Monday, February 15, 2021

On The Safe Side

The weather outlook wasn't too promising with the storm of the winter lined up to drop several inches of snow here at home, on route to where we wanted to go, and at our destination. The week had been a long one, even though it was only a four day work week, with Parent-Teacher conferences two nights and a concert to end the week. Dad wanted to make the long drive to a place that we've had some good success with the possibility of really large trout. I was game, although I made sure to let him know that I probably wouldn't be too much help in the driving department. 

The evening before we were supposed to head out was the night of the concert, our school's first in over a year thanks to the pandemic. It was an extremely long day, so when I finally came home I was a little relieved to hear that my Dad didn't think that we should go because of the weather. We decided to wait and see how the day progressed, with the possibility of making the trip the following day. The weather didn't really improve, but we decided to go anyway. Maybe we should've taken it as a sign, but none of my brothers or my boys were interested in going. 
We made it, despite the freeway having some snow-covered areas. Dad and I were both hoping that the fish would be willing to chase a streamer, so we started throwing some buggers. Dad had his trusty Thin-Mint color and I tried a straight black. I was the first to find a willing fish, a chubby mid-sized rainbow. 
The strikes were light and hard to detect, but it didn't take long for Dad to tie into a nice fish. When you're catching smaller fish the challenge is in the hook set, but when the fish reach a certain size the trick is in landing them. This fish went wherever he wanted to, with Dad holding on the best he could. When the rainbow started "Showing his sides" we knew the fight was just about over and I moved into position with the net. Of course, this is when the fly came loose and Dad lost the fish. It's just the way it goes sometimes, to Dad's credit he just shrugged it off and kept fishing, soon catching a smaller one that we didn't get a picture of. I managed to catch a couple more before we moved on to try some different spots. 

If it looks cold, it's because it was! The wind seemed to always be blowing snow into your face no matter which way you turned, but there were fish to be caught so we just pushed through. The next couple of spots we tried didn't produce, so we ended up coming back to where we started. I decided to try something different to see if we could get more fish to the net. Out came the indicator rig, with a Prince Nymph and a Purple Frenchie for a dropper. A few small fish took the Frenchie, but not the action I was hoping for so I lengthened my leader and added a few small split shot to see if the fish were stacked deep. The switch flipped and it seemed like there were fish everywhere that were willing to play. 

One of the fish was pretty colored up and made me wonder if the fish were feeling the upcoming spawn. So I added another fly to my rig, an orange egg. The first fish that took was the only non-rainbow that we caught the whole day, a confused looking little brown. (The wind blew the camera strap in front of the lens at the worst time, so the picture is a little funny) 

I tried to get Dad to fish the indicator rig, but once he took my rod from me the fish weren't interested anymore. It was spooky how fast the fishing stopped on a dime and it took a few minutes of me casting before they would hit again. I guess he's got a nymphing jinx! I moved off to try another spot within walking distance of the truck. This is a spot where we've caught lots of smaller fish in the past, but rarely get anything that would require a net so I didn't bother grabbing one. Of course, that's the moment when you hook into a big fish. I yelled back to Dad to bring the net, but he couldn't hear me with the wind whipping. I tried my best to wrestle him into shore, stepping into the water in the process, but when I tried for the tail grab he flopped and my hook broke off. I guessed that he was a 6 pounder, so he was probably an honest 5 pounder which is a really big fish in my book. 
Once I got re-rigged, the fish were still willing to play and it wasn't long before I was into another fish that required the net. This time Dad heard me and headed over with net in hand to see what the fuss was about. When he tried to make his way down to the water to help he stepped into a hole that was hiding under the snow. With his boot submerged and snow up to his thigh, he struggled to get out, so I helped as much as I could (without losing the fish) and Dad was able to pull his leg out. 
I stopped to warm up my hands and Dad tried a few casts with his streamer. A good take and a fish was on! Dad played him perfectly (without stepping into any holes) and soon his best fish of the day was in the net!

Fishing got better and better with fish coming almost every cast, but the snow really started piling up on the roads and Dad got nervous about being able to get home. With fishing being so ridiculous it was difficult for me to call it, even though I knew he was right. A few more fish and we packed up for home, leaving earlier than we ever have before to head home. The drifts across the road were a little worrisome in a white-out blizzard, but once we got out of the valley where we were fishing the roads cleared. It's always better to be on the safe side, but I'll be dreaming of all those fish for quite a while and kicking myself for leaving early. The trip home was a sleepy one for me and I slept most of the next day trying to recover but it was totally worth it. 

Hope you're as lucky,

My last fish of the day, caught on the last cast

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