Category Archives: Fly FIshing

_IMG3059

Not Quite What I Wanted

It’s not quite what I wanted, but at least it’s a fish.

The desire to fish the Fox River in the early months of the year disappeared a few years ago.

Now I wait till the conditions are right to fish the creeks that feed the Fox.

A few years ago, by mid March, conditions were perfect with an unusually warm March and the fish cooperated accordingly.

Not so lucky the last couple of years.

Got out today to do some creek hopping. Chose to hold off on baptizing the new waders yet, conditions aren’t right to be combing long stretches of creek. The weather has been a little colder than normal, so I opted to hit a few key spots from shore.

Wound up hitting three spots on two creeks. Both creeks are crystal clear and perfect depth.

_IMG3061

_IMG3066

I think that’s a creek chub that I caught, but there’s something out of the ordinary about it, so I may be forced to look it up, some day.

This was nine miles up a creek. I didn’t expect to see anything moving in the water this early and this far up from the river, but minnows were in a few of the deeper pools and the gut on what I caught shows that it’s feeding on them. Plus, it hit the usual small twister tail I use, so that’s a good give away.

The next creek was more of the same. Clear, but only here there were no signs of life in the water. Walking the shore was made easier by the lack of growth. Normally the grass in this stretch is well over waist high and will be in a few weeks. At least now I could see all the ruts in the ground instead of taking a back breaking, bone jarring hike.

_IMG3073

Where the two creeks come together there were more minnows in the slightly deeper pools. With a warmup coming this week, next week may be a good time to baptize the waders and take this all a little more seriously.

_IMG3081

It was nice to see that after nearly 5 months of no fishing, I haven’t lost my casting touch. Forty to fifty foot casts were made with little effort. This called into question whether or not I will bother using a fly rod this spring. Over the winter I looked at a lot of other blogs and all the pictures they put up. The bulk of them are all fly fishing centric. I came to understand why so many fly fish. There was virtually nothing along the shores except rock or grasses. Trees were almost always far back from the shore. There was nothing hanging out over the water.

This is a far cry from the creeks I fish. Trees and high brush line the shores. The arching trees create a cathedral effect over the water with some nearly touching the surface of the water. Today I was standing in and under canopies of leafless trees on the shore. I had just enough room to flick the lure out over the water. The light gear and light lures I use are no different than a 5-6 weight fly rod and clousers. There was simply no way I could have done the same thing with a fly rod. Moving out into the water is not always a better option. Still no room for back casts and going too far over head is a recipe for disaster.

The efficiency expert in me won’t allow me to waste time and expend energy to make a simple cast for the sole purpose of catching a fish. In my eyes, they’re all just tools and the tool lends nothing to the experience of being out, enjoying the surroundings, fishing small water and catching fish. If you have nothing between your ears that will allow you to enjoy the experience of fishing and all that it entails, using an inefficient and clumsy tool isn’t going to fix that for you.

I think I just made a decision about how much I’ll be fly fishing this spring.

Well, anyway..

I’m enjoying taking these shots of light on shallow running water. I may have to play around with this some more. Maybe try a movie, add the sound of water over rock.

If I can find that damn feature in the camera menu somewhere.

_IMG2831

Ready To Go

Spent a couple of hours this morning going through all the fishing junk and getting it ready to go.

_IMG2834

Hardest part was finding all of the fly fishing parts. It’s been at least two years since I used any of it and I came up short one fly reel. Was looking forward to putting that one to use since I’ve had it for around 15 years and only used it twice.

It’s in a box somewhere. Or a drawer. Or it’s now a cat toy and in a dark corner of the basement somewhere. It will probably show up the next time I move.

Oiled up the spinning reels and immediately put the heavier one away. Didn’t use it at all last year and unless I destroy the lighter one, I don’t see using it this year. I prefer fishing relatively light using light line and small lures. It’s always worked for me, see no reason to attempt anything else.

I do have quite a few flies.

_IMG2846

Notice the pattern in the next shot? Go crayfish or minnows for smallies or go home.

_IMG2847

Some just stashed in your typical Plano boxes and that took a bit of sorting. I think I came up with the beginning of a lovely selection.

_IMG2842

Yes, I plan on tying on those plastics and using them. Not much of a stickler for tradition or getting any real satisfaction out of catching a fish on something I tied. I’d just as soon buy them.

Like the helgies, from Orvis, they’re killer.

Some of them I think are hand me downs from my friend Bob Long, Jr.

_IMG2840

Others seem to appear out of nowhere. I know guys that tie flies. I admire them. They give me a few.

