July 6th, 2011: Driftless Area Brookies

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Damn, what an afternoon. Got onstream later than I wanted but found myself pulling up to a bridge with a family of six swimming in the big hole just downstream. The adults and I discussed fishing while I got my gear togather, the kids played in the cold water tossing sticks for the dogs. Trout water being enjoyed by all. As my time was short and I had not seen this section of creek we parted ways and I left the kids playing in the creek behind me. Weeds were of course up and tall crowding the already pretty thin stream. What it lacked in width it made up for with depth, a good situation for the trout and perhaps a more difficult one for me. I rigged a #14 Black Wet Fly and trailed it with a #16 Pink Squirrel, [singlepic id=2687 w=340 h=260 float=left]noting the depth around the first turn I added a single small split shot to aid the sink rate and moved upstream.

I found a good run and took my time getting into place. I could see from the banks I had chosen the right section of creek to satisfy my goals for the day…find brook trout. Their white fins giving them away as I peer through the weeds crouched on the bank. Rather than stand up on the bank and give my position away I slid down the bank wall and took a step into four feet of trout water. Normally I don’t cast from in the creek but sometimes it is the best option, a straight shot upstream with a marginally clear lane for a backcast behind me. The second my boots hit the creek I could see dirt plooms sending sediment downstream, those I had disturbed. I took another couple of minutes to let things settle and to observe my targets. I managed one decent cast with my two fly rig but missed the take it inspired only to lift my line up too sharply sending my flies into the bank riddled with 4-5ft tall weeds. I attempted to remove my flies without moving which resulted in a broken line and no flies…rookie mistake, 5x tippet… I could see my flies and rather than lose them I moved through the creek downstream to retrieve my goods.

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On the bank I turned to see a rise from the run I was fishing, I looked at my flies and decided to try a #14 Orange Stimulator for maybe three reasons. 1st, there was a significant amount of instream vegitation which would hang up my two fly nymph rig, combine that with gin clear water and low flows resulting in disturbed trout from the splash of [singlepic id=2704 w=300 h=220 float=right]my flies hitting the creek. 2nd, Brookies take a Stimulator really well, they just don’t hesitate and tend to crush it. Finally the 3rd reason was my desire to fish a dry fly, to see the rise.

The first cast with the #14 Orange Stimulator proved I had made the right choice. Slam. A beautiful 8inch brookie, I’ve caught brookies before but not this many displaying the brightest colors I’ve ever seen on fish. I sat on that first run and moved maybe 2 feet in an hour. I’d catch one and send it downstream then turn wait a minute and cast again, for the most part they hit the Stimulator within two-three seconds of it hitting the water. They also tended to react more agressivly the higher the fly was floating, a couple nailed my fly as it was half sunk because I’m often too eager to stop and dress my fly properly (I’m working on that). I worked to the very very tip top of the riffle, in water less than 4 inches deep lay a nice 13inch brookie that I had seen rise once. I knew he was there, just a matter of get his friends out [singlepic id=2711 w=340 h=260 float=left]of my way without disturbing him. A couple more brookies and a brown later and I was grinning at the red belly flying through the air attempting to shake my hook.

My afternoon was made, long casts, dry flies and beautiful brookies. I moved upstream and took a handful more with my fly before it disintegrated before my eyes after about the 20th trout jaw took its toll. I swapped to a #14 Pink Head Stimulator and sure enough the brookies took to it. I landed a handful more before turning to head out. On my way I spied a hole and decided to swap to a #8 Black SMB just to see if anyone was home, the most colorful fish of the day came as a result. The icing on the cake and with that I was on my way.

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11 Comments:

  1. If anyone likes another fish more than the Brook Trout then I feel sorry for them because they are stupid.

  2. Nice brookies…awesome color. Making me think I will hit a favorite little pasture creek in WI this weekend to attempt the same. I also am happy to read of your success with the black wet fly in the other posts. That fly trailing a hot orange scud was awesome this weekend in the WW area. A couple line breakers and several in the 13 to 15 in. range. My problem with that fly — and give me some guidance here — is that I like to tie it with a black swiss straw wing case and it gets battered within 2 or 3 fish. I went through 6 in one day this weekend.

    Anyway…welcome back. Missed the blog.

    Paul

  3. Awesome pics. Thanks for the report.

  4. Glad to see you posting again. Looks like a wonderful day. Was up in Michigan for the past week or so fishing some wonderful lakes, but this makes me anxious to get back into the driftless.

  5. Simply beautiful fish…those colors are as brilliant as I’ve ever seen on a brookie.
    Jeff

  6. Glad to be back guys. Nice to know the content here is missed when absent. I think ill be after those brookies again soon.

  7. Man, I feel like I haven’t stopped by in a while. Last thing I knew, you were in Oregon. Now I see you’ve been extremely busy. It looks great. Those brookies are gorgeous. So is the Pike. I’ve got some more reading to do. I’m glad I stopped by again 🙂

  8. Justin I think this blog is some of your best photography this season, especially all of the underwater shots. You should try and sell some like I did. I think they are publication quality. How is your lens on your Lumix holding out? Mine has some significant scratching and thinking of buying a replacement camera, basically $100 off a new one.

  9. Mark, the lens on my lumix seems to be doing alright. Now the sliding adustment for the focus seems to want to stick or not react very quickly but I’m hoping it lasts another year or two at minimum. I’m glad you like the photo’s the thought of selling them is appealing, the thought of getting a bunch printed for my walls at home… maybe even more. Thanks for the thoughts. Take care.

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