In between the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge and the Fort Niobrara Wildlife refuge, just about about 20 miles south of Valentine, a tiny little stream weaves in and out of ranching lands flowing north into the Niobrara River. At this time of the year – mid to late October – water was still very low. It appeared as if fish would still be lingering under tufts of watered down grass inside the bends where the water would eddy back, but I never saw a fish scatter about whenever I made the unnecessary but purposeful cross to the other side.
The only fish I saw were two little ones that darted downstream after I threw in a nymph apparently right on top of them, and that was it. Nothing else. I believe this stream gets stocked later in the year when it’s more supporting of a bigger population, but clearly we were there too early if they do. To the eye, it seems there would be fish in it, but if there were it couldn’t have been many. Either way, Schlagel Creek Wildlife Management Area sits in a very obscure place, that made me question if we were actually going to the right place. In fact, for us, the most entertaining thing about this place was the road in.
To get here, you pretty much take a road that leads you through and to two different ranches. Once you get to the second ranch, the road abruptly ends and tracks continue through a gate. It’s a very questionsome road that makes one to believe if you go through that it’d be trespassing. But continue through and shortly thereafter you will arrive at the WMA entrance. Soon after that you will cross the stream and there is a pull out to park at and fish from, which is what we did. But not till after we trudged through and got ourselves stuck in some deep sand trying to climb over a steep-ish hill. If I would had stayed in the ruts I may have been able to get up and over it but instead, I thought I would avoid the ruts then instantly sunk. We willed our way out and backed up to the pull out. If you wanna go all the way back in there, either stay in the ruts or better yet, just have four wheel drive!