Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December: State park waters

This past weekend was spent at Montauk State Park with Ralph Eichholz, Warren Wilkerson and Rod Pennington. There was a state MTFA business meeting on Saturday at noon, so we rented a cabin for two days; leaving three days to fish.

Dec 2, 2011: Friday morning, we moved into cabin 12, put items away and took to the water. Warren and Rod started below the lodge and fished to the dam. I started at the dam and worked the water up stream. Ralph came in later that afternoon and did not find us; so he drove up to the spring and fished the upper water. There was a Baetis hatch with the trout taking them cautiously, Rod fished with a white and cream dry fly and had better success than my BWO. Warren fished with a zebra midge and did well before breaking off. We did not see Ralph until after 4 PM; he fished with soft hackles and did well. He tried a rainbow of colors with the trout willing to take them all. He was thrilled with his success. That evening, we pan fried some quail that Rod and his son bagged earlier this year, with mash potatoes and peas. Dessert was a cake my wife sent. There was more than enough for everyone, with some quail left over. (It was served with breakfast on Sunday).

Dec 3,2011: Saturday, after breakfast we again went to the water. Ralph, Rod and I started upstream of the lodge. Warren went to the dam. There were fish moving on top with little success taking them with a dry. Upstream 50 yards, I saw a trout over 24 inches, giving chase to other trout. I took out a meat and potato fly and swung the fly in front of him and then stripped it quick. The trout gave chase four times and took the fly once only to feel his teeth and not setting the hook. It was after 11 AM, I had to stop for some time to conduct the state MTFA meeting.

After the meeting Ralph had to return to Springfield, Rod, Warren and I went back to the fly’s only area. I moved up stream farther that the day before. There were a half dozen fishermen moving down stream throughout the afternoon, with little interference. Again, it was hard fishing a take with many of the trout hitting short or I was too impatient setting the hook too quickly…hard to figure.

I quit at the sound of the horn, 4 PM and walked back to the cabin. Rod and Warren had already returned and out of their waders. That evening we had Alaska fish, coleslaw and fries. The rain was starting to fall and it rained through the night.

Dec 4, 2011: Sunday, we had our breakfast, packed out our gear and turned in the keys. We drove to the other side of the river. Warren decided to give the catch and release area a try. Rod and I walked back to the water and fished the same general area. I moved much faster up stream wanting to fish familiar water and find trout more willing to take a dry. Rod was fishing the weed banks and taking trout with a cream and white hackle dry, I was trying everything in my box; finding a few trout with a caddis. I saw two trout near 24 inches moving behind a down tree with a washed out trough. I switched flies and tied on a black jig with one of the trout giving chase and taking the fly.

The rain fell for a few hours and stopped after 1 PM. Rod had left the water and had to return to Springfield. I had moved up past the down tree and saw more Baetis duns on top. There were a few trout giving chase and I had only a few small flies left. Here I had some moderate success taking trout with a dry fly. The large sycamore tree is a roost for a hundred buzzards/vultures. The ground under the tree was white from the droppings and had a distinct odor.

I fished until 3:50 PM and decided it was last cast last fish for the trip and walked back to the truck. I found Warren fishing in the catch and release area, where he had a good day of catching trout.

Everyone had a great trip. Ralph has a blog with a favorable report of his experiences. I will plan another trip this winter back to Montauk.

DEC 9, 2011: A trip back to Bennett Spring S.P. The day was cool, the radio reported a temperature of 33° F at 11 AM while driving I-44. The sky was overcast with a light breeze. I did find several cooperative trout; a dozen above the dam. The wind was blowing upstream and blew the Baetis mayflies back into the slough. After 2 PM, the hatch had diminished. I moved to the stone bridge and fished back to the dam. The trout were more cooperative and I took trout to 4 PM; I had a trout on when the horn blew. I finished with 34 trout to hand for the afternoon. I did see eagles flying high, deer and turkeys on the drive home. There were maybe a dozen fishermen seen for the time I fished, for most of the time I fished with no one in sight. Good day to fish.

Dec 16, 2011: It was a cloudless day with early temperatures in the mid-twenties. When I arrived Bennett Spring State Park at 10 AM, it was already above freezing with a predicted high of forty-five degrees. A student from MSU, Zach Schmitz met me at the park. Zach had finished finals at school and had a day to fish before returning to his family’s home in Kansas City. This was Zach first experience winter fishing and has some concerns keeping warm.

We were in the water by 10:30 AM; a mild wind was blowing upstream. There were a small number of midges (white) and small mayflies (BWO) present in the slough in the aqua vegetation. I started with a #18 caddis imitation just to try something different and made two casts and released two small trout. Zach fished with some #20 BWO patterns. We both found some cooperative trout taking flies and fished the area above the dam until 2:30 PM. We walked down stream to the stone bridge and worked back to the dam. The light was very bright in our eyes and it was difficult to get the trout to see or take our flies. We caught a few more trout and finished at 4 PM.

Zach had a good day of fishing and managed to keep the cold away. It was a decent day of fishing with a fair hatch.

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