The day after the fishing derby was the day that mattered. Earlier in the week over beer and chicken wings I had discussed with a few guys from our fishing club if anyone wanted to go fish Stauffer Creek. I had previously wanted to go the weekend before but no one was available and the one guy who was didn’t have any waders. By Sunday I was seriously hankering for some stream fishing. I’m actually surprised that we didn’t do more of it this year.
Mike and I planned to get an early start at 6 am and fish for the whole day. We arrived at roughly 8:30 after getting out of the city a bit later due to a fuel and coffee stop. But the day was young and we scouted a spot on Stauffer Creek (also know as the North Raven River). Being that we had all day we decided to scout another spot on the Raven River and come back to Stauffer later in the afternoon.
Now one thing that should be noted is that both the Raven and Stauffer Creek are naturally spring feed creeks that wind through a variety of terrain. We started off in a pine forest that had pastures around it but also fished in areas with dense deciduous brush, farmland, and open pastures with cattle crazing near by. The bottom is mostly made up of a fine to course gravel with almost no silty areas. We did encounter some of these along the Raven but if you were careful you won’t disturb the bottom. Stauffer Creek is a bit different, where we tried had lots of plant growth and had more of a muddy bottom. There are also beaver dams which provide nice still water. Banks are undercut in most places and in sections where pine grows there are often fallen trees right over the creek or in the water. Some could be crossed over or under but some you had to go around. By far my favorite feature of this river was that it was so clear and visibility was very good in all the places we fished. I’m told that this is what streams in New Zealand are like and if that’s the case I’m planning a trip!
When we actually got fishing things went pretty smoothly, we took turns wading in front and in back and worked spots where we thought might hold some fish. I’ve been told that the brown trout is the smarted and most easily spooked trout of them all and I defiantly believe it. I was hoping to do some fishing by sight but was not able to get a good view of any for my vantage point in the creek. I think this has a bit to do with my relative inexperience with stalking but I’m happy to learn which is a good thing. Mike and I did see a few browns in the 10-12 inch range throughout the day but they were moving so quick we didn’t really see where they ended up.
As we walked back to the car for some lunch we ran into the local conservation officer and had a good chat with him, asked for some tips and showed him some bones we found in the bush. He said that they were probably left over from last season and that it’s encouraged to leave some of the kill behind. The main reason he gave for this was that when you take an animal out of the environment you don’t want to take all the nutrients out as well. Hence the bones and hide we found. Pretty simple but something I would have never thought of. After checking our documents and hooks for barbs he departed, but not before mentioning that there were poachers in the area and if we saw any to give him a call. We assured him we would and then we dug into a few cans of beans to fuel up for the afternoon.
After lunch we drove over to where we had initially scouted and after getting geared up we started our wade. Things we dramatically different on the Stauffer. It was more of a muddy bottom with tons of aquatic plants for fish to hide in. there was a few pretty deep holes we had to navigate as well and after rounding a bend while I was leading I found a beaver dam that were rumored to have big browns hiding on the other side. I crept up but didn’t see anything hanging around so I entered cautiously and started some casting to some undercuts and some deadfalls. Mike made it over to the dam and we set off upstream but things got a bit dicey. I started to wade in and the cut of the bank was pretty step and when I got to a comfortable spot it got uncomfortable pretty quickly. Unlike the bottom 20 yards downstream this was very silty and I kept sinking in. It also had lots of plant growth so I couldn’t judge the depth very well. I decided to turn back and try below the bridge we had worked up from previously. Below the bridge was a bit uneventful and turned into much the same as it had when I started sinking in.
On a hot tip from the officer we met before, we headed to a lower section of the Raven River and found that it was much like the upper section only wider. This was my favorite area, the current was good, there was plenty of places I think fish would hide and the sun had come out was poking through the trees and warming out backs. Being late in the day we fished for a few more hours, hours that seemed to pass quite quickly. We reached a part of the creek that looked perfect but saw no fish. We walked up and bit more and were able to catch a glimpse of some brook and brown trout swimming either way in the creek. seemingly uninterested in our presentation they passed on and after a short walk back to the car we left fishless but satisfied, content that we would be back. And hopefully with a few of the other guys.
The Raven River and North Raven River are roughly 50 km west of Innisfail. Those looking to fish either of these rivers should head along highway 54. Taking roads south will take you to the many bridges that cross the Raven River which parallels the highways. Highway 761 crosses Stauffer Creek near the Lazy M Ranch and is where we fished. There are other places to start from by traveling north on many of the range roads. There was also a great writeup in Fly Fusion this month about the Raven River.