Fly Fishing Sugar Creek in August for Smallmouth

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Any time you can get on Sugar Creek is a great time. I have long spun yarns about how good the fishing is and can be…however the yarns are mostly accurate. The fishing is special as is the beauty of the creek. Even on the first Saturday in August, while one has to deal with many canoers, kayakers and tubers…the fishing was still spectacular.

Once again I was out on a day with my father, Ivan. If you haven’t noticed my buddy Frank along for a while…it is with good reason. He is about a month out from a very serious heart condition and truthfully I am eager for him to once again be back fly fishing; and let me assure you, he is eager and chomping at the bit to once again hold a fly rod.

On this day I would do about 4-5 miles of Sugar Creek and wind up at Deers Mill, the east border of Shades State Park. As I have said before, if you are looking for a way to fish the creek, stop in on the good folks at Clement’s Canoes and rent a canoe or kayak or have them portage you up the creek a few miles.

The water this first Saturday of August was perfect…flowing at around 270 cfs; enough flow that there wasn’t a lot of portaging and not so much as to have water clarity issues. If you haven’t fished or been on Sugar Creek then you need to know that it rises quickly and can get out of control anywhere from 500 cfs up…honestly, the fishing can be a question mark past this level as it starts to become stained.

I could only venture a guess but let’s just say that there wasn’t much down time on my four hour journey as the smallies had me busy most of the way. I was using my 6 weight outfit with a type one sink tip line and a couple of self-tied baitfish patterns. The fish did their part as they were very aggressive and it made for one incredible day.

More Sizzling Summer Fly Fishing Action

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Some fishing trips are special because of the area, stream or lake you are visiting. Other times the trip was special and memorable due to the numbers or size of the fish that were caught. On this, one of the last days of July, this trip was special for me because I was able to bring my dad along with me. He is now 85 and as most great things do…he is starting to slow. Worst off is that he now questions his own ability to be outdoors; on this day I convinced him to come along with me on a trip to the Big Walnut to enjoy the nature and some great weather.

My father, Ivan, was the one who started me hunting and fishing. I am not sure that he put the total love for the outdoors into me…I believe that was more of a God thing. Dad, however…was the one who always encouraged me and over and over told me to strive for the best. I still can remember the very spot when he and I caught a few smallmouth together. It isn’t too far from here and I still frequent that small stream on occasion.
On this day dad would drop me off at one bridge and pick me up at the other. In between I was able to land a few good smallies along the way. The weather and water couldn’t have been more perfect. It was as they say, one of ‘those-days’ that I won’t soon forget. It was particularly comforting to get to the end of my fish and see dad sitting there, reading his paper, waiting and enjoying the beauty of the water.

I do apologize for the wind and microphone issues on a couple of sections as the wind was blowing quite well. One thing that I have learned about my GoPro Session is that the sound is good if the wind is coming straight into or from straight behind…but not from the side. As I have said before…it is tough being my own camera crew?

I hope that you still have your father…and if not, I hope that you have all the great memories you should. My dad and I are best friends…not everyone can say that. I am proud of him…and proud to be his son. If you enjoy the video…please give me a like. If you have any fly fishing questions …don’t hesitate to contact me.

Fly Fishing Small Creeks for Summer Smallmouth

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This, the summer of 2017, has taken me from here in southern Indiana, west to the Pacific Ocean and then back to the Midwest in northern Wisconsin…all in an effort to see our great country and to fly fish for various species along the way. Ultimately my fish of choice is always going to be the smallmouth bass and my time in Wisconsin was well spent as for three days I drifted the black waters in search of big, river smallies.

Just this past week I switched gears and fished, for me, the closest creek/stream available that holds a good population of smallmouth. This tiny creek…or as I like to call it…a micro-creek, has every bit of the same character that the big waters possess. These smallmouth don’t know that they have cousins that grow to be several times their size…what they do know is that in their little pool, they are King!
Small Stream in Southern IndianaTiming is everything when fishing one of these micro-creeks. The water needs to be clear, but not too clear. There needs to be a bit of a flow…yet not so much flow that a lone baitfish pattern thrown into a pool doesn’t raise an eyebrow or two from the ‘big fish’ of the pool. Lastly, I prefer to fish the small waters on days that are a bit overcast and the sun isn’t beaming straight down into the pools. On this day, the day this video was shot, all of the prerequisites came together and presented for me a golden opportunity to land several of these ‘king-of-the-pool’ smallies.

