Sep 20, 2011

Sensible Shoes and Spooky Illinois Trout

The yearning for ever larger and more abundant smallies took me far from home to fish the Vermilion River. A river I've studied endlessly on Google maps, and read quite a bit about. With total drive time approaching three hours, procrastination was rampant. Finally, cold weather reminded me of winter's coming and the close of our fishy season...better get up there before it's too late!

My companion was Dave, who also maintains has a fishing blog. He calls himself The Fair Weather Fisher in salute of a casual attitude about angling (and apparently blogging.) Irony is a cruel mistress and Sunday the cold rain varied from a mist to downpour, a few clear spots in between. I like fishing with Dave; he has a few idiosyncrasies that amuse me. For example...

and I sometimes catch him imagining he is fishing for spooky trout....

True story: while Dave was keeping a low profile to avoid spooking stupid fish, I caught this smallmouth from the very hole I was standing knee deep in. I was day dreaming at the time and she picked the stationary fly off the bottom. The result: we began to put together a pattern...a slow presentation was critical.

We took in some very un-Illinoisian landscape. This section of the Vermilion hosts the only class III whitewater rafting in Illinois (in times of higher water) and features a beautiful boulder strewn bottom - all nestled between sheer rock cliffs. A far cry from the muddy Mackinaw I'm used to.

The water is clear, exposing abundant signs of life. What was most striking was the healthy prolific crawdad population. Had I anticipated, my fly box would have been chuck full of Clif's Crawdads. Instead, I had only one...and quickly lost it. Note to self: tie something that looks like this...

...because Vermilion River smallies gobble crawdads up, all day long.

Dave was semi-prepared, having a single olive wooly bugger. The lack of heavy lead eyes kept his bugger above the snaggy rocks and thus he enjoyed immense success, catching five fish as compared to my one.

The highlight of my day was the accidental snagging of an Asian carp that spent more time in the air than in the water. Them suckers can jump and don't appreciate being foul hooked. The tail hooked fish probably went 8-10lb and put up such a fight that the next one I snagged was not an accident. Sadly, both carp shook the hook but I now have a challenge and I'm wanting more....

I've already designed an Asian Carp Snagging FlyTM. Stay tuned for that.


  1. That is one beautiful river. And apparently Dave amuses me too. :) Nice shoes! Love it.

  2. I think Dave might be fly fishing fashion forward. All the hip kids are wearing those kicks. Looking forward to the asian carp snagging fly.

  3. Clif, I enjoyed that. It looks like fishing in Illinois is quite similar to fishing in Ohio, so I'm paying attention.

  4. I've never seen a crawdad that looked more like an Olive Wooley Bugger than that one. Nice report. Fashion tips noted.

  5. @The Emb: a beautiful river indeed. I'd love to see it with normal flow

    @Ivanski: Don't mention anything to Dave about it, if he hears that'll be the last you see of those kicks.

    @Cosifher: You may be the only bloke interested in Ohio fishing...did I mention the Vermilion is fairly close to your hometown?

    @Stevie: the bugger was only thing close in either of our boxes, but it did the trick.

  6. On this carp business.. I've always just shot them - (with a bow) but you folks are beginning to make me wonder about flyfishing for them....really wonder... I need a teacher! Lord knows that down here in southern Illinois the waters are rife with them, and I'm just thinking of all those summer days I've watched them swoop the falling mulberries and cottonwood fluff..
    Again I need a little fly fishing guidance here.. :)

  7. @gretch, legitimately catch a carp on a fly is an experience that has eluded me despite repeated attempts. You'll need to seek advice from someone else, let me know what you find out!

    Snagging Asian carp on the other and, well that's something I can speak to. And you'll have to come back later...

  8. Those are the best wading shoes ever!

    Also, I want in on this asian carp snagging thing....

  9. Looks like a great day....all casual and all! Neos in tennis shoes is definitely a new look. Olive buggers have saved many a day on the water!


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