The original plan was to go hike in Jubilee State Park (the closest big piece of open land to me) to scout for the deer season, see if I could find convincing evidence to return in October.
In my scouting I found that a creek runs through the park. Thinking that obviously deer need to drink, I figured hiking alongside the creek would be a good place to start.
After googling the crap out of the park, I found a couple sites saying that the creek held Smallmouth. At that point, just about any notions of scouting for deer went out the window. (I really don’t know what the hell to look for anyway.)
So I asked facebook for help. Mike and Clif both suggested I start with the spinning rod. I tied on a beetlespin and headed out this morning. This is my total trip from the time I stepped out of my car to the time I stepped back in:
|Tracked by the Android app My Tracks. 2.8 miles over 3 hours.|
Rather than just take the easy way down under the bridge at first, I decided to follow a trail and blunder through a bunch of vegetation (some of which was probably poison ivy, if my tingly legs are any indication.) to try to get to the creek. (Thats what the trail above the two tacks at the bottom is.) After figuring out it was a 10 foot drop to the creek that way, I headed back to the bridge, set down my backpack and rod and slowly slid down into the water.
Right away I tossed the beetlespin along the bank on the deeper side of the creek and on my second cast, I had a bite! A tiny bite but a bite nonetheless:
|Pretty sure it’s a giant crappie minnow. My dad would call them chubs.|
I was stoked. Second cast, in a pool that I had just slid into and walked across. Probably the only fish left in the hole that I didn’t scare off. I tossed about a dozen more casts into the pool without a bite and I moved on.
A majority of the creek was too shallow (3-4 inches or less) to hold fish but I would stop and toss a few casts any time the water got deep enough to not see the bottom or along banks/stumps/overhanging trees. Nothing looked too promising for awhile. Eventually I came across what looked like a pretty decent pool:
|The middle thumbtack on the map above.|
I threw a few casts along the bank in the shadows, as close as I could. The Plueger reel/Sufix line combo that I got for a review from OBN casts amazingly. Even with a lure that’s probably too small to be cast on that setup. I’m more accurate with it than any other setup I have.
I had a knock on one cast but missed the hookset. I cast back to the same spot and immediately got snagged on a root under the surface. Cool thing about getting a snag when you’re wading is that you can walk over and unhook your lure. Lame thing about getting a snag when you’re wading that you walk through the water you were just trying to fish to get your lure free. Convinced that I had scared any other fish out of the area, I trudged on.
I slowly moved along, stopping and casting whenever the water looked deep enough. Eventually I got to the top of the trail where the last thumbtack is.
|Creek Chub Heaven.|
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
I stopped taking pictures after that because I felt like I was taking pictures of the same fish over and over but I caught 3 more. Every couple of casts I had a tug on the line. The combination of the deepish pool, overhanging branches and tangled roots were a perfect sport.
The clasp on my Beetlespin spinner came undone on the last fish and he managed to to shake the jighead off. I sat down on a downed tree, drank my other water and ate my other granola bar and relaxed for a few minutes. It had been about 2 1/2 hours by this point and I was pretty pooped so I started to hoof it back.
Saw only one guy, an older gentleman who was fossil hunting. He showed me a couple that he had picked up, pretty cool stuff. I asked him if he knew if there were any smallmouth and he said he had only seen them in the early spring when the water was higher. I feel like I could’ve caught a couple if they had been in there.
Oh! I wore my KSOs and they did awesome for the most part. The only thing I was disappointed in was that they let a good amount of sand in. The only reason that’s disappointing is that KSO stands for “Keep Shit Out”. Oh well, I was comfortable and never slipped while walking down the creek.
I’ll be on the lookout for more bigfoot print reports in IL, see if I fooled anyone:
Walking along in the sand and mud, sinking up to 6 inches or so with each step gave me a pretty good burn in my calves. A good workout.
Even though I didn’t catch the smallmouth I was looking for, I’d call the trip a success. I managed to take what I had read online about creek fishing and turn it into fish. Now just to find a creek with some bass in it. Any suggestions?