Not much happening on the creek tonight…still great to be on the water.
Not much happening on the creek tonight…still great to be on the water.
Bronzebacks have become one of our favorite fish on a fly (at least mine and Braden’s), passed only by trout. Trips have been focused on these scrappy fighters to the neglect of other species. This was what happened this weekend up at the lake with Grandpa. Started off by day tripping on Thursday over to north western Wisconsin to check out some lakes. The water is crystal clear on these pristine northern lakes. We only fished for about half an hour, but managed to pull in a bunch of bluegills. The most excitement came when a huge bass came charging out from under the dock and tried to eat a little bluegill Braden had on. We got him to look at a few flies, but he wouldn’t eat under the bright sun.
On Friday, Braden and I fished the same section of the North Fork Crow River that we fished a couple of weeks ago. This spot is up in the headwaters a few miles before it empties into a couple of lakes, and is only ten to fifteen feet wide. The creek was starting to get pretty skinny and really needed some rain. The fish were stacked up in the deep holes, and they were hungry. I messed around with a few small nymphs for a while before I switched to a #6 black Murray’s Strymph. A beast of a rock bass came up and hammered it next to a log only a few casts in.
The smallies weren’t too hard to fool. Almost anything that looked alive got eaten by an aggressive bronzeback as long as it was around the right size. Just stick it in the hole, let it sink, a few twitches, and bang, a fish would usually hit it. A few casts after I released the rock bass, I tied into a decent smallmouth. As usual, he tried his best to break my 4X tippet and get me wrapped up in the logs. Finally, he got tired (if smallmouth can get tired) and I landed him. A great fish for this little creek, around twelve inches.
I headed upstream and caught up with Braden, who was having similar luck. His little #12 “snack size” Braden’s Crayfish was getting attacked by the smallies, and he landed another good smallie around the same size along with a few smaller ones. By a lot of people’s standards, this isn’t a big smallmouth, but for the size of this little creek, its a good fish.
We hiked downstream into some more new water. I quickly hooked another twelve incher, but after a few jumps the fly popped out. Braden’s crayfish got sawed off by a little pike, and each of us caught a few more fish before the end of the afternoon.
Later that night we checked out another spot on the NFC a few miles below the lakes. The river was wider here, and had a lot of rocks and riffles and some deeper holding water. The water was crystal clear and it looked great for smallies. I tied on a black conehead bugger and was surprised by a nice crappie. The river was full of them. We found a honey hole next to a log jam and pulled them out on almost every cast, including some slabs. Noah rigged up his glass CGR 4 weight and caught a bunch on a new little fly he calls the “Pink Punch”. It was awesome. Surprisingly, there weren’t many smallmouth around at all. I only saw one little eight incher that gave a half hearted look at my fly. The river had a bunch of pike, too. My black bugger got chomped off, and I had a decent one on for maybe fifteen seconds.
The next morning we went back to the same spot. I started by catching a little hammer-handle pike on a chartreuse Meat Whistle. He flopped out of my hands before I could get a picture. The crappie action wasn’t as fast this morning, but we still managed to catch quite a few. The pink punch and snack size craw worked well again. I even hooked a little smallie, but he spit the hook pretty quickly. Grandpa tried fishing Rapala’s hoping for some pike. He had one on right up to the net, but it popped off. That’s fishing for you. Noah caught quite the variety of fish, including bluegills, crappie, a tiny smallmouth, and two suckers on the fly that put a big bend in his 4 weight, even though they were ten inchers.
This weekend Dad and I camped in SE Minnesota. I recently finished an online hunter safety course, so we were down there for the field day. I just happened to plan it close to a bunch of trout streams, so we obviously fished. We arrived Friday night and set up camp. The next morning it was off to the field day. After that Dad and I got a bite to eat at a small pizza place in town, and then we went to one of our favorite streams.Dad fished a pink squirrel, while I threw on a #16 ant. Three casts later I landed this beautiful brown.I kept fishing, but found that my ant wouldn’t float. I should have put another ant on, but, not thinking, I put on a deer hair hopper. Dad was fishing down stream in a hole that has produced for me before.
Dad stayed in one spot and pulled out five nice brookies, while I walked around and didn’t catch any more. I also met a very nice fly fisher who gave me some flies. (Thanks Mr. Schulz) Definitely not a bad trip.
