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.