fog made for some beautiful photos.



The river was tight in many places but for the first mile or so, we had no problems getting through.  We both packed light just in case the river became blocked with fallen trees.  There are many troublesome issues you can run into when exploring a small river by boat.  We both gave the area a thorough look on Google Earth but those aerial views don’t always show everything.



In case of any type of needed portage, or worse, a complete evacuation, we each packed light.  I had my waterproof backpack, with a few flies, tippet, water and a sandwich.  We both brought our bass rods (for me it’s my 6-weight Alpha+).  I also brought along my 9-weight muskie rod.  Despite this river being small, its well connected to primo muskie waters.


smallmouth-bassFishing was slow at first.  We attribute that to cooler temps.  But as the sun warmed things up, the fishing turned on.  Though the popper wouldn’t get much attention, various weighted streamers did the trick.  The smallie bite was on!


bassThe largest smallmouth we caught today was about 17”.  We may have moved a few others that were larger but we didn’t connect.  But it wasn’t the size that made the day, these were some of the most gorgeously marked smallmouth bass I’ve ever seen.  Truly stunning looking fish.


smallmouth-bassAfter a fair share of smallies, I pulled out the muskie rig (9-weight Air Salt).  The river remained small and tight but we were getting into deeper water.  I covered a lot of it with good casts and a huge chartreuse pike streamer.  The smallies loved it.  But finally something seemingly more significant grabbed my fly.  All I saw was a flash but it appeared to me like a pike or a muskie.  When I set the hook it felt more substantial then a smallie but just as the excitement started, the fly pulled loose.  We’ll never know!


remote-fishingThe river tightened up on us over the last mile.  We had four situations where fallen trees had things blocked.  Dragging the boat around these areas wasn’t an issue, but man, in a normal size drift boat we’d have been screwed for sure.  Lucky for me, Bob owns the “Don Hill”!


Jeff-CurrierWe finally hit the spot Bob had in mind as our pullout.  This particular spot is for sure a canoe launch but far from obvious.  With a true drift boat it would be tough to pullout but with the Don Hill it wasn’t a problem.  What was an issue however was that we weren’t exactly where we planned to end the float.  Bob’s truck was further upstream and it ended up being an 8.5 mile hike out to get it.  That’s a long story for around the campfire someday.


That’s it for WI fishing for a week or so.  Wednesday I’m off to the Jackson Hole One Fly which takes place this weekend.  Heck, our Team USA team won gold in Italy, why not my Yellow Dog Flyfishing Team win the trophy in Jackson Hole?


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!