On March 1st, the start of meteorological spring, winter decided to make an attempt to assert its presence. Something it had pretty much failed to do for the previous three months. First rain, then ice followed by snow. We barely got a dusting where I live, but 50 miles north there was four to six inches of snow on the ground. For the next few days the daytime temps barely made it to the freezing mark.
Then on Tuesday the 6th at 1 p.m., it was suddenly 60 degrees. I was going fishing, the fish would be there. They had to be. It didn’t matter that all the melting snow further north had to make its way to the Fox River, then continue on down stream. It didn’t matter that the water temps in return would probably stay somewhere in the upper 30 degree range and the river flow would double in speed.
Skip the river, I’ll go fish a creek.
No matter how many times I go to a specific spot, there’s always something new to find even though I’ve practically stepped on it numerous times in the past.
The long slow stretches of the creek were sitting in the sun. No leaves on the trees yet meant more sun on the water.
Standing on the bank revealed a crystal clear creek flowing at normal levels with no signs of life anywhere. At least in the water. Floating around the woods and over the water was a bug hatch. Not a lot of them and my generic name for them is gnats. They’re small and annoying, all gnats are.
I slid into the creek and a test of the water with my left hand assured me the water was cold. Not an encouraging sign and yet, a few casts later, a creek chub with tons of fight and spirit took my little lure for a ride.
A few casts later and another one, even smaller, all but inhaled the lure.
I was starting to wish I had brought along the bait bucket. These were the first signs of creek chubs in almost 3 months. These creek chubs being here meant the predators weren’t that far behind, only another hour of fishing gave up nothing more than a couple of more creek chubs. There was one different hit that came from a hole more than eight feet deep, but keeping the fish on the hook wasn’t meant to be. I chalked it up to being another creek chub.
I decided to cut my losses and go fish another nearby creek. The walk through the woods back to the car is still uneventful. No signs of green things growing yet except for the mosses that cling to the bases of the trees. Not sure that counts as any real sign of spring.
The next creek had more of the same crystal clear water. A trip here a couple of weeks ago got me one 17 inch smallmouth that was totally unexpected. This time the first decent sized smallie came off at my feet. A couple of casts later and I was able to land one that was easily 16 inches. The wind was flopping the fish all over the place, so I settled for a shot with a little more detail.
The rest of the time along the creek was spent doing more daydreaming than anything else. Now and then a tentative tap would gain my interest, but the bulk of the time was spent watching the light change on the handful of poplar trees down at a bend in the creek.
After fishing the creek, the walk back to the car has me walking past a long narrow pond that sits in the sun for the bulk of the day. I was hoping to catch one of the bigger largemouth bass that lives here, or some bluegill or crappie, but the hand sized bass were next to impossible to keep off the hook. They were inhaling anything that looked like a meal.
By five o’clock I was done. I had overdressed under the assumption that at some point the temperature would start to come down with the setting sun. That never happened. As I drove up the long hill out of the creek valley and onto the flat land of the farm fields, it looked like fog lifting off the fields. There was a massive bug hatch. Not just over this one field, but every field I drove past had a white mist of bugs hovering a few feet above the ground. Apparently they too liked this cloudless sun drenched day.
When I got home I checked all my records from years past. We’re about 3 weeks ahead of schedule from what would be a normal March. With the long range forecast calling for more days in the 50’s and 60’s, I may have no choice but to go fishing again.