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Pine Ridge Fall Trout Trip (and 2nd Trout Slam!)

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    Pine Ridge Fall Trout Trip (and 2nd Trout Slam!)

    I just returned from a fall trout trip that I do with my buddies every year out in the Pine Ridge (Dawes and Sioux County). This is always a trip I look forward to because of the endless beauty of the landscape, the chance to reconnect with friends and the opportunity to chase five different species of trout all in the same place, with multiple bodies of water and streams available to fish scattered around some of the most beautiful high country you've ever seen.

    This year truly did not disappoint. Since we always do the trip, my buddies and I decided last year to start the official Nebraska Game and Parks Trout Slam since we're basically doing it every year anyway. What a blast. It provided us with extra incentive to waste not a moment of time last year while finding stretches of riffles, runs and holes to cast our lines into in search of the elusive species. While we searched high and low last year for that cutthroat, we just couldn't find one. Because of this, on the way up to the trip this year, we decided to swing into a spot that has them in a stocker pond and check that box so we could just enjoy fishing and finding new waters. It took us all of 15 minutes to nab that trout to complete our official slam and we were on our way to our destination.

    We typically spend most of our time fishing moving water, but I have a couple buddies that really enjoy the ponds so sometimes they twist our arms for a couple hours of still water fishing. This year was one of the best years we had for both size and numbers and within 3 hours on the first day we were already thinking about doing the slam in a single day as a personal goal because we already had three species in hand with just the brook trout remaining. We headed to a brook stream quick that first afternoon but couldn't bring one to hand with the last couple hours of daylight. The next day we went out and found more of the same. This time, I was able to get all 3 species and then locate a brook trout fairly quickly. What a blast!

    On a side note, if anybody was wondering if there are still any of those tiger trout remaining in the White River or the reserve ponds, you need not fear. There are some still around......and they've gotten pretty big! I've attached a picture of one my buddy caught that was approaching 19". As they get bigger, they get tougher to fool as well.

    Enough rambling. I just wanted you all to know that while I will receive no money from the Dawes County or Sioux County Tourism Commission, if you like to fish for trout in some of the prettiest places on earth, you should head west. The Game and Parks has provided us with some excellent public access trout streams and has managed them well. In total, I bet our group of 4 caught over 150 trout over a long weekend (all safely released). It was unbelievable. If you can find the time and are willing to drive, you won't find a neater place to catch fish.

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    "Man should fish for sport. I don't fish for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable" --Ron Swanson

    #2
    Great report! Thanks for sharing the pics! Talking to you really makes me want to go back for a longer trip to take it all in, such a beautiful part of Nebraska. Well done!

    Comment


      #3
      That's awesome. I must have just missed you up there. I made a quick commando trip... just long enough to catch my fish and make my way back before the weather turned.

      I already can't wait to get back up there!

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by ericein View Post
        That's awesome. I must have just missed you up there. I made a quick commando trip... just long enough to catch my fish and make my way back before the weather turned.

        I already can't wait to get back up there!
        4 questions/observations:
        1) What is a "commando" trip? Your definition of going commando must be different than mine. LOL
        2) When did you start fishing and head back? We didn't fish Soldier more than about 2 hours on Saturday and just fished ponds Sunday morning. Most time spent was elsewhere.
        3) We got lucky with the weather. While forecast called for heavy winds and rain, none of that started up until 3 p.m. Sunday so we got a good 8 hours of fishing time on Sunday which was awesome.
        4) I can wait a bit to get back up there. Will be back up next fall. I just can't drive that far and only spend a few hours. I like to make a trip of it and do it every year. The driving is too much for me to justify going up regularly for one day. But I am a guy who gets sick of windshield time. Others like to power through.
        "Man should fish for sport. I don't fish for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable" --Ron Swanson

        Comment


          #5
          By commando trip I meant get in, get the fish, get out... as fast as a trip as possible. I only had from Friday night after work to Sunday afternoon to drive and fish...

          I drove as far as I could before I got sleepy on Friday. Camped at Bridgeport, got up early and drove the rest of the way Saturday morning (which was a COLD night). Timed it so I would hit Middle Soldier Creek at sun up. I had given myself all day Saturday and a few hours on Sunday and still be home Sunday afternoon.

          Got the brook trout at 10:30 AM. Headed straight to the ponds after that and crossed off the cutthroat by 11:30. I wanted to try for a slam in a day, but only spent like another 90 minutes on it trying to cross off the brook a second time. The weather forecast, and a local at the gas station, kinda spooked me off with weather... so I ended up high tailing it out of there toward Lincoln about 1PM. Fished some I-80 lakes on the way back home.

          870 round trip miles in 28 total hours. Fast trip. But my goal was to get the slam, and I got it done. Made all that driving 100% worth it.

          Now would I do that again? No... next time I go it will be for a minimum two full fishing days. I agree, that was too much windshield time.

          If anything, that story should tell you how motivated I was to get the slam completed (at least for the first time).

          Comment


          • ericein
            ericein commented
            Editing a comment
            #TroutBum

          #6
          I was not imagining pretty things, Eric fishing commando.

          Comment


            #7
            Originally posted by Flash04jv View Post
            I was not imagining pretty things, Eric fishing commando.
            Commando like action... not dress. LOL

            Comment


              #8
              Originally posted by ericein View Post

              Commando like action... not dress. LOL
              Hey, whatever catches the fish. I'm not here to judge.

