Sunday, January 6, 2019


As I stepped into the creek I noticed a block of ice on the opposite bank.  Even though I knew it was a block of ice I asked myself, "What is it? Why is it there?"  I pondered for several minutes what kind of conditions would have had to have existed here in the last month or so for a block of ice that big to be that high up on the bank.

 I looked at myself and asked, "Who am I? Why am I here?".  The answer was clear.  My name is Eddie Rivard and I am here to try and catch some trout.  If that goes well I will commemorate the experience by writing a blog post noting every detail.
 I've been here before but never in the wintertime.  This stream is straddled by private property on which I have not been granted permission to access.  The law says that I can go wherever I want as long as I keep my feet wet.  To make matters worse this stream has long sections with knee deep muck that make wading a pain.  I brought my 8.5 foot kayak along to make floating over these sections a breeze.  This is what my my kayak looks like.
Access barriers like the ones I described in the previous paragraph are things that I embrace because they generally keep other more timid anglers out which gives me full reign to exploit the resource as I see fit.

I've been here a few times before but never in the winter.  I had many streams to choose from but the proverbial dowsing rod in my mind eventually led me to choose this as my fishing spot for the day.  I was armed with my 5 weight that I had pre-rigged with a size 18 Pheasant Tail Nymph before leaving my house.   I eventually added a midge dropper but they first three runs I fished resulted in zero takers.  I was fine with that because I wasn't here to fish the runs.  I had probably lost a few minutes of sleep the night before pondering the propensity of the trout the existed in deeper holes on this stream during the winter months in which they are primarily referred to as wintering holes.  Big trout will generally migrate to the headwaters sections of streams in the fall to spawn and then they will remain in the nearby deeper holes during the winter before dispersing throughout the system in late spring.  Anybody that's read Preston Sealon's paper on, " The Dynamics of Stream Trout Migrations through the Seasons in the Driftless", knows this as fact.
When I finally made it to one of my dream holes my heart beat with anticipation.  I was delighted to see sporadic rises and although I couldn't see the fish the sound the rise made was louder than usual.  My third cast with the nymph rig resulted in what felt like a snag and when I gave it a light tug the line quickly snapped.  I couldn't tell if I had snapped the 5x tippet with my strength or if a larger fish had bolted the second it felt resistance.  
 I rearmed with a section of 3x tippet and a small pine squirrel leech streamer.
I had some nibbles while stripping it in on the first cast and on the second cast I hooked a fairly nice Brown Trout.

 I took two pictures of him since he was my first fish of the year.  And after two summers where I have been pursuing Musky with the fly rod catching a fish is something that I no longer take for granted.  There is definitely something magical in every wiggle that a fish puts in your rod.
 I cast a few more times and was teased with several more nibbles and missed strikes.  At the end of one retrieve I saw four trout chasing after my streamer turn around.  I let my streamer sink more on the next cast and adjusted the length of my strips to be shorter and then bam!  I knew it was a bigger fish but didn't know how big it was until I saw it in the water ten feet away when I could clearly see that it was a 19 incher.  I would later confirm this measurement with the rod rule.
 Boom shaka laka.  I love it when my dreams come true.
I caught several more fish in that pool afterwards.  There was about twenty minutes of action that rivaled some of the other times when I have had lights out fishing during my life.
 I eventually decided that my arms needed a rest from pulling in so many trout so I began to walk and paddle upstream again.  When I am not sitting in my kayak I attach it to my belt with a strap system.
 There was quite a bit of green vegetation on the stream bed.
 In this run I could see a multitude of tiny trout rising after midges that were coming off the water.  They were not interested in my streamer so i moved on to the next big wintering hole.
 This one was somewhere in 15 to 17 inch range although I never measured it.
 Selfy time.  You can see more of those small icebergs in the background of this shot.  They still kind of weird me out.  I wish I could have been there to see the event that left them there.
 Another dandy trout for the Ed Man.  This one was on a GoldiLocks Bugger that I started using after I lost my leech to a snag.

 Mystic Pool of Emerald Green
I look into you and start to dream
What big trout lurk on your bottom?
How many men wish they had caught em?
Thank you for keeping them just for me.
The E to the D and the D I E
 A beaver had been here chewing on this log.
 Another mystery chunk.
 Rope Swing, Rope Swing
Hanging from a tree
Oh how I'd like to swing from thee
 Paddling back to the van.
 A flock of mallards flew overhead.
 Mallards in the Sky
Ducks Flying High
Quack, Quack, Quack
Quack, Quack, Quack


Andrew said...

What's your rule of thumb in terms of what streams are viable options for paddling upstream and drifting back? It's a great idea I've never even thought of.

Eddie Rivard said...

I usually do it when streams have difficult wading conditions or when walking on the banks is not an option. Walking on the banks is not an option when it is private land or dense vegetation that is difficult to walk through with a 9 foot fly rod.

Unknown said...

Eddie. GG. Really enjoyed reading your fishing expedition. I haven't been fly fishing for quite some time. But your story has gotten me interested getting back into it! Jeweleon

Eddie Rivard said...

Thanks Jeweleon! Let me know if you need any help.

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