I got out fishing for the first time this spring recently. There’s a creek near where I live that the DNR typically stocks with Brown Trout every year. Due to the pandemic, they didn’t stock until mid-May and only put in 500 fish so far this year (normally they stock at least 2000 trout).
The creek is too high and too fast right now to wade in, so I Brought a couple of spinning rods with me to fish from the banks. One of them is a 7 ft. one piece medium-heavy setup that I run with a pretty strong line. It has a 20 lb. Power Pro braided mainline and a 30 lb. Seaghur fluorocarbon leader. I love the rod because it has a ton of backbone. It’s what I use to drag crank and jerk baits through weeds. The second rod is a 2 piece medium rod. I run it with a 10 lb. power pro braided line and a 10 lb. fluorocarbon leader.
I started out throwing an inline spinner on the light action rod and a paperclip Indiana spinnerbait on the heavy rod. I like to start pretty far upstream on this creek. Around 5-7 pm you can often find a ton of brown trout starting to jump and eating up in this headwater area. After about 45 minutes of trying different small pools, I began to move downstream. Having no luck with either of the spinners I rigged up a small original Rapala floating trout on the light rod and a Rapala rippin’ rap lipless crankbait on the heavy one.
After seeing no signs of trout I decided to start targeting the cover in the water. There are a few outcrops of boulders underwater that funnel the water forcefully. It’s a kind of small rapid system in the creek. Using the lipless crankbait, I added a couple of split shot about a foot above the lure and started casting towards the cover. I wanted to slow-roll the lure and let it drag the bottom to find any bass that may have been hiding behind the rocks.
On my third cast with the crankbait, I was retrieving at mid-speed when I felt a bite. I set the hook and held on as the smallmouth I caught bolted. I lightened up my drag and let him run for 20 feet or so and then I started fighting him. With the heavy backbone of the one-piece rod, I flipped him over and started pulling him in. It was a beautiful 12-inch smallmouth bass. Not a huge fish by any means, but it felt good to catch the first fish of the year. I reached out to meet him with my rubber net and got the treble hook out of his lip. Pausing for a couple quick pictures I admired his bright red eyes and the power that this relatively small fish had exhibited on the end of my line. I quickly returned it to the water, waiting for him to get his bearings, and let the fish go.
I stuck around another hour or so trying to land another one, but the evening was rapidly cooling off and I had to get home for dinner. It was a great feeling to start my season off with a catch—an instant reminder of why I love fishing so much. Just when you get to the point where you are about to give up and try something different, you feel that tug on your rod and it’s game on. I can’t wait to get back out.