That would stand for Super Secret Sexy Streamer Stretch. Say that five times fast… Better yet? Hike around the Driftless Area for a couple years looking for the most amazing piece of streamer water holding some of the largest trout in high quantities, then if you find it… keep your mouth shut. It’s approaching the end of the season and the trout are putting the feed bag on in anticipation for the fall spawn, this means big fish looking for a big meal. I’ve been spying a new stretch of creek for a while now waiting for the right moment to tackle some steep banks and thick vegetation, with the cooler weather it seemed like the time was right. Sershen and I got on location and made a decision to hike downstream to point A, fish up to point B quickly then concentrate our efforts from point B to point C, a thickly wooded section of creek that just looked daunting. My fly of choice was a #6 Black Kiss My Leech as I have exhausted every last Sprinkle Me Baby that I own, the only ones left sit in the ceiling of my fishing vehicle, the only real trophies other than photos I collect when big trout strike. Conditions were about as good as I could have hoped for, a bit of overcast on arrival with the creek stained a bit. We knew this could turn out disastrous with few fish caught while struggling through a thick forested mess, on the other hand the potential for hooking into large fish lay on the other side of the coin. I guess I’m a gambling man and I’m of the opinion that unless you hike it and put your flies in the drink you really don’t know what’s out there, you have to see it with your own eyes.
Downstream ~45min later we were at point A. That’s right, 45 minutes of hiking through thick ass brush, weeds taller than the average man and more burning nettles than I think I’ve ever cursed before. Along the way the first of many trout was nabbed as our path forced us to cross the creek in a particularly tasty location, a deep drifted Kiss My Leech very slowly brought to the surface revealed a 14inch Brown trailing it only to strike within an inch from the surface. My experience has shown when drifting anything really really deep bring it up slowly, so many times I’ve had a fish trailing the fly all the way to the surface. I look at it like this, if the fish strikes, excellent. If not you now know a depth that a fish was holding at or at the very least that you were able to get deep enough to find a trout along the way back to the surface. If you arn’t getting your flies to the fish they will not strike. So the first fish showed its ugly face… literally. This fish looked like it picked a fight with a Heron or something, the jaw was busted in several places and was all bloodied up yet it still nailed my fly…
Downstream at point A we took turns presenting streamers to tasty looking water spending only a few minutes in each location. It’s important to spend enough time to be confident that your flies are getting to the right locations in the creek but not so much time that your wasting your afternoon. We tag-teamed specific runs and others we split and each took solo. Point A to B went quickly and a handful of Brown’s ranging from 13-15inches were caught before I managed the first dogger of the day. 18inches according to the tape, this trout caught me a bit off guard as I had pulled a smaller 15inch fish out just prior to hooking this guy and was not expecting much to come of a second pass, I was wrong. Several nice head shakes and this fish was working me over pretty well, I thought about reaching for my net as I hollered back to Sershen for assistance but ultimately opted to keep my hands on the rod and line which kept this fish from wrapping me around a tree limb. I eventually moved him to a shallow section full of mud and scooped him up with the net. Dogger #1.
We moved upstream and the #6 Kiss My Leech could do no wrong, it hit the creek and the brown trout turned and hit it just as quickly. The strike to hookup ratio was almost 1:1 by this point and things were looking excellent. We reached point B and took assessment of the thick jungle. We opted to hike the forested edge at first but I got sick of that after attempting to climb a steep bank up and out of the creek only to end up sliding face first into a bunch of nettles. Shortly after I hopped in the creek for good and made roll casts to any dark or deep peice of water basically continually moving upstream until I found something super tasty: like this, at which point Sershen and I would take turns attempting to pull something out.
This water was giving up 12-16inch Brown’s left and right to the Kiss My Leech, for a good hour I could do no wrong just put the fly on the fish, often they hit it so hard I didn’t have to do much to set the hook. As time wore on we began noticing the random aggressive rise and shortly after Sershen pegged the cause, big, ugly, flying beetles. There were so many that at one point I took more than one to the head and neck. I came to fish streamers through big ugly Driftless water so I stuck with the Kiss My Leech as it was kicking ass, Sershen opted to try a foam beetle pattern after loosing his streamer to a snag. He did manage one trout but before he could land the fish and retrieve his fly we watch the fish wrap him around a tree branch, shake once and take off. The streamer was re-applied in short order.
Bouncing through the creek bank to bank is not the ideal way to go in my opinion but some situations call for it. The fish, despite my un-coordinated trudging remained eager to eat and relatively un-affected by my presence. I managed a nicer 16inch Brown along with a handful of 14-15inch fish along the way, they were promptly released without me so much as touching them, a simple grab and twist of my barbless fly put the trout back in the creek and kept me making casts and landing fish. We worked the wooded section up and came to a couple deep spots that deserved a bit more attention but only a couple shadows were seen, it was the faster deep riffles that held the bigger fish for the day. Sershen, after putting on a #8 Hairball, pulled two nice fish from a deep riffle then turned around and landed an 18inch female sporting a serious gut. This was the icing on the cake, Dogger #2. With both of us content and promising it wouldn’t be long before we were back on this water we quickly fished back to the vehicle with Monarch butterflies following us on our way out.