Imagine a place where the fish are stacked shoulder to shoulder in crystal clear spring water and their sole purposes in life are to be fed and get fat. Now imagine a day when the No Fishing - Trout Area sign does not apply. Such was the enjoyment I experienced today and there is a certain soreness in my shoulders as I type this with Them Crooked Vultures providing harmony via Austin City Limits.
Hooked on Fishing Park in East Peoria is a local not-for-profit organization doing good. Their mission is simple:
To help offset expenses, the park was opened today for a fly fishing specific event and everyone was invited. Local experts were on hand to help newbies learn casting techniques, and hefty 'bows were on hand to make sure the newbies were instantly hooked on fishing. If you would like to schedule an outing as a family or field trip, please click the link above for more info. You'll also find information about volunteer and sponsorship opportunities.Our mission is to teach the sport and joy of fishing to local children, senior citizens, and special needs groups by providing the equipment, place, and education free of charge.
The fishing was great, but the company was superb. I had a chance to chat with a couple dozen like-minded individuals. Fellow long rodders are hard to come by in the this part of the globe because we have no local trout opportunities to speak of, and most people don't realize you can fly fish for other species. It takes an event such as this to make us crawl from our warm water honey holes.
The suggested donation was ten bones, but fishing like this is worth so much more and giving extra is an easy decision to make. I'm not really sure how many I caught. Definitely more than 20 and probably less than 50, and every one of them was a brute. All the fish were about the same size but a couple were noticeably larger. Unfortunately for you, by the time I found the "larger" ones I had already set down the camera and focused on fishing. So you'll have to look at these pictures and imagine a few bigger ones sprinkled throughout.
Notably, I can remember a particular fish running like mad. She pulled line of my 8wt like it was nothing. She didn't quite make it to the backing but she was half way across the pond before tuckering out. By the time I had the fly removed from her hook jaw, I was focused on the release. Another fish was mistakenly hooked in the tail and I've never before felt anything like that, while holding a fishing rod of course.
The night before, I had a quick e-mail exchange with someone who had fished here previously; I asked about what sort of flies to bring. His response was: "You don’t need anything fancy to catch these trout. They are eating machines. Anything big and flashy will catch them." I should have taken the advice but I'm a doubter. I spent Friday night tying wooly buggers and beetles. I should have been tying Clousers and Murdiches. Luckily, as a bass angler, I happen to have a few of those lying around and a couple Mad Toms as well. I burned through my Clouser collection in no time, but now what am I going to do with all these #8 buggers?
One thing was clear today: central Illinoisians don't know how to handle a big ass trout - present company included. All day we were struggling to unhook and get a hold of these slippery squirmy fish before they flopped back into the water. Now I really understand the phallic trout pose, because as soon as you get these fish out of the water you need to get a picture quick before they're gone. The phallic pose is about the only option for the required quick shot.
Another theme for the day was lost flies. These fish were lively and broke a few leaders. I lost a few but I also found one. I spotted a trout swimming by with a fly in it's jaw and cast to it. Surprisingly, he was still hungry and I was able to retrieve a sparkle minnow for a fellow angler who was located across the pond.
All told, the damage was limited and out of hundreds of fish caught only two ended up on the cutting board. And boy were they delicious. Nate cooked up some chili seasoned trout to go with fat cheese burgers for lunch. I'm going to need the recipe - if you are reading this, please share. I stole the following picture from Nate's blog - thanks!
I only took pictures and video for about the first two hours. After that I pocketed the camera and focused on fishing and conversing during the remaining four hours. However, in those two quick hours I managed to get way too much footage to post. So I've boiled it down (mostly by editing out the clumsy unhookings) to less than 10 minutes of hot trout action.
Fishing like this will spoil a man, but a periodic sampling won't hurt anybody. Which is why I was relieved to hear Nate's planning additional outings for 2011. Stay tuned for more info, this is worth a drive.
Everyone's perspective is unique, so check out what other bloggers have to say about today's event:
Diary of a Lake Nerd - Flyfishing Pics from Today's Outing!
Intro to Bass Fishing - First trout on the fly!
[Place holder for Jonn, whenever he gets around to posting it.]
Well Austin City Limits is now over (God, I type slow), but Umphrey's Mcgee is coming up next....guess I'll be staying up late.