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8-9-03 - Black Earth Creek is up, pretty clear, and fish were hitting by the shoreline!
WOW, look at that rainbow! Look at all the pink and red! Stunning!
Another look at the rainbow to give you an idea of size.
Mark P. worked the banks hard with his secret fly...kinda like an Elk Hair Caddis but different (and that's all I'm saying!).
Another fish on BEC, a small brown.
Upstream in Cross Plaines...I think I like it a bit more up here.
Looking upstream, I now understand the "Watercress" that you hear about so much. Downstream doesn't have that.
The gift trout that carried on feeding mear feet away from me..finally I took the "easy fish".
McKeawn Springs; the upper spring is low, full of algae, and not flowing down to the pond below!
The lower spring looks more like a scum pond than anything else.
Lucky fish...blindly casting at dusk and I managed yet another small Paradise Springs Brown! Fantastic!

8-09-03 - Black Earth Creek, Revisited...

Waters Fished: Black Earth Creek, McKeawn Springs, Paradise Springs
Fish Caught: 3/14 on BEC, 1/1 Paradise Springs
Outing Date: 8-09-03
Weather: Partly Cloudy
Air Temp: upper 70's
Water Temp: BEC = 62F
Water Level: up from my first visit, appears normal
Water Color: moderately clear
Fish Species: Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout, Brook Trout
Pattern Fished: Griffith's Gnat + a few other misc patterns
Pattern Color: see above
Fishing Quality: BEC was markedly better than my first visit, but you still had to work for them!

As a general rule, if I have a totally sucky outing like my first time on Black Earth Creek, I won't go back. However, there is another general rule, which is that if someone invites me to join them for fishing I seldom turn them down, and that was the case this weekend. Mark P., a fly fisherman who I met on the Pike this spring, had dropped me an email suggesting I join him for an outing on BEC; I made a promise that I'd at least give it another chance and this was my opportunity.

Mark is definitely a veteran in my opinion, the first thing that tipped me off was that he'd be starting in the early morning! Me being the late riser, I suggested we meet at Salmo Pond at noon; and that's precisely what we did. Mark had been out for much of the morning and landed several nice fish...that's always a nice thing to hear upon arrival!

We got on the water shortly after noon; Mark suggested the fly-only section of BEC where he had done well this morning. He also suggested that we walk in and work our way upstream (I tend to be more of a downstream guy but I wanted to watch & learn Mark's method, it never hurts to try something different). Turns out I had been father downstream in this section than Mark had, so between the two of us we knew this stretch pretty well. My first mental note was that the water level was up a good FOOT from where it had been a couple months ago, so many of the holes were actually HOLDING WATER now ;) Things were going to be different.

We dropped in at a bend and after several minutes of sitting quietly drifting nymphs, the risers we had spooked came back and started feeding. I tried drifing the Tucker Nymph (got a hit but didn't connect) as well as a mini MP's Antron (again, another hit but no dice). I "Treed" those as well as a few other dries (Parachute Adams, Elk Hair Caddis) and opted to go small, as I still could not see what the fish were hitting on. A Griffith's Gnat was the trick; on the first cast I got to see a fish loom up from the deep and gape wide to inhale my fly...damn reflexes I pulled it right out of his mouth.

It turned out that the best method here was to pull the gnat under and swing it through the feeders...when it was all said and done I landed my first BEC Rainbow Trout having gone a total of 1/5 in the about a NICE LOOKING RAINBOW!!! Loads of red & pink & purple coloration and probably only 11" long!

We worked our way upstream over the course of the afternoon; Mark landed a couple browns but I made it all the way back to the bridge having some nice hits but nothing landed; 1/11 at this point! I finally connected again with a smaller brown to bring my numbers to 2/12! In all fairness that's a horrible "to-net" rate, that easily could've been a 6 fish day. So in some respects BEC has redeamed itself.

I took a break after casting like a madman under the bridge at a large brown Mark was sighting from above....after a while frustration and gereral fatigue kills my casting ability. It was about 4:30, and I had some other areas on my list to check out. Mark wanted to go through the fly-only section one more time, so we parted ways and I started driving. I eventually ended up right in the heart of Cross Plaines, a couple miles upstream where the water is more narrow and clearer.

I wasted MOST of my time there casting to a riser at the tail end of a pool, missing one hit early on, when all the while a fish was rising less than 7 feet away from me...the only problem was he was under a tree that maybe offered 1 foot of clearance below to the surface. Eventually I got smart and pulled in just about all my line AND leader; simply laid the fly out on the surface with maybe 2 feet of tippet off the end of my line and scored a nice little brown. That's 3/14, a fair day on BEC in my opinion.

So it was about 5:30 and I felt a tug, the tug of Paradise Springs calling me back, so I left the Madison area and headed east! After a few wrong turns I got all turned around and ended up coming from the north instead of south, passing right by McKeawn Springs...I figured what the heck, make a stop and see some was already 7:00 at this point!

I was rather shocked to find that the Upper Springs were extremely low and weren't even connected to the larger lower pond. Hitting the lower pond I noticed that it too was low, and from the looks of it, not in very good shape. I only noticed smaller fish in the shallows, mostly bass fry. I figured I'd try a small yellow popper; didn't connect with anything and only saw one bass moving around. Overall, the state of the spring pond was very disheartening.

Another angler showed up with a fly rod and I kinda found out that he was here to target Trout; I laughed (yes, there are trout, sometimes, in the upper spring...maybe...) I suggested he head over to Paradise with me; he had already been there and found out just how hard the fishing was! I convinced him that with some patience and the right tools, he took could catch a fish or two.

The angler lagged a bit, I got there early enough to find a couple folks alread fishing and quickly moved on to one of several other "alternate spots". It was getting pretty dark (there's hills and trees that cut the sun off early) and I was low to the water, so unlike most days I wasn't sight fishing; instead blindly casting to rises and promising looking spots on the water.

In a matter of only 10 casts I hooked up with a nice fish that jumped several times; thought I had a brookie but it turned out to be a respectable brown! The folks on the pier were thrilled to see a fish caught (heck I think they even took my picture)!

The other angler from McKeawn showed up a bit later after I had already released this guy; we fished for a bit but darkness rapidly approached. I broke off a couple flies and when I couldn't see enough to retie, I called it a night.


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