It has been some time since I posted any fishing reports. If you have been reading my blog for awhile you know that I fish 12 months out of the year, every year, but I have to confess there are other distractions in the spring. I absolutely love spring turkey hunting and I try to get my full “fix” of that every spring. So, while the turkeys are gobbling, you will see fewer fishing reports from me. But I did spend some time on the water last week.
My co-worker Greg Wagner had some Omaha TV guys lined up last week for a trip up to the Royal area, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/2011/05/media-notes/ . Greg asked me to go along and help guide them around. I believe the footage they shot will end up being shown in several segments in the coming weeks. Of course one thing we wanted to do was show them some of the fishing opportunities in that area especially the East Branch of Verdigre Creek. For those of you who do not know, there is a stretch of the East Branch of Verdigre Creek that supports trout year-round. There is quite a bit of public access to that water and we regularly stock catchable-size rainbow trout there. In addition there is a healthy population of naturally-reproducing brown trout.
In my experience media folks are always on a deadline and our trip last week ended up being cut even shorter than we expected. So, we did not have much time to fish Verdigre Creek and the cameras were rolling–they needed fish on film! Three of us scattered out to fish and I headed downstream. Now most of you know that I can fly-fish, but my philosophy has always been to “use the right tool for the job”. If fly-fishing is the most effective way of catching fish, then I want to be fly-fishing, but if I believe I can be more effective using some other gear, then hand me the other gear. We had a short time to fish and the pressure was on to catch fish; no, I did not grab the fly gear. If that makes me less of an angler, well, sorry.
The creek looked great and water levels are very good right now. I quietly wandered downstream a few yards and spotted a likely-looking spot where a dead-fall created a bit of a hole. Drifted a bait in there one time and Voila, “Fish On”! We had a rainbow for the camera. After releasing that fish, I could not get any more fish from that spot, not unusual on small streams, so I headed down the the next likely-looking spot. Again there were some tree branches in the water and I could see a fish sitting in the current just ahead of one tree branch. A couple, three more drifts and I had another fish on–this time a bigger fish. I have not fished the East Branch of Verdigre Creek a lot, but I have spent some time there, have caught a bunch of fish there and this fish was my first Verdigre Creek brown trout and it was the largest trout I have caught from Verdigre Creek!
That fish was gorgeous. The red spots on its side were brilliant red. That one fish would have made my whole trip even if I had not caught anything else. Oh, that brownie measured 15 inches and it was also released.
Again after catching one fish from a spot the rest of the fish were spooked, so I slipped down to one more deadfall which had the best-looking hole I had a chance to fish. Again I could see one fish holding in front of the log and could not believe I did not hook up on the first drift. It took three or four drifts but finally I saw a fish dart out and take my bait and believe it or not I had another brown trout! This one was not as large as the first, but still a nice fish.
Back into the creek with that second brown trout, and that was all the time we had to fish. I told Greg that it was really, really hard for me to walk away from the creek, but we had more places to see and more footage to shoot. At least it was “mission accomplished” once we had some Verdigre Creek trout caught for the camera.
By the way, if any of you fly anglers are still reading this after I admitted to NOT using the fly rod. I did see some midges coming off and I actually saw a couple of fish rising for midges. In fact I believe they even ignored my bait because they were selecting for the midges.
One more observation: In the little bit of time we had to fish the creek, I caught 3 trout and the other two guys caught zero. Both of them went wading right into the middle of the creek and then drifted baits downstream from where they were standing. I will always tell you that trout and not smart by any means; in small streams they are very easy to catch AS LONG AS THEY ARE NOT SPOOKED. If you spook small stream trout, forget about it, you ain’t gonna catch ‘em on any bait. Instead of wading right into the middle of the creek, I spent my time sneaking along the banks and then stalking up to the water when I saw a spot that I thought would hold fish. With a natural bait and no weight I was then able to drift a bait right to feeding fish and they were easy to catch. At times I have been laughed at for wearing camouflage while fishing small streams, but I believe that also helps. If you fish small streams like you are still-hunting whitetail deer, you will catch a lot more fish.
We also took some time while we were there to tour our Grove Trout Rearing Station, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/Fishing/programs/hatcheries/fish_hatcheries_Grove_Trout.asp . We watched the guys feed the fish, and then load up a few to be stocked in the creek.
Let me brag on my fellow Fisheries Division employees. Of course Greg and I knew the quality of people we work with, but the TV guys were very impressed with the way the hatchery looked and the knowledge and professionalism of the staff. They were all ready for the TV cameras to show up, and everything went like clockwork while we were there. On a tight schedule, on a deadline, the media guys very much appreciated that. Steve, Joe, and Dennis, you did us proud!
I will not bore you with the whirlwind details of the rest of the day. We got some footage of Grove Lake, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/fishing/programs/lakemapping/pdfs/grove.pdf , and Ashfall Fossil Beds, http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/parks/guides/parksearch/showpark.asp?Area_No=279 , while we were there, and that brings up the last point I want to make. The Royal area is another beautiful part of the state where there is a lot to see and do. A person could easily plan a weekend or longer and not have enough time to pursue all the hunting, fishing and sight-seeing opportunities that exist in the area. If you have never been there, you need to check it out!