As far as I can tell, the rivers and streams where trout live flow through all of the states in the U.S. except for Illinois.
Which is where I live.
There are plenty of fish here in our rivers and streams and I’ve selected to focus primarily on the smallmouth bass. This fish lives in waters that easily rival anything I see in photographs of where trout live, with the exception of any state with snow capped mountains looming in the background of a photo. Other than that, the many rivers and especially small creeks that I like to fish can easily have you believe that you are anywhere but the Prairie State.
That nickname alone conjures up images of slow, sluggish, brackish waters that barely flow through endless fields, generally made up of corn and soybean crops. And yet we have plenty of small rivers and creeks that are far from that description. The Apple River comes to mind with its massive bluffs that border one side of the river.
The Mazon River also comes to mind. This river cuts through ancient stone left behind after one of the ice ages. When you tire of fishing, you can always comb its river bed for fossils.
Those two rivers alone will have you wondering if you really are in Illinois and wondering if in fact there might be trout about. They easily fit the image of the places where trout live, but you’ll have to settle for smallmouth bass.
The one disturbing factor, to me anyway, is now that I’m fishing for smallies, apparently I have to be fishing for bronze bombers, hawgs, pigs or whatever pet name has been attributed to this fish.
It doesn’t matter that the one pictured above was caught far up a spring fed creek in mid March. A creek that is always cool in the summer and never freezes over completely during the winter months. The smallies have to be monsters. Reporting on anything shy of that is a call to be blasted by other bass anglers. It also doesn’t matter that I’ve caught my fair share of these pig smallies.
I apparently fail on two accounts. First, I no longer measure my fish. I give a best guess rounded to the nearest inch of what I think might be the length of the fish. Second, I also never weigh fish.
This opens me up immediately to the “my penis is greater than yours in girth and length” crowd who come crawling out of the woodwork to lambast my meager estimates of the fish I catch. Apparently I’m supposed to be measuring every fish that might look like a hawg and this measurement has to be within 1/32 of an inch. My way of rounding things off to the nearest inch is met with ridicule. Apparently I’m also supposed to walk around with a certified scale to weigh the fish so that I come up with a number like 3.8263 pounds. I’ve been cajoled into making a best guess of a weight…c’mon, what do you think it was? Two pounds? Three pounds? Four pounds? It looks like two and three quarter pounds to me from your photo.
Usually, soon after putting up a fishing report where I say I caught a smallie that I thought might have been pushing the 19 inch mark, reports will appear where bronze bombers were caught and measured at 19 and 3/8 inches.
I didn’t know that I had unknowingly entered some kind of strange fishing pissing match. I don’t enter competitions of any kind ever.
Since I have a very minimalistic approach to fishing with a relatively light rod and small lures, that’s generally the next aspect of my fishing that’s attacked. In order to effectively fish for these river monsters, so I’ve been told, I should be using a rod that’s just shy of a broom stick and ripping baits through the water that weigh in at a half ounce or more. My technique of letting small baits hang in the water column in likely fish holding spots isn’t supposed to work very well for these denizens of the deep.
My explanations that I don’t care about fish size and weight fall on deaf ears. It doesn’t matter how much I explain that I’m not out there fishing for those reasons, the big fish are a nice surprise but not the goal. I go to fish and I don’t care what winds up on the end of my line and in my hand.
I tend to read a lot about trout fishing. It seems like that’s what I have to do in order to get away from the more mechanized way bass anglers tend to write with their obsessions over weights and measures. I immerse myself in the words of trout anglers that conjure up pictures in my head of their surroundings. Trout anglers that wander up secluded tree lined narrow streams and brooks. Still others that hike up mountain paths to hidden lakes at what seem like impossible heights, and they take pictures of the little fish they catch and make no apologies for their images.
And yet I go out on a recent January day and catch a few fish. The smallest, daintiest of smallmouth bass that you can possibly catch on a hook.
Their colors rival that of any trout, in my eyes, and they have such exquisite details to match.
And yet I have to be immediately told that if I were doing this or doing that I would have caught those monster bronze bombers and my posts and pictures are such a waste since nobody but you will actually admit to targeting dinks when real fishermen want to hear about and catch blah, blah, blah.
So I’ve decided to solve my own little problem by taking matters into my own hands, to perform a little science experiment. I’m going to breed a whole new species of fish which I’ll be calling the Smallmouth Brook Trout Bass. If everything goes as planned, it should wind up looking something like this:
The majority of the coloration will come from a brook trout. The shape will generally be that of a smallmouth bass. Both of these fish have the capabilities of becoming a decent sized fish. They’ll also, hopefully, be able to survive in their individual normal habitats, from cool mountain streams to the warmer rivers and creeks.
Hopefully, someday I’ll be able to go out with my light gear and not give another thought to fish size and weight. Someday I’ll be able to bring a fish to hand and admire not only it’s fighting ability, but the stunning beauty of its coloration…