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updated: 9/11/2013 8:53 PM

Nothing like an early rise on a secret stream

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Getting up early on any given summer day is something really special for me.

Notice that I said "for me," and that's because I have a tendency to lump everyone into one large pot. I can only assume some good souls choose to forego the dawn patrol activities and stay tightly wrapped in their blankets.

This early thing has been with me ever since my father would shake me awake at 2 a.m. so I could get ready to join him on his weekend jaunts to the Fox Chain.

And the early-morning schtick has some elements within its structure that can't be attained on a late-morning foray, even though a clock connects the various time periods.

I have a fishing boat, which I truly appreciate and use extensively on Illinois and Wisconsin waters. But truth be told, I am a sucker for a narrow stream off a back road I've chosen to explore.

That scenario has happened a number of times.

I have promised myself I will not squander the days left on unimportant things like attending to the basics of everyday life.

One stream I discovered that allowed me to don my waders and explore its depths and hiding places. This jewel was still partially hidden by the darkness of the dawn, and yet its magnificence was already showing as the sun slowly rose to the challenge.

I stripped off enough fly line to make a 35-foot cast to an area beneath a willow tree. How many of you can attest to getting a hit on a very first cast?

That's exactly what happened.

A bass inhaled the large fly and started to take off with my creation.

Just as I tightened the line (by retrieving it) this bruiser came right at me and decided to show off its prowess by taking to the air.

These gigantic leaps were perhaps designed to demonstrate that this stream resident wasn't going to surrender an inch of real estate to some outsider.

This wasn't a trophy by anyone's standards, even though my tape measure squeezed its way to the 16-inch mark. In my book, a trophy can be any fish that satisfies me in the short battle that ensues once it takes a fly.

Would Mr. Bass been so cooperative had I shown up three hours later? Maybe, but by then I would have missed the sounds of a wild turkey, flapping its wings as it flew down from its nearby roost. I probably would have not been able listen to the owls calling out to other night creatures who have hunted all night and are ready for a rest.

The morning mist is minutes away from its daily rise from the water. That alone is magic enough to cause my brain to go into hyperdrive.

Some new mallard ducklings swim quickly to mother's awaiting wings, always on the lookout for a threatening hawk or sneaky mink on the prowl for a fresh breakfast.

My wading staff probes the rocks and muck beneath my feet. It guides me to safe passage on this slowly flowing artery of life.

I make more casts to suspected deeper spots that may hold fish. Three more bronzebacks fall prey to my bead-head imitation leech.

I am a happy angler, in that I hadn't squandered my time on the stream by just sightseeing.

There was another day with similar conditions, only this southern Wisconsin stream was home to brown trout and opportunities that boggled one's mind. But I guess that's another story, for another day.

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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