The high waters and colder than usual temperatures have made fishing tough lately. I haven’t had much luck at all, even in my go-to spots.
On Friday I stopped by my favorite spot on Salt Creek to see the flooding, and I was amazed to say the least. Instead of a small, slow-moving creek I found a raging torrent of water. I knew it would only be temporary, but I found myself liking all the new riffles and strucuture in the higher water. A much more interesting creek, more like a river.
For comparison, here’s the same spot just two days later after the water went down a few feet. It’s still flooded, but is closer to what it normally looks like. You can see the opposite bank!
When I took that first picture on Friday, there was a small puddle on the asphalt path, and I noticed something in the half inch of water. It was a small green sunfish.
I picked it up, and realized it was still alive- struggling to breathe, it’s gills pulsing, looking for water. It felt strange, and I realized the outisde of it was partially frozen due to the frigid wind. It must have been swimming around the edge of the creek when the water went down, and found itself trapped.
I placed it carefully in the water of the creek, and held it there until it revived. After a few moments it came to and darted away. I don’t know if I really saved its life, but after all fish I’ve poked with hooks, it was the least I could do.
Saturday Leo and I hit the local greenie pond. The water had already come down from its flood levels, but the air was cold and the wind was fierce. Leo threw spinning gear and I tried to find them with my flies. It was tough. Eventually I saw some dimpling on the surface, and moved closer so I could cast to the activity. A few casts later I had a fat little greenie in hand- it ate my tiny #12 reverse-hackle black and white fly just under the surface. It had a huge belly! Not sure if those were eggs or a large meal of bugs.
I caught another one, but that was it. It was a lot colder than when we left the house, and we were both freezing.
The next day we were at Busse- first stop was the WWD. I couldn’t believe how high and cloudy the water was. Usually it’s possible to see hundreds of little fish stacked up, but we couldn’t see anything. The only activity was other anglers tossing lures into the dark water.
We moved up to the dam, and tried fishing in the pool there. The water was a torrent, and there were giant eddies circling in what is normally the shore. We worked as much of it as we could, with both flies and spinning lures (I even busted out my 4 piece spinning rod) but didn’t get any fish. Leo caught a few weights and some rusty hooks. Remind me to avoid swimming there.
That afternoon, as the Smerglias were on their way back to Ohio, I headed back out to redeem myself. I fished four bodies of water in a couple of hours; I threw flies and lures, alternating between my fly rod and spinning gear. I had a heck of a time finding fish, but I enjoyed the having both rods with me.
My last stop was a small pond next to an office building, one that strangely does not have any “no fishing” signs. I’ve been yelled at before, but there were no cars in the parking lot and I doubted anybody was on duty. I’d caught green sunfish there before, and hoped to find them again with my flies.
It was the same story: I couldn’t find the fish, or they weren’t interested. I have a theory that there are many more fish in our waters than we know; I have no doubt many fish saw my lures and flies but weren’t in the mood. Or I was fishing too quickly, or too slowly, or the lures were too big, or the flies were too small, or I was using the wrong color, or I spooked them…
Then, just below the setting sun across the pond, I saw tiny dimples on the surface fifty yards away. I crept the shoreline, hoping to sneak up on what I imagined were feeding fish.
I was right- I waited for a dimple, cast right to the ripples, and saw something swipe at my fly. It was a tentative swipe, but a hit no less. I switched from a #6 wet fly to a #12 wet fly tied on a scud hook, my tiny version of a march brown. I got plenty of hits, but the fish wouldn’t fully grab the fly, and I couldn’t set the hook.
I noticed that if I pulled my fly line aggressively off the water, they would stop feeding for about 45 seconds. Turns out green sunfish can get spooked, but not for long. I realized I needed to fish more quietly, more stealthily.
Finally I was able to set the hook; I felt a small weight on my line, and pulled it in with my hand. I thought I saw a tiny fish on my fly, but then it was gone.
A while later I switched to a fly with an even smaller profile, a tiny dog hair scud.
First cast, a fish slammed into it and hooked itself! I pulled it in and admired a very small but feisty green sunfish. Thinking I figured it out, I tossed it back and kept fishing.
That was the only fish of the day. Soon the wind picked up and it was too cold to keep fishing for such tiny fish. I headed home, and like the end of all my trips lately, I pined for warmer weather and better fishing.