August 10, 2009

Wouldn't YOU Like to Know....

I can't really talk too much about the location of this stream for fear of it being raided by swarms of bait slinging, trash leaving, trail shredding, spot squatting fisher people...

I'm not assuming that lots of people read this blog, but it only takes one person to tell two other people, who tell two other people, who each tell two additional people, and pretty soon I'll be seeing all the idiots I hate dealing with in the valley, all up in my favorite waters. No thanks...

Okay... time for a quick rant... (I apologize in advance)

I stake no claim to being entitled to any "secret spots," nor do I consider myself an expert when it comes to fly fishing, and I really don't have a problem running into other people on some of my favorite waters, even the secluded areas, as long as they're decent people... However, I'm quickly learning that most other people I run into on the water are generally one of two breeds (ironically they're mostly people with fly rods in their hands):

The first (and less often found) breed is that person who leaves his/her garbage all over the banks of the river. I hate coming to a spot and finding empty salmon egg jars or water bottles or nests of fishing line that someone has just dropped at their feet. Don't get me wrong, I will say that every year I find less and less garbage around some of the areas that were inundated in the previous seasons, which makes me think that people are actually trying to keep the waters clean. But, I still know that those people are out there!

The second and most common breed (this is where I might sound a little pissy) are those stone cold elitist ass holes that think they know the ins and outs of fly fishing and every stretch of water they put their toes in just because they read about it in some 1988 book publication or snooty "I'm a god of fly fishing" magazine article. I'm describing that person who believes you've "low-holed" them no matter where you are on the river with them. This is the person who, when asked how the catching is, just shakes his/her head like they can't answer you becaue you didn't say the password, or because you aren't wearing a pair of $1,500 waders, or some shit like that.
(the rant is almost over)

These are the people that I'm trying to keep away from those few spots that I love to fish most.

Again, I don't claim to be better than anyone else when it comes to fly fishing (or life for that matter), but one thing I don't mind doing is chatting it up with another person on the river, or explaining what the best fly may be and why I think that, or where a good spot may be. So if you see me on the river hollar for some useless advice!
(rant over)

Okay... now back to the REAL post...

I dropped into this spot in the middle of the day with the thermo pushing around 85 degrees. This creek has always been cold year round and I figured I'd give some of those fish cookin' in the boiling waters of some of the near by rivers a break. When I got to the water I noticed the level was a bit low for this time of year; the runoff must be shrinking quickly because last time I was here the water was raging through the canyon.

The first pool I came up on was a nice deep pool, but I knew I was going to have some casting issues from where I was sitting, so I army crawled across some brush to the tail of the pool and began to rig up. In these waters stealth is key. In some waters you can practically be standing on the fish and still have a chance of hooking it, but in these waters even the tip of your fly rod over the edge of some boulders will spook the fish, and once they're spooked, you might as well move on to the next pool.

Although a dry fly probably would've caught some fish, I decided to use a nymph rig in hopes of hooking some of the monsters that sit at the bottoms of these pools. Two size 20 zebra midges. One black and silver, the other red and gold. No indicator (an indicator would guarantee spooking the fish) and definitely no extra weight. I debated using 5x tippet because some of these fish can be a little brutal in these small pools, but eventually I went with the 6x in hopes of not spooking the fish.

The trick with this rig: being able to back cast with only 6 feet of fly line, and knowing when to set the hook. If they're not spooked these fish aren't shy, and when they see the flies they move quick, and sometimes it's a battle between fish. You can see the fish moving towards your flies, but most of the time a hook set is always a bit premature, and pulling your nymph rig out of the tree branches behind you isn't the most zen experience. Using small flies helps to eliminate the slack in your leader as the flies descend the water column, so a steady look at the end of your fly line with help you to determine when to set the hook. As soon as the end of your fly line starts to wiggle a little, it's time to set.

The first few pools were stuffed with small cutts, some decent-sized rainbows, and a brook trout here and there, and boy did they fight. These fish used every square inch of each pool. A couple of times the fish would shoot under some rocks in the far corner of the pool and... 'snap'.... Should've gone with the 5x.

I noticed some big fish at the bottom of this pool so I hung out for a while and worked the head of the pool pretty hard with the nymph rig. I couldn't seem to move those fish with the nymph rig, so I began debating putting on a streamer, but had second thoughts with worries that it would probably spook the fish more than anything... Then, like a sign from god, I hooked this tiny little fish (like 2 inches long) and it started screaming across the pool, and just then the two submarines in this pool lit-up and started chasing that little fish like torpedoes. It was kind of funny because that little fish knew he was in for it if he didn't get the fark out of there, hook in the face or not. The little fish swam right up in the shallows where I pulled him out and released him in the pool below me. I took the sign though and tied-on an olive matuka... Fist cast... a couple of quick strips... WHAM!

Pretty fish with the tell-tale slashes under its jaw. A little hybridized, but still mostly cutthroat. Plenty of these cutts in this little stream.

After a few more minutes of pounding the water with the matuka I gave up and headed up to the next few pools. When I came over the next set of rocks I could see the a good pool about 60 ft away packed with fish... BIG fish.

Look a little closer...

And a little closer...

Yup... those are fish... probably about fourty of them, and from here they looked pretty big. I got a little closer and got a chance to see just how big one was.

Notice the lack of pectoral fins on that fish? Stocker? Brown trout? Your guess is as good as mine.

Check out this picture... and the smaller looking fish in the picture were like 12".

Don't adjust your screen color, that picture was taken through my polarized sun glasses. Couldn't get those fish to bite. I think I wrecked it when I hooked that big brown trout because I stood up for a second and I think that was all it took to put those fish down. Here was the scene at the head of the pool.

Not a bad three hours of fishing considering that I caught probably 25 fish with a couple of fish that you wouldn't have believed had come out of such a small creek. Not to mention the quadruple crown of trout species as well.

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