October 1, 2009

Back to the Beast... Carson that is...

This last Sunday I took a trip back to the East Carson with a couple of my old middle school teachers (not your normal school teachers) trying to find some monster late season rainbows. We hit the water at first light and spent most of the day fishing our way downstream towards the state line.

Although we didn't see a lot of people, we saw way more than I though we would see. Most of the people we saw were actually on their way downstream as we were heading up and out of the canyon around sundown... Either they were camping, or they're way more hard core than I am... and I didn't see a whole lot of camping gear.

The morning started slow for myself and Louise, but Scott was unhooking a fish every 5 minutes. He was pulling fish from every piece of water...
Gurgly 2 foot stretch right in the middle of a rock garden... fish on...
In the middle of a roaring waterfall... fish on...
In the trees behind the bank... fish on...

Although he was catching numbers in the morning, his largest up to that point was only probably about 14". After about his 20th fish I was starting to think that he had just caught one, and kept hooking it back on his fly and casting it back out.

Scott's fly du jour was one of my all time favorites, Cutter's E/C Caddis, wihich I had tons of in my fly box, but refused to put it on. Scott's never shy to tell you what he's using, but I was holding out with the setup that I had, hoping to find a 20+ inch toad at the bottom of one of the larger pools. Getting the larger fish to rise to a dry is always harder on the E. Carson, so I usually stick to a nymph rig unless I can spot a huge fish chowing on duns or emergers, which wasn't happening.

About a mile and a half in I found a larger pool stuffed with fish that I couldn't get to take anything. Tons of fish with a couple of bruisers down at the bottom. Not monsters, but still pretty big. It was clear that they weren't interested as they slowly moved out of the way as my flies passed by. I tried lots of flies, but these fish were way smarter than me, so I sat down next to the pool and just stared at the fish as they laughed at me.

While I was sitting there I sort of had an epiphany... I realized that I spend ridiculous amounts of money on extremely overpriced gear, and an infinite amount of time trying to fool a creature whose brain is no bigger than a raisin... Kind of funny, especially when most of the time I don't catch anything... Just thought I'd share that.

It wasn't until about 9-10 o'clock that the fish started to really get active. After sitting there next to that pool for about 15 minutes the fish began to sip some kind of bug off the surface, or so I thought. Midges was the first thing I though, so I put the midge dry patterns on and tried to fool these fish, but again, that wasn't happening. Midges, I don't think, were on the menu that morning. I tried a few other tiny midge/mayfly patterns with the same result. It's really frustrating to watch a fish slowly come up at your fly and then eat something right next to it... it got real old after about the 20th or so time...

Finally, thinking that these fish might not be eating dries, I found a tiny trico mayfly nymph in the box and tied it on. The fish would actually come and look at this fly, but they wouldn't commit as it sank in the water column, so I pulled another nymph of the same out of the box and tied it on as a dropper, but this time I soaked it in floatant to help neutralize the sinking of the other fly... That did the trick... first cast, fish on, and it wasn't a small fish.

Four more fish came out of that pool before I turned and noticed a couple of fish way above the head of the pool in about 4 inches of water sippin' flies. I hauled a huge cast from behind them and though that I may have put them down with my flyline, then.... WHAM! I was fishing without an indicator so it was hard to recognize the take with all the other fish, but there was no mistaking this take. The fish ripped from the head of the pool to the tailout dragging my flyline to the bottom as it went.

Back and forth for a while... but this time I was smarter than the fish.

A little bit later I caught up with Scott and Louise who had gone down river. Louise had finally gotten the skunk off and Scott was on fish #2,045; still using the same E/C Caddis.

They were working the head of another big pool that I thought might hold some big fish, and that was very much confirmed as we looked down from a big rock at the edge of the pool. We could see several big fish in that pool, but there was one submarine in there that was easily pushin' 10 lbs. Now THAT trout looked like a steelhead. I gave it my best, but those fish were way smarter than I am.

We eventually turned at that pool to head back up river, and I finally gave in and put on the E/C Caddis too. We came through all the water I had already fished and managed at least 2 or three fish out of the same water that had blanked me previously.

In one pool, I hooked a fish at the head on the E/C caddis, and as this fish was scrambling back and forth, another fish came flying out of the head of the pool and started trying to EAT my fish! I could feel my fish getting its tail bit at by the other fish, and my fish was no minnow. About 10-11 inches. Scott quickly tied on a sculpin and slapped it on the water right next to my fish. That bigger fish came rippin' up into about 3 inches of water and sucked that sculpin down.

Trout was definitely on the menu that afternoon.

Nice fish, but an even better story.

If I can't catch them myself, at least I can chum 'em in!

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