Driftless Hopper Fishing

Spring creek heaven

The pullout was empty as we drove up to the familiar little bridge over one of our favorite Driftless creeks. The hoppers were out in full force. I throw one into the creek and it gets absolutely destroyed by a brown. Noah and I quickly strung up and hopped over the stile while Braden started hiking the other way. The weeds have really grown up both on the banks and in the creek since we were here last. In some spots, the free-flowing center is only a foot or two across. The trout take full advantage of this and hide in the edges of the weeds, just waiting to pick off a juicy hopper or nymph that drifts by. Dodging cow pies and thistles, Noah and I headed upstream to some holes known to hold brook trout. I opted to take some pictures and let Noah take the first couple holes. His chernobyl ant was greeted with a few violent slashes, but nothing stuck. After the hole settled down, he switched to a #14 brown micro tubing mayfly nymph under an indicator. The weeds made casting a little tough, but after a few tries he delicately stuck it right in the middle of a channel and was rewarded with a gorgeous little wild brown.

Back into the icy water

Braden had hiked downstream and had some action on the chernobyl. He caught a really nice brookie pushing ten inches, and lost a monster that was at least a few inches bigger. A good brown around 16″ also came up and smashed his hopper.

Awesome brookie on the hopper

Braden's 16" brown

The MTMN was the hot fly for me today. I set up at the tail of one of the creek’s many sweet holes. A riffle spilled around the corner into a grassy undercut and deeper water, with weeds on the inside to give the trout lots of places to hide. First cast and a little brown exploded on my indicator. Should’ve been using a hopper dropper. I drifted my nymph rig along the undercut and landed this feisty little brown.The colors on these wild spring creek fish never get old for me. He still had some parr marks, along with intense red spots.The next drift along the bank produced similar results. A few more browns and a brook all fell for the MTMN. They were small, but made up for it with their attitude. Each raced around the pool and tried hard to get in the weeds, wiggling all the way to the net. The sun was going down fast, so we decided to pack up and hit a different creek that Braden fished a few weeks ago.

The next creek meandered through a wooded valley with steep bluffs on either side. A few fish were randomly rising in the deep blue pools. I hooked a few fish on a variety of flies, but nothing stayed on for more than a second. We fished hard into the night. Braden and Noah hooked a few browns on a little wooly bugger in the black of night, but nothing made it to the net. The browns really seemed to turn on right after dark, hitting the buggers aggressively, but nothing solid. Overall, our first night fishing experience was pretty cool, and I’ll definitely be doing some more of it. My hike out of the steep valley was a little sketchy though, stumbling through the unfamiliar woods.

Fall is definitely almost here, and there is only one more month until hunting opens and the end of trout season. It”ll be fun.


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    1. Thanks Blake. There are some real monsters in that creek! Good luck fishing out in Utah. Are you gonna do any bow hunting this fall?

      1. If i do i’ll only make it out once, maybe twice back in wisconsin… the out of state permits out here in utah are a little too pricey for me. Those last few posts you have about duck hunting are making me miss it!

        Good luck this season!

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