Thursday, October 09, 2008

Ooooh, ah-hah, I'm takin' a walk... - John Prine

Found myself behind the wheel of a one-eyed Saturn on Monday morning – driving south to a stream I’d never had the privilege of meeting. What happened was this: some time ago – maybe summer 2005 – I was standing in one of the upper reaches of the Vermillion River with a Marsh-McBirney velocity meter in hand when I was approached by an unidentified person. He asked me if I’d seen any trout, and he proceeded to tell me about those that he’d seen in this particular location… okay, yeah, yeah, 0.89 ft/sec, 0.82 ft/sec tick by on the meter and I pay a little attention. Then out of the blue he starts to tell me about some smallmouth he’d caught recently on a certain stream that was way in the hell far from where we happened to be standing. “In fact,” he said, “I’ve got some pictures in my car.” Kind of strange but I like to trust human beings so I took a look. He did indeed have pictures of flowing blue waters and smallmouth bass in classic grip-and-grin layout. The background that I remember was a nice corner hole with a stump on the outside bend. He flat out told me not only the name of the stream, but the exact road crossing. That went in the notes. I knew I’d get there one day… wasn’t in a rush though. Finally made it on Monday.

The water is so low around here right now, I expected the fish to be pretty concentrated in deeper holes. I think they were, although I didn’t fully verify that. I encountered three types of water: shallow riffles that were really too shallow to hold any fish at this point, long, still and deep pools that probably held fish but were skipped over by me due to boringness factor, and plunge pools. The plunge pools scored all the fish. Just swinging a BWCA style chartreuse and black conehead leech down from above… letting it fall down the riffle and into the pool. The action was not intense, but enough to keep a guy going. Likewise for the fish. I know there were some biggies in there, but I caught only fish of moderate size. Most were smaller than moderate. A few went airborne though, which was pretty fantastic. Rolled a beautiful brown trout too, but no connection. The yellow belly was particularly bright. Smallie and brown combo water is what it is…

Anyway – it was quite a morning. Involuntary smiles – which are the best kind – when I looked on some of the images you see below in the pics. Fishing a stream that’s about as skinny as Tayshaun Prince, at the foot of a looming cliff…. Walking on limestone slabs and then picking through head-sized cobble… and finally feeling a resistance and watching a smallmouth bass launch. Pretty good. Some would say really good. The sun did shine down and the leaves were demanding a look. What a place. I’ve only been there once and I can say that for sure. There are many gems like this down here in our southeast corner. The more a guy walks these streams the more he comes to realize that there is in fact a lot out there to keep – a lot that’s worth fighting for if it comes to it. It’s a pastime and an education and a love.


Blogger Kevin Marsh said...

What were you doing with the Marsh-McBirney velocity meter?

Kevin Marsh

6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn that looks like fun. Its been only 11 days since I last swung my fly rod. I'm missing it bad. Thinking about hitting up Iowa this weekend. We shall see. Beautiful spot perhaps one day I will stumble on it.

8:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

suhhhh-wheeeet. It's been a week since the cork was pried from my hands. I'm jonesing and will have to live through your adventures.

nice find.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Man, that creek reminds me of about twenty streams I used to fish back in VA...especially the Maury, way up. Something essentially cool about a small smallie stream (and a large trout stream, come to think of it.)

PS have you read Pale Morning Done? Just went back to it again the other day...raw, new, but hits the right notes.


6:17 PM  
Blogger Wendy Berrell said...

Kevin: measuring discharge. Are you somehow linked to that company? I see your last name there...

WFF: I know Iowa is open all year. I hear it's good - let me know what you find.

JP: you've got good reason to lay up for a while. Hope things are going well for you and yours.

David: Love that stream, and I know there are many more like it. Where are you located? I have not read that book.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I live in Plymouth. I used to live in Virginia, smallmouth territory...I was thinking specifically of Craig Creek and the South Branch of the 'Doah before it died, and the upper Maury, and some others.

Pale Morning Done by Jeff Hull.

I'm trying to get Jeff to drop in or share something on my fly fishing literary blog for November. That's at

shameless plug


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