Archive for the ‘Elk Hair Caddis’ Category

A New Spot   2 comments

I’ve been working my way up and down Black Earth Creek over the past few years, attempting to lay eyes on every stretch of that river. I was looking over satellite images of the valley and saw a bend I had not yet visited. So like any curious adventurer I headed west, rigged up, and hiked in to see it for myself.

The section is comprised of a few lazy but significant bends and riffles, and surely there are hundreds of trout hunkered down over a length of 100 yards of the stream. As I approached the tail of the bend I saw a few rise forms upstream where the current collides with the bank. Fish!

The sky was overcast and the stream was slowly coming up in temp from the 50’s to the 60’s. I tied on a little Elk Hair Caddis and cast to the rise forms. On my fifth or sixth cast I was drifting the fly through the zone and saw something floating downstream that I couldn’t identify. It was about the size of a baseball, but brown and shiny, half-submerged in the water. As it passed I looked back upstream to find my fly, but instead saw a turbulent ring in the water. A fish had slurped my fly. And I missed the take. But I had the fish on!

A short tug of war, dominated by yours truly, resulted in my holding the fish below, a beautiful, if diminutive, Brown Trout.

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, September 2012


I fished a while longer, moving upstream through the bends, casting carefully with dries and nymphs to likely spots. After some time I put on a Pink Squirrel and made a few nice “reach” casts, making the fly swing around to the left and out of sight, hoping to sneak up on something. I felt a big tug and started stripping line. The fish came toward me with a strong fight and headed straight for the plunge pool downstream. I kept good tension on the line and tried to bring the fish up where I could see it, but I couldn’t raise it. The fish kept diving and fighting and I kept easing the rod tip upward to get it into view.

And then, nothing. Somehow my pink squirrel got spit out by that good fish and I was left to wonder what I might have held in my hands.

I noticed that the chenille collar of pink that was once wrapped around the neck of my pink squirrel fly had come unraveled and was now hanging there seductively, looking like a pink worm emerging from a dark gray husk. Perhaps the big fish I’d had on saw the fly in this new arrangement. Perhaps it was just the thing to entice that big fish. Or perhaps the fight with that big fish caused the fly to unravel. Either way, the thing now looked even more appealing, to me anyway, so I continued to fish with it like that. Funny enough, I caught five chubs on it but no trout. I may tie a few like this to see what happens.

I can’t complain about the outing. It was a lovely place with lots of wild and pleasing sounds, and I feel so blessed to be able to zip out and fish there for brief moments almost anytime. Hopefully you’ve got such a place in your life to unwind, recharge, and prepare for what life throws at you.


A Bad Start? Nah.   Leave a comment

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.

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!

More Baetis Success   Leave a comment

After fruitless effort during the first thirty minutes of my fishing time today I gave it one last shot. Actually I was about to do the responsible thing and go back to work after snapping off my pink squirrel on some underwater object, but as I was leaving I saw a trout rising to Blue Winged Olives consistently in a spot I hadn’t targeted on this fine day, so I decided for one last attempt to connect with a trout.

I had to tie on a new 5X tippet because the previous tippet had snapped off in the aforementioned incident the with aforementioned unseen object. So I unspooled my leader and some line from my reel, tied on a new tippet with a double surgeon’s knot, tied on a size 18 elk hair caddis, and realized I hadn’t threaded my line through my rod guides. No worries though. A size 18 fly is small enough to fit through all the guides on my 3-wt rod.

So, anyway, I managed to do all this without spooking the fish, which I assumed would be another 6-inch toddler trout. Making a terrifically difficult but stunning backhanded cast and avoiding any entanglements, I presented the fly at intervals of increasing distance, hoping to avoid spooking the fish in this very still pool. On about the sixth cast I had put the fly right above the area where I’d seen the fish sipping flies. I let it sit. Nothing. More nothing. Then, something!

I had barely noticed the slight tug in my line, but I tested to see if I’d made a connection. I don’t recall seeing any fish lips breaking the surface of the mirror-smooth pool, but they must have because my rod was suddenly bent over. I tugged to set the hook and gave the reel a spin. The tension was gone and I wasn’t sure if I’d kept the fish on. The logical place for this fish to make a run was downstream, toward me, and I suppose that’s what it was doing. So I cranked the reel as quickly as I could to keep any hint of tension possible on the line, but it was tough keeping up with that fish.

Then I saw that it was in fact a respectable fish. When I saw him, he saw me, and he turned back upstream to the pool. I let the reel reverse as he made a run back up. I was worried about breaking that size 18 hook off. But I didn’t. I played that nice fish back to me without incident and it was a very enjoyable conversation he and I carried out via that fishing line.

He sure didn’t want to hold still for me to scoop him out of the water for a picture, but I finally got my hand under his belly and brought him out. What a terrific fish and a memorable catch! A picture and then back in he went, and back to work I went…

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, 13-inches, on an Elk Hair Caddis

Black Earth Creek Brown Trout, 13-inches, on an Elk Hair Caddis

Black Earth Creek on this Fine Day   Leave a comment

Over lunch I hit BEC and had an interesting, enjoyable time.

First off, what a beautiful day! 80-degrees and it finally feels like spring has bullied its way onto the scene. Second, I fished today without waders since I was only out for a short time. I found it freeing to not be burdened by the extra luggage and time required to put on waders and boots. But I also found that I needed to be in the water to achieve the presentations I hoped for. So off with the shoes and socks, hike up the pants, and I’m good to go.

Was the water cold? Yes. But after a few minutes my feet numbed to the cold and to the discomfort of walking over small stones, so I guess it worked out for the best.

Now for the fishing. I started off slinging a large streamer to see about getting some large trout action in a large hole. Pretty large idea, eh? I thought so too. But nobody in the water seemed to care for my large streamer (I’m talking a 6″ long yellow pike fly). Oh well. I then tied on an egg sucking leech and got a little action down deep, but lost the fish. It was probably a 12″-er, but it was hard to tell how large because it was deep down in that 7-foot hole.

While tying on that leech pattern a fish rose to hit a blue-winged olive type bug. They, along with midges, were hatching, though sparsely. So after the leech yielded nothing I tied on an elk hair caddis, probably a number 18. First cast and a decent fish, perhaps the one I lost the leech, rose to slam it. But either it spit the fly or I reacted too quickly and I had a line full of nothin’ on the end of my rod.

While fishing this large hole I heard, then saw, fish rising to these Baetis bugs. I  mosey’d downstream to a nice spot to cast and fired the elk hair fly to the exact spot I saw a fish rise. BAM! I pulled the trigger too soon again and missed it. But a few casts later to that same locale and I had my fish. Wonderful! It is such a joy to fish by sight, to set the hook based on seeing a fish strike.

I had a couple more minutes before needing to return to my car and to work, and I cast to a few different places where I’d seen fish rising. I got one more hookup before my time on the creek ran out.

I know it seems silly but I suppose those of you who’ve had the pleasure of carefully casting a dry fly to rising fish can understand my joy in catching silly little Brown Trout on surface patterns. There’s something satisfying about fooling a fish so thoroughly.

Small Brown Trout on Elk Hair Caddis, Black Earth Creek

Small Brown Trout on Elk Hair Caddis, Black Earth Creek