The plan: Hit some dirty streamer water and cover some serious ground before hitting the bike for the Thursday Night Group ride at Brone’s Bike shop. What better way to spend an afternoon and evening. The only thing that needed to be considered for both the fishing and cycling plan was the wind, strong from the north at 15mph steady and at times gusting to much more than that. This is why I opted to fish bigger water for big fish with streamers. The wind tends to bother me much less when I’m chucking big flies. As for road biking, the wind slows you down and makes you work hard for a time and then it usually does the opposite on the way back so things even themselves out.
Creekside at approximately 1pm, we had roughly 3.5hrs of fishing before needing to hike out. I knew we needed to hit a specific set of targets during this time and avoid lingering in any one place for too long given the time frame we were working with. This meant heads down, hike fast, fish hard and move on quickly. The short hike to the creek revealed I had underestimated the amount of precipitation this system had received. The creek was showing much more stain than I was expecting, this simply points to the fact that it doesn’t take a great distance for one area to get a small amount of precipitation while another close by gets pounded. The turbid water was also contributed to by the fifty head of cattle roaming the banks. After noting the condition of the water and location of the cattle we opted to fish only three spots downstream and jump up above the herd in hopes that the clarity would improve.
Downstream in the turbid creek I missed a handful of light strikes, most came as I was bringing the fly from the depths up quickly. I maybe missed six or seven opportunities at a fish and landed one smaller 12inch brown. The guy I was fishing with didn’t fare much better. Upstream past the cattle the creek was in pretty much the same condition maybe 2 feet of visibility, this was my clue that I had underestimated the amount of precip this system received. The ground was bone dry and hard so it had clearly been a while since it rained last but this far down on a long system poses the risk of turbid water much longer. I should have known better, either way the fish were still coming out to swipe at a well-placed streamer we were just having a hard time sticking a hook.
Eventually we were forced to make a choice: wade in the creek or stick to the woods and hike through waist high burning nettle and other noxious weeds. I know we spooked fish and it slowed us down but the creek was the better option. I’ve fished this before and I know it well. The wooded route would have had us popping in on sections, hiking back out to the woods and so on. Given the thick vegetation I opted to stay mostly near the bank edge. Upstream a ways and fish were hitting dark colored streamers. I ripped mine through a tight spot knowing that a fish would be forced to hit or quit and hit it did. I have always loved that about trout here. The satisfaction of being able to look at water, know that a fish is there then presenting your fly in a way that gets the desired result. We fished hard, came across a couple larger fish but weren’t able to bring anything to hand but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Good hike out and an excellent ride to follow.
Photo Credit: The Driftless Exposure