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Dredging the Ditch

by Hoppy D
(Southwest SD)

The Ditch.

The Ditch.

Home water.....

In our sweetest dreams, it is Haig-Brown's beloved Campbell River. In our worst dreams, it is Leacock's Fish Pond--alluring but devoid of fish. Generally, for the majority, home water is something between these two benchmarks. There are some, though, who live with a nightmare for their home water. Allow me to introduce you to: The Ditch.

The Ditch, so named by my brother who still lives in Alaska and who has an abundance of Haig-Brown water to fish, has its beginnings in a red-rock canyon. Gurgling out of the ground at 81º (F), it flows through the detritus of earlier human habitation and flows past the horse manure piles of the current 5-acre ranchettes. A mile and a quarter of ankle-deep water and thigh-deep muck that swells the headwaters of another flowing travesty that continues in its age-old quest to pollute the sea..... This is The Ditch; this is our home water.

It is truly amazing that any creature can survive in The Ditch's water, but the descendants of the Black Hill's pioneer fish--creek chubs, longnose dace, sand shiners, and white suckers--manage to thrive, and it is for them that "The Boss" and I dredge The Ditch in its last quarter-mile.

Through a city park, where pampered poodles and drunken revelers add their respective forms of pollution, to its joining with its larger cousin..... These fish are connoisseurs of crassness! Living between the rocks and beneath the foam and the watercress, they survive to multiply by eating orange-colored bits of profanity that float downstream to them.

Thankfully, orange "Mummy Worms" are a close match to their food of choice. Our Kiyotaki 18s, rigged with a tenjo of 6X and a short length of 8X, deliver our matches to the hatch and close the deals. Many-fish days are the rule.

What's that? You'd appreciate knowing the real name of The Ditch or having its GPS coordinates? I'm sorry to have to disappoint. For all of its warts, The Ditch still sings a sweet song, contains fish who play the game, and is our home water. We will keep its secret safe; we will not fish and tell. You will have to travel to the Southern Black Hills and find it on your own.

Comments for Dredging the Ditch

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Apr 06, 2018
Done My Share of Ditch Fishing!
by: John Evans

Yes, I'm afraid the ditches are becoming more common. Still, as you say, they have their own fishing opportunities. Hey, if you like the Kiyotaki 18, you will absolutely love the Nissin Air Stage Hakubai 240 that Chris just got back in stock. I have both rods, enjoy them both, but the Air Stage is a whole 'nother animal, with an incredible amount of sensitivity. You definitely want to use a light tippet, though, so you don't break the rod.

Apr 07, 2018
Fishing the rough
by: Hoppy D (SD)

It was interesting that we both chose "frontier fishing" as our themes, John. Or as "The Boss" and I call it: fishing in the rough. The good thing about it is that there isn't much, or any, competition. Ha!

We have been eye-balling the Nissin Air Stage Hakubai 240, but it is too long for working the brush of our brook trout streams. A sweet rod but too "too-too" to replace our Kiyotaki 18s..... (Bring back the 190s, Nissin!)

Happy trailblazing!

Apr 07, 2018
Sweet home waters
by: Terry Farmer

Ahhh, the ditches. My neck of the woods is riddled with them, remnants of a fast receding irrigated agricultural community. They are relatively safe areas to fish although sometimes half submerged shopping carts, trashed culverts and an occasional dumped body are cause for a little concern. Fish? Yep! There are mosquito fish, carp, catfish and fish so unidentifiable and so skittish they seem to dematerialize right before your eyes. It’s a hoot and always an adventure. I love it! Home waters.

Apr 07, 2018
Ruined Image of South Dakota
by: Les Albjerg

Hoppy - My uncle lived in Rapid City. One of the treats of the summer every year growing up was our annual trip trip from Minnesota to Rapid City. Uncle Alex always took the boys trout fishing in the creeks of the Black Hills at least 3 times during the week. I am going to block those pictures you posted from my mind!

Most of our ditches are kept free of fish because they are still used for irrigation. I have two less than 100 yards from the house. Great places to practice casting!

There are several creeks however that do have fish, and I am committed to explore them this year. So many places to fish - so little time!

Apr 08, 2018
R H-Bs Home Water
by: Rory E. Glennie

Dream on... keep that illusion of the Campbell river being some sort of fishing Valhalla alive. For that is all it is today, an illusion. Rod embraced the Campbell river as his "home water" and took it as it came, warts and all. The Campbell today has become an artificial salmon factory with very little potential for good trout fishing. The river's Steelhead, which Rod so eloquently and lovingly wrote about, are all but non-existent now. Hydro power development continues to ravage the streambed with bottom scouring huge water releases. Heavy metal contamination from an upstream copper mine killed off most of the sea-run Cutthroat trout. If he were here today, Rod would not even recognize his home water as the one he enjoyed so long ago. Enjoy your ditch while it lasts.
Cheers! from Vancouver Island.

Apr 09, 2018
Illusion or delusion?
by: Hoppy D (SD)

The key word here is "dreams," Rory. Sadly, that is the only place that Haig-Brown's Campbell River of 1946 has existed for many, many decades.

Are our dreams grand illusions or the greatest of delusions?

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The fish are slippery when wet.

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