Sunday, September 21, 2014


It's happening much sooner than I expected...Green going red, orange, or yellow.

The night temps dipping into the 30's.

The trout season days from over.

I've been immersed in family activities, home ownership responsibilities and meeting employment objectives.  Though I've been out lawn casting with some of my friends, learning a better way to cast a switch rod, flies have not seen water for a long time.

I returned from a week of travel that normally would have involved sneaking out after work for some East coast striper fishing.  This time, my week included training a new hire and it seemed that casting to stripers were not what my company had in mind for this guy.

I flew home on Friday night and picked up on the homefront where I left off Sunday last.

By Sunday this, I was twitchy.

It's times like these that nothing beats the slow methodical, unencumbered pace of wading a trout stream.  Sure, dropping the skiff into a river and chasing busting smallmouth would have been fun, but the trailer, motor and launch fees were added levels of distraction that I didn't need.

A 4 wt, a hip back, my waders and a camera.  It helped that I hit the stream during the first quarter of the local pro football team's Sunday afternoon match against whoever...

On the creek adjacent to a farm, the sun was high and the wind caused the browning dry corn leaves to scrape.  Hoppers in the last throes of their summer bliss scurried and inspired my fly choice.  I tied on a foam beetle because it was that time, and droppered a nymph just in case it wasn't.

The creek I waded recently had a dam removed which opened its flow directly to the larger river it fed.  After 17 years of fishing this stream I like to think that I've come to know it.  What I found today though, was a surprise.  Creek Chubs.  Lots of them.  10 years ago I probably would have cursed the shortsightedness of the folks that allowed their reintroduction into my trout fishing playground.  Today however, I was pleased.  Pleased that things are where they should be, natives returned home.  Secretly pleased that the invasive Brown Trout that I was seeking would likely get very, very fat eating them.   

I spooked some nice fish where I knew they should be but failed to entice them.  My beetle and dropper didn't move them but my wading boots eventually did. 

Eventually the dropper worked and so did the beetle.

A nice 13" brown smacked my terrestrial mid-stream and the "pop" from the surface take was so fulfilling that upon releasing that trout I noticed I was no longer twitchy.




Native (Trout Protein)

Green to Brown

Monday, September 1, 2014

Nailed it.

It was raining on my way North, but thanks to the various electrovoodoo weather apps on my phone I wasn't worried.  The front was passing through and McSteel and I were looking forward to a long afternoon of switch rodding for smallmouth.

In a pocket where his phone worked he called to tell me he ran into construction and traffic heading south out of the north-woods and that he'd be delayed.  Since the plan was to meet at a diner/burgerjoint for lunch he gave me his order and I told him I'd deliver.

The hatch of his rig was up and he was messing around with gear when I pulled in with his 20 minute cold cheeseburger and what was left of a large bag of fries.  The rain was still fallling in fits and starts but the sun was sending rays through the gray and we didn't acknowledge the precipitation as we took a few minutes to catch up and exchange news from our respective homes.

And then we fell into an afternoon of easy rhythm that we have forged and worked out over 15 years of angling together.  Mostly fishing together, one a spectator, photographer or coach and the other the angler, caster, hunter.  But, from time to time,  we drifted apart, poking around a back eddy or pressing on around a new corner.

Early on, as we climbed out of the river up a steep bank, McSteel clambered up and with eventual secure footing reached his hand down to give me a pull up.  He knows that I could have easily followed his lead unassisted but since we are friends, fishing partners, it would never occur to him not to offer.   On this occasion he retracted his hand and said, "stay still, don't move..." which made me think of every western movie where the protagonist and his sidekick encounter a rattlesnake.  Only this time it was a giant fishing spider on my shoulder which he he deftly flicked off before requesting that I remove the one that was clinging to the back of his sleeve.  "Did you get it?" he asked. "Yep", I replied.  Toothy Muskies no problem...but we both prefer not to hang out with spiders.  Again he offered his hand and this time he helped me up the bank.

Give and take, flick for flick.  That's how we roll.

The smallmouth were in an exceptionally eaty mood.  We took it as a sign to swing and twitch gurglers and ska-oppers with our switch rods and we were not disappointed in the results.  We hung no record book fish but the sheer number of willing topside feeders kept us giddy until the sun had fallen behind the trees.

We walked the trail down to the last run of the day.  McSteel said it as I was thinking it,  "I wish this day would never end..."  

When we got to the final run, I stepped in and began casting as McSteel worked his way through the falling light to a point 100 yards below me.  I began casting, alternating between snap-T's and switch casts and focusing as much on the feel of the rod through the casting stroke as the fly through the fishing swing.  I could barely make out McSteel in the darkness downstream but the squawk of his Hardy as a nice fish pulled line through his guides gave me a good indication of where he was and what he was up to.