Get it while you can. That’s what I have to live by these days. Woke up, pounded out the bike routine, started reading for class then got the urge to touch a trout. Wife was out the door for a girls thing, left me with the afternoon free. I gambled on a creek I’ve thought of fishing but have always passed on it. Wanted two things from the day, I got both in the first thirty minutes of being in waders. 1. To see new water. 2. To touch a brookie. The water I picked was small, most of the creek you could jump across if you had to. I’ll take note of that for the colder, snowier times when waders are contraindicated due to my need to feel my toes. Low wind today worked out well for me, little cover in a wide open valley. Sky grey again as it has been so many of the recent days. Ironically its typically the clear sunny days that are the coldest so I guess I’ll take the clouds.
Parked at a crossing, designated water ends just downstream. I figured it couldn’t hurt to go see what the creek does past the designation. Typically the substrate turns to sand and the creek gets wide and flat with no place for trout to hide or spawn, this just wasn’t the case. Cobble was good and what one might construe as a lack of cover was really there masked by undercut banks and depth I was not expecting to see. I glanced over and watched a Bald Eagle land in its nest carrying a fish, I imagine it was a trout. Shortly after it flew off to a nearby tree and tracked my every movement until I was too close for comfort at which point it flew past me as if to let me know it knew I was around. Later on the hike back upstream I would stop and look up at that nest marveling at the sheer size wishing I could see what was inside. The smaller water and my desire to see alot of it combined with my skepticism that I was going to find many fish dictated that I start with a streamer. Honestly I don’t know if it’s the type of water I fish or if it’s the type of angler I am, unless I’m confident nymphing will be the ticket and fish aren’t rising then a streamer I shall fish. Worst thing that can happen is I accept the fact that some days the trout just snub it, turn and run.
Started off downstream and every bend, dark spot or faster water got a pass with the streamer. About the only thing I didn’t cast at were the sandy spots that were void of everything. Slight bit of wind, I dressed with one less layer making it a bit cooler than I expected for 30degrees when I arrived. The trick here was to thread my casts downstream through the overhanging brush getting my fly in the creek without getting it hung up. Typical approach is documented here in the image. I would stand far upstream, cast straight down and try to get my fly to the side opposite the cut bank I wanted to target then use the length of the rod to move the streamer into place near the cut bank during the retrieve. It was never a fast, spring strip in sort of retrieve always more of a slow long retrieve. Worked well several times. I wouldn’t say there were alot of fish but those who were about came out of the underbrush to nail my streamer. The first being a smaller brook trout, the second a larger brown pushing 15inches. I hiked downstream through a pasture section until the creek changed drastically from a narrow deep section to a wide flat area. It was here I made the choice to hike hard back upstream to where I began. I continued further upstream spying overhangs and deeper sections, walked wide around to get upstream and then made my down and in approach. The next fourteen fish were all brook trout, something that doesn’t happen often.
The wind picked up a bit and the air temp didn’t feel like it had climbed much but the consistent action with the streamer kept my interest high and I hiked further upstream than I had intended. The cow pasture turned into a short section of woods and the deep section of creek holding brookies seemed to dissapear. My intrest in seeing more kept me going upstream through the woods, a handful of fish darted out here and there but for a good half mile I didn’t cast at much. Then a deep snag of tree limbs and logs scoured out a perfect hole for bigger fish. I hiked around it and got upstream, no dead drift would work here, my flies would have gotten hung up instantly. The same down and in/across worked as it had so many other times and out came the largest fish of the day, a nice brown pushing 17 or so inches. This was the second brown and the last fish of the day. 4.68miles total on the day. Saw the vast majority of a creek I was wondering about for a long time. Proved once again that a single view from the road crossings or a google earth image is no substitute for hiking and fishing it, the only true way to know what’s out there. One last side note: every single brookie had some degree of gill lice infestation. I guess it’s just reality here. With that said if there was only one fish I could catch it would be a Driftless Area Brook Trout.