Thursday, June 21, 2012

Evening wade on a lovely little river

Near Salt Creek, 9pm
I'm a little obsessed with Salt Creek.

After my awesome wade Monday night, catching 11 green sunfish and catching a glimpse of a BIG fish, all I can think about is what lurks beneath the surface of that little unassuming creek. Until Monday, I assumed it was too polluted to support anything besides green sunfish and carp, at least in the section closest to me. Turns out, I was wrong!

I waded twice yesterday- a very short trip at lunch, and a longer trip right around sunset. At lunch I didn't catch anything, but got some hits from something and follows from a little largemouth bass. I saw tons of baitfish swimming around, little brown minnows all over the place.

Somewhere I read Salt Creek should actually be called a river, but for some reason the creek name stuck... I also read the original inhabitants of the area called it the Lovely Little River.

Although it's moving water, and in many ways just a smaller Fox or Rogue river, there are a few strange things that make it different. It's clearly not the healthiest river; for long stretches it's bordered on both sides by industry and overly-fertilized residential land. I don't know much about ecology or hydrology, but the Salt certainly has a different character than other rivers I've fished. There is a distinct lack of boulders and current breaks, although I could be missing seeing them due to the low water levels.

Probably the strangest thing is the weird step-like dropoffs from the shore to the main channel. Instead of tapering down nicely, there are steps that lead down to the deepest sections. That means if I'm not paying attention, I might walk off one of those ledges and drop a foot into a deeper section. That almost happened last night and it scared the $%#& out of me! I wonder if it's related to erosion or some human-influenced characteristic.

I explored a new section last night, and was rewarded with some very fishy spots. A short wade upstream brought me to an awesome looking area with a downed tree blocking off the majority of the stream. The main current cut through a five foot hole close to shore, then created one of the few current seams I've seen on the Salt. On the shore side, there were little eddies in about a foot of water- I bet that will be a sweet spot in higher water. The downstream side of the tree is much deeper water, and absolutely a spot that holds fish. There were some branches in the water, near some very tall undercut banks, all of which was underneath a bunch of low hanging trees. As I waded toward it I saw at least three fish porpoise, one jumped clear out of the water. It was big, although it could have been anything. In the dim dusk light I couldn't make it out.

I waded quickly, hoping to explore as much as possible before all the daylight went away. I'd like to say I threw my little white spinnerbait into all the best fish-holding spots, but in reality I just threw it everywhere. Some places I expected to find fish I didn't, and where I didn't I got hits.

When I finally connected with a fish- on my new light rod- I was ecstatic. I wondered if there was a little pike on the end of my line, my first pike ever. Turns out it was a little largemouth- a moving water largemouth, a fish I don't know well. This one fought like a little monster, like a smallie. All muscle, all spunk. I didn't mind that it was small, it was a great fish to me, caught so close to home in this seemingly hidden spot.

Another Salt Creek bass
A little farther upstream I got another one. This was awesome! If I pretended I didn't hear the the car traffic noise from a quarter mile away, and I blocked out the sounds of low-flying aircraft going to O'Hare, I might as well have been a hundred miles away in the wilderness. Wading, catching fish as the sun went down.

My spinner got hung up, and somehow I didn't have any more safety-pin style spinners with me. I tied on one of my homemade inline spinners, then a beetle spin, then just a straight up jig'n'twister. Although I didn't connect with any more fish, the wade was great.

The local wildlife was everywhere. I saw a big raccoon waddle away from me; I tried to pass quickly so it could go about its business. When I came around a bend in the river, two deer were standing in the river a stone's throw from me. They noticed me and casually trotted away. When it was almost dark, I noticed a tall figure in the middle of the river upstream from me. I squinted and realized it was a heron, or some kind of bird just like a heron. I was standing chest-deep in water, and this bird was towering over me (albiet far away). It must have been five feet tall.

I watched it, both of us standing motionless, until all of the sudden it flew away.

In one stretch with a muddy bottom, I spooked what I think was a carp in 6" of water. I thought about how great it would be to hook into a carp in this stream.

Eventually it was time to head in, as the use of my headlamp was necessary to see. I thought about the coyotes I'd heard coming from this particular area a few nights back, and decided to call it a night. After a slightly tense walk through very tall grass, I made it to a path and headed back to my car. But I'd be back to find out what else this little river holds.


  1. keep after em on the salt, never know what your gonna get there

  2. Great job! We will hook up one of these days and Wade on! Im still in love with the stretch further downstream but that is only because I know it and know where to go.
    I need to step out and take a chance up that way.


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