Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing, Our Words

“Man that must be the life!”

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Before we set out for this adventure, the idea of fishing everyday was only a dream. Unimaginable. It’s gotta be the life! When we would tell people what we were gonna do, many would exclaim, “I wish I could fish everyday” or “do you know how many people would kill to do what you’re going to do?” Well, for us it really was a dream come true. We planned, built, and saved up for 7 weeks straight of fishing, driving and living in a van. Now we are about to set out and do it again to finish the last leg of 8 streams in the panhandle of Nebraska.


As much as it was a dream and we were “living the life”, I come to write today to explain how it wasn’t really my “ideal life”. We didn’t necessarily set out to do this in an attempt to make this our full-time living situation but it was more so an experiment of experiences to 1. fish and explore all the Nebraska trout streams and 2. see what this “van life” was all about – all the while taking photos and writing about it along the way – so going into this we didn’t think much of what would be ideal. However, as we play the waiting game for weather conditions to moderate, we have a better idea as to how we will live and take on this adventure second round through.

I love to go with the flow and dive into the unknown, however, I also really appreciate stability and having a game plan or generalized set schedule. And when you’re fishing everyday, you kind of have to just go with the weather or go where the fish are, if you can find them! Plus, our initial idea was to fish every damn day and fish as much as we can so we can report back and say we did it. This is actually a very demanding mission, even in a state where trout fishing is nearly entirely unknown. Especially for me as I wanted to see it all and be immersed in it all.


However, as winter approached, we made it a priority to crunch as much as we could in – even at the expense of our own personal values. For example, I like to stretch and move on a daily basis and I even go into mild anxiety and depression when I don’t get to rock climb for extended periods of time. It’s part meditation and part something that just helps my mind and body feel good. Well when the days are planned to fish as much as possible for two months, those things are tossed out the window, which sucked, because they are really important to me. On top of that, learning to maneuver life in a halfway finished van is a little stressful as well…


The thing is, my passions lie with health, wellness, and becoming my best self; mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I love to fish, but I don’t want to make it my vocation. I love it being a hobby. I need balance.

But somethings need to tried in order to know what you really want in life. You have to see what works and what doesn’t. You have to be willing to push yourself in directions to honestly figure out how you want life to be. For it’s our choice as to what we decide to do and it’s best to simply let go and experience it for what it is then reflect and learn.


This time around and as we finish up the second half, we won’t be rushed to fish. The days will be getting longer and the weather will be getting warmer. We now have a finished van and know that the balance is a priority we will set in place.

Fly Fishing, Travels

Fly Through Nebraska | Bobcat

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Bobcat WMA and Plum Creek WMA on Plum Creek

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Plum Creek, wow, what a place! This was probably my favorite stream to fish where I never caught a fish. Hell, I really don’t know if there were even fish in the water, but it was as almighty of a place that I have been too. Nestled in the sandhills between Valentine and Long Pine is where you can find Plum Creek, another tributary of the Niobrara River. The two main locations of access reside at the Bobcat Wildlife Management area and Plum Creek Wildlife Management Area. There is also another point of entry south and upstream of Bobcat, which I did not venture to due to precarious roads leading in. Again, this area was just plain beautiful, but the best part about it had something to do with the lack of cell service and the full connection to intimate and undisturbed land. We started our time on Plum Creek by beginning with the Bobcat WMA which is about 10 miles north of Ainsworth.


To get down to the stream you have to hike in about a mile long with a fair drop in grade, so be prepared. When we eventually made it down I was instantly surprised and in awe. It reminded me very much of Long Pine and the Snake River, which only made sense as it’s another Niobrara tributary, but I presupposed that it would be another thin stream with little volume because well I had never heard anything about Bobcat, but it was quite the opposite. It had more water and was probably another 10 feet wider than Long Pine. My assumption of a small stream lead to me bring only my 3 weight rod, although I’m not sure if my 5 weight would have done me any good because the water was abundant with silt running through the water.


Even though the stream had a plethora of pockets and rocks strewn about, I don’t know if any fish were actually in there due to how much sand was coming downstream. As I am sure you know, trout do not fair well in sandy waters because their gills have a difficult time processing the water to receive proper oxygenation; they need clean, clear and cold water. And the fact of the matter is, it wasn’t that clear. I could see my boots in the water while stand knee deep, but I felt there was too much silt moving through to provide that exceptional habitat that trout need in Nebraska.


With that said, I would not count Plum Creek out. The next day we went further upstream to the Plum Creek WMA. For the second day in a row we were followed by deer hunters who were cycling their rounds to various spots where they had set up deer stands earlier in the season.


After we walked to the river from the parking area, which was a much easier hike this time around, we fished throwing some buggers and nymphs but nothing took. Down here, the WMA is located about 10 miles west of Ainsworth and just south of Johnston, right off of Highway 20. The stream isn’t nestled deep in a canyon like it is at Bobcat, but it has great coverage under big deciduous trees and splotches of coniferous trees. Again, plenty of holes are scattered up and down the creek with many big bends where fish surely hang out, but there was still a little too much sand in the water for it be a viable fishing day._DSC9467

When we came back to the parking lot, one of the hunters was up at his vehicle as well. After speaking with him, it was clear that fish do in fact roam in the stream. He told me he always sees fish in this stream here at the Plum Creek WMA and Bobcat WMA, especially in the summer when they are setting up their stands. But the major difference was the water was much higher than normal. Earlier in the year he was able to cross at his point in duck boots with water at his ankles, but at this time in the year (mid October) the water was nearly up to his knees at this same crossing spot. This lead me to believe the fish moved their way to the Niobrara to avoid the fluctuation of water and abnormal amount of sediment running through. But that wasn’t all of the intel we were left with. They told us to check out the little pond at the south parking out, mentioning there were ton of trout in there, so that’s where we went!

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As we walked the trail from the parking lot heading north along the ridge, there is a stark drop off where the pond lies underneath. As we stood from the top, the water was so crystal clear you could see nearly every single fish in this spring fed, small body of water. We snuck down there and simply watched. It must have been perfect timing because they were having fun smacking the top for bugs. That was my queue to put on some dries!_DSC9675_DSC9499

After all of that demise of not catching a fish and only seeing silty water, this persistence paid off. No matter what I threw and how much of ruckus I made reeling fish in they kept taking. I’m sure they weren’t the brightest of fish as they were probably stockies, but man was it sure fun! I’ll bet you I caught around thirty fish and Nicolette even caught her self a handful of Rainbow Trout as well.


The next day we didn’t even bother to fish the stream and just finished our last day here with a morning fish on the pond. It was much cloudier compared to the day before where it was nothing but sunshine and blue skies while the hatch was nonexistent with a slight breeze. Needless to say fishing conditions were night and day, but Nicolette seemed to be on fire out fishing me in the hour we were down there. In the end, this little pond made up for lack of fish in the stream and gave me a glimpse to what it’s like fly-fishing on a lake, which was a first. Now I want to do some alpine fishing!


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Fly Fishing

Fly Through Nebraska | Schlagel Creek

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Schlagel Creek


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.


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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!