Fishing has been tough for more than a month now, hatches have been thin or non-existent, the weather has been up and down between too hot and unseasonably cold. Such are the twists and turns of the seasons along the rivers.
I have fared pretty well if it comes to taking stock of things, had some truly memorable moments, but it has been dues paying time of late.
With a stormy afternoon forecast yesterday, I headed out for my fishing in the morning. The skies looked menacing, and the wind kicked up enough to make casting a challenge. There was little activity as I waded along, searching for a rise, a bug, anything to seize upon to plan my strategy. Eventually I found a couple of sippers in flat water, touchy sippers. One gentle cast and they were gone.
I covered some more ground, or riverbed to be accurate, and finally found a good trout sipping in a familiar lie. Since there hadn’t been any bugs in evidence, I tied on a small caddis some of the picky eaters have liked, to see if that would tempt him. I guess it was my second or third cast that appealed to him, for he tipped up and sucked it down. The Sweetgrass arched and he exploded, taking off for points south in a big hurry! Two or three more runs into the fight, the hook simply pulled out, and the first big brownie was lost for the day.
It must have been a couple of hours later when a few sulfurs trickled off the riffle upriver and another good fish set up shop. He was keeping a low profile, sipping without exposing himself in the shallow water, but I could tell he was a nice, nice brown. He was sliding a little to his right and then a little to his left behind a submerged rock, so we played that little game of which side are you going to eat on. As it turned out, he was right square behind the rock when he sipped my size 18 sulfur, and I lifted a touch too quickly and pulled the fly right back out of his mouth.
After a rest, he was at it again, so I changed patterns and went back to the left, right, left casting game. I persisted for half an hour, resting him every few minutes, then taking up the cadence again. He rose to the fly, I hesitated as I should, and when I lifted the rod he swatted the 6X tippet with his tail and broke it off of the leader. Damnedest thing I have seen this season; and the second big brownie was lost for the day.
I fished to a couple of risers without getting a look from either of them, until the sulfurs petered out and we were back to bugless. The wind picked up again, blowing much harder then it had been, so I decided to work my way back downstream with a Grizzly Beetle. There was this large shady spot beneath an overhanging tree and I peppered it with long, delicate casts, letting the beetle drift twenty feet or so then gently drawing it out toward the middle of the river for a pickup. My main line of drift was collecting all of the leaves and detritus the wind was sending toward that bank, and I never saw the rise when a trout finally took my fly. I gently pulled to the side at the end of my drift and the rod doubled over!
Oh boy, big, big brown trout, but he wants to take me deeper into the tree where the snags are! In my position I couldn’t do anything but try to hold him, the rod bucking like crazy as I feathered the line between my fingers, and… off. I retrieved my beetle, perfectly intact, with no fish attached. Big fish number three lost for the day: my trifecta of woe. Yes indeed, this is the other side of fishing. A “damn” escaped my lips, and then a chuckle, “not my day, just not my day today”.
I am thankful for every day I am blessed to spend along bright water. Even days like this one.
We did get a little rain last evening, and this morning was cool and drizzly when I left the house, hoping for some mayflies hatching and an honest good rise of trout. Rainy days are tailor made for olives, and I have fished some nice sulfur hatches on damp days too. I strung up the Paradigm this time, happy that the rod’s impregnated finish protects the lovely caramel colored bamboo from the elements. I was ready for a great day!
The river was quiet when I walked in, so I decided to fish the fast water with a Sulfur Poster, expecting the real thing to begin hatching any moment. They didn’t show and, after a few minutes I had a feeling that I needed something more substantial to wake up a good one. In my Isonychia box I found a deer hair cripple tied with a claret turkey biot, just the thing to entice a resting trout to rise. I worked some floatant into the hair and the dubbed thorax, and began working my way up the bubble lines. There was a little blip of a rise and I raised the Paradigm sharply; everything else happened in a wink.
The CFO screamed, a big bright sided trout leaped out of the water, and then lit up the afterburners and headed upstream! You have to love the sound of those old hand made Hardy spring an pawl drags. I do, dearly, but I didn’t get to listen very long. At the end of that long run he found some leverage and my line fell slack: gone as quickly as he came.
I kept fishing of course, working some flat water where a good fish or two sipped the occasional little olive, or something, during the long, bone chilling afternoon. I worked one extremely handsome fellow with every type of tiny olive I had: hanging emergers, low floating emergers, cripples, parachutes, and then on to terrestrials and even a Grizzly Midge. Every once in awhile he would show me his full length, just to impress me, and believe me I was impressed! I couldn’t be certain if it was the tiny olives he was taking, as the bugs he ate were the ones that were jumping around and twitching on the surface, to exclusion. My fly won’t do that, no matter what size 22 pattern I tie.