Sunday I was given a hall pass to get out and do some fishing. From about 2:00 till 7:00, was the agreed-upon arrangement. The weather was perfect. Dropping pressure, clouds rolling in, but still warm enough for fishing in my “shirt sleeves”.
In Februaury a scouting trip took place, with a visit made to Smith-Conley Creek (Hwy 18-151 to Hwy K south, to Hwy H northwest, I think). The stream was chocked full of fish in February. I thought for sure it would be the same story now. I cast carefully into the holes we’d looked at earlier in the winter, expecting there to be a bite on the line. Cast after cast, nothing. I decided to walk along the stream to see if I could even make a fish move, but there weren’t any. They were gone. The only creature in the stream was a medium-sized snapping turtle, a fierce-looking bugger. Maybe he ate all the fish? It’s a mystery. If anyone has theories about where the fish went, I’d love to hear them.
I turned the car around to head back toward 18-151, and decided to stop at a pretty stretch of water that turns out to be the headwaters of the Pecatonica River. I walked along the fencerow west and ducked under the barbed wire about 500 yards downstream from the road. Again, careful casting into lovely scoured out holes, bend pools, riffles. But again, nothing. I know this is undesignated water, but not 500 yards upstream, two class II trout streams meet to form the Pecatonica.
Back to the car, back to the north I went. Time’s-a-wasting. Gotta get some fish!
I drove north along Hwy K, north of 18-151, past Blue Mounds Park, looking to my right the whole time, following the West Branch of Blue Mounds Creek. I turned off on a side road and parked at the bridge crossing over the creek. Small water, but a few nice holes. I laced my fly through the canopy of tree branches and got some good drifts through deep pools, but nothing.
North again, along K, I pulled off on a road that looked vaguely familiar. My uncle Tony Kirch had taken me to this spot the very first time I’d ever gone after trout. We caught some nice specimens that day drifting night crawlers through this section. The wind was whipping, the sun was getting lower. 5:30 already! Shit! I drifted some bead-head nymphs, woolly buggers, a streamer. Nothing!!!
Back in the car, north to 14 and that old reliable friend, Black Earth Creek. Park car, run across cornfield, fish. Zilch. 6:30, time to go home.
On the drive home I reconciled my skunking with the idea that “it wouldn’t be as fun to catch a trout if you catch them like panfish”. Right? Whatever lets you sleep at night.