Fishing on a Different Path
it catches a variety of fish. On some trips I like to see how many different kinds of fish I catch (my record is 13 species), but today I'm looking for bass. For several years the populations of smallmouth and largemouth were scarce, but I hear that they've rebounded.
As I wade downstream, I see several deep pools with trees lying in them. Good bass habitat, I say to myself. Many casts later (a few of them well placed; most slightly off the mark) I've caught two green sunfish and spooked three smallmouth. I see the spot where Jack Buster Creek enters Big Saline Creek. There's a nice hole downstream from the confluence; I fish it hard, but to no avail.
I've walked past a couple of old stream management projects. Portions of Big Saline Creek were straightened many years ago, and biologists in the 1980s tried to move the stream back into its historic channel. A couple of the projects succeeded; several did not.
I catch a smallmouth near one of the successful projects; I'm sure he said "Thank you" when I released him, but I'm not sure whether he was thanking me for releasing him or thanking someone for improving his habitat over a decade ago.
A raccoon peers out at me from a hole in a sycamore tree. He's probably wondering what I'm doing in his world. I catch the sight of a half-dozen small hog suckers swimming upstream from a riffle, trying to escape me. I stop to eat lunch on a large gravel bar. There's lots of gravel along this creek, as well as a fair number of eroding streambanks. I debate with myself whether there's a connection between the two.
I run into more holes and submerged logs as I continue to walk downstream. I catch a few longear sunfish, also known as sun perch. They're beautiful fish. They'd make great tropical fish if they'd stay small and eat fish flakes.
The creek takes a broad left hand bend making a deep hole. Lots of trees lie submerged in the hole and I see some largemouth lying in wait among the downed timber. Seeing that they're largemouth makes me think that I'm getting close to the Osage River; largemouth like streams with low gradients and smallmouth like streams with more fall.
Sneaking up to the hole on my stomach and casting near the submerged trees results in several large bass leaving