I’ve been counting myself lucky lately on my brief trips to Black Earth Creek. Fishing for an hour on one of the most heavily-fished trout streams in the Midwest and catching 3-4 fish in that brief period seems to me a pretty good rate of success. That sort of success has been happening more often lately. My skunk rate has dropped significantly.
The nicest of the three Browns I caught yesterday during an hour on Black Earth Creek
What have I done differently? Absolutely nothing, at least in my approach on the water. One thing I have been keeping an eye on, though, are the stream temp trends. I’ve been trying to hit the water when the temps are climbing from 58F to 64F. I’ve certainly seen more activity on the water when I visit under these stream temp conditions.
Anyway, having limited fishing time available, I’ve tried to zero in on as many advantageous factors as possible. It does seem to make a difference. I’m looking forward to fishing further into summer when ideal stream temps coincide with sunrise and sunset. I believe the big fish tend to be on the hunt moreso during those times of day than they are when the sun is up high.
OK all you biologists out there. I have a theory.
The graph below shows water temps at a monitoring station in Black Earth Creek, with the last data point being taken at 8:00am. In my opinion the ideal water temp for trout activity is in the range between 59-degrees and 64-degrees F. The temp of the water goes through that range twice a day in the spring and summer.
Overnight and early this morning it has dropped from the high 60’s and has come down through that range. Later today it will climb again and will go up through that range.
So, my theory: Trout are more likely to actively feed as the temps increase through the ideal temp range.
Counter-theories would be that…
- Trout are more likely to actively feed as the temps decrease through the ideal temp range, or
- As long as the water is within the ideal temp range, Trout don’t care if it’s increasing or decreasing, they’re equally active in either scenario.
Does anybody out there have ideas or perhaps even data to support any of these theories?
I caught a couple of these today on Black Earth Creek using a size 16 dry caddis. I had a few more swipe at it but I failed to connect.
Check out my fancy graph showing stream temps at 4 locations along Black Earth Creek. I’ve included a “light purple square wave” indicated in the legend as “Fish”, showing when stream temps are within the 60F to 62F range, ideal fish activity temps.
Looks like over the past week you should have been fishing over a late lunch break…
BEC Prime Water Temps – May 17 to May 21
Stephen Rose and I woke up early, met at the JFT Fishmobile parked on the street between our houses, and headed out to Richland County Sunday morning. We may have gotten out there a bit early because the bite didn’t really turn on until about 11am. I’ll never get those few hours of sleep back! Damnit.
Oh well. When the bite was less than ideal we spent some time on the bank chatting, snacking on good snacks, and talking about the evolution of sparrows. I like fishing alone, but fishing alone has nothing on fishing with a person who’s company you enjoy, who can relate to your stories and troubles, and who is completely bonkers about catching trout in spring-fed creeks. Call it a bromance if you like. Go ahead. I take no offense. I would even say if you don’t have a partner in crime out there in leisure-land you’re missing a big part of the equation. I feel very fortunate to have a great fishing buddy and friend in Stephen.
Stephen had been out to this particular stream three times prior this spring and was confident another visit would yield good results. and boy, did it!
We fished mostly dries once the fish started becoming active. Stephen was clued into it when a fish hit his biostrike indicator (best stuff ever, btw). There wasn’t a strong hatch going on, but never-the-less the fish were looking up. We took turns on a few pools and pulled out fish after fish on caddis and BWO patterns drifted or skated through pools. Needless to say, it was a blast.
And another thing. I continue to be amazed at the options available to trout anglers in Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. We spent from 6am to 1pm fishing a stretch of prime water and didn’t see a soul. Incredible.
Enjoy the pictures!
Tom casting to a honey of a hole.
Switching from wet to dry mode.
There it is…
Boys, it just dudn’t get any better’n this.
I just love trout. Don’t you?
A wonderful, wild, hungry creature.
It’s hard to beat a day like this.
You might look at this scene and think to yourself, “That’s an inauspicious start to a day of fly fishing.”
Bridge out? Aw Hell.
Stephen and I went up to Richland county this morning and it was gangbusters on dry flies. It was some serious fun. Much more in a post on Monday. With photos and everything!
Here’s a nice one from Black Earth Creek. Got him on a beadhead glowbug nymph.