Summertime, and the fishing is easy, right? Wrong! At least, not south of the Mason-Dixon line, and
not in the local lakes. Not for flyfisherpersons, anyway. Not unless you enjoy fishing 20-30 feet deep
with a full-sinking line, which I personally detest. I'd rather pick up my spinning rod and plastic worms.
So what's a dedicated flyfisherperson to do? Get wet, that's what! Put on an
old pair of jeans, some suitable wading shoes, and hit the creeks! This time of year, the water is
warm enough to wet wade, the temperature is hot enough to make it refreshing, and the creek fish
nearly always bite. What more could a person ask?
Where can you find a suitable creek, you ask? Well, the country is full of
them. Obtain a county map from whatever source is handy, (real-estate offices,
chambers-of-commerce, etc.) and start prospecting. Remember a creek doesn't have to be large to contain
some outsized fish. My second largest smallmouth ever came out of a creek that I can jump across
nearly anywhere along it's length.
Sometimes during this type of fishing, I tend to wander rather far from
the nearest road, and just as far from my vehicle, so a few items should be considered essential.
I carry a water bottle, a good knife, an apple or granola bar or two, just a few things to make
life easier. Remember, the weather is apt to be hot, don't get dehydrated. And no surface
stream in the country is safe for drinking. Giardia can ruin much more than just your day!
For fishing, I favor a short 6 wt. rod, no more than 7 feet long. There is
usually a mixed bag of fish available, and I find myself using flies from small dries to medium
bass bugs. The 6 wt. seems to handle this diversity of sizes better for me than any other choice.
Casts are usually short, and quarters close, so a long rod isn't needed and can actually be a
handicap. I choose a floating weight-forward or bass bug taper line, perfect presentation
isn't usually critical, and I prefer my rods to load quickly for the typical short casts.
You can find yourself walking long distances, so travel as light as possible. I
carry one large flybox, one spare leader and two spools of tippet material. This pretty well
covers all my needs. No vest, no chest pack. If I carry a bag of any sort, it's a small leather
lady's purse of a pouch style that holds everything I need. The ultimate wading apparel is a
pair of bib overalls. The straps hold them up nicely without need of a belt, and there are
plenty of pockets to contain all your gear. You might want to place your wallet in a ziplock
plastic bag for waterproofing, and don't forget the hat or cap. The sun has no mercy on
a bare head!
I mentioned a mixed bag of fish a few lines back, and it's a fact!
In my favorite creek, I've caught at least one of the following: catfish (channel and flathead),
bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and Kentucky), bluegill, crappie, rock bass (goggle-eye),
suckers (white & yellow), carp, gar, shellcrackers, walleye, pickerel, warmouth bass,
sunfish, green sunfish, and probably several others that I don't remember at the moment.
Fact is, you never know what's on the end of your line until you see it.
Thus, you need to be ready for every possibility. Impossible, yes, but that's why I advocate
the 6 wt. rod. The lighter weights are fun, but when a heavy fish strikes in one of these small
creeks, your chances of landing it are nearly nil with a light rod. If the fish runs, it will be
under a rock or in a root wad before you can blink.
Please, be careful about access. Don't trespass. Access to waters is
being cut off and contested at an alarming rate. Get permission to enter private property. If
you can't get permission to fish a stream on private land, look to public property. Most of the
countryside has some publicly owned land in easy driving distance, and there will usually be
a few streams available.
In summary, creeks provide a delightful alternative to fishing lakes or
larger rivers. Fish are plentiful, willing, and unsophisticated. They are also available in a
wide variety. There are some things to look out for, though. Stream bottoms are slick
and slips and falls can and do occur. I usually don't go alone. There are also snakes and
other hazards. I should hasten to add that I've never broken a leg, been snakebitten,
or been unable to return to my starting point under my own power, but why take chances?
In a way, this type of fishing is much like hunting. Tell someone where you will be, and
preferably, whether you will travel upstream or down. If you don't return home in a
reasonable length of time, you can be found in short order. So, when the weather heats
up, and the fishing slows down, remember the creeks. They can be very enjoyable in
"For the supreme test of a fisherman is not how many fish he has caught,
not ever how he was caught them, but what he has caught when he has caught no fish.
-John H. Bradley, Farewell Thou Busy World" - 1935