As you might guess, stealth is also a big part of being successful. I try to stick to the outside of the pools and walk as gently and quietly as possible; in fact, fly fishing a small creek is much like hunting for a native Indiana gobbler…every step needs to be correctly placed. Part of being stealthy is also being able to casts accurately from distance…all while dodging the many overhanging limbs just happy to snag a fly. When it all comes together, it is a treat…and one of my most favorite fishing experiences. Let’s just liken this experience to landing a true eastern brook trout. If you have ever fooled and then held for just a moment one of these natural beauties…then you can relate.

For you newbies I have thrown in a quick tip on how to get yourself ‘un-hung’ from a rock or limb…I am sure that you never have this going on? I hope you can enjoy the stunning scenery and the sounds of nature as you come along with me on another video. If you like what you have seen…please give me a like.

Fly Fishing for Sizzling Mid-Summer Smallmouth

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After a 7,000 mile plus trip to the Pacific Ocean and back…it was good to once again be back home again, in Indiana…and once again swinging a fly for Hoosier Smallies. The weather hadn’t been cooperating at all; not only were the temps in the 90’s with dew points in the mid 70’s…but lots of rain had left me with hardly any options. I did sort of take a break…getting lots done on our property.

It was a time to tie a few flies and once again get organized with my gear. I ordered a new Rio sink tip, type one f/s line for my 6 weight as the old line was simply trashed with cracks and fissures. This also gave me the impetus to tie on new leader material and revamp a lot of my gear for the upcoming late summer smallie bash that usually occurs.

I also have a new German Wirehair puppy (Holly) compliments of a breeder in Wisconsin…thus many of these hot July dog days…began with just that-me and the dogs up early for a walk around our property. If you have ever owned or trained a bird dog, specifically a Wirehair or Shorthair, then you know that a pup can be pretty demanding. This one thinks she owns the place…and maybe she does? Bird dogs are much like fly fishing in that you really do get out what you put in…and there is not replacing lots of ‘happy-timing’; which simply put means lots of good long walks where pup can learn about all the stuff they seem to get into…and most important learn who is the leader of the pack (that is supposed to be me).
Smallie from Big WalnutSo, in this video you will see me catch and land several very nice smallies. Along the way I will explain a bit as to how or what I am thinking; things like fishing downstream (while fishing upstream). The importance of a well-placed/timed upstream mend to get the fly down a bit deeper and give it a stalling point just in front of a predatory fish (like our native smallmouth).

I am also wearing and getting used to my new pair of Smith Optics sunglasses. Now, I have had sunglasses for a long time…but honestly I don’t wear them continuously and realize that the time is upon me whereby I have to have some eye protection from the UV that is out there waiting to jump up and get me. At age 55 I also have to have a pair with readers in them…and Smith makes several nice fishing glasses with either a 2.0 or 2.5 pair of readers at the bottom. I chose copper and the 2.5’s knowing that my eyes and age were heading in that direction. I am an old dog and the new trick of wearing the glasses the entire time was a bit tricky; in fact, the first time I went to spring up on a log to make a casts…well, I misjudged the spring and landed with a ‘ker-plunk’ on the other side of the log…not so smooth! Anyway, I muddled through three hours of fishing and by the end I must admit I had forgotten that I had them on…probably until the next time when the process will start all over again. So, if the video is just a bit off-frame (fish are too low) that is due to the glasses and me trying to focus on the wrong portion of the lenses.

I hope you like the video and can use some of my wisdom…if you do, please give it a like and if you need a fly fishing question answered…well, I will try. Please direct the email to me and I will do my best to answer or figure out how best to help you.

