Yeah, I’ll let you guesstimate where I went fishing today.
I’m the kind of guy who is perfect for a Hex hatch– a night owl. I don’t wake up early that easily, and if I can slip myself out the door by 8am to get a day’s fishing started I count that as a victory. Today I left around quarter to nine to start a two-hour drive to Coulee Country in search of browns.
I made a quick stop at Driftless Angler to pick up some Milwaukee Leeches– I didn’t plan on using them, I just wanted stock up. I also saw that Matt had a new variety of stickers and couldn’t leave without adding some more swag to the back end of my HHR. It’s beginning to look like the most esoteric branding scheme in stock car history.
I take it for granted that I can fish in the middle of the week. I’m getting used to having entire stretches of trout water to myself. I was a bit taken aback to see so many other anglers already out-and-about. My fault for sleeping in, I guess. I managed to find an open parking spot and quickly geared up and went down to the water.
It was a dry fly kind of day. No intense hatches, no frenzy of feeding activity, just the slow and steady sip, sip, sip of trout as they slashed the water’s surface in search of buggy morsels. There were some caddis skittering across the water, and some pale-colored mayfly that I couldn’t properly identify. Still, the fish were hard to pattern, which is a diplomatic way of saying that I didn’t have a fly that exactly matched whatever they were after.
I did manage to get by with blue-winged olive comparaduns, and your standard elk hair caddis, a parachute adams, a dryer-sheet caddis (a caddis pattern with a wing cut from a dryer sheet, you see), and even a Griffith’s Gnat. So, basically, every dry that I had in my fly box (I’m a nymph-heavy guy). I managed to get by with mixing-and-matching them constantly, and it seemed that every pool had trout of a different preference.
The creek holds some beautiful brown trout. After a while I simply stopped taking photos of each catch and just let myself enjoy it.
It’s amazing how little stream you cover when you’re having a good time. About four hours after I started I climbed out to the road and discovered I was still within view of my car. This, after trudging through several meanders and silt-slicked bends in the stream. Parked next to my car was another, and I spotted an angler standing along the bank and making a few casts. We exchanged pleasantries as I took off my waders. He caught a few fish, apparently on nymphs.
It piques my curiosity that anglers would bother to park next to another angler. I’m not being territorial here, but from a practical perspective: why? There’s so much trout water in this part of the state that it’s easy to find another part of peace-and-quiet just down the road. And why would I want to take some other angler’s sloppy seconds? Yet it’s not the first time this season that I’ve had other anglers follow in my footsteps.
My guess is that other anglers do this for the same reason that other anglers ask your opinion on fishing holes and fly patterns, or why we tend to stick to the same ‘ol streams rather than seeking new water. Fear of the unknown, or more importantly the worry that we might be fishing unproductive water, or fishing in a manner that proves ineffective. Maybe some anglers just want the relief of knowing that somebody else also thinks this certain stretch of water was worth it.
I dunno about the other guy, but for me it definitely was.
It always is.