Creek Hopping the Afternoon Away

The plan was to get out in the earlier part of the day and hit 4 creeks before the rains came at exactly 3 PM. At least that’s the time predicted for the coming rains.

I should have skipped the first creek. It was the furthest. When crossing over it, it was ridiculously low and clear, not a good sign. Then, a couple of cars were parked off the side of the road directly in front of the path to the creek. I knew they were a couple of bank anglers. The wading anglers park their cars in the parking lot, about 100 feet away.

We all know that for bank anglers, the best spots are at the very end of a well worn path that leads directly to the water. It has to be a good spot, there’s a path directly to it. I never bothered going to find out if I was correct.

Off to the next creek.

This one was also ridiculously low and crystal clear. Decided to keep the fishing to the deepest spots. At 5 feet deep and able to see the bottom without a problem, deep didn’t seem to matter much.

First hole, I was able to watch a smallie come off a log and inhale the helgie I had tied on. It didn’t seem to care that I was standing a mere 15 feet away and could be seen easily.

In the next hole, the biggest around, the distinctive tap, tap, tap of a rock bass. Missed the first one, got the second, and continued to miss any others.

All the big fish usually here this time of year were nowhere to be found. Just not enough water and too clear. This is the lowest I’ve ever seen the creeks in April. We need rain. I was able for the first time ever to get a glimpse of what is at the bottom of this deep hole. A decent sized tree runs the length of it, but then, I kind of knew that based on snags and lost jigs.

Did manage to hook a couple of more smallies. Only bothered to snap a shot of one.

On my way out I ran into Nat Lawrence on his way in, fly rod in hand. I had Nat out a few weeks ago on a guide trip and I’m impressed by anyone that will drive 60 miles one way just to try their hand at catching a few smallies on the fly. I warned him about how I tagged all the fish in one stretch. He asked about further down. I was more impressed. I hope he got something for his efforts.

Off to the next creek, low, clear and very cold. More dink smallies hiding in the darker spots on the bottom of the creek.

I kept thinking I should try something other than the helgie, but they kept hitting it. Got these two, one after the other.

Same fish, different pose.

From the one area where the two above fish were caught, I could see more swimming around. Nothing could get them interested. They were probably traumatized by watching their friends get dragged through the water by a little helgie and suddenly lost their appetite for little bugs with attitude.

Then I went for a walk. You could tell it was a gray day, no pictures of anything but fish.

The last time I tried to walk around the point at the mouth of the creek was at least 8 years ago, probably longer. It was impossible, there was a deep hole that forced you to hop up on shore. I know I’ve mentioned a flood we had in August 2008. Further upstream on this same creek it completely changed how this creek works. The same thing has happened at the mouth. The hole was completely filled in. With the river level up a bit, it should have been impossible to walk around the large point.

It was easy. The hole was filled in with tons of gravel.

For some reason I had taken off the fish producing helgie to work the mud line between the creek and the river. Probably a mistake. Not even a tap.

Then I heard thunder rumble off to the west. A couple of rain drops dimpled the surface of the water. I checked, 3 PM exactly. For once I wanted the weathermen to be wrong and they weren’t. Never made it to the fourth creek.

Wound up with 7/3 on the catch/self release scale with the one rock bass thrown in for good measure. I could live with that for a couple of hours of fishing. Especially when I went into the whole thing expecting nothing.

4 thoughts on “Creek Hopping the Afternoon Away

  1. cofisher49

    What I wouldn’t give to have a day like this. I planned to take one day this weekend to get out, but the gods weren’t with me. Too many home chores that absolutely need to get done. A friend told me yesterday that If I planned to get out, it better be soon. Runoff is close and then I suspect that we’re going to experience a low water year.

    1. Ken G Post author

      We just got some much needed rain. I’m giving it a day or two to settle down then heading out to see if more smallies have moved in. The carp are running, but I enjoy catching those about as much as catfish.

      I have a pile of things waiting to get done. Luckily the wife cares about as much as I do. Ahhhh, it’ll get done.

  2. Kev

    Great post. I like those flies too. I’m looking forward to smallie fishing this summer. I have a trip planned next month.

    1. Ken G Post author

      That is the one nice thing about northern Illinois Kev, if you fish rivers, chances are you’re fishing for smallies. No planning involved, just go fish.


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