The next morning Dad and I hung out at camp for a while, but then got caught in the rain. So we quickly got packed up and hit the road. On the way home, we fished a new stream, and it was a good choice.
I tied on a bead-headed olive woolly bugger that I got from Mr. Schulz. The brown trout were nibbling it, but no solid bites yet. Then I saw a flash and moments later I brought this vibrant brown to hand.
Dad opted not to fish, since the stream wasn’t very big. I fished my way upstream and lost quite a few flies on fish. Then I switched to a Chernobyl Ant, and got quite a few takes but missed the hook set. Finally I hooked one, but just as I was about to net it he threw the hook. I kept fishing and had a few more bites, but nothing stuck. It was a great weekend of camping and fly fishing.
Next we’re headed up to the lake for some warmwater fly fishing. Smallmouth on the fly should be lots of fun!
Today Grandpa, Noah and I fished a few local trout streams that we hadn’t fished before. First stop was a small creek that has a native population of brook trout. There aren’t too many holes or fish here, and you have to walk a lot, but I managed to catch one small brookie on a Pink Squirrel and LDR another. The thermometer measured 58 degrees on this overgrown, narrow creek. We fished a good chunk of stream and oddly, didn’t even see any more trout. After that, we checked out a stream that supposedly has some rainbows. We fished some sweet looking holes for about an hour without seeing any trout. The stream temp read around seventy degrees, which is at the high end of what trout can tolerate. The river was wide and slow for the most part, with a few riffles and deep holes mixed in. All we caught were chubs in this marginal trout stream. Tough day, but still fun to get on the water.
Braden is fishing the Driftless Area right now, so look for a (hopefully) trout-filled report in the next couple of days.
On a Friday morning we packed the van and headed to the Quarry. There is something magnificent about the Quarry. All those abandoned granite pits filled with water, just waiting to be fished. Over a half dozen quarries for fishing are home to numerous bass, large and small, with high cliffs, rock piles, and deep water.
We first go to quarry 11 for bass. I tied on a Braden’s Crayfish and started fishing. Then I heard Braden yell “Fish on!” so I run over there and Braden has a nice 12″ bass.
Braden and I move to fish off some cliffs. Braden catches another bass, a 8″ this time. I move down some more, cast, and then I have one on. A nice 8″ largemouth.I cast some more and hook into strong 12″ largemouth.
Then we pack up and move to quarry 13 and fish for a short time with no luck, so Braden and I hit the trail and walk to 18. Braden and I got there and wet our lines and caught plenty of sunnies. I saw a crappie so I cast to it and he bit it, but I set the hook to soon. So I cast again and he bit it again, but I waited to long to set the hook. I cast one last time, and he was on. He fought for about 30 seconds and then he spit the hook. Conner and Grandpa also caught lots of sunfish. We all got some at 18.
Each summer the lake at the cabin turns a nasty green due to algae blooms and looks more like pea soup than a lake. However, if you hunt a bit, you can find some clearer water. That’s exactly what Braden and I did on Friday afternoon. The lake empties through a small dam into a little creek. I’ve always wondered if it was possible to put the canoe in and paddle down it, so today we did. The paddle across the lake was a little rough because of twenty mph wind gusts, but still manageable.
The creek was a welcoming sight. It still ran pretty murky right at the outflow, but a short ways downstream the water was a lot clearer. There weren’t any boards regulating the water in the small dam, but the flow was still decent. The bluegills were thick back there. Braden and I indicator nymphed and caught a fish on almost every cast, not huge, but a good number of keeper sized gills mixed in. They fought well on a five weight in the current. We caught around forty each in a little over an hour.
I love exploring new waters. The sense of discovery and satisfaction that comes with finding a new honey hole, especially in hard to reach places is awesome. Once we got into the creek , you’d never know that you were minutes away from shorelines lined with cabins. Braden and I tried paddling farther downstream, but fallen trees made it tough in the short amount of time we had. The creek flows into a large chain of lakes that eventually empty into the Mississippi around 30 miles downstream. Catfish, which were stocked in the chain, managed to migrate upstream into the lake, so there must be some decent holding water. Next time we’ll do some more serious exploring, as you never know what’s around the next corner.