Downsizing is a term that is not only in the news these days, with small cars, homes, etc…but to some degree is a sensible move in direction for a country where for far too long bigger was certainly thought of as better. Over the past few years I have begun to understand that a minimal lifestyle can be at times, very pleasing. Truth is I carry less gear nowadays into the wild than ever before, in fact this past spring I was able to harvest my Tom turkey in under an hour and did so without even touching any one of my three calls…now I must also admit that it doesn’t hurt to be more lucky than good!
I’m not sure if it is a fly-fishing term yet but these past couple of years I have really started to focus on the small creeks or as you can tell by today’s column…micro-creeking. If you are a fly fishermen then you probably are already stricken with the same illness that I am…I can’t drive over any water, whether it be a lake or especially water that moves, without giving it a good looking over. My mind starts to race; would there be any smallmouth bass and if so…where would they be hiding? Seems like I can’t even pass over the smallest trickle without it causing me to pause and as I mentioned these past couple of years I have started to ‘investigate’ in earnest to see if said creek might just hold a fish or two.
Such was the case the last Sunday in August. Harrison and I decided to go on a journey not too far from our home and see if we might just find a fish in a very small creek that we had driven over many times. I might also add that Harrison (my oldest) is now officially home from Arizona for good and has taken a job teaching at Highland Park Elementary…and this makes me quite happy for many reasons, not the least of which is having a partner along to snap a few pictures while I fish!
Often I get asked, “What makes a good stream”? To which my answer depends so much on the species of fish within. There are the warm water species in most all of our local waters but to find our ‘cooler’ water species like rock bass and smallmouth bass you have to have at least three qualities; first there has to be a few deep holes within reach of the fish. These deep holes provide a place to reside in both summer and winter. Second, there needs to be some springs or seeps entering the water…enough at least to keep the temps down in the comfortable levels. Third, last and most important is simple…there has to be water moving through the creek in all seasons. Now, it doesn’t have to be much but certainly has to be some or the oxygen levels just fall too low and won’t support a population.
As Harrison and I parked and made the half mile walk down to the creek my mind wandered…would there be any fish and if so, how big might there actually be? I decided to start out with a black leech pattern that I tie with bunny strips; it had rained quite a bit the day before and the creek was not only up a foot or so but the water was pretty stained. The first hole found me getting skunked and as I neared the second hole which was a bit bigger and noticeably deeper I decided to switch to a size 6 popper. I made a long cast next to a log and just allowed the popper to sit, seconds later I swept my rod and the popper made a big ‘gulp’ sound. Once again I allowed the fly to sit, just as I was ready to lift the fly for another cast the water erupted. I stripped my line and came tight on what was indeed a smallmouth bass. It wasn’t big, about ten inches…but it was a smallie and that meant there were fish to be had!
I snapped a couple of photos and quickly re-loaded and placed another casts a few feet further downstream; rinse lather and repeat…seconds later I was once again in contact with my second smallie, a twin of the first one. The next hour was simply a joy as I caught three species in total; a warmouth, several rock bass (google-eyes) along with ten smallmouth bass. I couldn’t get over it, this little waterway indeed had fish and who knows what might be lurking in one of these deeper holes? What I do know is quite simple, it won’t take long for me to make a return trip.
On our walk back out to the car, Harrison and I discussed several things…one of which was how hot and humid it was as soon as you step up out of the water. Once again nature and its ability to impress and amaze is quite something. I guess that I must be a simple person at heart-as it doesn’t take grandiose things to make me happy; a good walk with my son all while catching some native fish on my fly rod might really be all I need…a simple chance to once again Enjoy the Great Outdoors.