I’ve previously stated that there is no greater month for trout fishing in these parts than June. It’s just a personal preference. On the flip side I’ll admit to disliking the late winter/early spring period. I don’t appreciate being the meat in the trout sandwich. Earlier in the winter things are cold, somewhat unbearable, yet somehow predictable from a fishing standpoint. Later in the spring is the delicious treat. It’s when things really begin to heat up. The in-between period is a hit or miss roller coaster of spring creek fishing. It seems Mother Nature has taken it upon herself to play mind games with our fragile upper midwest psyche. Wave after wave of pseudo historic snowstorms have blanketed the region with sloppy springtime precipitation. There’s an eerie Bill Murray Groundhog Day vibe to it, and we’re all just living in it. Speaking of living in it, what can I do other than fish my way through the misery? As I stopped by the neighborhood Pump-n-Munch to coffee up recently I looked up to the fishing gods and quietly asked why? It’s not like I need to get up at the ass crack of dawn to hit the water in this wintery mix, but I’m knee deep in spring training and choose to go through the motions nevertheless.
Wildly fluctuating April water levels and clarity have continued to plague my efforts. Most watersheds have continued to huff and puff with the casual ease of musty accordion bellows. I must confess that I’ve still got a case of Brookie on the brain, though I’ve been reluctant to visit Shit Creek until I’m confident of better water conditions. I could be waiting a long time.
I’ve been eager to unleash a handful of new patterns built to dupe the wiliest of Brown Trout. The aforementioned flies, like my fishing has been in a significant slump. Baseball and angling are on a similar trajectory. It’s a batting average issue, and right now I’m hitting .112. The unseasonable temps have been contributing some light bites, to an even lighter skill set. I’ve managed a few big bites, but ultimately lost every fish. I hooked up with an absolute bridge busting tank that took me for a 30 second ride, only to watch him spit the hook on a largemouth leap that would make Dwight Stones proud. Mother Nature’s cruel plan is seeping into my pores. I feel like the Tin Man in need of some oil. At one point after a short strike I threw my rod down to the ground in disgust, followed by a healthy round of filthy expletives. Fishing karma is in full effect. I had an excellent bite last fall. Now it appears as if I must atone for my sins.
For various reasons a good portion of my angling tends to be a solo affair. While I used to fish with a regular pack of cohorts, inexplicably I’ve become somewhat of a lone wolf in recent years. It’s not that I’m anti-social. I feel most at ease when I’m able to tackle specific onstream challenges in a spontaneous manor, often free of other anglers. My wandering, run and gun, grip and flip, upstream, downstream, chaotic approach isn’t for everyone. From time to time I try to break up isolation and actually fish with another human being. I recently met up with a crankbaitin’ crony for specifically that purpose.
I have little patience for fly fishing purists, or at least those who openly admonish others for their choice of individual pursuits. I’m an ardent “each to their own” kind of a guy. A self contradiction, perhaps? The beauty of fishing with a skilled crankbait angler is the opportunity to observe, learn and in turn question some of my own streamer patterns. Putting anything you’ve personally tied up against the pedigree of a classic Rapala is a daunting task to say the least. The reason I mention streamer fishing probably more than any other aspect fly fishing, simply because it’s one of my favorite tactics. I could go in greater depth covering the entomological angle of the sport, but it is well traveled turf, covered in mind numbing detail by those who are more passionate and knowledgeable than myself. I could spend all day talking about my #16 Elk Hair Caddis, but why bother? I’ll even fess up to a dirty little secret that I’ve been harboring for sometime. I don’t like to fish nymph indicator rigs. Shhhhh, please don’t tell anyone, okay? That’s not to say that I don’t nymph, I do it all the time, it’s just my least favorite way to skin the cat. Bobber fishing for me has always been a sticky wicket. From an early age I was too impatient to stare at a float for any length of time. Let’s just say I’ve always tolerated it more than I’ve enjoyed it. You can either wait for them, or take it to them. In a lot of ways it’s the difference between playing offense or defense, and I’ve got more of an offensive mindset, preferring to play the role of instigator.
My sidekick and I set out on a morning trip in search of the Brown bonanza. While things moved at a slow clip in the first hour or two, his Floating Rapala began to make a dent, nabbing a good fish or two. My viscous fishing style continued to affect this outing as well, as my flies and casting abilities were running ice cold. I cast right into a streamside tree on one of the most promising holes, surely scaring the big boy that I knew must be holding down below. In a moment of frustration I violently jerked the rod attempting to dislodge the fly from the branches, but mysteriously stripped my fly line down to its core in several spots. It was a wounded duck and there was no chance it would smoothly shoot through my guides any longer. I was down, but not out. We casually BS’d our way up to another prime location, alternating shots between cranks and flies. As we approached a terrific looking holding lie, I predicted the location of the big dog. Like clockwork my counterpart expertly fired his Finnish masterpiece right on the money. A few turns of the handle later we saw the tell tale flash of a bruiser in hot pursuit. Fish on. A lucky guess, who knows? I instantly wet my pants like an overeager puppy in the front doorway, by prematurely diving into net duty. A short, sluggish fight crescendoed with the beast successfully secured in my net. A sturdy round of high fives, a few quick pics and we sent her on her way. While I was personally struggling with my fishing abilites, I was bolstered by the sight of a good fish, and a job well done.
Biding your time is a funny thing. We’re entrenched as a collective just waiting to pounce on any sign of better things to come. In the context of upper midwest living, that thing is summer. Hell, we’d even settle for a healthy dose of spring. The annual exercise in restraint is at it’s wit’s end. As I sit here penning my latest entry I’m bracing myself for the latest round of wintery weather. The weeklong respite from Wisconsin trout fishing can’t come soon enough. It allows us to take a deep breath in preparation for the upcoming season, and I certainly could use a little relief from viscosity.