Tag Archives: creek fishing

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Testing the Water

When I walked out the door I had every intention of going out to a couple of creeks to start testing the water.

Got to the first creek to find a couple of cars parked there. Wandered onto the abandoned bridge to survey the water. Unlike the river it was in perfect condition; crystal clear, excellent level, but devoid of life. Not a thing seen in the water.

One of the anglers came back and we struck up a conversation. He saw and caught nothing and then asked my name. Winds up he reads here and he recognized me, not by my stunning good looks, but the cigar.

Not sure that’s a good thing.

The other angler shows up, more conversation with nothing to show for fishing efforts.

Two other anglers pull up and get out of their car. One looks familiar and I ask his name. Winds up it’s someone I used to run into on the creeks all the time, but it’s been a good decade since I saw him last. I mention that to him and say… “I assumed you got married, had kids or were dead.”

“Got the first two right at least.”

More conversation, then time to move on.

At the next creek I hesitated and went walking around before deciding if I wanted to go fishing. Couple of different bug hatches going on, but like the first creek, not a single thing seen in the water. I stood around mesmerizing myself with flowing water and tried to capture the why of it all.

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Back at the car, still debating, the bugs must have liked the warmth of my car. They were in mating position and covered it pretty well.

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Another angler shows up and a conversation starts. We had met at this same spot a couple of years ago. He was heading where I was thinking of going and he had been out there a couple of times so far this year. Barren water. I decide to wait another week or two and try again. A walk in the woods would be time better spent.

At a nearby big forest preserve, a hike through an area I haven’t done in a few years.

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Sometimes I take pictures of the things that trip me.

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The hike took me to still another creek that as far as I know has no name.

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This is a tiny little creek, shallow enough to walk through in most parts without getting your ankles wet. Neck down stretches that you can jump over and every now and then a deeper pool. Deep being relative and barely knee deep.

And yet, in these little pools, signs of life that weren’t in it’s bigger cousins.

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Since my plans had changed I decided to stay out till sunset to see if it was worth capturing. It was looking like the clouds were getting blown out of the area with nothing but blue skies. Not enough to make for an interesting sunset.

So I went home.

An hour or so later I was proven wrong. Enough clouds had stuck around on the south edge of the sun to make the sky interesting, nothing but blue skies on the north edge of the sun.

No time to hop into the car and go someplace with a vista view. Just enough time to walk down the street in this neighborhood full of light manufacturing and railroad tracks and see if I could get something interesting out of it all.

Not what I prefer, but it will do in a pinch.

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