Thursday, August 30, 2012

Give It Some Action


“I don’t dead drift anything. Give it some action and make 'em come after it.”

With that, Len twitched his wrist and sent the silver panther martin upstream, dead center, in the seam, fifty feet out, then ripped it back, damn near as fast as it had departed. Predictably, it arrived home with a brookie attached.



Little has changed in the two years since I'd last fished with Len Harris. The Wisconsin countryside is still beautiful. Its spring creeks still flow clear and full of brown and brook trout. It still gets bloody hot in August. And Len can still drop a spoon into a teacup from seventy feet.

Even the photos I took last week look like the ones I brought home way back then.


Len and I resumed our acquaintance in the dark, pre-dawn parking lot of a Mobile station, across from the Richland Center American Legion, shook hands, and picked up right where we’d left off twenty-four months earler - scooting through the Wisconsin countryside, chasin’ trout.

We drove west, heading for the upper trickles of Kickapoo River feeders. Lazy spring creeks, quite different from the tumbling mountain trout streams I'm used to. Len still bristles at the tell-all destination book that leaked the sweet little waterway we were to spend our morning on, so I’ll decline to agitate him further here. Suffice to say we bushwhacked the creases of some dense private farmland - with landowner’s permission, of course - and waded some lovely Driftless water. Beaver country, it seems. Their handiwork was everywhere.


Now, I’m an unapologetic streamer guy. Dries are nice, but too often they require patience (strike one), concentration (strike two), and skill (a big whiff! Strike three! I’m out!) So when Len suggested that I throw dark size 10 woollies directly upstream and twitch them home, I was all over it. The caddis and hoppers could wait ‘till tomorrow. There wasn't much rising, anyway.


We brought a couple dozen feisty trout to hand during our morning out - eight to fourteen inches, browns and brookies, no tigers. I probably missed twice that number to old reflexes and older eyes. I do, however, suspect that I caught more than Len, but only because I did 90% of the fishing. Len was happy to point out the lies and watch me spook ‘em. For the most part he only fished while I was retrieving a fly from foliage – an occasional hazard in these tight spaces, even with my favorite little 7’6” 4wt - or after I’d declared a pool fishless. Such statements were usually proven inaccurate with a single snap of the wrist.



“You’re up,” he’d say, often and with genuine delight. I typically didn’t decline, sending another cast upstream, letting the bugger settle.

“Now. Give it some action.”

Yes sir. Gladly.




Note: Be sure to see more of Len Harris at his blog The Stream of Time and on numerous mid-western fishing forums. He's an angling machine.

18 comments:

Fly Waters Edge - Kevin said...

It is the Driftless region I think. Nice post! I'll have to check out his blog.

Mike Sepelak said...

Indeed it is, Kevin, and it's lovely.

upacreek333 said...

Good stuff... as usual... Bring that streamer action to Florida next summer!

LenH said...

Mike took lots more photos
I can see them in another post this winter maybe when he is bored.

Kevin Frank said...

That place looks close to perfect. One of the last few untainted areas from people.

Mike Sepelak said...

Count on it, Chris. And I look forward to it.

Len, I take lots of shots because if I take enough, odds are I will luck into a decent one now and then. Not unlike my fishing.

Mike Sepelak said...

It is pretty sweet, Kevin. Lots of untouched countryside. But, like everywhere else, I'm sure it has its pressures. It behooves us to be vigilant.

e.m.b. said...

You've got game, sirs! Liked this piece a lot, Mike. Beautiful writing and photos, as always...

Mike Sepelak said...

Don't know about "game", Erin. But we certainly have "fun." It's always nice hearing from you.

Steve Zakur said...

A couple years ago I was in Fran Betters' shop talking about fishing Adirondack dries and nymphs. One of his primary pieces of advice was to "give it a twitch, these things are supposed to be alive".

Give it some action indeed!

Mike Sepelak said...

EXACTLY, Steve!

Rhythm Rider said...

Len picked up another reader. I hope someday to be the guy that pulls up a fish from a hole declared spooked or fishless.....not yet though, and that's fine by me.

Mike Sepelak said...

Me too, RR, though the pressure might just be too much to bear.

Preston McQueen said...

With a name like Kickapoo river, ya just got to go check it out!

Mike Sepelak said...

No kidding, Preston. I never saw the Kickapoo river proper, but the feeder creeks were a blast.

Joel DeJong said...

You might not believe this but I think I fished that exact same stretch of river back in June and it freaking rocked!!! Fantastic fish, great countryside, and all around fun stuff. Even the cows enjoyed watching me hook into brown after brown. Glad to see had a great time as well.

Mike Sepelak said...

I love the Driftless, Joel. So different from fishing here in the east. A beautiful, beautiful place to be. Glad you had a good time as well.

Sanders said...

it's always about the action...one way or another.

great piece once again

Cheers!