8-09-03 - Black Earth Creek, Revisited...
Waters Fished: Black Earth Creek, McKeawn 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 pool...talk about a NICE LOOKING RAINBOW!!!
Loads of red & pink & purple coloration and probably only
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 bass...it 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
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
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.