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Arrival time ~9am. Airtemp in the upper 20’s. With frost on the ground Carl and I began the morning hike downstream passing up over two miles of creek. I didn’t bother to stop once to look, the goal was to get to the starting point, a remote area that requires a serious hike from either direction to get to. This translates to a place where few frequent, the trout haven’t been pressured and the area is left untouched (for the most part). Places like this, far from roads, houses, people…they are rare and should be treasured. As we hiked downstream avoiding the temptation to glance at the water we were to see as our day progressed, the morning sun came out taking with it the frost and my need for an overcoat. January and I’m [singlepic id=3182 w=360 h=280 float=left]hiking the creek in a fleece because my traditional winter gear is simply too much for the almost 30degree airtemp at ~9am.
Once downstream I gazed upon large water with darting shadows, the shadows of trout, white suckers and the rosey cheeked creek chub. Due to the large water and not having fished this creek before I opted to swing a streamer. I fish a streamer in situations like this if the trout respond, my third roll cast saw a smaller brown chase the streamer almost to my feet, a good sign that my SMB would take fish this day. A couple casts later I had the first brown of the day on the line only to have it shake my barbless hook at the last moment. Minutes into the day of fishing and I knew my choice of fly was going to pay off. I’m not suggesting that nymphs wouldn’t have worked but given the size of the creek and not knowing the depth or location of the trout fishing a streamer was going to be the best choice for me. Upstream a bit I spied from the bank a larger shadow, clear blue water with big cover boulders piqued my interest. I opted to sit on it a bit, adding a splitshot and working my roll cast out a good forty feet I let my fly dead drift until my line came to a halt. I missed one but with the next pass my line [singlepic id=3191 w=320 h=240 float=right]went taught, a bit of a run and a fat splash showed a nicer 18 and a half inch brown trout, a Dogger. What a way to start the morning, second trout to hand pushing 19inches.
After releasing the larger fish I sat on that spot for quite a while repeating the same process landing two more and missing more than that. The slow lethargic strike was difficult to detect but the fish were eating the streamer and so it continued to be my fly of choice. My fishing partner Carl fished upstream from me and was doing quite well with his streamer choice, we continued to work the creek up enjoying the beautiful conditions. Further upstream the wind began to pick up a bit but not enough to make me put my coat on, we sat and watched for any rising trout. A few scattered midge were spotted hovering over the creek but by 11am we’d only seen a couple trout surface. I kept the streamer on for the next hour, by 12pm we came upon a run/pool system showing regularly rising trout. We crept up low and sat in the brush watching the trout and the midge, we swapped our large streamers for longer leaders [singlepic id=3185 w=380 h=300 float=left]and #20 flies. The wind made things difficult, as did the clear low water but Carl’s approach resulted in a fooled brown. I tried for another further upstream but was unsuccessful, even an attempt with a #20 Miracle Nymph was fruitless. Although a handful of fish were rising regularly they were hesitant and I opted to move upstream and put my streamer back on.
The beautiful day was made as fish chased down my streamer, a handful more came to hand and many were missed. No ice in the guides and sun on my shoulders, I can’t stress enough how wonderful these places are and the excellent weather was the icing on the cake. The rest of the day was much the same, following the winding creek upstream we ended up where we started the morning, fished out by 3:30 or so I was content to call the day successful and every bit as satisfying as any other day in the peace of the Driftless Area. Good to take full advantage of good airtemps and low wind in January, it can’t last forever.
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