Today I returned to the Little Platte River. The image of that other angler catching a pair of 16-inchers has been seared into the back of my head, and I needed to try it out for myself. I put in at the same bridge and began working upstream. I originally intended to make it to the next bridge upstream, but several hours into my slow, plodding pace upstream I realized that it wasn’t to be, so I turned back about halfway.
First let me say: what a gorgeous stretch of water. Honestly, possibly the most picturesque stream I have yet to fish in Wisconsin. The Little Platte is constrained by solid limestone bluffs on both sides, and where the limestone has worn away thick tangles of prairie grasses and wildflowers crowd the banks. Once you get about a quarter-mile upstream nearly all visage of civilization just melt away: there are a few pastures dotted with grazing cattle, and atop some of the tall bluffs sit some magnificent homes, but the river cuts deep back into the nothingness between these things and gives it a wildness that I have yet to encounter on most trout streams.
Oh, there are fish, too. Today started rather ominously with a pair of creek chubs, and I had to work hard to produce fish. The bucktail streamers were largely ineffective. A new crawfish pattern I tied also failed to produce– and, using the 5 weight, was just at the edge of castability. However, I had pulled in as many chubs as smallmouth (three, at the point) and was feelin’ mighty frustrated when, just for the Hell of it, I tied on something a little different.
I don’t have a name for it yet, although it’s part of the streamer type I call “vegan” flies: tied entirely with synthetic materials. And it looks wicked stripped through the water, if I do say so myself.
So I tied one of these guys on, gave it a toss… and a couple of strips later it was absolutely hammered. And again. And then again. About a half dozen smallies tried to murder this thing, though only three made solid contact and I brought them to hand.
The next pool up I had only one strike, but it was the BIG ONE. A short fight, a short walk and hop downstream in pursuit, and I had my 16-incher in hand.
I walked ahead another quarter mile or so, and then realized that I seriously misjudged the length of this section of stream. Water bottle empty, hot, and thirsty, I decided the best course of action was the turn around and head back. I encountered a spinfisher on my way back, and confirmed that I had only made it about halfway to the next bridge crossing.
Not nearly as productive as my previous jaunt down this way, but scenery and hard fightin’ fish made it a memorable day.
The Blue “Vegan” Fly
Hook: Size 1 short saltwater
Weight: 0.020 dia nontoxic lead substitute (wrapped all the way up hook shank)
Tail: Red Flashabou
Body: Natural Fish Foolin’ Material and Black or Speckled Silver Flashabou
Collar: Black Mirror Wrap