              Comment


              • Harold
                Harold commented
                Editing a comment
                Well I AM - that's just WRONG! HA!

              #9
              Looks like an awesome trip. I have recently got into the fly rod and trout thing and have been thinking of giving that area a try.

              Comment


                #10
                Originally posted by Aspen View Post
                Looks like an awesome trip. I have recently got into the fly rod and trout thing and have been thinking of giving that area a try.
                You absolutely should! Fort Robinson and the surrounding waters are a super fun place to fly fish! Some things to note before your first trip... Of all the places I have fished, Soldier Creek Wilderness is one of the toughest due to the tiny water and tight casting conditions. These are some things I wish I would have known before my first trip...

                -It's small waters... especially back in Soldier Creek Wilderness. You won't be casting far and will need to land a fly in some tight places where the grass is pressing up on/over the stream.
                -The trees are in close... in fact in a ton of areas, bow and arrow casting is the only way. On others that are more open there is always a looming branch, tree, or bush that will be in your back cast. Watch back casts closely and be prepared to be getting flies out of trees often. Bring lots of extra flies!
                -Spooky, spooky trout... the water is skinny and gin clear. The fish will see you coming. Stay low, stay quiet. If you see the fish, its often too late. I do the best when I can cast up just past where I can see into the water. Walk softly on the bank, wear natural colors, and if you spook a fish don't worry about it and keep working up stream... there will be more close by.
                -The fish are everywhere... I was a lot more productive up there after I learned to fish everything... I have caught fish in 1" deep riffles where I would have never thought they were holding. Don't just fish the pools... fish all the seems and pocket waters even if they seem ridiculously small. There are fish in there.
                -If you only have one rod, not a problem. But if you have a choice, take the shortest rod you can... my favorite is a 6' 2wt. I did okay with a 7.5' 3 wt this last trip. If you have the typical 9' 5 weight, it will work but again... watch that back cast.
                -Have fun, enjoy the scenery. One of the most beautiful places to fish in the state. It can be super frustrating, but it's also a ton of fun.

                Comment


                • Nate W
                  Nate W commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Eric, congrats on the trout slam!

                #11
                Originally posted by Aspen View Post
                Looks like an awesome trip. I have recently got into the fly rod and trout thing and have been thinking of giving that area a try.
                If nothing else the scenery is outstanding!
                Keep it safe! JDL

                Comment


                  #12
                  Originally posted by ericein View Post



                  You won't be casting far and will need to land a fly in some tight places where the grass is pressing up on/over the stream.
                  -The trees are in close... in fact in a ton of areas, bow and arrow casting is the only way. On others that are more open there is always a looming branch, tree, or bush that will be in your back cast. Watch back casts closely and be prepared to be getting flies out of trees often. Bring lots of extra flies!
                  -Spooky, spooky trout... the water is skinny and gin clear. The fish will see you coming. Stay low, stay quiet. If you see the fish, its often too late. I do the best when I can cast up just past where I can see into the water. Walk softly on the bank, wear natural colors, and if you spook a fish don't worry about it and keep working up stream... there will be more close by.
                  I wouldn't have the first clue what a backcast looks like on Soldier. I've never done it. But I guarantee it looks like a mess. I flick, bow and arrow, drop and dangle, whatever I can do given the situation. No way would I be launching big double hauls down that thing. That's a recipe for frustration. It's spot and stalk. You're hunting brook trout not fly fishing for them. I do so much belly crawling and hands and knees work in there my waders are a mess at the end of the day.
                  "Man should fish for sport. I don't fish for meat. Fish meat is practically a vegetable" --Ron Swanson

                  Comment


                    #13
                    There are spots where you can backcast... but not like you would at Holmes lake. You normally have to look behind you, find the hole in the branches, and backcast into that. You can't do it without thinking. And even when you do it, you're only casting like 15 feet forward.

                    AV Angler is right. Soldier Creek is less fishing for trout, and more like bow hunting for them with a fly rod. Casts are super short, and rarely look like normal casting; let alone A River Runs Through It. And that's part of the charm of fishing up there.

                    Comment


                      #14
                      5' ultralite, two-handed idiot reel w/2lb Trilene XL, clear bubblebobber a couple-three feet above a 1/64oz jighead threaded with a grasshopper.

                      Pitch, Flip, or "twang" above target.

                      Hang ON!

                      Harold F.
                      Report Fish/Game Violations:
                      1-800-742-SNAP (7627)

                      Comment


                        #15
                        It’s mostly just dabbling your fly in small areas with a very short leader. Use anything with a gold bead or flash material. And yes they are extremely spooky, I have started wearing camouflage. The problem with the brook trout is they are getting overrun by the brown trout. When I first started fishing the middle fork of Soldier Creek, once you drove through the water crossing all I caught was brook trout. Now you catch like 95-99% browns. The browns are all of the way up to the reserve ponds. There are still brook trout in there, you just have to put in a lot of time weeding through brown trout to find one.
                        "The finest gift you can give to any fisherman is to put a good fish back, and who knows if the fish that you caught isn't someone else's gift to you?" ~ Lee Wulff

                        Comment


                        • Harold
                          Harold commented
                          Editing a comment
                          EAT ALL BROWNS!
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