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After tying up my initial stash of #16 Free Range Soft-Hackle flies in a variety of colors I knew I needed to get creekside to test them out. I woke and got the girl out the door, ran the dogs hard and weeded my garden in the early morning hours. I planned to be fishing by 6am but the thunderclouds and their threat of lightening kept me at home being productive for an hour or so. Once things were settling down I headed out hoping by the time I got to the water that any threat would have passed. Onstream at ~7:15am I could tell the storm system was just finishing its pass, I needed to wait just a bit before I felt comfortable rigging my 8′ 6″ lightening rod. I took a water temp and [singlepic id=2762 w=320 h=240 float=left]strained various substrates for invertebrates. Scuds and free living Caddis larva were the most common inverts found.

As the sun came and drove away the rain I rigged a #16 Gorilla Beetle with a trailing #16 Free Range Soft-Hackle (Rust). My goals for the day were fairly simple, fish the Free Range Soft-Hackle in the film, just under the surface and sub-surface as a standard nymph. A handful of eagerly rising trout made the first goal simple, a decent cast and good drift resulted in aggressive rises, the Free Range Soft-Hackle fished in the surface film was bringing fish to rise every other cast. Moving upstream I tried various colors, Pea-Green, Lt. Grey, Brown Olive and Rust all brought fish to hand. As the morning wore on and the air temp rose I swapped to a two fly nymph rig keeping my rig light to stay just under the surface, fish after fish came to hand, most small under 10inches but a couple were pushing 12 or so.  The final goal was met with the addition of splitshot and a long drift allowing my flies to sink close to the creek bed. The Lt. Grey version did rather well fished close to the bottom, the Rust did the best in the surface film and they all [singlepic id=2765 w=320 h=240 float=right]performed about the same just under the surface. To round out the morning I swapped to a #8 Black SMB and sent it down a couple dark holes, I hooked a 16inch Brown but lost it as it was coming to the net. The SMB never fails to produce and I managed a couple other larger 14inch Browns before the heat forced me to pack it in for the day.

Note: The creek I fished was just barely stained on arrival, as the morning progressed I moved upstream to find the stain getting stronger and stronger. As the morning came to an end I found the reason for the ever increasing turbidity. Pastured cattle, roughly 30 head all standing side by side in a 5oft stretch of creek. I get a bit disturbed by sights like this, I’m curious what effect cow manure has when introduced to the watershed in a direct way like this.

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  1. Yea, It’s not an ideal situation. I struggle with the pasturing of cattle at times. It can be better than corn but if left un-attended they can wreak havoc on the stream banks, eliminate the important streamside vegitation and are a nusance for fisherman. At the same time…cow pastures are some of the more ideal places to fish when the weeds are 8ft tall.

  2. Those are really tasty looking flies – buggy as hell and resemble everything.

    Out west the problem with cattle is how much they break down the banks getting into and out’ve the creek. Those cloven hoofs are tiny compared to the cow’s weight, and can penetrate damp soil a goodly distance (we get stuck cows all the time). Most of the ranchers put up barbed wire to force the cows to a single entry point rather than destroy the entire bank.

  3. Thanks Barton, I love the dubbing, got big plans for the Free Range. Cattle usually arn’t a huge problem here but similar situations arise, over grazing with no restrictions on the stream banks.

    Carl, I’ve been followed. I’ve maybe been chased once but I typically steer clear and keep going. They typically leave me alone. I’ve yet to run into a bull but the day will come.

  4. Ah the cattle in the creek… always fun, when not managed properly. Have you heard the name Larry Gates? He’s retired DNR from down your way. Great resource on animal grazing in RMZs. When RMZs are grazed correctly you can up the fish numbers per mile of water. Very interesting stuff.. just think if TU (or any other group for that matter) would hop on board some how this could be a great thing for the Driftless Area… cause corn and beans will be the down fall if it continues.
    Agreed that pastures are the places to hit up once the ‘weeds’ are over your head.

    avatar Tedd

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