2-28-04 - @#$*(&@#$ INDIANA...I AM cursed.
Waters Fished: Little Calumet System
Fish Caught: 0.5 (that's right, 50% of 1 fish).
Outing Date: 2-28-04
Air Temp: 50's F
Water Temp: 40F in the AM rising to 43F at dusk
Water Level: Seems a bit higher than normal flows
Water Color: Green Tea, visibility 2-3 feet with polarized glasses
Fish Species: Steelhead, Brown Trout
Pattern Fished: MP's Antron
in Gray/Olive, MP's Holographic Tucker Nymph, MP's
Green Back Shiner Spey, Glo Bug in Blue with Orange Dot, White
Marabou Spey, MP's LED Moe Egg (Moe Egg with Glow Bead inside),
Randy's Black Rabbit Thing (what's the name Randy?!?!)
Pattern Color: N/A
Fishing Quality: I think in some respects being SKUNKED would have
been BETTER...at least Randy can say, "I didn't foul-land a
fair-hooked stinkin' rottin' crustin' brown".
I had a date to burn the last of my 2003 Indiana
License today...Randy Cochran and I would fish for steel. Got up
relatively early; can't find my Porter County Map so Randy gave
me phone directions to our meeting place (originally we were going
to meet at Creekside
Outfitters, but a miscommunication had him going straight to
the river...glad I checked my email in the morning!).
Now let me say up front, after returning home on
Saturday I emailed the quick synopsis of the day to my other fishin'
buddies. Sunday morning before I'm out the door, I have two emails
sitting in my inbox, both telling me that I have been fishing illegally
and HIGHLY suggested I not mention this outing.
What? MP fishin' illegally? Well
turns out fishin' a dropper fly (aka. dual rig) is probably not
legal in Indiana ON THE TRIBS (which have their own special regs).
And the thing is as soon as Dave & Bart emailed me, my memory
jogged to remember having a conversation about that with Dave about
a year ago. So I guess if the IDNR wants to come and fine me or
confiscate the equipment I was using that day, they have every right
to do so.
But then again, reading the regulations,
I have to draw a counter argument; I can go out there and fish a
lure that has two single or treble hooks (up to 6 hooks); if I fish
a large fly, i.e. a musky fly, which has two single hooks this is
legal. And in the construction of a musky fly, the second hook is
usually trailing from the first by heavy mono or wire ...how is
that different from a dropper fly?
Now the regs state I can only fish one artificial
bait, and every fly angler will concede that a dropper fly and a
lead fly are definitely different baits. We consider them different
baits because they are conjoined with a length of line. But then
how can the musky fly, consisting of two hooks conjoined by line,
be legal? Why do we consider the musky fly as one bait? The only
real difference between a musky fly with two hooks and a dual fly
rig might the distance of line between those two hooks, but then
again I've seen plenty of dropper flies tied 2-3 inches off the
lead fly (I maybe had 7-8" on my dual rig today).
I realise the intent of the law here...the one
single or treble hook restriction is really aimed against anglers
using dual rigs of bait (i.e. drifting two spawn sacs instead of
one). Looking at the law, and just being the idealist that I am,
I think the IDNR needs some clarification of the regs...specifically
fly gear (face it, we fish entirely differently than anglers using
sticktbaits, spinners, spoons or bait). Ideally, make the dual rig
legal...we all know WHY we use the dual rig...flies are not always
the ideal offering, and when "searching" it's common to
use a dual rig to figure out what's going to work that day. So I
may just have to take this up with the IDNR.
So Yeah, I tied on a dropper without even thinking
about it...it's legal in WI & IA, the two places where I fish
much more often. The rest of you who feel that I should be crucified
for openly admitting that I made a mistake, you can kiss my bass.
We all make mistakes...I'm not proud of this outting; it's arguably
the worst day I've ever spent on a river (although that has NOTHING
to do with my fishin' partner, Rcochran). I believe in honesty in
reporting, so you all still get to read about the day. Back to the
So probably an hour later than intended, I got
on the streams about 10:00 am. Didn't find Randy until 11:00 am
or so; he had started fishin' upstream of our access point while
I had decided to go down. When we finally met up we went for a hike
to try some secluded spots...it was a great day to be out but there
really wasn't any fish! Randy had a follow by a smaller fish, but
I left Randy upstream to come back to a pool that
"had the move" earlier, that is the surface was undulating
in the way a calm pool does when you spook a big fish. As I walked
up a guy below me shouted "fish on" and that's encouraging!
I looked at the tail of the pool on the far bank and there I spied
a large gray fish. SWEET! It must have seen me too, because it moved
from it's lie towards me. I looked up to see the progress in the
fight, and when I looked back the fish was nowhere to be seen! Meanwhile
the guys downstream landed a nice chrome steelie, medium size, probably
Probably two hours passed and I pretty much pounded
that pool. Randy showed up and gave it a few drifts..nothing. We
decided to head up to the cars for lunch which involved crossing
a bridge...as we peered down it suddenly became clear...this "white
rock" that had been sitting maybe 10 feet away from me was
no rock, it was a large salmonid with a white columnaris patch on
it's head! Now, I should state that I'm not 100% sure this fish
was the same one I had sighted before, but likely it was. I just
didn't notice any white patch on that original fish. Randy and I
kinda looked at each other...should we? Looking around and considering
all the bad luck all the other anglers were having, it was decided
that I would try for the fish while Randy spotted from above.
I had gone through many fly rotations in the morning;
by this point I had on a #8 gray with olive back MP's Antron and
a LED Moe #12 as the dropper. The fish was holding so CLOSE to me
that my first few casts were to the far side (not ideal)....as I
drifted past his tail I pulled in my line and tapped his back...the
fish cruised over to his prior far lie.
