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It’s been a while since I’ve got out and waded a local creek with the fly rod, so I did just that this past Saturday.  Ever the explorer, I hit a stretch of creek I’ve never fished.  In fact I’ve never really thought much about fishing this stretch until they recently opened a park along it.  I didn’t think it would be much different than other stretches of the creek I’ve fished or some of the creeks I’ve fished in the past but I was wrong.  This one was much tougher.

Most of the creeks I wade around here have big sandy spoil banks and shallow riffles that connect them, making wading a breeze.  Quicksand is about the only thing that can slow you down.  In fact, unless you get hung up structure or a tree on the other side you rarely have to wade deeper than your knees.  This one wasn’t like that.

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The hike in was fairly muddy and full of these guys.  Most you could avoid, but some had their webs a bit too low for comfort, so careful tip-toeing was required to negotiate around them.  I know they’re harmless, but they’re still a big spider.

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Then I cut through the woods, navigated my way through briers and poison ivy (I made a poor decision that morning and chose shorts instead of pants), then amble down a 20-30 foot muddy bluff face just to access the water.

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I caught a fish and took a picture just in case it was the only one I caught on the day.  Usually the wading part is no big deal once I get to the water.  Not here though, the bottom wasn’t as hard as the others, the water clarity wasn’t as pretty as the others and it had spots that seemed deeper than the others and soon enough I stepped off a mud ledge into a hole up to my chest.  It’s been a while since I’ve done that, glad it was super hot out.

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The wading wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t for the multiple downed trees that forced me to go up and down the bluffs just to get around them. Eventually though the wading got easier and of course the fishing picked up.

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Then it became a longear-fest.  If it wasn’t for the early bream and the world’s smallest bass that’s all I would have caught.  They were very aggressive, in full spawning regalia.

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I probably only covered 3/4 of a mile in five hours and didn’t catch anything bigger than my palm.  Scouting trips can be like that though, you really don’t know until you go.  Well now I know and I don’t think I’ll be going back.

Still beat sitting at home though.  Fishing trips always do.

This past Saturday Amanda and I had a chance to check out BREC’s newest park, the Frenchtown Road Conservation Area, which is the biggest conservation area in the system at 495 acres. It encompasses most of the land between the Amite and Comite Rivers, south of the Illinois Central Railroad. Currently there are a little over three miles of hiking trails on the property through mostly bottomland hardwood forest.

These trails are just the beginning of the park’s intended development. I’m hopeful that established kayak/canoe launches are in the master plan, as it sits now the only river access that is available is via a 0.7 mile railroad trail to a beach on the Amite River at the park’s NE corner. Any new access to our area’s scenic rivers is a good thing, but it looks like I’ll have to invest in a cart before I can give this stretch of water a proper go. I did manage to get a few mid-hike casts off from the beach and was rewarded with a little spotted bass for my efforts.

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It was a nice day for a hike and I look forward to using this area more in the future. There was a little confusion on the trails though. Seems a nearby property owner was not too pleased at the location of the big loop trail in the park and “No Trespassing” signs were placed toward the end of the trail turning this loop into a long one way. According to the park’s facebook page it sounds like a bypass trail has been added and the area can be avoided. You’d think they would figure these things out before opening the park, but live and learn I guess.