While visiting the Dells of the Eau Claire River on my last adventure, I turned to my Wisconsin Gazetteer and the internet to find out that the Eau Claire was indeed a fishery for smallmouth bass. I located a put-in and take-out and in less than 20 minutes from our campsite in downtown Wausau, we were at the Thornapple access point on the Eau Claire.
Fishing a new river is always exciting to me. I love the puzzle of putting things together and trying to figure out where the fish actually are. I must admit that I had been on the Eau Claire for about 45 minutes before I had my first solid hit; I sat the hook on the fish and it felt heavy, but within a second or so had gave me the slip. That was the start however to a decent day … just a few hundred yards further and I hooked and landed my first fish.
What I quickly came to deduce about fly fishing the Eau Claire is that for the most part, this tannic water, is a bit too shallow to host large numbers of smallmouth. When I found deeper pockets and pools, where I felt like there would be fish … there were.
I began to hear rumbles to the south and could see a storm brewing and while I am not worried about getting wet, I am worried about getting dead by lightning. I continued to fish southward and caught a couple of more fish and pulled in under the bridge at my half way point just in the nick of time as the skies opened up and for about 20 minutes in really came down in buckets.
After it cleared I headed out again and within a few hundred yards of the bridge I landed another and my last smallmouth of the day. All in all it was a great few hours; seems like time on the water is always a good thing. Maybe a bit later in the year would be better …. just not sure as it seemed the water was a bit too ‘skinny’ for good cover and cover was needed as I witnessed a few eagles and a pair of osprey while out this day.
If in the Wausau area … for sure give the Eau Claire some attention; if nothing else, be sure to go visit the Dells of the Eau Claire (take your bug spray along).
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