Fishing tenkara on a well known producer during early spring
"I was finally blessed with a mostly responsibility-free day with decent weather this week. I went to one of our favorites, Wolf Creek. If I were to code name that creek today, I think I would call it “confidence creek”. It nearly always produces. This creek really lends itself to Tenkara. It is fairly narrow for the most part, seldom more than about 8 feet wide, but can be quite deep. There are sections that are nearly chest deep. It is absolutely loaded with structure. With a little bit of stealth, it is pretty easy to stalk up and down the creek without disturbing the fish. It can get overgrown in the summer, but in the early season it really shines."
After several years of consideration, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has expanded our trout fishing season for 2016. Traditionally, the season opened the first weekend in March then closed at the end of September. Now, the season opens January 1st and closes October 15, adding about two and half months to our season. Unfortunately, my free days and decent fishing weather did not line up much in January or early February. I’m not one of those guys who feels the need to prove himself by fishing in sub-zero temps. First of all, the fishing usually isn’t very good in those conditions and, as one of my hunting and fishing partners says, this stuff is supposed to be fun!
I did manage to make it out for a couple brief trips when the weather was at least reasonable. I fished well-known Black Earth Creek, which is pretty close to my home. The creek has had a tough couple of years, but two of our customers had been having some impressive outings during this early season. I was not so lucky. Mostly, my two trips to the creek made me believe that the reason the DNR expanded the trout season was so that we can suffer along with our neighbors to the west, Minnesota and Iowa, where there is a year-round season. Maybe fly fishing in January in the Upper Midwest just isn’t my thing?
I was finally blessed with a mostly responsibility-free day with decent weather this week. I went to one of our favorites, Wolf Creek. If I were to code name that creek today, I think I would call it “confidence creek”. It nearly always produces. This creek really lends itself to Tenkara. It is fairly narrow for the most part, seldom more than about 8 feet wide, but can be quite deep. There are sections that are nearly chest deep. It is absolutely loaded with structure. With a little bit of stealth, it is pretty easy to stalk up and down the creek without disturbing the fish. It can get overgrown in the summer, but in the early season it really shines. Given the size of this creek, I thought I might fish the Badger UNC. It is a great little rod, surprisingly capable for its size. If you have not seen it, there is a cool video of one of our customers catching snook from a kayak with the UNC on our Facebook page. Won’t see that every day! However, the Classic was already rigged, so given my lazy attitude, I used that.
The Classic is my most used and abused rod. I often joke that the only reason Matt has not bought out my share of the company is that I am so hard on my gear that if there are any weak spots, I will find them. On an earlier trip I had somehow managed to actually break off a section of my Badger floating line. Not an easy feat! So, my rod was rigged with two sections of floating line tied together, about nine feet total, and about 5 feet of tippet. I normally fish with about 12 feet of floating line, but I had a feeling this set up might work well for this creek. It did. The 9 foot length worked well for casting distances and maximizing clean drifts in this tight creek.
After a long winter with not much fishing, I was pleased to find that my casting was still pretty well dialed in. My hook sets, though, were a bit off and my fish-landing skills were really rusty. The first fish I hooked, a fat 12 incher, managed to wrap himself around my legs. I was impressed that the fish was still on the line after that, and when I went to net him, found that my fly was actually hooked in my waders. Nice. I hooked and lost several fish after that. Then, I vigorously set the hook on a 4 inch creek chub. It flew through the air, hit me in the chest then fell into the pocket on my sling pack. Couldn’t do that again if I tried.This trip was starting out as a comedy of errors!
Things settled in after that, though, and I started to land the fish I was hooking. Most were in the 10-12 inch range, with a couple smaller ones. I had a nice 14-15 inch on the line which I quickly lost. I caught a similar size fish from the same pool last year early in the season. I wonder if it was the same one?
There is a hole on this creek that I always knew held a big fish or two but it was impossible to cast to secondarily to a partially submerged section of barb wire over the deepest portion. Well, the wire was removed at some point last year, and there is a big d@#$ trout in that hole. I didn’t catch him this time, but I know where he lives!
Overall, it was a very satisfying day. The kind of day that keeps me coming back. The kind of day that teaches me again just how well Tenkara can work on our Driftless region creeks. Lastly, getting out this time year is good for the soul after a long winter. I saw and heard my first Sandhill cranes of the season, spotted several bald eagles on a carcass, and just enjoyed the sun on my face and the promise of Spring. Get out there and enjoy!