Fly Fishing Wisconsin’s St. Croix River for Giant Smallmouth

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Let me just start off by saying that I consider myself a person who deeply believes and trust in God…in fact I am not sure what I would have been or how my life would have gone with this presence; so, that being said, I don’t say this easily or with mere jest…The St. Croix may very well be the ‘perfect’ smallmouth stream. OK, go ahead now and insert your idea of a perfect stream…and let me say this strongly…if you haven’t yet fished the St. Croix, prepare to change your mind.

I had only read about this system…and thus being so close my wife and I made the trip the 45 minutes over from Trego, Wisconsin. I put in at the CCC landing at 138.9 and would float to Riverside Landing at 131.7…where my wife would pick me back up 6 hours later (no cell phone service).
St Croix RiverThe first mile or so below CCC was slow moving and frankly it felt like being on a lake that was slowly moving along. Here is the one wrinkle that threw me off at first…the water is so black, so tannic that I couldn’t get a good bearing as to how deep the water was…until my right foot banged into a rock and quickly I could deduce that the water wasn’t as deep as I thought. I went to a lighter fly and started stripping a bit quicker; 3rd casts and I caught my first ever St. Croix smallie. Another 100 yards and bang, another. The next few miles was more of the same…a fish here and there, they were big. One was 17, the next 15 and so on…until I was almost at my takeout…

I made a long cast across slack water and could see my white fly, that was until it disappeared. I could see a bulge, nervous water just before the fly went missing and immediately upon strip setting I knew that I was into a big fish. I made my way up to my GoPro camera and the rest as they say…well, you can watch, but it sure was a lot of fun.

This river was more than just fish. It was lily pads in bloom. Dark black water…that was clear? It was birds, beaver, muskrat, eagles…the list goes on and on. As I said, God was with me on this stream and I sat back and casted over and over, the stream ambling its way downhill towards the takeout.

As soon as Vickie pulled up I gave her a look and of course she thought it was due to a big fish (and it was) but it wasn’t…if that makes sense. I will, God willing, be back, many times to make each and every mile of this special river. I hope you enjoy the action and the scenery.

Fly Fishing Wisconsin’s Namekagon River for Big Smallmouth

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On my most recent cross country trip to Oregon (last video on Glacier Park) my wife Vickie and I set our GPS for Hayward, Wisconsin and the home of the Namekagon River. If you have followed me for a while then you know that this is one of my most favorite haunts; a river that is as luring as it black/tannic waters.
Namekagon RiverHere is the bottom line, you aren’t going to catch hundreds of smallies on the Namekagon…but the fish you do catch, they might just be the best fish of your life. Evidenced by my very first smallmouth. Just a few minutes below my put in point at Groat Landing I made a cast across the pool and allowed my Sugar Creek Shiner to swing down and through the rapids. Without even thinking my rod hand went high and I had hooked up with my fist fish…a chunky 16 incher that would put up a fight worthy of a Mike Tyson bout….well, just watch the video (below).

My two days on the Namekagon were nothing short of spectacular; I fished and enjoyed three jaunts downstream towards Trego, which was our home base for camping. The river system is so well marked and there are so many points or landings that you can choose any mileage you would like to travel. Over my three trips I traveled about 15 miles and landed about as many big, chunky smallies.
Map of Namekagon River areaLastly, if you go…you must make the trip into Hayward and visit my buddy Larry at The Hayward Fly Fishing Company. Larry will put you on the right fly and if you need help, or a guide…he or one of the others will ‘drift’ you down the “Old black water” for smallmouth or musky come the fall. I must add this…I am in and out of lots of fly shops each year. Let’s be honest, some are of no help as they are self-serving and don’t want to share any ‘secrets’; Larry will tell it to you just like it is and will give you as much help as he possibly can.

Oh, and one more one more….make a trip a couple blocks from the fly shop and just a stone’s throw from the giant musky…and grab a piece of pie from the Norske Nook. This restaurant has great food and frankly, the pie is to die for! As for favorite pie…nope, won’t go there, love them all!