_IMG2844

_IMG2845

For some reason at the end of last year I came up with the idea to use a fly rod this spring. Dumb logic tells me I can do just as well with a fly rod as I do with my spinning gear. Over a decade ago I proved to myself that I can walk into the Fox or Apple River and do as well as I do with light spinning gear and little lures.

I should have never mentioned this idea in public. Now I feel committed.

We’ll see how it goes. The first time I get into one of my usual tight casting situations on a creek I know I’ll give up.

The car is all cleaned out and organized. I put away the wispy wand and two fly rods are in the trunk. Spinning gear in the car. Lures and flies all ready to go. New waders in the trunk waiting to be baptized.

Now I wait.

Did some scouting today. I probably could have got in the river for a couple of hours, but I think I would have been lucky to catch one fish. And that would have been on spinning gear.

I don’t like that time to fish ratio.

One more week if this weather keeps up.

Maybe two.

I’ll know when I go down to the river or to a creek and smell fish.

Then it will be time.

IMG_4627

Illinois Catchable Trout Program

Three years ago I put up a post that does a decent job of treating the Illinois Catchable Trout Program like the joke that I think it is. I actually wrote it 15 years ago but never bothered doing anything with it till then.

Illinois Catchable Trout Program or Fishing in Hell

Since Illinois has no native inland trout, I can’t find anything that says it ever did, trout native to California are imported here and then placed in rivers, lakes and ponds that get too warm to support them and they eventually die.

That’s why the stocking for this program occurs in early spring and fall. Maybe the water will stay cool enough for them to survive a little while.

In the mean time, fishermen are charged a fee for the privilege of going out and catching these trout and you can keep and kill five of them I believe on a daily basis.

I think money better spent would be on trout from a half way decent fish market, at least then you stand a better chance of getting fish meat that doesn’t look kind of gray and doesn’t smell and taste a bit like cat food.

Spring and fall are when some native Illinois fish are aggressively active, like crappie and bluegill, so why not catch them. Plus, they taste much better then trout.

But I hear there’s a lot of nostalgia surrounding this program and I found out at many a dam removal meeting that nostalgia always wins over logic and reason.

So the chances of making this program go away is probably nil.

Though I don’t do it much, I do know how to fish lakes and ponds. A couple of decades ago, when I was in a rod and gun club in Virginia and had access to three private lakes, I read about and fished lakes a lot, at least out there.

One of the books I have is about catching big bass. It’s packed in a box somewhere and I don’t remember the exact name or author. You’ll have to figure out how to search on this sparse info.

The guy that wrote it lives out in California.

The reason bass get so big in the lakes in California is because one of their favorite meals is rainbow trout. High fat content and all.

The reason this guy catches so many big bass, among other reasons, is because he uses things that look and act like rainbow trout.

I tried these techniques on the one spring fed lake in Virginia where we threw in handfuls of rainbow trout every now and then.

Worked like a charm.

I can understand the pleasure of fishing for these trout here in Illinois. On a good day they fight a little better then a wet sock.

But this is a bass state after all, small and large mouth.

So, while fishing for rainbow trout, I think fishermen should reconsider taking these bland tasting things home for dinner.

I think they should gently and quickly release these trout back in the water from where they came.

Chances are the waters where these trout are being caught are already full of small and large mouth bass.

Chances are the fishermen will be back later in the year to fish for those bass.

Why not release all those trout year after year and let the bass eat them, year after year.

Imagine the size of the bass we’ll be catching in a few years.

So, here’s the new name for this changed program:

Illinois Catch and Release Trout Program.

Only this one will have a slogan:

Feed the Bass.

how_to_fish_a_creek_final

I was Reading the Latest Gray’s Sporting Journal

I was reading the latest Gray’s Sporting Journal, an endeavor that could take a few weeks considering I only read it while sitting and eating a leisurely meal. How many stories I finish in one sitting depends on the quality of the meal and how leisurely I feel like being.

Day one I got through the first two stories, which weren’t bad. The writer of the first one at one point makes a reference to John Gierach. For some reason that reference stuck in my head.

The second writer winds up doing the same thing, references Gierach. I thought this odd. I’m sure the two writers don’t even know each other and yet, while describing their own experiences, they somehow felt it necessary to mention Gierach.

I dwell on the stupidest things sometimes.

An hour later I put this up on Facebook:

Got the new Gray’s Sporting Journal today. Read a couple of the stories. Both quoted Gierach. SP?

I’ll bet Gierach doesn’t quote anyone and neither should they.

And I mean that.

