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My Last Cast

Before I got to my last cast, the day started out innocuous enough.

Went to a spot two miles inland on a creek to see if the smallies had moved that far. Something was spawning, but hard to tell what.

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I knew the suckers were on their spawning run, the riffles were loaded with them. Yes, the trained eye will see them.

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Other than that, the creek was devoid of life. Frogs singing on the edges, lots of the usual unidentified birds, things turning green, but I can’t recall even seeing a minnow, so I cut things short after an hour and headed for another creek.

My first cast on this creek started where I would eventually make my last cast. The picture at the top of this post shows the spot, more or less. To the right is a plunge pool that drops to around 6 feet. The water moves through here quickly and there is so much oxygen in the water that you can’t see through the water. It’s not all that wide and about 30 to 40 feet long before it quickly slopes up and all pours over a barely ankle deep rock bar.

Like I said, not much to it.

I always try to get a lure to the bottom of the beginning of the plunge pool. I know the fish like all the oxygen and I know big schools of minnows like to roll around in the rush of water. Using only 1/16th ounce jigs, getting something that light down to the bottom of water like this is a challenge. But I can do it.

I started out with two powerful hits from smallies with some weight on them, but they had no interest in staying hooked so I wandered off downstream.

Smallies were in all the usual places and then some and I wound up going 12/10.

That took a couple of hours and then the wind picked up, the temperatures dropped and my sweatshirt was back in the car. Called it quits for the day.

Which brings me back to the beginning, to where I started and my last cast.

I was hoping the smallies had forgot they had been briefly hooked and sank the little lure down to the bottom a few times.

Nothing, so I made my last cast.

Put the following up on Facebook the other day and I can’t think of a better way of describing it…

I am now the proud owner of a custom made two piece medium light fast action rod.

Tied into the heaviest fish I’ve ever had on.

It kept diving down to the bottom of a 6 foot deep plunge pool that has relatively quick water running through it that keeps you from seeing the bottom.

Made a valiant effort to bring it up so I could at least see the damn thing, but it would dog it’s way back down to the bottom.

It was fighting like a big flathead, a really big, heavy flathead.

Then the rod snapped in half.

Shit.

Really?

So, I grabbed the braided line, smart, I know, and tried to hand line it in.

Shit.

Stupid.

But it almost worked. I almost get the damn thing to a point where I was going to at least get a look at it.

Then the lure snapped off.

Fuck.

Me.

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Moving up Quickly

The smallies must have liked the warmer weather, warmer water and perfect creek levels and in the past few days have been moving up quickly.

Friday after work it took a good hour and a half to get to a spot on a creek that normally takes under an hour. Traffic has sucked all week as stupid people dropped from the sky onto the roads to screw things up for everybody else.

About an hour and a half of fishing and went 9/4 on smallies. Foul hooked a couple of carp/suckers and thought I had another one foul hooked when it went airborne. A gar nearly 3 feet long with my little lure in the edge of it’s snout. A twist as it came down and the lure flew back at me. That was pretty cool to watch. Makes me wonder about those other two that I thought I foul hooked.

Fished the first quarter mile of a creek for those. Heard that a couple of stray smallies and a bunch of catfish were caught further up. They’re all moving up faster than I thought they would. They must have liked this weeks weather too.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go check another creek two miles in to see if they’ve got that far.

I’m also eternally grateful that the average fisherman will never figure out how to fish small flowing water.

More for me.

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Off to a Slow Start

Off to a slow start, but it’s a start.

With the rain we had I didn’t even expect to get in the water let alone fish it. The creek of choice was still blown out, that one has a gauge, but history was telling me the other creek may not be bad.

It wasn’t. Up a couple of inches, but running crystal clear.

Went 3/6 on smallies. Foul hooked a couple of carp or suckers, but luckily they self released.

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When I got there, a few kids were killing carp and suckers with bows. I’ll never understand that unless you’re eating them. Talked to one of them. They haul all the dead ones away like you’re supposed to, but the whole process just doesn’t make any sense. I could see killing off carp, but suckers?

Other than the killing, I was impressed with the one I talked to the most and his knowledge of creeks, fish runs and he keeps track of similar records as I do. We compared notes on fish catches and kills from the previous two years. His count last year was down over 75 percent from the year before that. I mentioned the brutal winter we had and the fish kills I saw. Was like watching a light bulb go off over his head and he asked more questions along those lines.

As I said, I was impressed.

Luckily they left as I was getting in the water and I had the whole place to myself for an hour and a half.

I needed that.

Out wandering around in the woods, or this time of year, wandering and fishing creeks, is the only way I know how to relax. I can sit all I want, read all I want, if I had a hot tub I could soak in it all I want, but nothing beats wandering down a creek, doing a little fishing and staring off into space. As well as letting my mind go along with the stare.

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The fish were pretty much in one spot, so I stood pretty much in one spot and took a picture of the sunset over the creek every few minutes.

I look at them now and they are a bit repetitive, but then, I guess, that’s a sunset.

That slow decent below the horizon with a slight variation in light and color as it goes.

Just enough to keep you standing there watching the whole time.

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High Water Dabbling

Years ago I used to do high water dabbling all the time. Now it seems to have lost some of it’s charm. The best place to do it is urban areas, but urban areas mean people which means I can’t relax.

People make me tense.

If I wanted to fish this weekend, I had no choice. The creeks, besides being barren, were all blown out.

The river was just high enough that I didn’t feel like wandering around in 3200 CFS current. I can do it, but why?

So I walked an old familiar wall with 8-10 feet of line out and dabbled a lure vertically along the wall.

There is something to be said for this. Tying into a 16 inch smallie with so little line out gives you one option, lift it out of the water and lip it. This is really why even when casting I keep the casts short. It’s also why I switched to braid years ago.

I don’t play fish to exhaustion and then bring the poor defeated creature to hand.

I get them up next to me as quickly as possible, lip them and let them show all their fury.

These are extremely muscular creatures after all and I want to feel that muscle. Plus, they are pissed and want you to know it.

There’s something about looking a pissed off smallie in the eye. They give it right back. If fish could talk I imagine… okay you sonuvabitch, you won this one, NOW PUT ME BACK IN THE WATER!!!

And I oblige, quickly and efficiently. Kind of. I keep them lipped and put them in the water. What little strength they lost comes back quickly and I release their lip when they’ve had enough of this game.

I usually get a going away bath for my troubles. Which I deserve.

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The edge of a wall, amongst all the garbage, if you have eggs in you that have to come out, I guess that will do. I gave her the distance she deserved.

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I thought this was funny.

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Then, of course, under clear blue skies, the play of light on moving water. This made the wall walking a little precarious. I almost walked off the wall twice after staring at the water too long.

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MOMMY!

Mommy?

What the hell happened to you mommy?

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I knew this was going to happen some day.

You always hung around on those sleazy rivers like the Fox and the Des Plaines.

Then there were your favorite little hang outs, Salt and Kress Creeks.

And don’t even get me started on the canals.

On all of those you always picked the roughest sand and gravel bars to hang out on.

Those bastard mallards would harass you and beat you, do what they want with you and now they’ve thrown you on the side of the river like a piece of trash.

What happened to that advice you gave me mommy?

Choose your friends wisely…

Do as I say, not as I do, eh mommy?

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Well, I guess it was nice to run into you mommy. Nice to know you’re still alive.

You need to get yourself some help, I can’t help you.

You’re too far gone.

You have taught me a lesson here though mommy.

There’s no way in hell I’m going to turn out like you.

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