So Randy & I can both see where he is...2 or
3 casts in I get a good drift, subtle take, fish on...he swims back
towards me and my line is slack...fish off. Once again he takes
the lie about 10 feet away.
I opt to "high stick" it and this earns
me much better fly control. As I drift between myself and the fish,
he turns towards me, mouth agape, ready to crush the moe egg. Instantly
I bring back my rod tip to set the hook...and pull the fly right
out of his mouth before he ever has a chance to get it! Obviously
perturbed, the fish sits for a moment, then gives a few head shakes
AS IF he is hooked in the mouth and moves upstream...a nice bit
of confirmation to both Randy and myself that he was indeed hooked
fair on that first take and was still feeling the sting.
So we decide to grab lunch and come back to work
some areas that were currently occupied. 30 minutes later we're
back, Randy heads downstream while I have already spotted "Mr.
Crusty". It only took 5 or 6 controlled drifts and he again
fell for the LED moe...a head turn and he's on. I am pretty confident
it was a fair take...the Antron Bug was still upstream of his face
when he turned and I set the hook. Randy was immediately downstream,
saw the intial run, and also feels this fish was fighting fair.
So the fight is on and this fish already knows
what he's doing...he heads immediately down and across, I'm trying
to turn him with pressure to my left; this causes him to cut to
his left and head upstream, pulling my line under not one, but TWO
rocks...it takes me a moment to realize this has happened...I thought
he was just sitting at the tail of the pool dogging me. I only realize
what's up when I figure out that way too much fly line is still
peeling off my reel considering the tension is pointed at one static
spot. I'm stuck with my flyline being grated against rock and I
can't get it free. I move downstream to get a better angle, put
slack in the line, but I can't get it to drift downstream (and free
itself) because this fish is just continuing to tear upstream!
Randy comes to my rescue...he's been fishing the
entire time on the opposite shore and jumps in to free my line.
By this time I have backing out...that's 90 feet of fly line and
probably 10 feet of backing in the water. As Randy frees my line
I notice that the fish is BOILING at the surface only 20 feet upstream
from me. What has happened is that this fish has run a circle around
the pool, dragging my line into everything including a downed tree....GREAT
(that' a sarcastic "GREAT")!
I take up what slack I can, at least the butt of
my fly line is now back on the reel, and now I set to task trying
to free myself from the log that's drapped across half the pool!
All the while the fish is still on...Randy crosses the stream and
can see where this fish is still thrashing about mear feet upstream
from me, but my line is anchored all the way across. Randy makes
a quick move; he's gonna get in and tail the fish. Of course this
fish is no dummy and it quickly scoots away, upstream, and in the
process pulls my line free from under the log! BRILLIANT!
It's all over now. I have the fish running upstream,
no obstructions, and only a few seconds later Randy is able to tail
the fish. It is then that we find that this fish is no longer hooked
fair; my lead fly (the Antron) is now in his dorsal, and the egg
is hanging free. Not only is this a crusty nasty fish to begin with,
but somehow in the fight we've surmised that the rolling and such
caused him to foul up in the lead fly. Doesn't matter anymore if
I hooked the fish fair, he is now landed foul!
Well, Randy and I take a moment to look at this
fish...all the while we've been expecting steelhead but this is
clearly not a steelhead. For a moment it looks very much like the
pictures of Kelt Atlantic Salmon that I've seen, kinda dark, bright
blue patch on his gill plate...but a quick check of the tail confirms
this fish as what we knew it was all along...holdover spawned out
Randy snaps a pic of the fish, a second pic of
the columnaris wound (not sure why though...it's the nastiest picture
my camera has ever taken). A couple pulls through the water to get
the fish revived and it easily takes off...probably ready for another
So here's my score in Indiana...one small brown
or steelhead lost, one dink Coho landed fair, and now a crusty rotten
brown that I manage to hook up with twice fair, only to land foul.
Add onto that the fact that when I go with Chromeseeker, those are
typically the days he gets skunked; I fish right next to CS all
day with the same rig, offering, drifting the same run, I'm skunked,
he lands 7. My first outing with Dave @ Creekside he only catches
a bullhead. I fall down every hill we climb. Guess what folks, MP's
Indiana Curse is most assuredly LIVE AND WELL. I've seen more fish
in one day on the Milwuakee than I've seen in ALL my travels to
Indiana combined. And I'm not saying that Indiana is BAD fishing...countless
other verifiable reports tell me it's not. It's simply MP's Indiana
Well at this point things can't get any worse...Randy
and I fish some more runs..we get to talk to one of the area residents
(you know, the folks I've talked to in-person in Indiana have all
been really nice...it's a few of the folks on the boards who are
really ruining the Indiana Angler reputation...thankfully this has
died down vs. 2003). We opt to check some other spots on the creeks
as this one is most assuredly fished out.
Downstream a ways we hike in and proceed to whack
all sorts of smolts...most on the Holographic Tucker Nymph, #10.
Randy was glad to land A FISH, FAIR; little trout is better than
not trout, he feels a smolt still nulifies the skunk (while I consider
my 16 smolts as a nusiance, and the stench of molding brown trout
is worse than skunk.) It was nice to hike in once I got over sliding
down the muddy hill on my butt (was kinda like sledding in your
underwear without a sled, only dirtier).
I still like the scenery...just wish the fishing
was better. After about an hour we arrived at our third spot...the
last of the day...the sun had assuredly gotten more frozen ground
and snow melting 'cause by this point the flows were definitely
up. No more fish sighted or hooked! So that about sums it up.
Will I get a 2004 license? Probably not, after
all my days in Indiana now including this one, I really don't feel
like Indiana and MP were ment to be. But I don't know, so you'll
just have to keep watchin' the reports.