If I wanted to read what Gierach thought, I would pull one of his books down off my shelf and read Gierach. I was much more interested in the personal experiences of the two writers, but somehow felt that they had watered down that experience with their chosen references.

I can’t recall ever being out and about, or ever writing something down after being out and about and giving any thought to what Gierach might think.

He wasn’t there, what the hell would he know?

This issue of Gray’s is their fly fishing issue. Maybe this referencing of other fly fishermen is just something fly fishermen do.

Today I read story number three. It was, by John Gierach.

I was wrong. Even Gierach references others.

One was a reference to somebody named Wendell Berry. I wasn’t impressed. I have no clue who Wendell Berry is and just out of plain stubbornness, I refuse to look him up.

Another was to Bob White when Gierach was describing his surroundings. I can live with that one. Bob White is a passable artist and it did it’s job, I could picture the surroundings.

The third was an outright quote. Normally I find those the most offensive, but he quoted Marilyn Monroe.

Fishing for ocean run steelhead on a Washington State river and quoting Marilyn Monroe.

I can live with that.

And I was impressed.

header-may30

Your Membership has Expired

Your Membership has Expired

Did you get my message? It’s time to renew your TU membership. With your support, TU will continue working tirelessly to protect, reconnect, restore and sustain America’s trout and salmon habitat. Make your $35 contribution today and you’ll receive a new TU car decal and $30 off your next purchase of $100 or more at Orvis.com.

Oh, I got the message.

This one along with the other 20 or so I’ve got in the last two months through both snail mail and email.

No, I will not be renewing my membership. The primary reason being that there are no trout in Illinois and I don’t travel to try to catch them. I did make an effort to pursue trout over a decade ago in a couple of trips to Wisconsin. I quickly learned that the pursuit of trout bores me to tears.

But I kept renewing my membership.

Over the years I like to think I’ve done quite a bit to protect, reconnect and restore some of the rivers and creeks here in the northeast corner of Illinois. Why not support a group that is attempting to do that nationwide, if not worldwide.

Then a few years ago my interest in anything outside of my limited world here in the Fox Valley began to wane. I’m now officially not a member of anything. No groups, no clubs, no organizations. No more board seats for local organizations. Over the last two years I’ve let my guiding service die. No more fishing classes and just last year I turned down a handful of opportunities to speak to groups or clubs about fishing.

This self imposed isolation is twofold.

First, my spare time has become very limited and what little I have is extremely precious to me.

Second, I put this at the end of a recent post:

And with this, I am done with my Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Updates.

There will be no more.

I’m sure I will go fishing on the creek come March, I’m sure I’ll catch some fish, I’m sure I’ll take some pictures and I’m sure I’ll write something up about the fishing trip.

But I will no longer mention the creek by name. There will be no recognizable photos of the creek posted. As far as anyone else is concerned, it’s just another one of the seven or so creeks I fish that happen to feed into the Fox River.

This is going to be done for purely selfish reasons.

The interest level in fishing the Fox River and it’s creeks, at least in the areas I like to fish, has dropped off considerably over the past eight years.

I run into practically no one while out there fishing.

And I want to keep it that way.

I was going to expand on this a bit, it’s all in my head, but I’m going to leave it there.

I think that pretty much explains everything.

I will give it to you though TU, you almost had me. You almost had me renew my subscription and it wasn’t anything you did directly.

In a recent issue of Gray’s Sporting Journal, there was a photo essay. A couple of guys in Minnesota that went out trout fishing in the middle of winter on a small stream and they were using light spinning gear.

I don’t recall any derogatory remarks about their choice of equipment. A shot was included of a small floating Rapala. More shots of a beautiful little stream being walked by a couple of guys, with spinning gear. Mention was made of numerous trout caught.

There was even a shot of one of them lighting up what appeared to be a damn fine cigar.

I thought, there’s hope for these trout guys yet!

But it didn’t work. It didn’t win me over.

Instead, this year I’ll be out somewhere in the Fox Valley in pursuit of smallmouth bass during one of my 70 or so fishing trips. With spinning gear. Only, if anyone bothers to read what I’ll be writing, you’ll know I’m in the Fox Valley somewhere, but where?

You won’t even realize I’m out there fishing and observing and extolling the virtues of my surroundings and I don’t even have a fly rod in my hand. It’s an inefficient tool for accomplishing a simple goal, to catch a fish, so why bother with it and why even bother mentioning what’s being used?

As a tip of my hat to the world of trout though, I just might include some shots of me lighting up a…

Who am I kidding, I don’t smoke damn fine cigars.

As the wife calls them… your little shit sticks.

keng_2

Welcome to my world.