Archive for April 2013

Too High to Fish   3 comments

What’s that? No, I haven’t been hanging out with the Rastafarians. I’m talking about the water being too high to fish.

Take a look at this picture of little Vermont Creek. Tough going if you’re a trout fisherman right now.

Vermont Creek after a month of snowmelt and rain

Vermont Creek after a month of snowmelt and rain

 

Even though no trout were caught, I did catch my personal best Sculpin today!

 

Mottled Sculpin on a wooly bugger, Vermont Creek

Mottled Sculpin on a wooly bugger, Vermont Creek

 

 

Advertisements

Vermont Creek on Monday Afternoon   3 comments

I have a few days of vacation that’ll expire in May unless I use them up, so every time I glanced out the window at work yesterday morning I thought to myself, “Self, it is a beautiful, sunny day outside, and it would be nice to go fishing this afternoon, out in that beautiful sunshine.”

I notified the boss-man of my intentions, called up my fishing buddy Stephen, and walked out into that sunshine at the crack of noon to go chase fish.

Stephen and I started fishing on BEC in the upper part of the drainage, but found the water a bit high and dirty, though Stephen did have a strike on his nymph.

I suggested we move to Vermont Creek to see how that trib to BEC was looking. So away we went to a nice meadow section of Vermont Creek. The water was colored but not torrential, and I felt good about our chances.

I fished a deep pool just off the road while Stephen walked a couple hundred yards downstream to find some nice bends. I didn’t have any takers for a while, but I stuck with it, roll-casting to avoid the tangles that come with false-casting in 20 mph winds. If you’re not using the roll cast as a regular part of your game, I would like to recommend that you start. Here’s a video that describes the technique well.

OK, now that you’re up to speed on the roll cast, you can paint a picture in your head of me standing in a field with a five foot wide trout stream running through it, wind whipping from right to left, and me roll casting halfway up a pool into stained moving water.

After a few dozen casts my biostrike indicator twitched. I lifted the rod tip and felt a pull, stripping in line to take up a little slack. I tried to strip more line in to raise the fish, but it wouldn’t come up. I held the line against my rod grip with my right index finger while my left hand reeled in the loop of line between my reel and my right hand. I now had the fish “on my reel”, so I could play it using the drag clutch on my reel. And to my surprise, it ran away with some line, making my reel buzz. It didn’t run far, maybe only ten feet, back and forth in the deepest part of the pool. But what fun it is to get a fish on the line in a little creek that has the power to take some line off your spool!

I hollered at Stephen that I had a nice fish on!!! And he walked back upstream while I played the fish enough to get it to rise. It was a nice fish. Not a monster. Not a twenty-incher. But a nice fish, bigger than most you’ll catch day after day in little spring creeks.

I scooped it up and posed for a photo. The best trout I’ve held since last March. Hopefully there’ll be more, and if I dare to dream, hopefully there’ll be bigger too.

 

Vermont Creek Brown, Sixteen and one half inches

Vermont Creek Brown, Sixteen and one half inches

 

 

Tainter and Knapp Creek in April   5 comments

On Friday Stephen and I took a drive out to the Kickapoo River Valley to fish the fine waters of Tainter Creek. This river is loaded with fish. Perhaps I shouldn’t kiss and tell, as they say, but seriously, if you don’t already know about Tainter Creek, well, you need to talk to more fishermen.

For those of you who are angry about my use of stream names in my trip reports, I’m sorry. But it’s nothing you couldn’t get from reading a few books, going to a few fly shops, and attending a TU meeting once in a blue moon. Isn’t it sort of like saying there are Musky in Lake Minoqua, or that there are Steelhead in the Brule?

But, I digress.

The thing about trout fishing is that it isn’t a given you’ll catch the trout. Stephen and I started the day looking down into a pool from a bridge over Tainter Creek, where we spied perhaps 250 fish. We fished that pool a few hours later and caught exactly two trout from it. Some days the fish are willing. Other days, they’re obstinate.

After a lunch in the car we fished upstream from the bridge and found more fish, only some of which were willing. The sections we fished on Friday were gorgeous, natural, healthy and thriving with life.

We wrapped up fishing toward late afternoon, found a camp, and then headed to Soldier’s Grove for some food. On the way we crested the ridge between the Tainter Creek Valley and the Kickapoo River Valley, and Stephen’s phone chimed. He checked it and found a message from John Jackels, who said he was in Readstown and hoping to find us. We had driven down the hill a ways and Stephen had lost his signal, so I backed up about an eighth mile to regain the summit, and we gave John a call. He was ten minutes north of Soldier’s Grove, and we were ten minutes west of it. How about that?!

I really wish Soldier’s Grove had a bar with some good food. Or maybe my problem is that I picked the wrong thing to eat. I had the fried fish (Haddock, I think), with “baby red” potatoes. John had the same thing. Stephen had the baked fish with garlic mashed potatoes. My fish was akin to eating breaded and deep fried eraser. The baby reds were really just Russet potatoes cut into chunks the size of baby red potatoes, deep fried and sprinkled with canned parmesan cheese. Stephen’s baked fish was like eating a piece of bone that had been boiled long enough to turn it into a gelatinous lump. His garlic mashed potatoes tasted like pizza.

I’m in a critical mood today. Sorry.

After dinner we got some coffee and eggs from the gas station to prepare breakfast on Saturday, then we headed back to the campsite, made a fire, shot the shit, and went to bed.

Saturday dawned cold and breezy. We had breakfast on the road and headed downstream. We fished what I believe are some of the finest runs of trout water in the state. We all got several nice fish to hand and enjoyed the morning immensely.

We had lunch on the road and then hit a pretty section of Tainter where some “restoration” work had recently taken place.

I suppose after a few years these restored sections come back with vigor, but the section we visited was a ghost town. No fish spotted, and the habitat was much less varied than natural areas. It’s sort of like fishing a golf course. A thing that’s concerning about these projects is that, in the natural world, streams move and meander and find their way. The strategy used for restoration means the creek won’t move. It will stay in its channel for a good long while. Is this a problem? Does it exclude other species besides trout? I didn’t see a single creature moving around in this restored section, whereas the area we fished in the morning was full of birds and voles and stuff. I hope these restorations are being done in a way that considers all of this.

We wrapped up our trip on Knapp Creek, where we came upon a woman walking back along the road after a good day of fishing. Her face said it all. The fish were rising, she had said. We parked and dove in and, sure enough, rising fish! I got one out of a deep pool on a dry. It’s silvery body came from down deep and it shot out of the water straight through the fly. What a great catch!

Tired and happy, we made our way back home after a great trip to the Driftless.

All weekend, by the way, I had great success using a “black tadpole” streamer fly, shown in the fish pic below, with a “brassie” dropper. I got fish on both of these and I’m really a fan of this tandem rig. It seems the bashful fish are willing to go after the small brassie, while the outgoing (and usually, bigger) fish are all about gobbling up the black tadpole.

 

Breakfast on the road.

Breakfast on the road.

 

Tainter Creek Brook Trout caught on my own "black tadpole"

Tainter Creek Brook Trout caught on my own “black tadpole”

 

Stephen Rose casting on Tainter Creek

Stephen Rose casting on Tainter Creek

 

John Jackels on Tainter Creek

John Jackels on Tainter Creek

 

Stephen and John work out wind knots on Tainter.

Stephen and John work out wind knots on Tainter.

 

Lunch on the road.

Lunch on the road.