Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: southwestern wisconsin
Thanked 134 Times in 71 Posts
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Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
It was the 20th of December 2008. Wisconsin small stream trout season has been closed since September 30th. I had some time so I decided a scouting mission was in order. I like scouting during the closed season due to the weeds being down and it is much easier to walk along the streams because of it.
I was scouting a very small stream in Southwestern Wisconsin. Almost all of the streams in the area dump in to the Kickapoo River. I was very close to where it went in so I decided it warranted a look.
The Kickapoo River was quite clear and I could see the structure at the confluence. There was a prominent step drop as the stream emptied in. I stored the information away for another day. It looked like “Big Trout” water.
Season opened like it always does on the first Saturday of March. I had so many different places to check out from winter scouting that I did not make it back to this promising water until late May.
My buddy Joe “Dirt” Chadwick and I fish a lot together. I had him in tow this day and he is in really good shape so a jaunt through the tall weeds to the promising water was a 15 minute walk. We usually take turns on holes. It was Joe’s turn to hit this hole first.
Joe’s second offering was taken by a 16ish inch brown. Joe and I jaw at one another a lot when we fish. It is friendly banter. He was talking smack and looking at me while he battled the trout. All of a sudden the water next to his trout erupted and his trout was pushed sideways about 14 inches. Joe saw from my stare and expression that something odd was going on in the water. Joe adjusted his view to the trout on his line. The intruder was gone and Joe saw nothing. The trout was still flailing away and Joe continued his
landing of the trout. We have an unwritten rule that when the other has a trout on that needs netting the other takes care of it without needing to be told to do it.
I waded in to the Kickapoo a little ways. I decided it was not a good day to go swimming. That step drop was directly in front of me. Joe started up his banter again. He said: “Old man get your fanny in there and net that fish.” “What spooked you earlier?” I reached for my net and started to reach out to net the trout. I told Joe I believe a big northern has tried to eat your trout on the line. The trout was not ready to be netted and made another run. It tired out and Joe had it on its side coming in. The trout was about 15 feet from my net and the water exploded again.
We both saw the intruder this time. It was about a 32 inch female brown. The dominant trout in the hole was pushing the 16 incher sideways. This trout was the deepest small stream trout I have ever seen. I guessed it at 10-13 pounds. The attack ceased as quickly as it began. We tried to entice another hit but it was fruitless.
June came and went. We walked out to that hole a minimum of 15 times in June and never caught another trout. We varied our times of fishing and methods and still no hook ups. We decided to give the hole a 2 week rest and to have at it again. The weather was really hot and the main branch of the Kickapoo water temperatures was up. We did not want to land any trout and have them die due to lack of oxygen in the water because of the heat wave we had been having.
Yesterday we met up at the 4th of July fireworks. We read each other’s mind. We were on for the 5th of July. After a short give and take conversation it was decided I would have first crack at the big female. Joe had caught an absolute monster last July and it was my turn to try for a monster.
I called Joe at 3am this morning to make sure he was out of bed. He was not so I gave him a hard time and told to get in gear and meet me. I told him to wear drab colors and to give us every chance of catching the monster. Joe got there at 4am. He was dressed in his pajama bottoms. They were brown plaid. He had some odd looking hoody on. He didn’t even have waders on. He had white low top tennis shoes on. I asked him if he was in some new type of “Urban Angler” attire. He said he could get wet if it was needed. He told me that the big female had left and we weren’t going to catch it anyway.
Fishing in the dark is not my favorite outing. When trout get really large they turn in to nocturnal feeders. Every step in the pitch dark seems labored. Even flat ground becomes treacherous. It seemed like it took forever to get out there. We made it out there in 13 minutes and I was in place and casting. It was 4:13 am. It was pitch black out. We had picked this morning because of the imminent full moon. There was a full moon but the fog was really thick and it covered the moon. We hoped that would help us see and full moons usually meant primary feeding periods. . It was really eerie being out there in the dark. It made me question why we had gotten up so early.
At 4:43 am I had exhausted every option I had planned to use. The tall weeds had made the casting experience less than enjoyable on the edge of the darkness and one step from treading water in the main branch of the Kickapoo River. . I told Joe he could bat clean up. We looked in my box and there was one big fly in there that was not wet. It was a dumbbell eyed size 2 black bunny leech with red in the collar. He told me to stand back and watch the “Urban Angler” work his magic.
The bunny was quite heavy so he decided to make a 2 part cast at it. He got it out part of the way and then kind rolled it out there like spey casting.
Joe was able to get about 5 feet more distance on his cast more than I had been doing. He ripped the leech through the area with long fast strips. The next thing we knew his pole was bent in half and the fish was screaming upstream in the Kickapoo River. We could not see the fish. It did a couple jumps and we heard the splashes when it came back to earth. We could not see due to the dark and fog. We were talking as he battled it. I told him big browns don’t usually jump like that. They hunker down and do power runs. This one was doing power runs and trying to touch the sky. We both thought he had a northern on. We made sure we had the correct tool for the job before we came. There was a fresh 2X leader on. The Kickapoo is quite wide in the main channel. Luckily there were no down trees in the water. The battle took forever
The battle in the fog was surreal. The line lurched different directions and at times strained and looked like it wanted to explode. Every time Joe gained a little line on the fish, it ran off another length of line in to the darkness. I kept repeating to Joe: “Keep pressure on it.” “You have a new leader on and it is holding.” Finally the trout tired and came towards us. The darkness and fog parted and the defeated leviathan came to my net. It was not a northern. It was not the female brown we had seen a month before. It was a gigantic hook jawed male brown. We both were giddy with the feeling of a battle won. The mammoth female will have to wait for another day.
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: salt lake city Utah
Thanked 92 Times in 62 Posts
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now thats one ugly bunny leach, glad it worked out for Joe, cant' wait to see a pic of that big female in your net.
Fishing: the art of loitering in or near a body of water.