My eyes jolt open with the sound of the alarm. Walking to the truck is slightly disorienting. Not the normal light of the garage and a full gear bag waiting for me. Instead, one rod and reel, two fly boxes, my old vest, and the light of my cell phone to find my gear. And I’m in Indiana.
Based on Tim Cammisa’s recommendation of the TroutRoutes App, I tried it out and was impressed. Indiana is one of the states that the App has data coverage. Online research helped me identify the Little Elkhart River as a cold water fishery that was nearby, and TroutRoutes helped me to find public access to fish. Additional research helped me to identify Cobus Creek, a cold water creek, within 20 minutes from my location. Cobus Creek wasn’t identified as a trout stream on the App, but was identified in park literature as a cold water creek that supports trout.
The clock was ticking. I had two and half hours to explore the streams and try to catch a fish. A coin flip led me to Cobus Creek first, and I pulled into the park entrance only to find a locked gate and a sign noting the park was closed. Like any dedicated angler, I found a safe pull off spot and accessed the stream at a nearby roadway crossing, walking upstream to investigate the stream conditions. The channel was 6 to 12 feet wide with a gravel substrate. Fallen trees added habitat cover and bedform diversity. Riparian vegetation crowded the stream, providing great shading but limiting casting area for visiting anglers.
I enjoyed my quick hike along the stream, but decided to head to the Little Elkhart Creek. I envisioned spending the majority of my time at Cobus Creek untangling line and getting casts snagged in the tight canopy of vegetation. Another 25 minutes behind the wheel and I pulled into Riverbend Park. The Park is in Middlebury, Indiana, and has a wonderful small trail network along Little Elkhart Creek.
Spending about 45 minutes on the water, I hooked and lost one rainbow trout. My reminder alarm on my phone went off, and I stayed disciplined, snipping off my flies and breaking down the rod as I stepped onto the trail. The morning chill had burned off, and I could begin to feel the heat of the day. Walking out to the parking lot, a young boy was beelining to the stream with a spinning rod, and his parents were only a few steps away. I silently wished him luck and got all my gear quickly back in the truck.
Chalking the morning up to a fun and resourceful adventure, I drove back to meet my family to start our day. Notre Dame was our true destination, as a college visit for my step-daughter and a chance to see a football game with my wife and father-in-law. Making a fishing stop on a family trip is a fun way to explore new streams, but also a dangerous way of disappointing or irritating your wife and family.
As an avid (potentially addicted) angler, it is typically in my head to try to find a place to fish when I travel. In planning and discussing the trip, my wife knew I would at least look into fishing. Collaboratively we set some ground rules on how long to go, how far away to go, and when to go. I love my research and trip planning, so I enjoyed reading about trout streams in Indiana even if I hadn’t found time to actually fish.
The rest of the day was spent on campus at Notre Dame, enjoying the game day experience and watching an impressive Fighting Irish victory. What a great day! Looking back at my time on the river, I appreciated enjoying an adventure and exploring new streams, even if I didn’t catch a fish. I also appreciated working with my wife to find some time where it didn’t put additional stress or pressure on her with my absence.
Fishing during a family trip can create some tension. My advice based on this trip is to:
- Communicate and plan with your family to find a good time
- Complete up-front research to find safe access and good fishing locations (TroutRoutes helped!)
- Stay committed to a schedule
- Get your license ahead of time
- Pack gear lightly
- Don’t let fishing impact any planned family time
- Have fun and be grateful!
Keep Mending and Go Irish!