Sometimes i get sick of swingin and indicating for chromers. it usually happens about mid way through the winter when the fish start goin through their change. I just dont like catchin colored up steelhead. it doesnt float my boat at all. when i do catch them its usually a bycatch while strippin some of my favorite spring creeks for residential browns. The other morning i woke up and there was a break in the weather. it went from being 9 degrees every morning to like 33 at 8 am. peering out my window i could see water trickling down from the gutter I had failed to clean before the freeze. This running water lets me know that the upper river has some more water in it and in turn helps melt some of that ice over. So i got out my cabelas 5 wt. i bought last week as a back up until my orvis gets fixed, cleaned the salt grime off of it and strung it up with a cabelas floating line with attached sink tip. This rod was my back up but i think it has become my favorite rod and for the 39.99 price tag it really cant be beat. they even gave me a 2 year warranty for an extra 4 bux, no brainer there. I like to use my Nautilus Fwx 7/8 on my 5 wt for trout it balances perfect and i dont know why everyone doesnt use this setup for trout. a bigger arbor helps me control larger fish when they bonk out in the small spring creek setting. It also helps when i hook a rogue steelhead hunkered down in one of my brown holes.
If you are into trout fishing you need to understand the geographic importance of where you want to fish. i am blessed to live on the ridge of the continental divide. To the north of me all water flows north into lake michigan and to the south of me all the water flows down into the kankakee and tippicanoe rivers and eventually all the way to the gulf of mexico. Hidden limestone creeks and springs dot the area and only the real trailblazers find fish. Most of Indiana is private and with very few waters navigable by boat permission to fish these waters is necessary because the land owner not only owns the land on either side of the creek but also the ground underneath it. so if you think you are safe cause you are standing in the water think again before you are hit with a warning ticket or a court date depending on which DNR officer sites you.
So i drive out along the ridge and head north. I get to a narrow deep cut in the creek with about 2 feet of shelf ice on either side. Staying low i duck my back cast between bare tree branches and under a bridge, keep my haul low to shoot it under the canopy and into a slit of slow water right next to a deep eddy. i let the fly sink and strip strip strip…up out the dark rolls a large colored up brownie; a swing and a miss. “Holy shit!” I think to myself. No worries and long as my hook doesnt sting these bastards they will come back for more. so i make about 5 more casts and strip… strip… set!!!! This 16 inch Buck put up a fun fight in close quarters. I constantly tried to keep him out of the root line where they love to run and get you hung. Finally tired out i slid him up onto the ice to hand. a few snaps with the iphone and i slid him on his belly back into the drink. What a beautiful fish. I cannot get enough of these Indiana spring creek browns. No matter where i go, and i’ve lived in the mountains of colorado, I have not caught prettier trout.
With that trout under my belt i had built a little confidence for the day and thought it fitting to get at a few more holes where i felt some large post spawn fish could be hanging out. Confidence is a huge factor for me in fishing. If you arent confident that what you are doing is the right thing to do you are prob wasting your time. I have put years into following these fish through the system so do your homework and understand brown trout behavioral patterns and water parameters, and you will get those bucket list fish to hand.
I had hit a few more holes but to no avail, so i was headed home and i thought of one more spot, a spring feeder into the system that definitely hinders the advancement of trout any further a small pipe that feeds under a road pumps crazy amounts of water into a deep pool only 10 feet across that bottlenecks into shallow gravel beds. i have only caught small resident fish in this pool in the past but how else would those little guys get there but to be born there by a big fat slooter of a brown. And i was right second swing through the current and whammy! i hooked up and my rod doubled over. the fish did nothing but throw huge head shakes as i dragged her to my feet not allowing her to get any momentum to take me into the downed timber. At this point im like “wtf this is a huge fish!” and i have no net so i literally grabbed the line and flopped her up onto the snow. luckily i hadnt changed out my 16 lb fluorocarbon tippet that i used in florida. It was a stupid move and i could have lost the fish but it was either get really wet or take my chances. i wouldnt advice anyone to do what i did, but looking back at it i did what i had to do. i tried taking my time with a fish this size earlier this year and she spit at my feet and swam off so i knew i had to make big moves and quick. Her belly was all post spawn loose skin and at her peek weight she must have been a sight for sore eyes. Still pushing 20 inches this fish gave me a great memory i will never forget, in a creek that i have paid my dues in since i was 8 years old.