Bruce Ajari: Small creeks provide good short-cast training
I grew up trout fishing in the Stanislaus River drainage ” a region where there were many small creeks with small wild trout to explore as a kid. As I have said before, creeks are a great place to hone your skills for fishing bigger water.
Small creeks are just like the bigger water that we fish, only smaller. You can find all of the characteristics of bigger water, and what you learn can be taken to the larger stream.
Stealth is extremely important on all waters, but particularly on a small stream. I can remember crawling on my hands and knees and even crawling on my stomach on occasion while fishing over some particularly spooky creek fish during low water.
Many times fishing on small creeks is done in very brushy conditions. A short rod is generally a must while fishing such conditions, and the technique to fish such locations are very simple, but effective.
One such technique that is employed on a creek is one called dapping. Dapping is little more than placing your dry fly on the water with none of the line touching the water. The advantage is that the trout does not see anything but the fly on the water. The big disadvantage is that you have to be so close that if conditions are not right, you will spook the fish.
I have used this on the Truckee River as well as other rivers with two dry flies with great success in pocket water during certain times of the year. When using this approach, I work upstream. A word of caution, though: This does not work too well when it is too windy. The wind will actually blow the flies off the water or create drag, making the fly look unnatural.
I am sure anyone who has fished a small, brushy creek has employed the above technique, as well as used some creative short casts such as the bow-and-arrow cast. This cast is simple to execute by grasping the fly and securing the line in the other hand against the rod and drawing the fly back and loading the rod like a bow. When you release the fly it will rocket towards your target. A simple cast, but effective in such conditions.
Hone your skills on small creeks and you will find that many of the techniques like dapping will make you a better angler. Even more importantly, you will develop a great sense of where to find the fish, which will help your overall fishing success. The best holding water in small creeks is no different than in bigger streams.
Downsize your gear and have a fun time fishing for the smaller trout that generally inhabit these small creeks. While small, the fish are sometimes the most beautiful ones you will ever catch.
” Bruce Ajari is a Truckee resident and regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.