Nine Mile Creek and Wildlife Management Area
Unfamiliar places and environments tends to bring along a newfound sense of excitement. Maybe for me it’s in the unknown where I begin to draw from the ubiquitous vitality of everything around me. The body and mind go into states of hyper awareness and here I learn the most. Even though I may go through the initial moments of frustration due to the lack of rapport I’ve yet to build with new domain, I quickly get the sense of what will work and what won’t.
Much of the trout streams in Nebraska have a unique identity that separates itself from your typical trout carrying body of water. Very few are in the usual sharp canyons or valleys. Many are only just 10 to 15 feet wide, if not smaller and probably have very snaggy surroundings that must be surveyed for. This is certainly the case for much of Nine Mile Creek. Located about 12 miles east of Scottsbluff, you can explore this beautiful little trout stream that has public access points up and down the creek.
When we first pulled into the main Wildlife Management Area, it was just before sundown, so I hurriedly put my gear on and grabbed my rod. Just below the parking area, the stream winds through open fields of cattails, tall grasses and an occasional marsh, where the bank drops right off into the creek which is about thigh high in depth. Up on this section the creek is about five feet wide and the fish lay deep at the bottom and under much of the grass submerged by the flowing water. Initially, I was challenged, catching everything but a fish. I tried to cast high but somehow found only thick grass that wouldn’t release my fly or bushes that velcroed my bug. Once I began to gain familiarity with where the fish hid and how to get a proper, delicate cast on the water, then I began to have a little success, pulling in 5 little guys on a prince nymph and an orange scud. Although I had success, I knew I didn’t care to spend much time in this area and wanted to see what was downstream, hoping the cattails wouldn’t follow me down there.
The next day we spotted one of the disguised Public Fishing signs and dropped in at a bridge where the stream had widened and now had a canopy of trees covering it. Right away, we spooked a school of trout that hang just above the bridge. On this sunny day there was no hiding from them with the route we took but I did see one that ranged in the 18 to 20 inch range, which was an encouraging sign. We crawled over fallen logs and zigged up and down the lower bank till we had a good casting zone and a hole nearby. It was thick but still manageable enough with my Sage 7’6”, 3 weight rod. A couple smacked a stimulator early on then they went for the humpy towards the end before turning around. Once I made my way back to the van, I figured I go and sneak up behind the school just above the bridge.
I dropped in on the south side of the road just on the other side of a barbed wire fence. I waded underneath the bridge and hid behind a tall stack of cattails. I hung here for about an hour and pulled out 10 or 15, let’s be honest, it was probably 15! They were snacking and smacking on my dry flies, pretty much whatever I threw in there. Unfortunately no pigs were snacking, but either way I was in some sort of heaven!
We spent a couple more days on the river, scoping out as far south as we could go – which had good water, but it was pretty murky that day and only caught a tiny fellow – and everywhere in between. My best day was a sunny afternoon where a hooked into at least 30. They wanted nothing but a top water bug and I was happy to present it for them! In more of the middle stretches, I found open waters where cattails didn’t seem to be an issue even though they were all around. I caught mainly rainbows, but the occasional brown would show up in my net. All in all I probably reeled in somewhere around 80 fish in about seven days of fishing. Some days were longer, others consisted of a short fish. And even if I had only caught a few, I still would have been just as impressed with the water and the area.
We also spent an afternoon at Tub Springs Drain where I waded through what seemed like a mini irrigation canal with steep banks covered with brushes, coattails and those unforgiving tall grasses that ate up my flies. It was tough fishing. Super snaggy, thin, and hard not to spook the fish. There were specifically no signs, but there is a public road that goes back to it and trout definitely reside in the waters.
Anyways, having never visited Scottsbluff, I think Nicolette and I were thoroughly pleased with the town, the people, and of course the sights! Growing up in the flatter lands of Nebraska, it was breathtaking to stand on the bluffs and view the town. And to see mountains off in the distance was even more of a surprise! Never thought you could see those here. And for those who are more of city dwellers, Scoblo will take care of you. With coffee shops, a brewery, grocery stores, and little boutiques for the ladies, you make a day just out of hanging around the town, which we did on a couple occasions to charge up the electronic devices and to grab a craft brew of course! This stop was one for the books, we’ll be back.